How I Cope During Deployment

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How to Cope During DeploymentIn the past few weeks during and after everything that has been going on with my son being sick and in the hospital, I have had so many people say things like, “You seem so calm,” “You are so strong!” or “I could never do that” and you know what I think? Are you kidding me?? If only you knew!

First of all, I am not calm. I am usually quite the opposite, although I am learning to keep it inside and not let my “uncalmness” tumble out of me into everything else. Second, it’s called “I don’t have any other choice.” I didn’t think I could do this, but I am, and I know that if you all out there who think you could not do this had to, you would too. And you would get through it just like I am. You know why? Because you wouldn’t have a choice either!

Every day  before my husband left I heard in  my head; I can’t do this, I can’t do this, I can’t do this. I am no different from anyone else. I can’t do it either, but I do. One step at a time and one day at time, until it’s finally all over. And as I was thinking about all this the other day I thought of all the things that help me cope and help me get through and I thought I would share them with you.

For those who wonder how I get through a deployment here are my 10 ways to cope during a deployment:

How to Cope During Deployment

1. I go to counseling.
I have mentioned counseling before, all the benefits it has, and how it is not something to be embarrassed about and I still stand by that. If you want to read my post about counseling please click here: Counseling. Being able to talk things over and talk about people (yes, I said people) and things that bother me is a huge help. I don’t have my husband to talk to during the week and it is so nice to be able to get things off my chest and have someone talk to me and help me cope with things past and present. My counselor always points me back to God, and sometimes I need that more than anything else. If you are interested in trying counseling, please know that it is covered by Tricare. It’s not just for people with problems, it’s for anyone who needs someone to talk to or  even just help coping and getting by.

2. I have a  military wife mentor who is a sounding board for me.
This poor woman hears from me at least once a day and sometimes as many as 5 times a day. She has gotten phone calls from at 3 in the morning when I didn’t know what to do, and bless her heart she is so patient with me! She is a Christian and a military wife of many years and so she knows the ropes of military life quite well. There are times when I just couldn’t handle something, or just needed someone to talk to or to talk something through and she has always been there to listen or to give advice. If you can, find a mentor, someone older than you who has been through several years of military life. They will be a good person to go to when you have questions or just need someone to talk to who understands.

3. I pray… and pray and pray and pray.
If I had a dime for every time I prayed, “Lord, give me strength” during this deployment, I would be rich! But seriously prayer is what gets me through, without my faith in God, knowing that He is listening and that He is here helping me, I would be lost. When you pray it doesn’t have to be this great, long prayer. Just tell Him how you feel. You will be amazed at the peace it brings to your heart when you place God first in your life.

4. I breathe.
Breathe? Yup, breathe. Seriously, I have anxiety problems. There are times when I know that I have pushed my limit. Sometimes I just have to stand there and practice the breathing I have learned that I know helps to calm me. It’s actually called candle breathing. You take a big deep breathe through your nose, hold it for a couple of seconds, then blow it out through your mouth like you are blowing out a candle. After you do that a few times it helps put things in perspective sometimes. I do it when I feel like I am about to panic, or when things are getting too overwhelming for me. I also do it a lot when I am going to bed because it helps me relax so I can go to sleep. Try it sometime, you might be surprised how quickly it can help calm you down!

5. I exercise
This is more of a recent one, but I have found that the times when I am upset or about to lose it, I get on my treadmill and put all my energy into it. I get an awesome work out and I get off the treadmill feeling much better than when I started. It’s a good use for all that negative energy and it makes you feel good! The times where I am stressed out the most have been some of my best work outs because I really put everything I had into it. You don’t have to do a crazy work-out to feel better, go for a walk or find a local yoga class. Both of those can be huge stress relievers as well.

6. I go out.
I get out of the house, I hang out with friends, I do something, but I get out of the house, and get a change of scenery, etc. Sometimes just being in the house for long periods of time can get to you. You need to get out, get fresh air, see some people, places, and things. This helps to keep things in perspective, keeps you busy, and keeps the time flying by.

7. I try not to cry
I’m not saying crying is bad, because sometimes you do need to let it all out. But for me, sometimes once I let it all go then it doesn’t stop and then I am sitting there all day crying and feeling sorry for myself (When my husband’s grandpa passed away, I had a moment where I started crying and could not stop. I was trying to wash dishes while my son was sleeping and finally I just had to stop and sit on the floor because I was crying so hard). I find if I just push it out of my mind, and put that energy into something else then I feel better anyways. Of course there are times when I do cry, and that’s ok but for the most part I just put that into something else and it all comes out ok. Also talking to someone when you want to cry or while crying helps. It may sound silly, but really that person is going to be understanding and want to help you through.

