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Take a Deep Breath

At the age of 22, I was on top of the world. I recently graduated the University of Notre Dame as a new Air Force second lieutenant, and my new wife and I moved to Abilene, Texas for my first duty station. She was very vocal about the fact that she did not support my choice of military service and she was very unhappy being so far away from our families in the Midwest.

I had no way of knowing that I would be taken away from her so much during that short amount of time. We bought a house in the spring of 1999, and the next week I was shipped off to tech school training for the next four months until late summer. I got home in September, but learned shortly afterward I was being deployed to Saudi Arabia right after Thanksgiving over Christmas. We were very depressed and I was stressed that she wouldn't be able to handle it. When I was able to call her from Saudi, she was completely distraught and then something happened that I could not have anticipated. I had a psychotic break.

Life was like a whirlwind when I returned home. In the matter of a month, I was placed on convalescent leave and my wife moved home with her family in Michigan. I was left to sleep all day, day after day, and wait for my discharge. I gained about 100 lbs in a matter of months. I felt awful on the new medication. By the time I returned home to the Midwest and learned my wife wanted a divorce, I had no idea what I was going to do next.

So, I pushed forward. I began interviewing for jobs almost immediately and in a matter of a few weeks I had a new technical writer job near where I went to college in Goshen, Indiana. But I was barely functional. I held onto that job as long as I could and then got a job as a government contractor at Langley Air Force Base Air and Space Expeditionary Force Center in Virginia. But that was the beginning of the end. I was manic and I moved from Virginia to my brother's college dorm room in Oxford, Ohio, to Chicago all in the matter of a few weeks. I tried to rescue my failing finances, but I had trouble holding my jobs because I was manic a lot of the time.

In 2003, I moved back home to Ohio to live with my mother. For the first time since graduating college, I didn't work. I mostly just slept.

To be continued...

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