How to Cope with Feeling Depressed When Going Through A Divorce
Are you going through a divorce and wondering if you will ever stop feeling depressed, so overwhelmed by everything that is going on?
Divorce is hell – everything that was familiar in your life is changing and it is devastating. Keeping your spirits up for the kids, trying to focus on work and wondering what the hell you are going to cook for dinner just feels like more than you can bear some days.
I get it. I have been there.
But I am also here to tell you that you can and will get through your divorce even if you are feeling depressed. Let me help!
#1 – Nest.
When I was going through a divorce, I met a woman who had been through one the previous year. Because I had never gone through a divorce before, I had no idea how to cope. Lucky for me, she was able to help because she had been just been through it.
I had moved out of our family home and had found a rental. I had left my things at our house so that it would look good when we tried to sell it. My new friend told me, in no uncertain terms, that I had to get my things and bring them to my new house.
For women, when we are going through a hard time, our surroundings are very important. It has something to do with the nesting instinct that is very primal. Women want their space to be a comforting, happy place.
So, what did I do? I had my things moved to my rental and I filled our family home with furniture from a house staging company. And did it make a difference? Oh yes, it did. Being surrounded by my furniture, by my pictures, sleeping in my bed with my bed linens, seeing the little things that I had accumulated over the years on the shelves all gave me such a sense of comfort. My life was so confusing because of all the change but coming home to my things provided me more comfort than I can even explain.
#2 – Get support.
For many women, going through divorce is very embarrassing. It feels like failure on so many levels. And because it is so, we often try to go with alone. We think we can tough it out and get through it and that we will be just fine.
But the reality is is that we all need support when we go through this very difficult period. We have never been divorced before and we have no idea what we’re doing and it’s very important that we align ourselves with people who are informed and supportive.
What kind of people? For me, my friend who had been through a divorce was a huge source of information and support. She could look back on her divorce and talk to me about her successes and her failures so as I went through my divorce process I knew what to look out for.
I also found myself a therapist who I talked to every week. I really felt like I was the biggest loser on the planet because my husband decided he didn’t want be with me anymore and she was incredibly helpful, pointing out that divorces don’t happen because one person didn’t do something right but that there are two people in marriage and both share responsibility for the good and the bad.
Someone else who really helped me when I was going through my divorce was my massage therapist. My husband left me right after my youngest child went off to school so I was left completely alone. For the first time in 18 years, I wasn’t being touched regularly. So, I indulged and got a massage once a week for three months. Having somebody touch me for 60 minutes a week significantly help me get through these very turbulent times.
And, finally, I got myself a lawyer. She was able to walk me through the reality of getting a divorce and what being divorced would look like. And how much it would cost. Information for me is very powerful. It makes me feel like I have some control of my outcome. Talking to her gave me the clarity I needed to be able to move forward confidently.
#3 – Make a plan for the future.
After talking to my lawyer, I realized that, for the rest of my life, I was going to have to take care of myself. I was scared out of my mind.
I had been mostly a stay-at-home mom for 20 years and all of a sudden I was going to be responsible for taking care of myself financially, for doing my own taxes, for finding healthcare and for figuring out how to fix things that broke in my house. I was very overwhelmed and didn’t know how I was going to handle it.
So I started to think about where I wanted to live, what I wanted my life to look like, what I wanted to do now that I was on my own. I realized that, while being alone was scary, it was also give me a certain amount of freedom. For the first time in 20 years, I could live the way I wanted to live. Realizing that really helped me cope with feeling depressed because for 20 years I had been unhappy and I knew that now I was in charge of fixing my unhappiness.
Next, I made plan. I came up with a list of things that I was going to need to consider for my future and I came up with a list of people who could support me when I needed support. I found myself a financial planner. I found myself a CPA to help me with my taxes. I found myself a handyman who could help me with those things around the house that I couldn’t take care of myself.
Lastly, I did the math. I figured out what my expenses were so I knew what kind of money I was going to need going forward to survive. Armed with that knowledge, I was able to secure the kind of alimony that I would need to get myself back on my feet.
Making a plan, having an idea of what my future looked like and how I was going manage, really helped me to cope with my feeling depressed while going through my divorce.
#4 – Take care of yourself.
Fortunately for me, when I was going through my divorce, I didn’t drink. While I hadn’t been much of a drinker for the previous 20 years, I have to admit that the inclination to drink a bottle wine on a lonely night at home was often very attractive. I am glad i didn’t though. I think had I indulged in a bottle of wine I might’ve struggled more with figuring out what I needed to do to move forward.
Instead of drinking wine I did yoga. I did yoga every single day. When my brain started running out of control, I would use yoga to bring it back. When I started feeling like I was not going to survive, I used yoga to make my body feel stronger.
I also made a big effort to spend a lot of time in the sunshine because it’s warmth made me feel healthy and strong and the Vitamin D from the sun helped alleviate my depression.
And, of course, I ate well, as well as I could at least, and made a big effort to get enough sleep.
I know, in retrospect, that taking care of myself and keeping my mind and my body strong really helped me get through this divorce intact and helped alleviate my pain when I was feeling depressed.
#5 – Don’t give up!
Perhaps you’re reading this article because you are feeling like you might be at the end of your rope. Perhaps you’re feeling that, because the life that you once led is over, there’s no reason for you to go on. Your future looks hopeless and you will never be happy again.
I can promise you this is not true. I know you might not believe it right now because from where you sit things look pretty shitty but I can promise you that the view from the other side is a rosy one.
Since I’ve been divorced, I have moved to New York City from New England, I have started my own business, I have dated a bunch of wonderful men, I have a whole crew of new friends, I have a great relationship with my kids and a really huge sense of my own self-worth. The few years after my divorce were definitely a struggle but in the years since I’ve learned more about myself than I learned in the previous 46 and I know now who I am, I know what I want and I’m not afraid to get it.
So, know that your hopelessness is because of your depression and that your future is not hopeless. This is the beginning of the rest of your life.
Learning how to cope when you’re feeling depressed because you’re going through a divorce is an important part of successfully getting through it all.
I know right now it doesn’t seem like you ever will be happy again but you will!
Make sure that you are surrounded by the things that make you happy, reach out to get support from whoever you need to get support from, make a plan for the future, take care of yourself and don’t ever give up.
You can do this. I promise.
If you have read this far you must really be struggling with your divorce.
Let me help you, NOW, so that you can start moving forward with your life!
I am a NYC based Certified Life Coach and mental health advocate. My writing has been published on The Huffington Post, Prevention, Psych Central, Pop Sugar, MSN and The Good Man Project, among others. I work with all kinds of people to help them go from depressed and overwhelmed to confident and happy in their relationships and in their world.