Your mental health matters. What you think and how you feel matter. Even though the divorce experience may leave you feeling like what you say, what you do, and how you are dealing with the pain and difficulty of one of the worst experiences you can ever go through in your life does not matter, it does. You matter, and taking care of your mental health is an early step in the road to keeping your focus and recovering from the end of your marriage.
The first step of taking care of yourself in this situation is recognizing how close you are to it. This is the end of your marriage, and you have invested time, emotion, and money into your soon-to-be ex-spouse. You need someone objective, who can help you stay focused on what is best for your future, as well as the future of your children, if you have them.
You need to contact a family law attorney, who is experienced and understands the unique challenges that fathers and men go through during the divorce experience. They will be able to give you peace of mind, knowing that they will do everything that they can to best represent your interests during the legal portions of this experience.
The internal struggle
However, the legal aspects are not the only ones that will be cause for concern. The mental and emotional aspects of ending your marriage and divorcing your spouse will weigh on you and make you reflect on questions that surround your marriage.
You may find yourself asking questions like: “Did I really have it so bad?”, “Will anyone love me again?”, “Am I not worth it?”, or “What’s next for me?”. The amount of uncertainty in both relationships and in life that you can feel after a divorce can require professional assistance, in order to keep you safe, healthy, and on the right track to recover.
There is a stigma surrounding asking the assistance of an experienced mental health professional. The discourse of help-seeking is gendered, due to the masculine ideal that a man intolerant to pain does not seek the health care that they need, according to a study published in the Sociology of Health and Illness journal.
Many men also misidentify what they are going through as stress, especially depression, according to the same study. If you have gone through a divorce, you are more likely to seclude yourself, creating an environment prone to low self-worth and poor mental health.
This can lead to a crippling state of depression that many who go through a divorce can find themselves suffering from. According to Acta Psychiatrica Scandinavica, all 18 mental disorders are positively associated with divorce, and three of them, major depression, alcohol abuse, and phobia, are associated with the largest population attributable risk proportions for both marriage and divorce.
Additionally, according to a study published in the Clinical Psychological Science journal, almost 60 percent of people who divorced during the study and who have previously experienced depression reported another depressive episode.
The risk of suicide
If left untreated, your battles with depression and anxiety can worsen and spiral into suicidal tendencies. The University of California, Riverside conducted a study examining marital status and suicide and found that divorced men and women are at a higher risk of suicide than married men and women.
The study also found that divorced and separated persons were over twice as likely, in comparison to married persons, to be at risk for suicide. The risk of suicide among divorced men was over twice as likely as that of married men, whereas in women, there was no statistical difference in married and divorced women.
Professors at the University of California speculate that the divorced male suicide rate is so high because of the separation between father and child. In cases involving custody disputes, the courts often are ready to grant custody to the mother, due to an assumption that the bond between the mother and child is stronger than that of a father and child. They are not looking at what is in the best interests of the child, so in the minds of those fathers, they have not only lost their marriage, but also their children any assets or property that was divided during the proceedings.
Road to recovery
In order to overcome suicidal tendencies and take back your mental health after a divorce, it is important to take an active role in your recovery. This not only means seeking a mental health professional to help guide you through the complicated landscape of your feelings, but also means being easier on yourself.
You need to learn not to be so hard on yourself. There is no perfect post-divorce recovery, and there is no deadline to when you need to “get over” your feelings. You can take your time and recover at your own pace. You will have bumps in the road and face the highs and lows of this complex and unique process, but you are not obligated to acknowledge anyone’s judgment, including your own.
By showing yourself kindness, you may find yourself getting more comfortable in your post-divorce life. This takes some of the mental strain off of you and gives yourself a chance to breathe.
These moments are critical to your mental health after a divorce. You need these moments, in order to foster the healthiest version of you that you can.
Dan Pearce is an Online Editor for Lexicon, focusing on subjects related to the legal services of customers, Cordell & Cordell and Cordell Planning Partners. He has written countless pieces on MensDivorce.com, detailing the plight of men and fathers going through the divorce experience, as well as the issues seniors and their families experience throughout the estate planning journey on ElderCareLaw.com. Mr. Pearce has managed websites and helped create content, such as the Men’s Divorce Newsletter and the YouTube series, “Men’s Divorce Countdown.” He also has been a contributor on both the Men’s Divorce Podcast and ElderTalk with Joe Cordell.
Mr. Pearce assisted in fostering a Cordell Planning Partners practice area specific for Veterans, as they deal with the intricacies of their benefits while planning for the future. He also helped create the Cordell Planning Partners Resource Guide and the Cordell Planning Partners Guide to Alternative Residence Options, specific for seniors with questions regarding their needs and living arrangements.