And so begins the countdown clock. Deployment will begin in a month, give or take (please, please give) a day or two. Every military family knows the dates will wibble and wobble based on ship movements and who gets to fly-on or walk-on; but a month is pretty much what we are looking at. It seems like a long time and a short time... all at the same time. With each day, though, the knot in the pit of my stomach grows and is more difficult to ignore. It's a severe case of Pre-Deployment Dread.
If you are unfamiliar with PDD, let me break it down for you*:
Causes: PDD is generally caused by an upcoming military deployment. In most cases, the severity of the dread is directly related to the length of the aforementioned deployment.
Types: PDD can be present in two differing, yet quite similar forms:
A. Actual Pre-Deployment Dread: This form is evident when a deployment date is real and set on the calendar. (A)PDD shows more consistent and long-lasting symptoms. Oftentimes, symptoms are intense and experienced on a daily basis.
B. Rumored/Hypothetical Pre-Deployment Dread: This form of PDD is experienced when military spouses have discussions with other military spouses or their spouse about the possibility of a deployment. At times this dread can show itself when a military spouse is sitting alone and just thinking of possibilities in their spouse's career. (R/H)PDD has symptoms that generally last only as long as the discussion/day-dreaming session. (R/H)PDD can prove to be as intense as (A)PDD.
Symptoms: A person experiencing PDD may experience all or some of the following:
* An undeniable knot in the pit of your stomach making you feel like you may 'toss your cookies' at any moment.
* Always being on the brink of tears and never quite knowing when they are going to get tired of waiting just beneath the surface and erupt.
* An intense need to hang on to your spouse when giving hugs.... just about when a "normal" hug would end, you just need to hang on a little bit longer.
* The inability to complete a chore during the day without thinking of the next stretch of months when you will be doing the chore alone.
* Continually looking at the calendar and doing mental math as to how many more weeks or days you have until D-Day.
* Grumpily picking up supplies to make calendar squares.
* Day-dreaming of holidays and family celebrations that you will celebrate with your 'better half' half a world away... and either feeling super-sad, super-irritated, or super-bold in your determination to make it a fun celebration anyway... or feeling all three emotions at the same time.
* Alternating between a deep sense of pride in the military branch that your family is serving in and a deep sense of hatred; always knowing full well you will circle back around to the pride.
* Making many mental lists of how you are going to improve yourself, organize your house, keep your kids busy, stay in touch with your spouse, and somehow enjoy the deployment.
* Making many metal lists of how you are going to stretch out in the bed at night, watch whatever you want to on television, eat popcorn for dinner if you so feel like it, and not pick up dirty underwears off the floor.
* Snapping at your spouse for no particular reason, while knowing deep down it's just because you don't want him to leave.
Diagnosis: If you answer "yes" to these three questions, you can go ahead an diagnose yourself with PDD:
1. Is/Will your spouse be deployed in the future?
2. Do you feel grumpy, sad, and dread-ful about it?
3. Are you experiencing any of the listed symptoms?
Treatment: Treatment for PDD varies depending on each person's personality. Some treatments include:
* Allow yourself a Day of Dread. Just wallow in it for a bit but tell yourself you're going to have to get over it.
* When suffering the symptom of needing longer hugs from your spouse, go ahead and hug longer. Hug more often.
* Make those mental lists into real lists that you can add to instead of re-hashing them in your mind.
* Talk to another military spouse about how your feeling, but make sure it doesn't turn into a complete complain fest for you both... otherwise symptoms will most likely increase.
* Talk to your spouse about your dread. (I highly recommend beginning this conversation with something along the lines of, "I'm not mad at YOU and I'm not blaming you, I know you would stay home if you could. I just want to tell you how I feel.")
* Pray about it. No one on Earth understands you better than the Big Guy Upstairs.
* Go shopping, but instead of picking up random things, try to come up with something that will be useful during the deployment. (a workout DVD, a long-term craft, cards to mail to the hubster, a bottle of wine for each month of deployment, whatever works for you... )
* Accept that it just sort of SUCKS right now, but before long you'll be experiencing Deployment Daze and then Homecoming Highs.
*PLEASE NOTE: this is completely made up and is just what is floating through my head when I'm not making mental lists of Things I will Hate During Deployment and Things I will Enjoy During Deployment. If you are experiencing real-life symptoms of depression, please please please respect that and go talk to your doctor about it.
And in honor of my PDD, here's a picture of my most-favorite Deployer (from two years & one kid ago... but it's my ultimate favorite photo):