Divorce can be an extremely emotional time for all parties involved. More often than not, especially when children are involved, one party brings up the idea or notion that the other party has a mental health issue. That is not the discussion of this blog post (stay tuned though because in the future, I will discuss that as well and the impact that such allegations/statements can have and the procedure for the court to address those issues).
No, this blog post is about taking care of your own mental health during the process of a divorce. Whether you and the other person decided together or separately that divorce was necessary, the process of and effects of divorce will almost certainly impact your mental state at some point. Think about it. You are going from a situation where you and another person share a life together, including potentially kids, finances, hobbies, property, and at some point if not still – love. Regardless of whether it was 6 months or 6 decades, a change in that dynamic is going to be something to get used to. Instead of living together, you live apart. Instead of shared finances, they are separate. Changes in family dynamics, potential changes in friend dynamics. All of these things are possible, and quite likely during the divorce process.
As your attorneys at Jordan Law, we are dedicated to doing everything we can during the process to ease any strain on your mental health, but the reality is, we cannot take it all away. No amount of conversations with us or documents we file can replace the potential void that divorce may bring. So, we encourage you to be educated about mental health issues and seek support and assistance if necessary.
The two most common mental health symptoms/diagnoses that our clients mention are anxiety and depression. In our society, those terms are tossed around to mean simple worry or sadness. While worry and sadness are parts of anxiety and depression, respectively, they do not encompass the full meaning.
According to the American Psychological Association, anxiety is defined as “feelings of tension, worried thoughts and physical changes such as trembling, sweating, dizziness or a rapid heartbeat.” During the divorce process and even after, you may temporarily experience anxiety as you anticipate what the outcome is going to be or how your life is different. Know that these feelings are normal and expected. It is therefore important that while you are going through the divorce process that you seek support, whether it be from a trusted co-worker or a family member or friend, and engage in some sort of self-care activity at least once a week. Maybe this means going for a long walk, drinking a cup of hot tea, or whatever else relaxes you in a healthy way. By engaging in that self-care, you remind your brain and the anxiety that you are able to feel something other than tension and worry. You give yourself a break in the midst of what may otherwise feel like a chaotic situation.
Quite different from anxiety, depression is characterized as a feeling of much more than sadness. According to the American Psychological Association, symptoms of depression including lack of interest in daily activities, significant weight loss or weight gain, either insomnia or excessive sleeping, lack of energy, inability to concentrate, a feeling of worthlessness. If you are experiencing these symptoms during or after the divorce process, it is important that you take care of yourself and not only seek the support of friends but also of a counselor or therapist. While we as your attorneys are open to discussing issues with you, we are not licensed therapists and as such cannot act in that role. Depression is a serious mental health issue, but it is treatable and with the assistance of a professional, can be overcome – if it is situational (as in a divorce). If you are having difficulty locating a counselor or therapist, as your attorneys we will be happy to help you look for resources, but it will ultimately be up to you to follow through with it.
The takeaway – be sure to take care of yourself and pay attention to how you are feeling during the process. Know those fleeting feelings of sadness or worry are expected, but if you suspect it is something more (which is normal), make sure you take care of yourself and get the support you need. At Jordan Law, we care deeply about our clients and want to make sure that they have the resources and support they need during our representation and afterward.
Featured image from Billie Grace Ward