You can’t go through divorce and not feel some sadness and grief. It’s normal and you have to work through the grieving process but because it is normal, it can make it hard to know when to seek professional help.
My current guest Stacey experienced depression as a child and when her marriage was ending, she knew she needed more help. Here’s Stacey:
This is probably a good story to share with other women in divorce. They should not drive in rage.
You need to pull over and scream about whatever’s going wrong, but you need not to drive while you’re screaming. It’s very important.
I was using the car as a place to vent and yell at things and scream and cry. I was watching the road, but I was really fortunate that I just backed into somebody who was parked and they weren’t hurt, my car wasn’t totaled, but it was a real call to, “This is not safe behavior.”
I know it was probably something about housing. I was on the way out to a business meeting and it ended up being close to where I lived too and so I made it there. I did calm down enough for the meeting.
I’ve never thrown things in my life and when my son wasn’t home, I was crying and throwing things. I knew then that I needed a little more help, and so I went on anti-depressants, I had a divorce therapist and I did a divorce recovery class.
I didn’t start on any anti-depressants until almost the time I moved out. And I guess maybe I should’ve tried more or not or maybe I’m just resistant. I felt like they killed the rage and I needed that in order to move on and but they also killed the voice in me, the voice in me that sings all the time.
It kind of dulled the bad messages. There was less verbal head clutter. But I also have good head clutter that came out of Al-Anon. I had this voice in me that said that it loves me and I’m like, “Wow, that’s great.”
I also went for EMDR because I was just having a lot of voices about giving up. I had all this great stuff going on and I didn’t want to be giving up but it felt like bats coming out from anywhere saying things like, “I want to die.” I didn’t want to be on that medicine for this and I didn’t even really want to die.
I think what EMDR does is it helps you create new neural pathways. I like to think of them as little tiny threads. So you have to do things with the new neural pathways to reinforce them. It’s not perfect, but its way better.
My experience of it was really cool. We talked about what my fears were and then we made affirmations in a hypnotic EMDR kind of state. I practiced them and over the months it’s gotten better.
I have an affirmation about the universe is abundant, I’m whole, I’m loved and I try to visualize things with that too. My unique talents are valuable, financially, spiritually and personally. And that’s a great one to try to live up to.
Another affirmation is that I have the willingness ability, talent to continue to support myself handsomely. I think it’s really great that when I have a brain that’s willing to say crappy things that I’m giving it really great things to say.
Here I’m under all of this pressure now about trying to find work and I’m like, “Wow. I don’t have as many bats. I’m sad and stressed, but I don’t have as many bats floating at me and saying bad things.”
For now I’m not on any medication. I have a boundary around when it is time to look at medication and losing clients or a job is definitely one of the times when I know I might need that support. But right now, I’m okay.
I’ve experienced depression before. I have a learning difference that kept me out of traditional learning, and so I became very isolated as a teenager. I’m sure that’s not the reason on its own but with the family makeup, then things get rough, I can get depressed.
I’m pretty blessed to also feel good everyday. I feel joy. There’s things that don’t fit that normal demographic of what depression is, but I do experience joy and love and gratitude daily.
While sadness and grief are a normal reaction to divorce, it might not always be obvious to you that those are the emotions you’re experiencing and might be underlying other behaviors, such as screaming in your car at another driver. One tip is when you find yourself reacting to a situation, take a few moments and consider your reaction. What are you feeling? Why is the incident triggering you? Is there a deeper feeling, memory that it’s triggering?
While there are some ways you can help yourself through depression, remember it is a real illness and there is no weakness in getting help.
I found Stacey’s description of the bats flying around with bad messages to be very vivid and saddening. It creates such a picture of the pain of divorce.
Is there a visual that portrays how you’re experiencing the end of your marriage?
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