PTSD, Suicide, And Our Military

I'm friends with a lot of military widows. I try to stay involved in the community and I cherish the stories I hear from each of the women I meet. I have met widows who have lost their husbands in so many different ways. In combat like my own story, in accidents at home, in not-accidents here in America, from illness, and from suicide. While we are all spread across the board, it is quite a striking amount who have lost their spouse due to suicide.

To be honest, I don't know how to really jump into this topic. It is not my own story, but it was one I have come in contact with frequently enough to raise alarm. It is one that is becoming far too common in America today. And it is one that needs to be addressed.

Earlier this week on Facebook, I shared a photo of a soldier who had been listed as missing. His family was reaching out via social media to find him. They had listed his last known whereabouts, what he was driving, as well as the fact that he had been suffering from PTSD. They were asking anyone for information and encouraging their community as well as the nation to search for him. A few minutes ago, I was saddened to learn the soldier has since passed on, and according to police it was due to a self-inflicted gunshot wound.

It weighs heavy on my heart to report that Erik Jorgensen - 26 years old - took his own life on July 19, 2013.

First, I want to offer my most sincere condolences to Erik's family. This is such a hard time they are entering and I pray they have support and love to move through this time.
I also offer my condolences to all of my friends who lost their loved one to suicide.
But here's the thing, condolences, well, they just aren't enough.

It is reported that 20 service members PER DAY commit suicide. In fact, the most recent article I read stated 22 service members per day, equaling 1 service member every 65 minutes, takes their own life. This includes both "new" and "old" veterans. Veterans fresh from war, like Erik Jorgensen and many of my friends' husbands, as well as veterans who have been out of war for years.

Hello America! THIS IS A PROBLEM! It's not only a problem because it is service members (those who are fighting for the very freedoms our nation defines ourselves by) but more generally - people. Something is wrong if any group of people is taking their own lives in such rapidness.

These people are hurting. They are going to war and coming home and they are in pain. And it is our nation's responsibility to take care of them! I have seen first hand only minor effects of PTSD. (And my use of minor does not mean "not scary" or "not serious" it just means I have not seen even close to what so many others have witnessed.)  I have personally seen the pain and hurt.  I have seen lives and persons transformed after coming home. And I am left wondering what I can do? Yet I still see nothing done. This. Is. A. Problem.  And honestly, I wish I had the solution. I really, really wish I could fix this. Ultimately, the ideal solution is no more war. But while we are at a time of war, what can we do?

What can we do to protect those who protect us? I know the first step is awareness. As a nation, we need to be aware that this is an issue and we need to work at the large to bring these numbers down, to protect those who protect us.
I believe another step is acceptance. PTSD and any other mental disruption that may come from seeing/being in war should not be seen as "bad" or "crazy" or "career-threatening." Hell, I'd even go as far as to say it is expected. It is war. If you aren't shaken by it, well that, to me anyway, is the crazy part! We need to let these guys and gals know that they are not abnormal or fucked up for their "issues." We need them to know they can still lead successful lives and be accepted in society and not  shamed because they have been at war! And we need to support them. Help them. Reach out to them. I know so many families of suicide victims were reaching out. But who else was? Is it the families sole responsibility to reach out? Should they have to deal with it alone?! No! It is all of ours. Something has got to give. This is not okay. We should not be standing by while this many people are dying at their own hand from going to places they were sent on behalf of this nation! It is our duty and our responsibility to do something greater.

So I'm starting here with step 1. Awareness. I want you all to know how not-okay this is and I want you to spread the word. I want you to join in a campaign to stop this and to support our veterans, past and present. Support them so they may feel the support and love and so they may know their worth! So they know this life is worth it.

To my veteran friends past and present, you are loved, you are appreciated and you are worth it. If you are feeling that things are unmanageable please, please I urge you to get help, reach out, let us help you. And to my fellow military families and friends, if you know someone is struggling please, please encourage them to get help. This is a battle we must fight together.

