I am so depressed and feel so worthless. I was struggling with a surprise heart condition and while I was in the hospital our neighbor put the moves on my wife. Needless to say they had an affair and I was devastated. I wanted to work through it but my wife wanted a divorce.
It has been three years and I am still heartbroken and have no self-esteem. There are no divorce support groups in my area and my friends are tired of being around me because of my depression.
I feel isolated and want to give up on everything. I don’t know what to do or how to move on.
You are experiencing betrayal trauma, which creates feelings of hopelessness, despair, and depression. This isn’t something you’re going to pull out of alone, so I want you to find a mental health professional and work with your physician as soon as possible.
The mental health professional can work with your depression, help you find healthy coping strategies, and allow you to make sense of what you’ve been through. Additionally, the professional can help you rebuild a good support system so you can have the ongoing support you’ll need with these new transitions in your life.
The physician can work with you to make sure your physical health isn’t adding more strain to your already difficult emotional challenges. You have enough hurdles to overcome in adjusting to life post-divorce that you don’t want your health creating more complications. There is no shame in asking for medication to help you with your anxiety and depression so you can resume a functional routine with your life.
Divorce is traumatizing for most people who go through it because they often experience a type of isolation they didn’t expect. For example, many of their friends may struggle to know how to connect, as they don’t want to take sides or are too busy with their own families.
Men especially struggle after divorce because they don’t often have the strong social networks that come more naturally to women. Your friends may want to be there for you, but don’t know how. A good counselor can help you know how to interface with them so you can build a solid support system.
I encourage you to continue seeking a group you can attend. I think it’s a great idea to attend a support group so you can have other people support you in your struggle.
Even if you can’t find a divorce-specific group, you can attend a group that offers support to family members of addicts, a grief/loss group, or other groups where you can connect with people who are struggling with unexpected losses. Even though the content may be a little different than your particular situation, the connection and empathy is the same.
You might also consider joining a religious congregation and connecting with the pastor, getting involved in service activities in your community, and looking for ways to make contributions.
Depression and despair tell you there is no hope and you have no options. This is simply not true and you have to actively work to engage yourself in activities that connect you to something bigger than you. This gives you connection to others, purpose, and a true sense of contribution.
I realize you’re probably struggling to get the energy to even initiate something like this. You’ve reached out to me, which is a great first step. You have a new life to live, even though you never anticipated having it turn out this way. Keep reaching out and don’t give up until you are experiencing more purpose and connection with others.
- If you or someone you know may be experiencing suicidal thoughts, please call the 24-hour National Suicide Prevention Ho
tline, 1-800-273-TALK (8255); if you or someone else is in immediate danger call 911
Geoff Steurer is a licensed marriage and family therapist in private practice in St. George, Utah. He specializes in working with couples in all stages of their relationships. The opinions stated in this article are solely his and not those of St. George News.
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