The Wellness Spotlight Series highlights military spouses and their real world health and wellness journeys in a Facebook Live series. Below is an excerpt of Andi’s feature.
Andi is an Air Force wife, mom, and marketing lead at WISE. She loves learning, personal development, and photography.
TELL US A LITTLE BIT ABOUT YOUR JOURNEY AS A MILITARY SPOUSE.
My husband and I had been married for only a few months when he came to me with his desire to join the Air Force. He always dreamed of being a pilot. As newlyweds fresh out of college, we were so poor but madly in love. We were excited to take this adventure together. I remember the day my husband got the call that he was receiving a pilot slot. It was late fall and the air was crisp as we stood outside our tiny apartment screaming with excitement. We didn’t really know what we had just gotten ourselves into. I spent half my childhood as a military brat to an Air Force pilot Dad, so the lifestyle wasn’t unfamiliar to me, but it is so different on the spouse side. I am so grateful for this life!
HAVE YOU EXPERIENCED ANY EXTREME LOW TIMES SINCE BECOMING A MILITARY SPOUSE, WHEN YOUR HEALTH (MENTAL AND/OR PHYSICAL) SUFFERED THE MOST?
Coming into military spouse life I was battling a pretty deep depression. From trauma to chronic health conditions, I was struggling. I recovered thanks to the support of my amazing husband and community, a few extremely talented therapists, and a lot of learning about mental health. I gained a lot of tools during this season, but learning how to set healthy boundaries and how to listen to my body were the most impactful.
Physical health directly connects to mental health, and is often cyclical. I have a laundry list of chronic health conditions that are not easily managed and can make standard things in life challenging—like working out or having a baby. If I ignore cues from my body, then my mental state suffers as well.
I knew these issues would make pregnancy and postpartum a unique experience. When I became pregnant several years after I had recovered from my first bout of depression, I knew postpartum depression (PPD) would be a concern. Unsurprisingly, I was quickly diagnosed with PPD and postpartum anxiety (PPA). My body did not respond well to giving birth, breastfeeding, or getting broken sleep. My health conditions worsened and all the work I had done to find inner peace went by the wayside. Suddenly, I didn’t know who I was anymore. My new title of “mom” scared me to the point of tears.
I don’t know that I can give you clear steps for what helped me out of the fog this time. For a while, it was pure survival— though I think that’s true for every new parent. I relied heavily on instinct, what I had learned in earlier years, and my husband. Eventually my son began to sleep around his second birthday and my health became more manageable.
I think both stories of depression, though very different experiences, tell a real story about how important it is to take care of our bodies and minds. If one is failing, the other will be affected too.
WHEN HAVE YOU FELT YOUR HEALTHIEST (MENTAL AND/OR PHYSICAL) OR ARE YOU ON YOUR WAY TO YOUR HEALTHIEST? WHAT IS YOUR GOAL?
I am so proud of the woman I am today. I’ve been to hell and back and have allowed it to make me stronger, smarter, and kinder. I am a constant work in progress though. I have learned the red flags of depression, learned to listen to my body, respect my intuition, and honor my experiences. I hope to continue bettering myself and continuing to learn.
WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE FORM OF SELF-CARE?
My best form of self care is to talk it out. The good, the bad, the ugly. I am pretty extroverted and prefer to process everything externally. My husband often says that I need to “get my words out.” My mom always joked that I had a certain number of words I needed to say in a day. If I hit a wall, I know I just need to talk it through with someone.
WHAT IS ONE PERSONAL HABIT THAT CONTRIBUTES TO YOUR SUCCESS?
Set healthy boundaries. Start by getting to know yourself. What do you need to be able to take care of yourself? What are your desires and interests? What do and don’t you want in your life? Boundaries don’t have to be so firm that they shut people out, they simply tell people how you want to be treated.
Examples of healthy boundaries:
“I check my email when I get to the office, I will respond then.”
Say no when you mean no, and do so without guilt.
Ask for what you need.
It’s not my job to fix others.
It’s okay if others get angry.
It’s not my responsibility to make others happy.
IF YOU COULD SHARE A HEALTH AND WELLNESS RESOURCE WHAT WOULD IT BE AND WHY?
The health resource I would most recommended is to find a good therapist. Don’t wait to go to therapy when you are sick, go now and do a check-in.
IF YOU COULD RECOMMEND ONE BOOK AND/OR PODCAST TO MILITARY SPOUSES, WHAT WOULD IT BE AND WHY?
Daring Greatly by Brené Brown. Brené disarms but educates in this book that encourages us to have courage and be vulnerable with one another. If you are on the path to personal growth, this should be your next read.
Coffee + Crumbs Podcast is so great for mamas. This group makes you feel right at home during a wild season.
Andi Adams, marketing lead at WISE Advise + Assist Team, studied public relations at Lee University and has a variety of PR and marketing experience. Receiving multiple certifications, including Crisis Management and Spokesperson Training, she enjoys ongoing learning. She recently returned from Japan and loves the fast pace of military life. A mom to one wild little boy, she loves personal development and photography.