As another weekend approaches, the familiar sense of loneliness begins to creep in – a feeling I often observe in individuals dealing with the emotional aftermath of divorce. This sentiment is universal, whether they’re just starting to navigate the initial separation or have been divorced for several years.
Can this sense of loneliness be converted into a catalyst for personal growth and a means of overcoming divorce depression? Without a doubt, yes!
Why does divorce often lead to depression?
At the onset of their separation or divorce, many people grapple with a sense of abandonment, feeling as if their married friends have sidelined them. I refer to this as the “fifth wheel syndrome”. Rest assured, it’s not a contagious condition, but the discomfort is palpable. The dynamics of social interactions often shift upon separation and divorce. Suddenly being a single person in a world of couples can be unnerving. It’s precisely during this phase of your life you need the love and support of your friends more than ever.
The sense of loneliness that people experience during the loss and divorce recovery process is something that I not only hear about from my clients but also experienced first-hand during my separation. Not all couples exclude the single person, but many do. There are several reasons why single individuals are left out, so don’t take it personally. Often, it’s simply easier to fit an even number of people around a table.
Is it possible to embrace loneliness and convert it into something positive during your post-divorce life? You bet it is!
How can I overcome the sadness and depression after divorce?
There are no hard and fast rules that say you have to celebrate certain days traditionally or in the manner you celebrated when you were married. If you find yourself alone, create new meaning for these occasions and celebrate on your own terms.
Here are some tips to help you through these times.
- Take care of your physical and mental health. Avoid drowning your sorrow in alcohol or unhealthy foods. Excessive indulgence is rarely a smart move, especially when feeling depressed.
- Treat yourself kindly. Indulge in a manicure or massage, buy your favourite music, or spend time on your hobby. Extend the same care you would to a close friend or family member.
- If you’re feeling overwhelmed, don’t hesitate to seek professional help. Speak with a trusted friend, therapist, or support group member.
- Plan ahead. If you’re going to be alone, find an interesting activity or travel destination to keep you engaged and in the company of others.
- Surround yourself with supportive individuals, be it from your support network, family, religious group, or a special support group holiday function.
- Visualize your life after divorce. Write down the steps to achieving this vision and start working on them.
- Stay organized and in control by making lists of tasks and checking each item off as you accomplish it.
- Use any alone time to catch up on pending tasks, get enough sleep, read a long-ignored book, or reconnect with old friends.
- Consider doing something for others. You could visit a retirement home and spend time with residents whose families can’t be with them during holidays.
- Ensure the holidays remain special for your children. Include them in creating new traditions and ask them how they’d like to celebrate.
- Plan your children’s holiday schedule well in advance to avoid last-minute stress and confusion. This will provide a sense of comfort and control.
- Be creative and flexible. If your children are not spending the holidays with you, designate another day during the holiday season for celebration.
- If your children are spending the holidays with their other parents, call them and wish them a happy holiday. Let them know you’re thinking about them.
- Allow your children to enjoy their special times. They should not feel burdened with your emotional needs during these periods.
Remember the positive aspects of your ex-spouse. Every marriage has its good moments. Recalling these times occasionally can help lift you from the bitterness of your current situation.
Why does divorce cause depression?
At the beginning of their separation or divorce, many people often feel abandoned or sidelined by their married friends. I tend to think of it as the “fifth wheel bug”. Don’t worry, it’s not something you catch — but the discomfort is there. The dynamics of socializing often change upon separation and divorce. While the situation of being the odd person out in a couple’s world — a Noah’s Ark society — is not uncommon, it can be unnerving. Suddenly single, it’s at this time in your life when you need the love and support of your friends like never before.
I not only hear about loneliness frequently from my clients and friends but experienced this first hand when I was newly separated. Not every couple excludes the single person, but there are lots who do. There are many reasons why a single person is left out, so don’t take it personally. It is easier to fit four or six around a table than three or five. Balanced, even.
Is it possible to embrace the feeling of aloneness and actually do something positive about it? You bet it is.
How do I stop feeling sad after divorce?
Who says you have to celebrate those days the traditional route or the way you celebrated when you were married? If you find yourself alone, create new meaning for these celebrations and enjoy them on your own terms.
Here are some tips to get you through these celebrations.
