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“I spent my 20's feeling lonely and very stressed”

Amy* tells us about how being married to someone in the Royal Navy put pressure on her mental health and how more support for families is needed.

(*Name has been changed for privacy.)

When my husband and I agreed to start a family, I naively imagined that we would both be involved in the parenting process. As the spouse of a serving member of the armed forces, I soon realised that this was not the case and I would effectively be a single parent.

There were many things to be grateful for such as a good home, being financially secure and the excitement that we all felt when he was due to come home. The downside was that I spent my 20's feeling lonely and very stressed. 

During a period of living away from my family, my son and I could go for up to three days without seeing anyone.

More often than not my husband’s return home would be delayed and this was torture and emotionally damaging. This took its toll eventually and I lost a lot of weight and struggled to sleep. Those around me did not seem to understand, or thought that I should have somehow known what I was getting into.

When I consider my children's formative years, I know that I gave them everything that I had to offer and they have gone on to make great achievements as a result of my hard work but being employed, studying, running a home and parenting meant that I could never relax and just be in the moment. I really regret that and if I am honest I even harboured some resentment towards my partner, even though it was not his fault and he felt his own pains.

I will always remember the sadness felt after a holiday, as it usually meant that he would be going away. 

How can a family who love each other so much be repeatedly torn apart. Our lives were a complete rollercoaster of extreme highs and lows and both extremes cannot be maintained indefinitely.

Despite all these pains we have been privileged to learn so many valuable lessons, such how to never take each other for granted. I am proud to say that we are a close family unit who have learned to value each other. My husband and I have now been together for 21 years.

Dealing with deployment did get easier as the children got older and my bond with them is huge. Parenting alone and having my husband's unwavering support gave me a huge sense of independence that I continue to maintain to this day.

My husband is a beautiful asset to my life but not someone who is essential in order for me to exist.

I do not think that I would have ever grown this much and be the person that I am today without experiencing many aspects of being a spouse to a serving member of the armed forces.

We have set up a new service, Anchoring Minds, to support the families of serving personnel with the unique wellbeing challenges they face. Find out more here.

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