Veterans Crisis Line 1-800-273-8255
Military One Source Crisis Prevention   1-800-273-TALK (8255)
TAPS 1-800-959-TAPS (8277)

To Miss

What is it "to miss"? How exactly is missing someone defined. Out of curiosity, I looked up the definition.

miss 1  (mɪs) 
— vb fail to reach, hit, meet, find, or attain (some specified orimplied aim, goal, target, etc) to fail to attend or be present for: to miss a train to missan appointment to fail to see, hear, understand, or perceive: to miss apoint to lose, overlook, or fail to take advantage of: to miss anopportunity to leave out; omit: to miss an entry in a list to discover or regret the loss or absence of: he missed hiswatch she missed him to escape or avoid (something, esp a danger), usuallynarrowly: he missed death by inches
8.miss the boat miss the bus  to lose an opportunity
— n
9.a failure to reach, hit, meet, find, etc
10.informal give something a miss  to avoid (something): give thelecture a miss give the pudding a miss

That's certainly not how I would define it. In fact, in doesn't even begin to touch on it.

1. The sinking feeling in your stomach at the realization that the what or who you want and need most is unobtainable.
2. When your thoughts are completely absorbed in someone/thing that is not and can not be present at the current moment
3. Longing for what once was

That touches a little bit on my definition of "to miss," but even then, it's only slightly.
When Jonny first died, I walked around with the constant sinking feeling in my gut. It never went away. Almost like that feeling when you go over a hill too quickly, but not as fun. Like my heart was literally working it's way down into the depths of my body to hide itself from anymore pain. That sinking feeling stayed with my for months and then it seemed to ease up a bit. It started to happen only when I first woke up and right before I went to sleep. There was something about starting and ending my day that was painful and made the missing so much stronger. As time went on, the sinking feeling lifted. My life continued and while I still miss him every day, my body as seemed to adjust to it and stop hurting physically so often.

That is why it hurts that much more when the sinking springs up again. It's not gone for good, in fact I don't believe it ever will be. It will continue to happen when I am missing him more than usual and it will surprise me and I will just live with it like I have.

I had too much time with myself on Saturday. Driving solo with only my thoughts and the radio to entertain me got the best of the former. Not to mention, I'd awoken that morning from a weird dream featuring Jonny. I don't remember it much just that it was weird and left me feeling unsettled. Those dreams always set me up for a weird day, to say the least. The sinking feeling stayed with me almost all day, until I was too tired to really notice anymore. My thoughts wondered and of course ended up at the inevitable "could, should, would" place.

Then I realized... I've been widowed longer than I was married. I've been widowed longer than I even knew Jonathan. This has been true for a while, actually, but the realization came yesterday. And it sucked... at first. It sucked to think that my happiness has been less than my pain - in terms of time. But with that came another realization. The realization of what an impact that man really had on me. Sure, I've known for a long, long while how much I was in love with him and how much I continue to love him. But the impact he had on my life, my soul... wow. For someone to walk into my life and stay only so briefly but to have changed me forever. Wow.  Jonny Porto, you certainly are a special soul and I am thankful for having had you, even for so brief a time, to have my soul changed and for our souls to have been melded together in the way that they have.

It's weird, but sometimes I swear I can still hear him through things and songs and crazy stuff. Signs, if you will. It could just me being presumptuous and hopeful, but it's my mind and my heart and I can think what I want. There's a Kip Moore song that I cry nearly every time I hear it. Hey Pretty Girl. It really seems to document our relationship in an eery way. They met and they fell in love, and the topic of time moving quickly is brought up. The last two stanza's of the song really do it for me -

Hey pretty girl, you did so good
Our baby's got your eyes
And a fighter's heart like I knew she would
Hey pretty girl, you did so good

Hey pretty girl, when I see the light
And it's my time to go
I'm gonna thank the Lord for a real good life
A pretty little girl and a beautiful wife

I guess because it's a song and everything needs to fit in a song's length, everything happens so quickly for the relationship, just as it did for Jonny and myself. And then at the end, he dies. It seems like their relationship is just unfolding and it's his time to go. So much like us. Whenever I hear this song, I swear I hear Jonathan saying it to me. Like I said, probably pretty presumptuous. I mean, who am I to assume he'd say these things to me... it just really feels like something he would. So that's how it's justified in my mind (so there)

So after three plus years, the pain is still there, but it's manageable. It's become part of my day to day life and sometimes it presents itself more than other times, and that's ok. I've accepted that it will always be part of my life and I almost welcome it, as a reminder of our love and how intense it was and how much a part of me he is, it only makes sense. 

