This time of year can be difficult for anyone with seasonal depression, but for someone who is going through a divorce, that depression can be more severe than ever before. Something about winter and the holidays brings a sense of sadness and loneliness that are unlike anything that happens during the rest of the year. It can be difficult to get out of bed in the morning, let alone go out and participate in the world. Trying to gather the enthusiasm to enjoy the holidays just may feel impossible.
I have suffered from depression since I was a child. This time of year is always far worse than the summer months, when the Vitamin D from the sun is so much more abundant and the world feels more alive. The year I got divorced for the first time I endured the worst depressive episode of my life. My Ex filed for divorce shortly after Thanksgiving of 2011. It had already been an emotionally difficult fall for me, but when I was confronted with divorce from the only man I had ever loved my depression increased exponentially.
The most important thing that you need to know if you are dealing with seasonal depression and divorce, is that you are not alone and it will get better! It may feel like no one in the world can possibly relate to how you are feeling right now, but there are many others who are going through or have gone through similar experiences. One of the worst parts of depression is the cycle of loneliness.
Get Out and Laugh
When we are depressed we tend to isolate ourselves from those who care about us, because we just want to be alone or feel too sad to be social, but then we become even more sad out of loneliness. Our minds spiral and we start to think no one cares or that our friends are purposefully excluding us, while in reality we are the ones who have created the distance. In order to break the vicious cycle, we must realize what is happening while it is happening. Chances are that your friends and family still love and care about you immensely and probably miss you, but you have unintentionally put a wedge in the relationship while trying to deal with your emotions.
As difficult as it may feel, the best thing you can do for depression is to be around people who bring you happiness and laughter. The last thing you may want to do is get dressed up and ask your friends to meet up for dinner, but I can guarantee that once you are around the people whom you love most that your spirits will start to lift again. Laughter truly is the best medicine!
I’ve also discovered that doing things that are good for the soul have a profound affect on depression. Enjoying a spa day, laying in a tanning bed and soaking up some Vitamin D, getting your hair done, or taking a bubble bath can all give you a small boost both physically and emotionally. Sometimes just doing something that makes you feel more beautiful or enhances your relaxation can do wonders for depression.
Ugh, I know, the dreaded suggestion of exercise… I’ve never been one of those people who gets super pumped about physical exertion. I tend to stare at the clock the entire time I’m working out, counting down the minutes until I can be done, but as much as I hate to admit it, it works. I force myself to workout a few times a week because I know that it is one of the best things I can do for my mental health. It took a lot of trial and error for me to find an exercise that feels tolerable, but once I discovered Jazzercise and swim aerobics I decided that exercise could actually be kind of fun. We all have our own ideas of what is enjoyable, but once you find something that doesn’t feel like complete torture I highly suggest that you create a weekly routine that works for you. Give up an hour of Netflix and move your body, not only will it make you feel stronger and healthier, but it will also increase your endorphins and help decrease feelings of sadness.
If you can manage even 5-10 minutes a day to sit quietly and meditate in silence it can really help with managing seasonal depression and the negative feelings you may be feeling because of divorce. I found that, at first, it can be extremely difficult to think of nothing, but with practice it becomes much easier. Our minds are so congested with worries and to-do lists that it can do a world of difference to give ourselves time to just sit and try focusing on nothing. Choose a comfortable room, light a candle or incense if you like, or sit near a window and feel the sunlight, and then close your eyes and just feel. Each time a thought tries to enter your mind tell it to go away. This can be an emotionally healing experience if you allow it to be.
I will be the first to admit that I had found a lot of unhealthy ways to deal with divorce and depression back in 2011. I turned to drinking, clubbing, dating, and sex to occupy my mind, in an attempt to forget my worries and heal my heart. It wasn’t until I realized that these activities were adding nothing of value to my life, that I was able to engage in more beneficial endeavors. I found that the best way to distract myself was with activities that left me feeling energized. That first Christmas was emotional, but I spent time sledding, ice skating, knitting, dancing, volunteering, baking cookies and laughing with friends, which all brought me into a better mental space. It is vital that you too, find things that increase your happiness and make you feel uplifted, rather than more depressed. Distracting yourself with fun activities helps ease the sadness and can help you to get through this difficult time.
Divorce is one of the most difficult things you will ever experience and coupled with seasonal depression, it may feel impossible to conquer, but if I got through it you can too! Life does move on after divorce and happiness can be reignited stronger than ever before. Don’t lose faith in yourself or in life, because it really does get better. You are strong, you are worthy of love, and you can have an amazing life without your spouse!!! I wish you peace and strength this holiday season!