Updated: Oct 10, 2020
Immediately at the beginning of 2019, I found out my family and I were going to move to South Korea the following summer. I couldn’t shake the shock off of me when I learned there was no other choice--I liked where I was stationed and wasn’t ready to leave after only one year. Furthermore, this was my first move to another country (that was halfway across the world), so it’s no shock that I was distraught over this outcome. Unable to accept and adapt to the upcoming change, I found myself crying frequently and expecting the worst case scenarios to come from this life-changing transition.
Once I moved and was attempting to adapt to the major change, I found myself in this depressive and hopeless state constantly. I couldn’t shake the feeling of sadness and lack of motivation off of me; it got to the point where it took a day’s energy to crawl out of bed, ultimately affecting my ability to take care of myself and my schoolwork. I talked about my frequent struggles with parents, who scheduled appointments for me to meet with a counselor every week to figure out the source of the issue. Due to this crucial step of reaching out for support, I was diagnosed with depression and started receiving the treatment and counseling I needed.
Although my mental health made me feel this way, I know I’m not alone. Nearly all children are affected by PCS moves, even if they are as simple as stationing somewhere else in the same state. For many, it gets difficult to transition to unfamiliar places, to adapt to a new learning environment, and to find new friends, especially during the teenage years. Additionally, spending a couple months preparing for the move, packing up all their belongings, and moving how far they need to creates a large amount of stress for the whole family. This can create a frustrating environment and take a toll on all of the individuals involved.
Nonetheless, mental and emotional health is just as important as physical health, no matter who the person may be. Poor mental and emotional health can harm a child’s overall quality of life, which can further harm their performance on school work and extracurricular activities, social life, and their perspective towards the world. Without speaking out about these issues or seeking help, these issues could possibly turn into a much more severe situation. With all these stressors and unfamiliarities that are always attached to PCS moves, it is completely normal to feel stressed, anxious, and sad. But when times get rough, it is crucial to take care of your emotional and mental health and reach out if you need help.
No matter the situation, no one (even you!) is alone in this. Multiple PCS moves can be mentally exhausting, and it is important to seek support if you need it. It is completely okay to reach out! Oftentimes, military teenagers don’t know where to start when they need additional support. An excellent place to start is to talk about any issues in mind to a parent, guardian, or trusted friend. Another great place to start is to talk to a trusted adult or school counselor. Trusted adults can help find any additional resources or services a military teen may need during these hard times. There are also resources available outside of school, such as counseling or therapy directed to any specific issue.
Regardless of how rough it may get, everyone deserves good health and the resources needed to maintain said health. No problem is “silly” or unimportant, and seeking additional help does not make anyone weaker or lesser than others. Being involved in a military family that’s constantly moving can be difficult to cope with at times, so remember to always put your health (whether that be physical, emotional, or mental) before anything else and to reach out whenever you’re starting to feel distressed.
Do you feel stressed, sad, anxious, or depressed? Check out our Resources page for different places you can go to seek mental health help. Remember, you are not alone.