Suffer from Depression After a Divorce?

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Now, I never went through a divorce.
In fact, I never was in a relationship in my life – when I was a child I didn’t like girls (“Girls are gross!”) and by the time I got older my anxiety and depression already kicked in – stopping me from even bothering.
Then there was my army chapter, which only made me feel worse, and now I got to this point where I’m recovering from my trauma.
So yeah, no girls for me! That’s honestly not too bad in my opinion, in fact, I doubt I could be in a relationship with anyone right now due to my unstable mental health, but that’s fine too.

Anyway, this post isn’t so much about me as it is about you.
If you stumbled on this page you might be suffering from depression caused by a divorce or some other type of broken relationship.
In short, you might suffer from separation anxiety.
You can read more about that right here, but that’s also not what this post is all about.

See, I may not have been in a relationship in my life, but I do know a thing or two when it comes to rationalizing things and breaking them into more “manageable” pieces.
After all, how do you think I survived for so long?
Here’s the deal – you can’t rationalize depression because the causes for it remain unclear.
Yep, it’s true.

“But wait a minute Vlad, aren’t you the one that preaches about finding the causes of anxiety and depression and eliminating them?”

Some of you readers may know that when it comes to treating anxiety and depression my personal belief is that you have to find the cause for you anxiety and depression and then eliminate it. Some of you may also recall how I don’t believe in perfect solutions, which is why my “strategy” has to be flawed by definition – I am well aware of that.
Instead, I’ll try to break this down for you because this way works for me (most of the time) and for all, I know it might work for you. Breaking a problem into more manageable problems is a great thing to do with every issue in life.

So let’s see

You went through a divorce, and you:

  • Miss your former partner and suffer emotionally because of that?
  • Have issues with money?
  • Feel that your family (if you have one) is now broken?

Did I forget something? Probably, but those are the general problems I could come up with.
I am pretty blunt because those are the only issues you could go through.
Alright then, let’s break it down – why is a divorce not such a bad thing for you after all

Unhappy relationship are depressing

“A divorce is the end of a bad relationship”

Some people say that divorce is the end of a good relationship. If they don’t come out and say it then their actions and thoughts sure show it – people recall all their good times in a relationship and think it was great.
It wasn’t.

Let me be blunt here, if you were in a great relationship a minor disagreement wouldn’t be enough to make you go through a divorce.
It’s a terrible ordeal (in terms of effort) and you wouldn’t force yourself through it unless your relationship sucked enough for you to do that.

Look, some therapists may tread carefully around this topic since it might be still sore for you, but ultimately you need to keep it real.
Yep, real, not over the top happy-go-lucky and yet not overly broody.
Keeping it real will help you more than anything else. Not just with your anxiety and depression, but with life in general.

Research shows that people remember bad things better than they do with good things.
But if that’s true, how come you recall only the best parts of your relationship instead of the bad ones? That’s an important factor here.
See, your memory is a liar.
Let me tell you a bit more about it.

Elizabeth Loftus, a cognitive psychologist that specializes in memories, came up with research that deals with memories and how reliable they are.
In her research, Loftus found out that memories are not only generally false, but they can be falsified.
In her study, Loftus implanted people with memories about that time they got lost in the mall without it every actually happening!

That memory doesn’t have to be realistic, either! In a later study, people were implanted with a with a memory of them going to Disneyland and meeting bugs bunny – who’s not even a Disney character!
So think about it this way – if it’s so easy for some person to manipulate your memory to this level, how much more realistic is it for your own mind to manipulate itself?
The fact is, it already does that, otherwise, you wouldn’t be suffering from anxiety and depression in the first place!

I know this may come off as being harsh, but it’s the truth – not only are the fondest memories of your relationship are possibly fake, so are most of you other fond memories, all the way up to your childhood!
That’s not the thing you would like to hear if you suffer from separation anxiety, and I know being told that you weren’t as happy as you think you were might sting (more than a little) – but it’s the way you should go about overcoming your issues.
If you would like to check out some of Elizabeth’s stuff then here is a TED presentation of hers that deals with precisely this issue (if you aren’t in the mood for reading a bunch of research)

Don’t believe me? Alright, here are a few more facts

A no-fault divorce is a type of divorce without either husband or wife (wife or wife, husband or husband) doing anything wrong.
Sounds like odd things to specify, don’t you think?
Well, no.
For the sake of this example let’s look at the United States.

As described best in Stephanie Coontz’s book, for most of America’s history for you to divorce you must have had a good enough reason to do that, alongside some other absurd laws that were meant to prevent divorce.
It got to the point that in most states things like domestic violence weren’t a good enough ground for a divorce.
To this day in some places, it isn’t, like in Mississippi.

Women and man alike were stuck in abusive relationships with no way out.
In 1969, thanks to one Ronald Regan, no fault divorce was brought to the table – and Divorce rates skyrocketed by over 25% over the next 5 years.
And just so you know, divorce was never as common as you think it was.
Most marriages don’t end in a divorce – and it isn’t at an “all-time high” like you think it is.