Doin Things... and Stuff

This post is from last.... Friday? A while ago. I didn't have service enough to post it though... so here we go.

Wow. I have been busy. It seems my life goes in silly cycles. Off cycle things are low key and I find myself bored and looking for something to do. However, On cycle, well that's just intense. I'm never home and have no time and instead remain crazy busy. Being the social butterfly I am, I certainly prefer the on cycle. There's something about being constantly on the go that just works better for me. I find myself getting sad when I've got time on my hands. Too much time to think and reflect. I prefer a steady hustle and bustle, with my only down time being when I'm driving from place to place or in the shower.  Which is how the last week or so has been going.

As I mentioned in my last post, I've signed on as an independent distributor with ItWorks! Global. I absolutely love the botanically based products that I have seen with my own eyes work and I am beyond excited to bring them to my friends. One of our best and most notable products are the "Crazy Wrap Things" or the Ultimate Body Applicators. During the launch week of my being with the company, I focused on wrapping my friends at a discounted rate. It's been awesome seeing the results and how excited my friends are at seeing their own bodies tightening, toning, and firming in as little as 45 minutes. As with every new endeavor, I'm a little nervous going into this. Failure is always a huge fear of mine, but after WidowU with The American Widow Project, I've learned to not listen to the nasty whisperings of self-doubt and I have decided that failure is not an option. So in turn, I've been busy with this business, but so far I love it. I'm excited that in one week it is already growing and I'm happy to see others getting into it and paving their own way, too. If you're interested in earning some extra money and would like to join my team OR if you're interested in trying out our amazing products, please do not hesitate to check out my site or email me here or at I've never been big on self advertising here in my space where I come to share and vent and reach out, but this is something that I actually think is totally worth sharing and I know that several of my blog friends would benefit getting involved and I wouldn't want to keep it from ya.

Along with the business, I've had plenty of time to have a little fun this passed week. I got to have a girl's night out and surprisingly met some cool people. I have been learning that I seriously need to stop focusing on how old I am getting and just revel in the fact that I am still awesome regardless of my age. Although meeting successful 21 and 22 year olds sometimes squashes that fact... haha. I spent some time at Quantico with some very good friends. I really wish I made trips down there more often because these friends are like family to me and it's tough to not see each other as often as we used to.
Col Costantini and the folks he works with (I stole this from FB)

This Saturday, I had the honor of attending the retirement ceremony for Col. Will Costantini. I met Carrie, Will's wife back at my first Blog World Expo experience in 2011 in Las Vegas. Carrie is a riot and one of the greatest people I have ever met. She's a voice for military families, wounded service members and of course good ol' gold star families like mine. She is such a genuine woman and I'm honored to call her a friend. Her husband has served in the Marine Corps since the beginning of time (ok I'm exaggerating) and from what I heard at the ceremony was an incredible Marine, a great leader, and is a standup guy all around. They are awesome folks. The ceremony was really nice. In fact, it was basically in the commandant's back yard. I'm still reeling a little bit that I was not only invited to a ceremony in the commandant's back yard, but that I enjoyed a Bloody Mary and kind of lounged while I was there (I know, you can dress me up but can't take me anywhere), in all seriousness it was beautiful and the things the fellas who worked with Will had to say about him really said a lot about his character.
Totally look like I belong there, right?

 I also got to see MilBlog friends that I hadn't seen in a while as well as meet some more. I love the MilBlog folks, I had such a fun time. We adventured down to Quantico and ate at the famous Globe and Laurel. I've got to say, that restaurant is sooo rad. USMC stuff everywhere, even inside the tables. And the food was mighty tasty as well.

Then we journeyed on over to the Marine Corps Museum. I've got to say that was a little rough for me. The last time I went was with Jonathan. I looked around and I could see him in places we'd walked, up on a hill I made him stand to take a photo, on the concrete blocks by the door... the silly things we did replayed in my mind. But I've got to say I think I held it together pretty well and I enjoyed the walk through the park and all of the memorials they have out there. And the chapel that they have there - is SO money! Haha, seriously it's beautiful and amazing and you should go have a peek if ever you get the chance.
Another stolen FB pic me, Chad, and the Marine Corps Museum

Then after a brief bout of crazy at the mall (let's just say I'm incredibly directionally challenged and leave it at that) we made our way over to the Costantini HQ for food and festivities. I really had a blast and I'm still so honored to have been invited.

