Columnist @mynamessarah3 on the value of support from fellow service sufferers

My name is Sarah and my husband is a senior lance corporal in t’Army.

A recent study showed that stability of family life and soldier satisfaction are linked, so the modern army is all over it. Op Smart for serving soldiers and Op Courage for veterans and families are in place to help with mental health wellbeing. Back in t’day if a soldier had issues they’d be told to man up princess or run it off. Warfare not welfare, mate.

Holding it together can sometimes be overwhelming. We never really know what’s going on in someone’s head. I recently popped round to see a friend and she was a sobbing mess because her three-year-old had knocked his juice over. Turns out that the 12 hours prior had been enough to make the padre swear.

It started with said three-yearold getting up at 2am because he’d had a code brown in his pyjamas, then walked little poo-ey footprints along the cream carpet to his mum, who was woken up by the stench.

She then heard the TV come on full blast downstairs followed by a loud crash. Her eightyear- old daughter, who had also been woken up, had gone downstairs to play Just Dance – and her moves had been so exuberant that she’d kicked the TV off its stand, which had knocked the budgie cage over, releasing the feathered escapee around the house with a flatulent bulldog in hot pursuit.

After sorting out this latest disaster, my mate fell asleep on the sofa, only to be woken a few hours later by a knock on the door. It was the postie. He handed her the parcel then burst out laughing. She slammed the door shut and stormed back into the living room. So what if her hair looked like a bird’s nest or that she was wearing her daughter’s six-sizes-too-small Minions nightie (it was the only clean one she could find after poo gate).

That’s when she saw her reflection on her phone screen – the glasses and moustache the boy had drawn on her face with daddy’s Sharpie while she slept. She screamed, which made the boy jump and drop his Ribena. And that’s when I walk in, unaware of the precursor, to a full meltdown. Snot, tears, the whole shebang. Don’t ever tell an angry woman to calm down readers. You may live… you may die.

Balancing family life when our spouses are away is hard. It can be a really lonely time if you don’t have anyone close by to bridge the gap.

We miss our soldiers when they’re away and rejoice on their return… for about a week. Random bits of kit lying around, undercrackers next to the wash basket, tea bags in the sink, crisps in bed. Once this starts happening, I don’t know about you, but I’m Googling ‘how to dispose of a body’. Your soldier has to fit into your routine and it’s just as hard for them.

Taking long walks with a hip flask full of left over Christmas alcohol stops me from feeling as murderous. We’re only human. Next time you see someone struggling, say hello, ask if they’re okay. We are all in the same flimsy boat with no paddles, so do your best to look out for others. It costs nowt but can mean everything.