Divorce, Grief and Depression – How to Survive

There are two different types of depression, situational depression and clinical depression.  Clinical depression is usually the result of a mood disorder that can only be resolved by taking anti-depressants. Situational depression is the result of an anxiety or stress laden event (such as divorce) which occasionally occurs in everyone’s life. but is usually solved by taking action steps to reduce the pressure.  The two sometimes feel the same, and situational depression can sometimes lead to clinical depression. But if situational depression is quickly recognized and dealt with, this should not happen. You may notice that in the suggestions below, a lot of list-making and writing is involved.  All I can say is, don’t knock it until you’ve tried it.

Suggestions for Dealing With Depression

  • Get out of the house and go to the mall or grocery store where you can see other people dealing with their lives. “There’s something very relaxing in the feeling you are a part of the rest of the world and not isolated in misery that has been chosen just for you.”*
  • Compile a list of what you want to accomplish that day.  It doesn’t have to be anything technical.  The list is meant to keep you on track, to show you that there is order in your life and in your day.  It can be as simple as “Walk the dog”, “Fix breakfast”, “Do load of laundry”, “Answer E-mails … “Pick up granddaughter from school”, “Play with granddaughter until dinner”, Fix dinner”, “Watch favorite TV shows until bedtime”. The next morning, make another list. “This to-do list firms up a plan and is the opposite of starting your day reacting to random negative emotions.”*
  • Make a list of ways you have suffered in your life.  Then next to each entry, write down how you have changed as a result of this suffering.*
  • Sit down and write about anything that’s on your mind.  Novelist Don DeLillo says, “Writing is a concentrated form of thinking.  Writing has the power to define things, and define muddled experiences.”*  Write about the pain you are going through, whether it’s from loss of a loved one, loss of a pet or loss of a job. Talk about your feelings of loneliness and isolation. Know that you are your own best friend and remember that the last time you experienced a trauma, a silver lining eventually emerged.*

Dealing With Loneliness

Loneliness is not only missing your loved one, but it’s also about missing the rituals you shared together like, sharing breakfast in bed on Sundays, or watching hockey on Wednesdays, or opening presents Christmas morning.

  • Make a list of the things you are currently missing in your life and note what it is about each that you find desirable.  If possible.  prioritize them.  The more you miss certain things, the more you know you will want to duplicate them in your life now and in your next relationship if there is one.*
  • Helping someone else out often gets us out of the loneliness trap,  You could volunteer in some capacity. Or you could just call a friend who could really use some conversation.  Thank them for something they have contributed to your life.*
  • Make a list of activities you like to do when you are alone.  Include some things you have done in the past as well as some that you have never tried, but would like to.*
  • When you are at a loss, do one of the items on the list.*

*Lowrance, Michele, The Good Karma Divorce (New York : Harper Collins, 2010)