After your divorce is finalized, you may experience an inclination to hide from the world. The feeling is like there is some sort of visual symbol on your person that signified that you got a divorce, like a scarlet A.
If you are feeling this way, do not feel like you are behaving abnormally. Everyone who goes through the divorce experience handles it in their own unique way, and a level of understanding should be granted to them.
The feeling like you need to hide is understandable. After a divorce, some experience a level of shame or regret. They feel as though they were unable to live up to the institution of marriage and the expectations that can often come with it. They may feel like they have failed their spouse or that they were not good enough for their spouse to hold up their end of the deal.
Some are simply angry. They feel cynical and as though they are betrayed, and depending on the events that occurred within the marriage and within the relationship, they very well may be justified in their feelings.
They may feel as though their spouse was supposed to stand by their side through thick and thin, and they may have failed to live up to their end of the agreement. They may have broken their vows in some way or done something to cause the marriage to become untenable. They may not want people around while they still are seething.
Others are shy and introverted. They may not be looking for the support system to get through the divorce experience, because they would not be looking to spend time with other people, even if they were not fresh off a divorce. They may attempt to avoid spending time with others out of preference, and this antisocial behavior appears amplified in the context of the divorce that just occurred.
Whatever the case may be, you can feel justified in wanting to seclude yourself from the world. If the divorce was finalized recently, you still may feel the pain from the experience. You still may be working with your family law attorney, navigating the ins and outs of the finalized details of the decree and may not want to deal with the questions and concerns of others who are prying into your business.
You may not want a support system after a divorce, but that does not mean you do not need one. Those that go through the divorce experience are at risk for many physical and mental health issues, and without the proper support system in place that involves the level of social interaction to maintain a status of health and wellness, you may find yourself at risk too.
Physical health risks
Studies have shown that those who were divorced or widowed were 20 percent more likely to have diabetes, heart disease, cancer, or another chronic condition. The chronic stress of divorce also can cause difficulty sleeping, change in sex drive, lack of motivation, elevated blood pressure, headaches, increased risk of developing viral infections, changes in appetite, chest pains, or an upset stomach, according to researchers at Ohio University.
They also have been linked to flairs of acne, eczema, migraines, and back trouble. There have even been instances where the level of chronic stress can trigger those with heart disease into suffer arrhythmias, heart attacks, and even death.
You may not understand the full scope of the physical risks that you face, because you are so deeply focused on the emotional side of the divorce experience. This is understandable, and given the mental and emotional issues that can arise during the divorce experience, putting them on your radar is a smart way to spot ailments before they do lasting damage.
Mental health risks
The mental health issues that you may face after going through the divorce process cannot be understated. According to studies at the University of California, Riverside, divorced men and women are at a higher risk of suicide than married men and women.
Additionally, divorced and separated individuals were over twice as likely, in comparison to married individuals to commit suicide. The study also indicated that 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.
Many researchers attribute the high number of suicides to social integration. Many men who have experienced a divorce are more likely to isolate themselves and foster an environment prone to poor mental health and low self-worth.
Many men also have to deal with the notion that help-seeking for mental issues is gendered against them. Research published in the Sociology of Health and Illness journal shows that men often interpret depression as stress and the discourse of help-seeking was gendered, due to the masculine ideal that a man intolerant to pain does not seek the health care that they need.
Considering a more isolated lifestyle may sound relaxing, and you may think that it will lower the stress level in your life. However, the amount of mental health issues that can arise from that level of seclusion should make you question it as a possible solution.
Instead, creating a support system and finding a healthy way of dealing with the complex emotional landscape of the divorce experience are two methods that are far more beneficial than isolation. Contact a mental health professional, and schedule an appointment. They can help you navigate the ins and outs of what you are going through, and if you do not know where to get one, contact your family law attorney. They will help you get in touch with one.
You also may have friends and family members interested in helping you get back onto your feet after your divorce. They may look to help you get out and socialize, which may bring up some level of social fear.
However, the health benefits of social interaction outweigh the social fear. Both quantitative and qualitative social relationships affect mental health, physical health, health behaviors, and mortality rate, according to studies published in the Journal of Health and Social Behaviors.
According to The New England Journal of Medicine, social interaction has been known to reduce the risk of heart attacks in men, and the Duke University Medical Center found that social ties can reduce death among those with serious medical conditions. The University of Texas found in their research that social interaction enhances good health behaviors, such as more of a likelihood of exercise, a lesser likelihood of smoking, more of a likelihood of consuming a balanced diet, and a lesser likelihood of abusing drugs or alcohol.
Your inclination to seclude yourself after the divorce experience is understandable, but it ignores the potential of life after divorce. It is entirely your life, and you get to decide how fully you would like to live it.
However, there are too many risks in keeping yourself in isolation to ignore. You need to take charge of your physical, mental, and emotional well-being after a divorce and create a life that reflects the benefits the fresh start that you have.
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 TuckerAllen.
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.