Thursday, February 23, 2012

Mom and Dad's Divorce Makes Me Feel Depressed

As an adult, I had experienced periods of depression in my life due to changes and losses I had experienced.  I had walked the dark valley of clinical depression with some friends and family.  But when the loss of my parents impending divorce began to "hit me" I realized that I had entered a new dimension in the way my body and mind and emotions were reacting. 

What did I feel like? What do you feel like? How can you tell if a friend whose parents are divorcing is becoming seriously depressed?  The symptoms of depression are many and varied.  If you or a loved one are exhibiting any of the following changes, it is imperative to pay close attention.

My first obvious sign or symptom was :  EXTREME SADNESS
I did alot of crying, alot of my days, and at times had a physical pain in my heart, as well as low moods irregardless of the circumstances in my own life.

Another apparent set of changes were : CHANGE IN SLEEP, EATING , ENERGY and CONCENTRATION
I lost some sleep initially, as I would lay in bed and rehearse all the new information I was having to process and as I made decisions in each family relationship.  After time , I enjoyed the reprieve sleep gave me and began to be addicted to coffee in order to wake up in the morning.   My eating became functional , not enjoyable and my loss of energy was obvious as I would just sit and stare out the window at times and didn't find my normal sense of motivation.

WITHDRAWAL from others began to be my preference, since it was difficult for me to enjoy normal conversation about normal things and my LOW INTEREST in prior hobbies and activities made me feel like I was bringing my friends "down" when they were with me.

PESSIMISM and thoughts of minimal hope plagued my thoughts. I did not experience thoughts of suicide, but it is not uncommon and a indication that professional help is necessary.

FEELINGS OF UNFORGIVENESS and FEELING FAR FROM GOD were issues that were not easily resolved or quickly remedied. 

These symptoms of depression are experienced by many adult children whose parents are divorcing and should not be taken lightly.  My hope is that you will recognize yourself in the description and know that it is normal during loss to need help in dealing with all these signs and symptoms.

My Christian faith caused me to turn to the Psalms of David as I endured periods of depression.  David's Psalm 42 is an expression of his sadness that was very extreme. Maybe you can identify.

1 As a deer longs for streams of water,
so I long for You, God.

2 I thirst for God, the living God.
When can I come and appear before God?

3 My tears have been my food day and night,
while all day long people say to me,
“Where is your God?”

4 I remember this as I pour out my heart:
how I walked with many,
leading the festive procession to the house of God,
with joyful and thankful shouts.

5 Why am I so depressed?
Why this turmoil within me?  **

 6 I[a] am deeply depressed;
therefore I remember You from the land of Jordan
and the peaks of Hermon, from Mount Mizar.

7 Deep calls to deep in the roar of Your waterfalls;
all Your breakers and Your billows have swept over me.

 9 I will say to God, my rock,
“Why have You forgotten me?
Why must I go about in sorrow
because of the enemy’s oppression?”

10 My adversaries taunt me,
as if crushing my bones,
while all day long they say to me,
“Where is your God?”

11 Why am I so depressed?
Why this turmoil within me? **

Here David expresses extreme sadness, low interest, and energy, pessimism and feeling far from God.  I took out a few verses in the above passage ( indicated by a  **) and decided to put the verses of hope at the end.  For me, the hope did not always come in the middle of the pain. Some of the hope has come as time goes on . 

**  5 b  Put your hope in God, for I will still praise Him,
my Savior and my God..

**      8    The LORD will send His faithful love by day;
His song will be with me in the night—
a prayer to the God of my life.

**11bPut your hope in God, for I will still praise Him,
my Savior and my God.

David's ultimate hope came from Someone outside himself and his situation. There was a confidence that Someone was looking out for him and had his best in mind regardless of the pain and depression of his circumstances.  

If you find yourself depressed because of your parents divorce, allow yourself to seek help from others.  Next post we will discuss how to deal with depression more specifically, but until then,  know you are not alone when needing the help of friends, professionals and others outside ourselves. 

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