8. I talk to other military wives who understand what I’m going through.
I have two friends who I know I can message anytime and they will listen and put things into perspective for me. Just knowing that they have been through and felt the same things as me is a huge help to me. They know who they are because they get Facebook messages from me often. Ahem, Aprille and Briana… Find a friend who won’t judge you, and who truly understands the military life and talk to them whenever you are feeling low.

9. I find something to immerse myself in.
For me it has been organizing, cleaning, and decorating my house, and also exercising. I put myself into cleaning and organizing my home, first because it needs it very badly and I want to learn to keep a nice home, and second because I want my husband to come home to a beautiful, clean home. I am so excited for him to see some of the changes I’ve made! I have had several friends who have helped me do some (small) renovations, and it has been fun. Find something that you can do during the deployment. Set a goal and try to accomplish that goal during the deployment or before the deployment ends. It could be a weight loss goal or something else. Just picture how happy your husband will be when he sees you have reached your goal, whatever it may be!

10. I pray some more.
This one is so important that I had to mention it again. Seriously get on your knees right now and pray. I am speaking to myself here too. I don’t pray nearly as much as I should, and I know that really is the key to getting through each day.


What about YOU? What are some things you do to help yourself cope during deployment?

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  1. Love this post! We have lots of similarities. I laughed when I read your “Breathe” because that is exactly what I have to do and people look at me funny!!! 🙂

    1. Hi Sarah! Glad you liked it. 🙂 haha so you do the breathing too huh? Good to know I’m not the only one. It really does help!

  2. thanks! 🙂
    I LOVE finding blogs of christian military wives ~ sometimes the “stereotypical army wife drama” is overwhelming; especially when one lives on post… 😉

  3. Big Hug Kathryn those are some awesome tips. I know deployments to well from a personal exp. and from being there for my friends. Hang in there! I use to pray pray pray all the time and try to keep busy as much as I could too. Now i pray and keep busy for similar reasons when the hubs is away for work for weeks at a time. While it doesn’t compare to the Months we use to be away from each other in the military The pain is still the same. xoxo

    1. Thanks Ruby! I am sorry that you still have to deal with the separation it is never easy. Hang in there and thanks for commenting!

  4. Great advice I’m currently doing some of this… And yes somehow keeping ur self busy takes away the stress of what if ….that was to happen, being a military wife is hard but when we are strong then hubby is strong and together we lift each other up. Awesome advice, wish I found this long time ago.. God bless

  5. My husband is about to go through is first deployment and our son is 5 months old. I’m trying my hardest to get myself ready for the separation and to stay positive about all this but I have no IDEA what I’m doing and im trying to reach out to some of the other wives but where i live not a lot of women are very friendly! i just want to tell you these tips are great! and I have already used some of them and he isn’t even gone yet!!!

    1. Hi Rachel,
      I am so glad this post was helpful to you! If you want here are some more resources that may be helpful to you:
      Preparing for Deployment https://singingthroughtherain.net/2012/10/preparing-for-deployment.html
      Helping Young Children Through Deployment https://singingthroughtherain.net/2012/12/helping-young-children-through-deployment-2.html
      And a great support group for military wives that I think you will really like: http://www.facebook.com/groups/nowomanstandsalone/
      I hope this helps, good luck and God bless! Will keep you in my prayers!

  6. You know, it seems so simple, but in all the ‘Coping with Deployment’ booklets and websites I’ve read, no-one has ever suggested counselling to me. At least not until things got to critical point. I’m off to read your other post now about it, but thanks for opening my mind up to a great new idea.

    1. Counselling/therapy before, during, and even after deployment is SUCH a help because you can be free to talk to someone who has no biases and must remain objective…and everything must remain confidential. I told my therapist all sorts of horrible things and just getting it off of my chest is a huge relief. I think after deployment it could almost be considered a necessity for both service member and spouse…both separately and together. We’ve run into some trials in reintegration and currently I’m seeing our therapist twice a month and my husband is seeing her twice a WEEK!! And it’s all free on post!!! I’m a huge proponent of therapy!!

      1. What she said ^^^ I feel the same way! You can tell her anything and she doesn’t judge and she can give you an outsider’s view and advice on the situation.

