Everyday I recall my marriage vows, ‘in sickness and in health.'
When did you first realize you were a military caregiver?
It took me awhile. At first, I thought everyone who came home from war was angry and drank too much. Someone actually had to point out to me that my husband’s behavior was not normal.
What role do online caregiver communities play in your life?
My first challenge was realizing that I was not alone, and meeting other caregivers through Facebook was a lifesaver. I met my best friend, someone I knew I could call at any moment and who would work to understand me. I was finally able to meet my friend in person last year. It was so comforting to be able to hug her; not just talk online or on the phone.
What do you do for yourself?
I am working with a life coach and she has helped me set up a space in my home for my writing. I’ve gone to conventions, met authors, and am mid-way through my own novel. Writing is a joy and an outlet.
Heidi's husband Chris suffers from post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), major depressive disorder, knee and back ailments, distal tip amputation, among other issues. In addition to caring for him, Heidi also cares for three kids and elderly grandparents. She's in charge of her family’s emotional, medical, and financial care.
As a Dole Fellow, Heidi is committed to becoming better at asking for help and teaching others the importance of asking for help.