I said I would write a blog a day until Veteran’s Day. Well, I have a few minutes to crank out the post for today and keep on pace.
I am pretty frank about seeing my therapist. When I tell people (read my civilian coworkers) I am a Veteran who served in Iraq and I sought the help of therapists upon returning home, I usually get one of two reactions. One, the listener doesn’t even bat an eye and listens to me prattle on about this or that. Two, they nod and say, “Of course you did, that makes complete sense. I can’t image what you went through.”
I wish newly returning Veterans could see or hear those reactions from civilians more often. What would be even better, is if we could heard it from more of our own “kind”. I would be curious to find out a comparison between civilians and the armed forces on the percentage of population in therapy. I imagine the closer you get to the tip of the spear, the more disproportionate the numbers will be. Though, I do not think this is a problem or stigma solely limited to the Armed Forces.
I think the stigma lies out in the civilian world too. If you talk to my Mom, she will tell you I ask her to see a therapist on average once a month. She has yet to take me up on my advice. Still, the difference between my Mom not seeing a therapist and me not seeing a therapist have drastic differences in the impact on our lives. There were plenty of months were I lived session to session. My mood, creativity and energy all swung high and low from day to day and were only normalized by meeting with my therapist. For a returning Veteran this can be the difference between a successful readjustment and taking their own life.
The number that touted by Veterans advocate groups is still 22 Veteran’s a day commit suicide. That number is still staggering. Through it all, I keep returning to the idea that removing the stigma of seeking help from a mental health professional is the most significant blocker to reversing this trend.
Ok. Four posts down, Six days left and I owe you seven. Thanks for reading and sharing.