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How to Cope with Depression After a Divorce, 2

June 1st, 2014 · how to cope with depression

In How to Cope with Depression after Divorce, 1, I explored some of the healing that can emerge from post-divorce depression; I continue that exploration here.

how to cope with depression

Here are some additional factors relevant to post-divorce depression, namely, the shadow and the Self.

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Shadow

Divorce often highlights aspects of ourselves that we don’t want to acknowledge.  I speak from personal experience, but I also know it’s the experience of many.

Psychology journalist and writer on relationship issues, Maggie Scarf, tells us:

It is a fact of marital reality, well known to experts in the field, that those qualities cited by intimate partners as having first attracted them to each other are usually the same ones that are identified as sources of conflict later in the relationship.

It’s quite true that often we react to the qualities in partners in this manner, and those reactions to the Other can become very charged when we’re dealing with relationship breakdown.  A question that might often be a gateway to self-knowledge in this circumstance might be this:

how to overcome depression

Answering this question can take us deeply into our own reality.

Example.  Jim is a rational, pragmatic and matter of fact guy.  He married Cara, a very energetic, lively woman, who responds to situations with deep feeling.  When Jim met Cara, he was utterly beguiled and captivated.  “There’s so much life in her!” he told friends.  Something in him yearned to share that, to have it in himself, to meet his life with it.

Fast forward 15 years.  Jim and Cara, married, have been through much.  Jim was downsized from his role as a middle manager in an IT firm. The couple endured 18 difficult months where he was out of work.  The couple had two children, the second of whom experienced ADHD and learning disabilities.  In attempting to meet the challenges in their lives, Jim and Cara often found themselves in conflict situations.  Typically Cara responded with intense expression of feeling, while Jim, feeling out of his depth, responded rationally and pragmatically, which Cara experienced as cold and unfeeling.

With time, the gulf between them grew insurmountable.  When intimacy died, Cara and Jim agreed to go their separate ways.  While acknowledging the necessity of their parting, Jim finds himself feeling as if part of himself has died.

In seeking how to cope with depression after a divorce, it may be essential to accept and honour the parts of ourselves that were in the relationship, but that we couldn’t acknowledge.  To do so may be painful, but it may be essential for healing in our lives, and to enable us to continue our journey towards wholeness.

Divorce as Honouring the Self

CG Jung referred to our psychic wholeness as persons as “The Self”.  The Self is bigger and more inclusive than the ego, the conscious part of us that regularly runs the show in our lives.  The Self has many aspects that we have yet to explore and acknowledge.  After a divorce, it can be essential to affirm many of these aspects of ourselves that have come to the fore in marriage, and in marital breakdown.  This can be essential for working through our feelings, getting beyond divorce-related depression, and moving forward into a fuller experience of life.  Often depth psychotherapy such as Jungian therapy is of invaluable assistance.

PHOTO:  Attribution Share Alike  ©  woodleywonderworks  ;  Daniel Lobo
© 2014 Brian Collinson, 2238 Constance Drive, Oakville, Ontario (near Mississauga)

 

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How to Cope with Depression After a Divorce, 1

May 25th, 2014 · how to cope with depression

Divorce may lead to great psychological change and growth, but a key challenge can be how to cope with depression during such an immense life transition.

how to cope with depression   In dealing with depression associated with divorce, it’s easy to move quickly to wanting to solve it, to get past it.  But it may be important for us to ask, “What’s the meaning behind this depression?  Could there possibly be anything it’s trying to teach me or show me?

Situational Depression and Divorce

This may seem like an outrageous idea!  But as Jung tells us,

All aspects of the psyche, even those which seem pathological or destructive, actually serve the function of furthering our psychological development. 

Is there anything in divorce-related depression that might actually further our journey towards wholeness?

The Meaning of Divorce-Related Depression

To discover how to cope with depression after a divorce, it’s essential that we first understand all that is going on in our inner life at such a time, and grasp its meaning. Jungian psychiatrist Erik Goodwyn tells us,

“Like ‘phantom limb pain’ a subject can continue to vividly experience a person even after they are gone. [The inner image of the person is] a compact symbolic expression of all the feelings, subtle environmental cues, affects, introjected qualities, unconscious perceptions, and self-biased memories of the person in the subject”.

This is true in death, but just as true when a relationship terminates, or a divorce occurs. The former partner is still very much a presence in our inner life, and in our unconscious mind. We will not exorcise that inner presence by a simple effort of will, no matter how strong our will may be. It is often only through a process of extended inner work that the restless “ghosts” are finally quieted, and enabled to go to a place of peace. Often this is connected with a process of acknowledgement of grief, and of self compassion and self acceptance. how to cope with depression

Grief and Loss

Those undergoing divorce or marital breakdown are reluctant to acknowledge grief. Anger, or, even hatred, can be so intense that acknowledging grief can seem like a self betrayal. Yet, even in those situations where the feeling towards the former partner is totally negative, there is almost always a sense of loss, tied to intense feelings of grief.

Those newly married are most often not hard boiled cynics. Most look forward to life with the new partner with hope, joy and often security. One of the hardest things about divorce can be the recognition of the death of hopes and dreams. Individuals can feel that the years and emotional and physical energy invested in a relationship have been wasted. It may be essential to confront these feelings, to enable the individual to ultimately be able to move forward with a sense of hope or trust in the future.

Depth psychotherapy or Jungian analysis may play a vital role in dealing with depression, and ultimately finding healing, in the experience of divorce. In How to Cope with Depression after a Divorce, Part 2, I’ll look at the presence of the Shadow in divorce-related depression, and look at divorce as an honouring of the Self.

PHOTO:  Attribution Share Alike  © Oleg Sidorenko  ; Craig Deakin
© 2014 Brian Collinson, 2238 Constance Drive, Oakville, Ontario (near Mississauga)

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