  7. I love your comments. I feel most of the time that people don’t understand why I am so depressed. I had to quit my job because my boss wasn’t willing to decrease my work hours so I could cope better. Well, she had hired someone but according to her, after 2 weeks, it was not working out. Then she began to assault me over the next 2 days with her bad moods. I got so tired, and I told her if she continued to treat me with disrespect I would have to quit. She “accepted my resignation” but really, I wanted HER to change how she was treating me. I now have no job and feel like I’ve failed, and I have no friends because i was working so much and trying to take care of the kids. Now I could find friends, but those who are “civilian” don’t seem to understand what I am going through. It is very painful and I am trying to find a solution, counseling helps, but I think having a stronger group of military friends would help more. That is why I enjoyed your post. Thanks for doing this and not trying to mask your feelings to make others more comfortable.

  8. Nancy im sorry to hear all the things u are going through. I been there so many times! ! I know exactly how u feel, the only thing I can suggest u is hit the gym, I helps u stay jn shape and release all those emotions, and the day goes by faster. I will keep u in my prayers, I hope God will give u the strength and peace u need so much.

  9. I just recently started dating someone in the military. It definitely has been a huge adjustment, but I am learning a lot as I go. I have found that support from others has been the best for me. Surrounding yourself with friends & family makes the waiting game a little less painful. Thanks so much for all your kind words and beautiful site!

  10. I am so thankful i came across this. It has been soo hard and u thought i was the only one. My boyfriend is in the airforce and is stationed in Japan for the next 3yrs he left the beginning of March and ive been everywhere it hurts worse some days and somedays i get thru. Ive been talking to my friends at church and trying to be strong, he is my rock. Im supposed to be moving there July of this year it just seema like the days are going by soo slow. Praying does change me and calm me down a bit. Its still hard with the time zones and what not. Thank you for letting me see im not the only one.

  11. Thanks for the response to my post. Having a hard time right now. I am trying the therapy route but since I do not live on base (in Los Angeles) – I don’t have therapists that have experience with the military life. Yesterday I got “fired” from my therapist after sharing my frustrations and desires for a normal life. She assumed that because I mentioned i had taken out my own IUD (don’t need it – I don’t see my husband) and mentioned looking online at some online dating service (I was just looking!). She thought I wanted to divorce- but I didn’t. I just wanted to speak about my frustrations and anger at being asked to choose between him and MY life. I am not young. According to my therapist I should have known better before marrying! Thank you VERY much for the posts about NOT being able to prepare for military life. I have never experienced a deployment and so how could I know the frustrations of losing a job, feeling cut off from your family who doesn’t understand what you are going through, feeling angry and wishing things were different, crying at church and knowing everyone is watching and not knowing what to say to you, feeling crazy and then to add to the complications of deployment, there is also the complications and reality that sometimes as a spouse you cannot leave to go with him. I cannot leave my 18 year old who decided not to go to college but is pursuing a career that doesn’t travel. I cannot leave my 14 year old with her grandma because she is suffering already with the loss of her own father (my ex) and cutting herself (yes she is getting therapy). There are no posts about how to deal with the kids who are separating to start their own life and the feeling that not only did you lose your husband to the army, but that you are having to choose between your husband and the kids who refuse to leave with you and legally don’t have to follow you. How to live with the fact that you are being asked to choose between your own children and your husband?! Since it is not an option for me to abandon my kids, then I have to abandon my husband – which simply means I have no sex life or any relationship with him…it feels like a prison sentence, really. So be prepared to explain these feelings to a therapist – who doesn’t understand these feelings, apparently and takes my frustrations to be reality. I am NOT dating other men, I was just trying to remember what it is like to live a normal life – where you actually could date, where you actually live within 20 minutes of each other and can experience even a cup of coffee with a companion who knows you and isn’t married to the army.

    1. Nancy, im so sorry you are going through so much! Though im probably much younger than you I understand your pain, anger and desperation. Being a military wife isn’t easy like people think it is, but it doesn’t matter what we go through or how many times we fall and cry, and feel that loneliness, you can always go to our good Heavenly Father and pray for guidence, reassurance, peace and joy. Only God can give you what you need, and He will help yoy make wise decisions. Your children are old enough to be on their own, sure you taught them well to be responsible and make wise choices.. just saying!! You need your husband and he needs you, your children will eventually start their own families and you will be alone. I guess just try out to follow your husband where he is at if thats possible, if ir doesn’t work,, at least you gave it all and tried. I will be praying for u ..