Divorce rates

 

If you had issues with money, your relationship certainly didn’t make them any better.

Your situation may vary, but I a lot of people go through issues with money management after their divorce.
Not something you can do anything about, but there is a silver lining here.
I think we can all agree that one of the reasons that lead to your divorce or break-up was about the tension and stress between you two, right?

Well, let’s keep in mind that money is the number one source of tension in a relationship.

Want to hear more? Alright.
In a study about this very topic that took place in 2012 with 4,574 couples in mind.
Without getting into details the study concluded that financial disagreements are the strongest types of disagreements between partners and predict rates of divorce the best.

Not surprising, since marriage is a financial agreement more than anything, to begin with. In fact, for most of history, it was outright unethical to get married because of love: people viewed it as being irresponsible.
Not look at it this way: money was a source of stress, very likely one of the causes of your divorce in the first place.
If you were to change your financial habits you will eventually find your own way.
That can’t be said about a bad relationship, you can’t solve all of your problems with people, and that’s a fact of life.

Your children aren’t growing in a healthy environment anyway

Some of you are stressed out because of your kids, and that’s perfectly understandable too.
After all, children need a healthy environment and community to grow up in a proper way.
The thing is this, though, your children are as displeased as you are with your marriage, perhaps even more so.
In a poll that revolves around this issue, it was shown that up to 82% of children between ages of 14-22 would rather have their parents divorce than be stuck in an unhappy relationship.

More so than even that, most children (88%) said that they would rather not have this situation make them choose between their parents, with up to a third claiming that they wished that their parents wouldn’t criticize each other in public.

The truth is this: if you are divorced, you shouldn’t feel bad for your kids, they know how unhappy you are and will support you because they love you.
You need to be civil towards each other, that’s pretty much a universal truth.
Your kids don’t like seeing you fighting.
And that, more so than anything, tears down their view on you. You don’t have to ‘love’ each other, you don’t have to pretend you are happy being in the company of one another.
But be civil, make a proper plan beforehand, and don’t argue.

A divorce is the mark of you two being out of each other’s lives, with few exceptions to that rule. Keep interactions to the bare minimum, but when you are forced to talk to each other be polite, like strangers that just met with each other.
If anything, your children will appreciate you all the more because of it.

Your divorce is your freedom, don’t keep yourself caged in the past!

A divorce doesn’t mean the world is ending, and sure you might have some problems later on with your life (financial plans for your kids, for one thing) but generally speaking, you are the freest you are ever going to be after you go through a divorce.
And freedom is a great source of happiness, much more so than even money.
A research about this  topic came with a bunch of conclusions, here’s what I’m trying to say here:

“Human development theory implies that the main reason why the changes of the past 25 years have led to rising happiness is because they brought greater freedom of choice”

The freer you are – the happier you become.
You were stuck in a bad relationship without having any choice in the matter, and now you aren’t. That’s huge.
This is your chance to grow much happier than you were in years. So please, don’t waste your time crying in the corner – do something with your life while you are still young!

Divorce is a good thing

“You always bash me, you jerk!”

Here’s the deal – I believe that in our hardest times we need to keep it real.
And that’s why I am giving you facts first and support later.
Divorce is a good thing, it means that a bad relationship has ended. And like all other relationships in life – if they aren’t good then they aren’t worth keeping, regardless of what your memory says.

I do understand the need for support, though, and if you need someone to talk to I am always available, but let’s face it, I am not the type of person who you should go to when it comes to relationships, let alone divorce.
Find someone who loves you, even if you think there is no such person, and go talk to them.
Can’t think of someone like that? Look for a support group online.

Believe me, the world is big enough to contain all of your emotions.

There is one thing I can tell you that still holds merit: After going through separation anxiety you will only grow to become much stronger, as a person, from that point on.

Now I want you to tell me – have you ever gone through a divorce or a hard break up?
Make sure to let me know in the comments, I read every single one of them!

 

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2 Replies to “Suffer from Depression After a Divorce?”

  1. I was married to a drug addict for ten years. It was a traumatic relationship and a traumatic divorce that still haunts me 13 years later.

    Like you, I struggle with depression and anxiety. The depression after my divorce was horrendous.

    Looking back, it seems foolish to have stayed in that marriage so long, but we humans are capable of fooling ourselves and fooling each other.

    I realize now that in that relationship, I recreated my relationship with my mother who is delusional, controlling and manipulative. At the time, I did not see this connection.

    It’s taken me years to work through the blind emotions and connect the dots.

    1. Exactly right Gary!
      Too many people go through the same situation you did and yet still end up feeling bad over these toxic relationships!
      Despite your own issues I think that you did the right thing, even if it took you so long to come to this decision I ultimately it was the right thing to do.

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