I left from the shindig I stopped in Columbia, MD and excellent halfway point for a birthday gathering for my friend and Phi Mu Sister Shannon. I'm really happy with how often I've gotten to see my sisters this summer, I've had so much fun. Shannon is such a good person and I am really happy I made it in time to celebrate with her. I also did some crazy dancing with a British boy. It was fun. I love dancing. Even if I'm terrible at it.
Me, my big Amber, and her bf Ryan. Somehow I did not get a pic with the Bday girl! Fail!!

From there it was home to pack and get ready to head up North to hang with the fam and finally get my little one after a couple weeks apart! Woo wee, what a week!

Fit... Monday?

Fit Monday just doesn't sound right. But I missed the promised Fit Friday. I went to Quantico to visit and then the weekend just got away from me. But alas, here I am Fitting it Up on Monday, but hey that's okay because after a splurgy weekend, it's good to think about Fitness on a Monday!

As I was telling you all earlier, I recently watched Hungry for Change. It is such a great film and wakeup call. I'm not here to tell you all the things you should and shouldn't be eating, though. You can watch Hungry for Change and figure that out.

I try to eat right all the time. I know what I should be eating and what I definitely should not be eating (including some of my favorite foods like macaroni and cheese and ice cream) and I am learning the why's behind it by tons of research and documentaries like Hungry for Change. I'm sure most of you reading this know that you want to be eating more fresh vegetables and fruits, lean proteins and whole clean foods and less processed junk, sugar, and white flour. Right? So I'm not going to preach that today (maybe another day, not today).

What I've learned from this journey is that I screw up. A lot. I mean, that's in life too, not just in health and fitness. Sometimes, the ice cream wins. Sometimes, just a bite turns into a whole meal. It happens. Usually, I feel incredibly guilty about it and I wonder what I should do to "make up" the food mistake I just made. And then I realize, I enjoyed that ice cream, or I enjoyed that meal. And, one of my new favorite mantras, one ice cream didn't make me chubby, one cheat meal didn't get me out of shape then one ice cream or cheat meal isn't going to completely destroy what I've been working on, either.

I used to be under the model of thinking if I screwed up, that was it I was done - my diet was over. And that's the problem, I saw it as a diet, I viewed what I was doing as a temporary thing. I've since changed my thoughts and it's really helped in how I do this whole healthy thing. First, I'm not on a diet. I'm on a quest, a journey if you will, to eat nutritious food and to take back control of my body. I'm tired of giving in to the psychological responses of "food like substances" controlling my reactions to food. It's not meant to last a certain number of months, and it's not for a certain marker event. It's simply for me to feel and look better and improve my health so I can hang out with my awesome daughter as long as possible. Next, because it is long term, I can't expect short term changes. I don't constantly jump on the scale, I measure with inches and photos to document long term and lasting change. Lastly, I recognize that I'm human and I have a weak spot for certain foods but that doesn't mean that I have failed it means I had a little slip. Then, I jump right back on the wagon and keep on keeping on. There's no quitting if it's for the long term.

The moral of the story is... just keep swimming, just keep swimming, swimming, swimming...
Don't quit! Just because you're not seeing immediate results or you had a bingey weekend, don't use those as excuses to give up. Bad stuff happens sometimes, we pick up and move forward - the same applies to health and fitness! There are so many more motivational quotes I can throw in here, If it doesn't challenge you it won't change you... You didn't get chubby in one day you won't get fit in one day either! And on and on and on. Keep going friends, You got this!!

Yes, I know, I don't really have a future in motivational speaking. But hey, I'm trying - alright? haha

The other exciting thing happening in my health and fitness journey is I recently signed up to be an ItWorks Global independent distributor. This is the company with those "crazy skinny wraps" as well as some really awesome supplements and skin care products. I am really, really excited to be working for this company. I've tried the wrap myself and saw pretty awesome results. As I saw more and more people having great results and showing such loyalty to the company and my friends having such success being distributors, I've chosen to sign up too. I was definitely a skeptic at first but the results spoke for themselves and I'm hooked. I don't want to take away from my whole motivational speech with sales talk, so I'll wrap this up for now (get it... WRAP?! hahaha) but I will encourage you to check out my website, have a look at the product, and contact me when you're interested in knowing more or getting started! Don't worry, there will be a whole post about this in the future for those of you who are interested and keep your eyes peeled for some "opportunities involving free stuff" (hint hint there will be a giveaway in the near future!!)

