Trailing spouses, healthy relationships & mental health

Today I woke up, made a coffee and viewed the world from the kitchen window like I do most mornings. It’s a lovely ritual that allows me to gently wake up and plan for the day ahead. This morning however was different.  I woke up, made a coffee and viewed the world from the kitchen window and the tears rolled down my cheeks.  That was 9am and it’s now 1.42pm and I’m still not “together”.

There are many issues and frustrations to deal with as a trailing spouse and relationships with others is a major source of angst, anxiety and frustration.  Particularly relationship issues between spouses even if both parties are highly supportive (like mine) and like most others is generally wonderful.

The issue was exacerbated however when through the steady stream of tears it dawned on me rather quickly that for most trailing spouses it is extremely lonely to not feel comfortable to confide in new found friends who are geographically close by.  For many these friends are partners of your own spouse and the community is quite an incestuous bunch.  Work colleagues don’t need to know the private goings on of colleagues and in some cases the information is used as gossip or ammunition in the workplace.  This leaves trailing spouses vulnerable to feelings of depression and isolation.

So how to cope?  With my spouse working in another country I texted to let him know how I’m feeling and what the issue is, outlining that text or email is never the mode of communication for resolving personal issues.  True to form he is so level headed and wonderfully understanding that he agreed to wait to talk face to face upon his return and suggested booking in for a spa day to take care of myself.

For me, confiding in family back home is currently not an option from my perspective due to the mental health of my brother who is currently battling clinical depression.  Not wanting to add to this, I choose to keep my own needs and worries to myself- not ideal. But I do know that I will be ok once D returns home and work together to resolve the issue face to face.

And so, I sat by the pool and flicked through a magazine for an hour.  A friend and her husband offered for me to join them for coffee but the tears returned and as I sneakily wiped them away, I declined their offer.  Instead I continued to read and cry, read and cry until it was time for lunch. And so here I am…

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Keeping connected..

Being a trailing spouse certainly allows the significance of maintaining long distance relationships to shine on through.  Like others, I have different ‘go to’ people for the many challenges life throws at you while living away from home.  These days social networking makes reconnecting so easy, effortless and convenient and I must admit to wondering sometimes how the TS coped in the era of snail mail?!

My sister, four BFFs and mum are just the ticket back to reality when needed. During the last 12 months at post I have experienced the full rollercoaster ride of emotions. D bears the brunt most times but for other times my tribe gets me through and I love them more than anything ( remember that you’re here to ensure that the posted officer’s life carries on as normal and with the least amount of stress, right?).

They listen and provide that (I want to say harsh) reality check that is needed to sometimes put life back into perspective and importantly they do this without judgment and with my best interests at heart.  And the wonderful thing is that I get to do the same for them when needed.  We laugh through tears and see that things are pretty great really and that you’re never alone.  Black humour during difficult times is a godsend!

What would we do without our tribe?