FINDING SUPPORT in a CRISIS WHEN YOU FEEL ALONE
Throughout your life, you are likely to face and overcome any number of crises. You may experience the loss of a loved one, you may go through a divorce or you may experience a natural disaster. Knowing who to turn to for support during a crisis can help you feel less overwhelmed and more able to manage your feelings and reactions. Depending on the nature of the crisis, you may need direction as to next steps to take, you may need medical support, or you may just need a listening ear and a shoulder to lean on. The next time you face a crisis on your own, use these tips to help you cope while it's happening and to recover more quickly afterward:
- Let others know you need support, and be specific about what you need. Tell a trusted friend or relative about the crisis. Don't assume that the people close to you know that you need help. The more specific you are, the more likely you are to find the kind of help you need.
- Develop a strong support system, and consider joining a support group. New and old friends, neighbors, classmates or people from your military unit may be happy to assist you once they know you need help. There are groups for almost every difficult situation, such as natural disasters, specific illness, the death of a relative or divorce.
- Express your feelings. You may want to keep a journal or send short email messages about your feelings to people you trust. These can help you feel connected to people without actually seeing them.
- Be patient with yourself, and try to keep up your routines. You may need more time to deal with a crisis if you don't have a partner or support network of family or friends. Having a schedule for your activities will help to keep you moving forward in a crisis.
- Reduce your stress. Ways to decrease stress include eating healthy meals, getting plenty of rest, and exercising regularly. Many people find they can decrease stress by meditating, reading a book, journaling or listening to music.
- Focus on the things you can control and change. In a crisis, you may feel that many aspects of your life are out of your control. Focus on the things you can accomplish, and work to make improvements in those areas. Feeling like you are in control of some things may make it easier for you to accept the things you cannot control.
Finding support if you are ill or injured
Experiencing a medical crisis comes with its own unique challenges and circumstances, but with some careful thought and planning, you can be better prepared for them. The following tips are designed to help you find support if you are feeling unable to cope on your own:
- Make a list of people who could help in a health crisis. Work with health care providers to draw up a list of needs you may have, such as hospital visits, home health care and transportation to appointments. List the people who could do the tasks, so you'll know if you would need to look for additional help.
- Find a friend or relative who can help you manage your care. In a health crisis, you may have more needs than you can manage effectively on your own. Look for a friend or relative who can help.
- Think about whether you would benefit from hiring a patient advocate. Patient advocates speak on a patient's behalf and help monitor his or her medical care. They may help research your treatment options, work with your doctors and nurses, and negotiate with your insurance company.
- Look into national organizations that can help. Many national groups help people cope with specific health conditions. To find groups for people with your health concern, search the Internet for the name of your condition and "organization" or "association." You can also get a referral from your doctor.
If you feel overwhelmed or unable to cope
No one has to struggle alone. Sharing your feelings with family and friends and reaching out to clergy or counselors can be productive and therapeutic, especially in times of crisis. There is no shame or weakness in acknowledging that you're having trouble coping. Military can provide you with further resources and help you connect with a non-medical counselor. You can reach them by phone at 800-342-9647.
Finally, remember that even if you feel alone, you aren't alone. There are many people - whether you know them now or not - and organizations that are ready and willing to provide the support you need. By planning ahead and reaching out to them, you'll be better able to manage if and when you are faced with a crisis, which can bring great peace of mind in the present.
Crisis Symptom Reporting Guide.
When the Veteran you care for is in a medical crisis, your ability to observe symptoms carefully and report accurately could be lifesaving. During this stressful time, you may find it difficult to think or function as clearly as you normally would. Below is a list that will help you remember what to look for during a crisis. It is a good idea to read this list ahead of time so you have some idea of what to expect, and then tuck a copy in the patient file you created for the Veteran for later reference.
- What time did the problem start?
- What was the Veteran doing when the problem started?
- Do you know or suspect what might have caused the problem?
- What was the first symptom that you noticed?
- What other symptoms/complaints do you remember?
- Did the symptoms come on abruptly or gradually?
- Was the Veteran given any medication or medical treatment just before the problem started? If so, what was it?
- Did the Veteran say anything about how he or she felt when the problem started and/or as it progressed? What was it?
- Does the Veteran have a history of this kind of problem? If so, what was the previous diagnosis?
- What did you do to try to help the Veteran between the time the problem arose and the time you arrived in the emergency room or the doctor’s office?
- Did something work well? Seem to make things worse?
When to Call for Help. When is a crisis a crisis? When should you call someone else for help? Get help whenever the Veteran is in medical distress and you aren’t sure what to do.
Call your local rapid-response number
(e.g., 911) or an ambulance if the Veteran:
- Is unconscious.
- Has unexplained chest pain or pressure.
- Is having trouble breathing or is not breathing at all.
- Has no pulse.
- Is bleeding severely.
- Is vomiting blood or bleeding from the rectum.
- Has fallen and may have broken bones.
- Has had a seizure.
- Has a severe headache and/or slurred speech.
- Has pressure or severe pain in the abdomen that does not go away.
- Is unusually confused or disoriented.
Also Call for Help If:
- Moving the Veteran could cause further injury.
- The Veteran is too heavy for you to lift or help.
- Traffic or distance would cause a life-threatening delay in getting to the medical center.
 Military One Source 800-342-9647
 Department of veterans Affairs: www.caregiver.va.gov 1-855-260-3274 toll free