      1. Sandy – Thanks so much for your kind words. I was afraid of being judged. My 18 year old might be ok – but the 14 year old is fragile and has hopes of going to medical school, which I applaud because she is so smart despite her current emotional turmoil. I will not let her life suffer by repeated moves (I already did that with my ex- who moved us 10 times in 10 years as a consultant). This is my husband’s choice of a job (he re-enlisted without telling me!) and I promised my children that i wouldn’t move them when I bought my house (by myself and without child support!) and i now have managed to live in it for almost 5 years. As is, my 18 year old is still fragile unfortunately due to my past divorce and her own father not being here either. He lives in France (where we used to live). I suppose that is why my husband chose me, because he figured because of my independence and resourcefulness in dealing with my past that I could handle his absence and the moves; despite me telling him otherwise. I just fell in love with a nice guy and I just had too much faith that everything would work out. It might still – just I don’t have much faith right now that it will. That is perhaps the biggest problem…because it breeds my constant worries that I am not handling this situation well – nor that I will be able to handle it in the future. I do rely on God – but I don’t hear a solution to this problem right now.

        1. Oh my I forgot u mentioned ur 14 year old. Yes moving can be very stressful and difficult specially for the kids. I have moved so much that I lost count (hubbys choice though). Sigh I dont know what to say, but u seem like a very strong lady, who has gone through a lot and is still standing.. dont lose Faith, its the only thing that keep us moving forward. Right now things look rough because ur situation is very complex, but God Almighty is there with u even if u dont see Him, He will carry u a out of this harsh times like He has done in the past. . Hang in there buddy, seek Him and cry out to Him, His there ready to hear u and show u the way. Dont feel judge, what might work for some doesn’t work for everyone else. Only God judge. .

          1. that’s ok. Thanks Sandy! I am sitting outside right now listening to a neighbor’s child have a screaming melt down ….ahh glad these days are almost over! Thank you SO much for your encouragement.

          2. I guess I can do this today. I can say thanks for the things I DO have in my life. I can say thanks for my husband for being able to make a joke about me removing my IUD (he said I was sad because perhaps I had gotten attached to it!). I thank him for understanding that to me it was like I was removing a wedding ring. But he let me know with humor that it was just an IUD and that he would still be there for me – I love that he didn’t take it personally – because it really was uncomfortable for me. I can say thanks for this beautiful day and my great neighbors and my kids being able to ride their bikes without fear. These are things I can say because our husbands make this possible. Can I say that? Thanks to all these wonderful strong women in the Army having the courage to talk about God in their lives. Thank you for all of your help and having started this website Kathryn. You and all the participants are such examples of strength — even though you are so young- it is humbling to see your courage and read about your struggles. It has given me strength beyond words.

  12. Kathryn, Thank you for your encouragement and reminder to trust God and take one day, and sometimes hour at a time. I’m currently experiencing my first deployment, and I love that I have found Christian military wives to share encouragement. So, thank you, for posting this. God bless you and your family for serving!

  13. I just came across this post. So much good advice! We are preparing for an extended deployment and I keep getting the “I don’t know how you do it” comments. I always tell people the same thing – I do it because I have to! I know that God is in control no matter what happens and He holds me, my kids & my husband in His hands. Nothing that is going to happen is going to take Him by surprise, I just need to trust Him and trust that He has a plan.

    One thing that I have done to survive deployment is planned a weekend get away for my kids & me (ages 9 & 7) for each month that hubby is gone. It will give us something to look forward to every month and, hopefully, make the time go by faster!

    I am so blessed to have an incredible church family surrounding me who have promised my husband that they will look after me & the kids! It is so important for military spouses to have a strong support system!!

    Thanks for posting this & keep them coming!!

  14. I love this post! Deployment is by far one of the hardest things to go through, for both sides. I really loved that you openly talked about counseling, there is so much stigma associated with counseling and mental health, but it’s SO great to get counseling and have someone to help you sort through the messy things! Also, all of the phrases you mentioned, “you’re so strong, I could never do that,” I have heard a million times. And each time I grit my teeth! Sometimes I even say, “I’m actually not strong, but I need to be for myself and my spouse, so I’m doing the best I can!”

    1. Yes! I talk a lot about counseling here on the blog because it is SO important and I want to get rid of that stigma attached to it. Also, I love your answer to the: “You’re so strong, I could never do that.” I think I will use that next time I hear it! 🙂

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