Happy Monday everyone, remember JUST KEEP SWIMMING!!

Semper Fi,
Mrs P

What I'm Doing Wednesday

Is that an actual thing? If not, can I claim it?

Welcome to Mrs. P's version of What I'm Doing Wednesday!!

I really don't know what it is, but hey, it sounds good.

Lately, things have been pretty good. This passed weekend was probably one of the best I've had in a long time. It's always a good weekend when spent with my best friend and Friday through Tuesday. We made a pact right off to have the best day ever and it turned in to the best weekend ever.
I took my lovely Chicagoan no-ocean BFF to Ocean City Maryland on Saturday. It was a day trip that turned into, "Let's grab a hotel and leave tomorrow." Oh the spontaneity! Definitely an aspect I miss from my life. We also had a chance to get up to Rocks State Park and visit Kilgore Falls, such an awesome spot in Harford County MD. We went on Post and stuck our toes in the Chesapeake Bay. The theme of the weekend was hang out in as many different bodies of water as possible, apparently. We went and saw The Heat which I highly recommend. It was hilarious. And now my favorite thing to say is "You're covered in nuuuuts." Seriously, go see it. We had serious girl time and got to talk lots about our hubbies. It was just a great, refreshing, and happy weekend. I seriously wish Chicago were closer to Baltimore because I hate the distance between us and the amount of time that passes between seeing one another.

Now I am watching Hungry for Change, a fascinating documentary about food and "Food-like substances" and the difference and what the introduction of the latter is doing to our bodies. I've been so intrigued lately about foods and chemicals and eating and fitness. I highly recommend this documentary to anyone interested in health and fitness and making life changes, it's definitely inspiring me. What I like the most is that for once, information I've been learning, and reading about is the same. One of the biggest challenges I've come across as far as eating and fitness, is that every source has different information. For once I'm not getting conflicting information, the things I read about in It Starts With Food (a book that has seriously started chaning my life) are being reiterated and built on upon in Hungry for Change. I'm definitely going to come back to this on Fitness Friday, a new Friday segment I'm starting here at Little Pink, so come back on Friday for some Health and Fitness discussion!

I'm currently on a type of vacation. My mom snagged A for a little bit on a little vacation so I'm on a "mommy vacation" of sorts. Let me tell ya, it's weird. My house is far too quiet and my schedule, although I'm staying busy, is just so different. I miss my girl. However, I know she's having a blast with my parents and I think we might have actually needed a little time apart. A and I spend nearly 24 hours a day together. I am enjoying a little "time off" from my full time job and she is enjoying getting spoiled by grandma and papa. Buuuuut when it's all said and done and the time to just "be me" is nice, I miss the crap out of my kid. And my parents, lol. Sometimes I feel guilty admitting that it's nice to have a little break. Talking to other moms makes me realize that every mom could use a little "time off" and I have nothing to be guilty for, for letting her have time with her grandma, in fact I am lucky to have a great family that she can go and hang out with. Single parenting is really tough, I'll admit that. And I know people will judge my choices to let her have time with grandma while I have a little "time off." And that's okay, judge me they can because in the end I know what's good for A and I. I think I wanted to share this for the other moms, especially the single ones, who are struggling with a similar issue. Talking to some of my widow friends I know we struggle with these kind of things. We feel as though we must be "on" all the time. I need to work hard all the time, being a mom is my job and I must be the best at it 100% of the time. And that's not the case, I think it's totally healthy to take a break, provided your child is still in a safe and loving environment while you do so. And like I said, I'm lucky to have that. So to the moms who may need a break but don't want to admit it, your kid might be in need of a break from you, too. Don't beat yourself up when you struggle or when you can't give 100% - you are only human. And it's okay to take someone up on an offer to "relieve" you for a little bit. Take some time, relax, regroup, and restart again. It will help and you will be able to give more of yourself!

Ok, now I'll hop off my soap box. I need to head to the gym to get a workout in for the day, I've been a little bit lazy while watching my documentary.
Hope everyone has a lovely holiday! Be safe! Have fun!

Semper Fi,
Mrs P

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