- Make a special effort to take care of yourself physically and emotionally. Don’t try drowning your sorrows with alcohol or food. Doing anything to excess when you are sad or worried is rarely a smart move. Be good to yourself.
- Go for a manicure or massage, buy a great CD, and catch up on your favourite hobby. Treat yourself the way you would treat a good friend or family member. If you feel overwhelmed and vulnerable, speak with a trusted friend, therapist or someone in your support group.
- Plan ahead. If it looks like you’re going to be spending the time on your own, find an interesting activity or a place to travel so you can be with other people.
- Surround yourself with people, whether from your support network, family, church or synagogue. You may even be able to attend a special support group holiday function. Contemplate how you would like your life to look post-divorce and write down what you need to do to get there. Start doing one of those things now.
- Stay in control by making lists of what you need to do and checking each item off as you accomplish it. Use any time alone to do the things you’ve been putting off — catching up on paperwork; catching up on sleep; reading the great book that’s been sitting unopened for weeks or months; calling the friend you’ve been meaning to reconnect with. If putting on a dinner or party in the family home doesn’t feel right, try doing something for others off-site.
- For example, you could visit a retirement home and read to those whose families can’t be with them during the holidays. Continue to make the holidays special for your children. Include them in developing new traditions. Ask them how they would like to celebrate.
- Plan ahead how your children are going to spend the holidays. Avoid the stress of figuring things out last minute. This will give you a sense of comfort, relief and control. Be creative and flexible. If your children are not celebrating the holidays with you, think about making another day during holiday time a special day together.
- If your children are going to be with their other parents, phone them and wish them a happy holiday. Let them know that you are thinking about them. Don’t make your children feel they have to take care of you during this special time.
- Send them the message that the holidays are a special time and you want them to enjoy themselves. Spare the occasional good thought for your ex. Your marriage likely had some good moments.
Remembering those times occasionally will help you lift yourself out of bitterness about your current situation. Wishing everyone good health, happiness and prosperity, peace and love.
Last Thoughts about Coping with Divorce Depression
In conclusion, overcoming post-divorce depression is a journey that requires patience, self-compassion, and a strong support system. It’s important to remember that experiencing depression, sadness, and a myriad of other emotions after such a traumatic life event is normal. It’s part of the healing process.
However, if these feelings persist for more than two weeks, it may be a sign of clinical depression, and seeking help from a mental health professional is crucial. Divorce counselling can provide a safe space to express your feelings and learn coping strategies.
Remember, it’s okay to feel overwhelmed. It’s okay to have trouble falling asleep or to experience changes in your eating habits. But it’s also important to take care of your physical health. Eat healthy foods, engage in physical activities like brisk walking, and practice relaxation techniques such as massage therapy or acupuncture.
Post-divorce life can feel like a huge weight, but it’s also an opportunity to rediscover your self-worth and establish healthy boundaries. It’s a chance to practice self-compassion and focus on moving forward.
Joining support groups or seeking online therapy can provide a larger family network to help you navigate through this emotional challenge. Remember, you’re not alone in this journey. Many divorced individuals have walked this path and found a renewed sense of life after divorce.
Lastly, always remember that there is no set timeline for overcoming divorce-related depression. Everyone’s journey is unique. So, take your time, seek professional help if needed, and trust in your ability to navigate through this difficult period. You are stronger than you think, and with time, you will overcome
Navigating the journey of post-divorce depression can be challenging, but remember, you are not alone. The feelings of loneliness and sadness you may be experiencing are normal and part of the healing process. It’s crucial to take care of your physical and mental health, surround yourself with supportive individuals, and create new traditions that bring joy and meaning to your life.
However, sometimes, we all need a little extra help. If you’re feeling overwhelmed or if these feelings persist, don’t hesitate to seek professional help. A divorce coach can provide you with the tools and strategies to navigate this challenging time and help you rediscover your self-worth and establish healthy boundaries.
If you’re ready to take the next step in your healing journey, I invite you to Schedule a Get Acquainted Call. This call is an opportunity for us to discuss your unique situation and how I can support you in your post-divorce journey. Remember, you are stronger than you think, and with time and the right support, you will overcome. Let’s take this journey together. Schedule your call today.
Contact Sarah at (647) 493-1800 or complete an inquiry form to get help specific to your situation.
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