Divorce and your mental health
Divorce and your mental health may not be something that you give a lot of thought to. Oh sure, you know that its stressful, and you know that you seem to spend hours thinking about your marriage and how you ended up here, but how much time are you spending checking in with yourself about how you are right now, in this moment? Not much, I bet.
Worries about the children, the house and money all take priority, but what about you? It’s highly likely that you’re the glue keeping all these things stuck together and well, if you come unstuck, then what?
That’s why its important, no, absolutely essential that you take care of yourself first. May 14th is #MentalHealthAwareness week. It’s the week where we are encouraged to think about the mental health of those around us, to consider what unseen challenges they may be facing and to consider what compassion and support we might be able to offer. But let’s start with you shall we?
Recognising how you feel
How often have you said “I’m fine” when someone enquired after you? In our culture, we are programmed to say “I’m fine” whether we truly are, or not. Sometimes, that’s the appropriate thing to say. But let me ask you to think about this, how often do you say that to someone you could be more open with, yet you choose not to? Do you consciously decide to say “I’m fine” or does it just slip out without you really thinking about it?
Unless we start to own how we feel, we can’t begin to change our feelings. If owning your feelings isn’t something that you’re used to doing, it can seem daunting and overwhelming and possibly a bit scary too. It’s ok to feel those emotions and its good to be able to recognise them. What we resist persists – that means what we ignore continues.
Asking for support
Sadly, in our culture, asking for support is often frowned up and seen as a weakness. In fact, the opposite is true. Recognising you need support and asking for it can take courage and is a sign of great strength. Sometimes asking for support is difficult if our mental health is poor – we believe that no one or nothing can help us, or that we are not worthy of help. Worse still, we can be frightened to get help because of the stories we tell ourselves that our children will be taken from us by the authorities, or we will be hospitalised.
Divorce is a roller coaster
Divorce really is an emotional roller coaster and it impacts people differently at different times. This weekend has been Bank Holiday here in the UK, and I’ve been supporting one of my clients through a tricky time. This lady knows that divorce is the best thing for her and her children. Her husband has moved out and things are amicable but a little strained. When her husband insisted on introducing the children to his new partner despite frequent requests to leave it, a whole wave of anxiety, grief anger and sadness poured out of her in a way that she was not anticipating. She was able to share through voice message her current thoughts and emotions and gently I guided her into a place of calm and peace whilst acknowledging the grief and anger that she feels.
Our meeting to discuss her future income needs is on hold – that’s so not important right in this moment. What matters is she can accept her feelings and own them as just the way it is right now and that’s ok. This too shall pass, and she’s aware of that.
The truth about getting help
Getting help is smart. It can stave of deep depression and suicidal thoughts. Getting support can help us reclaim our sense of worth and purpose and help us move forward. Social Services aren’t looking to take your children away from you. They will if they feel that you are not owning and managing your situation if that is putting their physical and mental well-being at risk. Raising your hand and admitting your struggling will show them that you can recognise an issue. You will only be forced to be hospitalised if it is believed that you need to be sectioned if you are believed to be a danger to yourself or others. Again, this does not mean that you will lose your children forever.
Sometimes getting support is nothing more than someone holding space for you to say what you need to say and to allow you to feel what you need to feel. Sometimes it’s about all of those things, and the accountability to move things forward. Staying stuck in an unhappy place just leaves you stuck in an unhappy place. Sometimes the traction, the third force of having support helps you drive yourself out of the ditch rather than sitting with your wheels spinning when all you’ll do is drain your own battery.
What we resist persists ~ C.G Jung
Divorce and your mental health
14th May is #MentalHealthAwareness week but your divorce is likely to last many months. If you haven’t taken the time to look after you, I invite you to start now – it’s never too late. There’s a whole section on how to look after yourself during divorce in my Amazon best selling book How to be a Lady Who Leaves the Ultimate Guide to Getting Divorce Ready. From diet and exercising to the benefits of using a divorce coach, the chapter is packed full of ideas, tips and suggestions so that you can keep supporting you.
Emma Heptonstall The Divorce Alchemist is author of the Amazon best selling book How to be a Lady Who Leaves the Ultimate Guide to Getting Divorce Ready. A former lawyer, Emma is a practising family mediator and founder of Get Divorce Ready the online self study and group programme to help you get control of your divorce before it gets control of you. Emma has been featured on BBC Radio, The Telegraph, the iPaper and in Marie Claire Magazine. To find out more visit www.emmaheptonstall.com