To suffer, and to know you are suffering is to be human. It’s what we do with this suffering that we experience in our life that counts. We must be compassionate with ourselves and understand that the heartbreak we are feeling is actually grief. Regardless if you are the person who instigated the divorce, or was the recipient of unwanted heartbreak when you partner left you, you will experience a form of grief for the loss of the relationship, the loss of your hopes and dreams and the shattering of your expectations.
‘HEARTBREAK is unpreventable; the natural outcome of caring for people and things over which we have no control…Heartbreak begins the moment we are asked to let go but cannot, in other words, it colors and inhabits and magnifies each and every day; heartbreak is not a visitation, but a path that human beings follow through even the most average life. Heartbreak is an indication of our sincerity: in a love relationship, in a life’s work, in trying to learn a musical instrument, in the attempt to shape a better more generous self. Heartbreak is how we mature; yet we use the word heartbreak as if it only occurs when things have gone wrong: an unrequited love, a shattered dream… But heartbreak may be the very essence of being human, of being on the journey from here to there, and of coming to care deeply for what we find along the way.
Realizing its inescapable nature, we can see heartbreak not as the end of the road or the cessation of hope but as the close embrace of the essence of what we have wanted or are about to lose. Heartbreak asks us not to look for an alternative path, because there is no alternative path. It is an introduction to what we love and have loved, an inescapable and often beautiful question, something and someone that has been with us all along, asking us to be ready for the ultimate letting go.
The moment you stop analyzing your relationship and what went wrong, the moment you stop thinking about how things could have been different, is the moment that you allow yourself to begin to heal.
Please don’t judge your emotions as bad or good. They’re just emotions and all of them are healthy. They only become unhealthy for you if you let them take over your life.
So it’s important to be mindful of your emotions. Watch them come and go. Try and sit with them- notice them. Oh here you come again sadness. I know I’m going to cry right now, but it’s ok.
It’s important to also note when those emotions are crossing the line and you are feeling overwhelmed by them and need help. Never be too embarrassed to ask for help. It can actually be a great relief to have professional help guide you through tough times because you no longer feel your are burdening your family or friends. It also helps to make you feel more in control of your situation.
Relationships Australia provides online and in person counselling and support for people who are experiencing grief as a result of separation and divorce. http://www.relationships.org.au/what-we-do/services/counselling
Chanel your anger, sadness and grief into something which adequately expresses how you feel. Drinking alcohol, doing drugs or binge eating for comfort do not solve the problem. They lead to regret about overconsumption which in turn leads to remorse. Talking with others is a start, however, you must own your recovery. You must take responsibility for your life and understand that only you can make changes.
Find what it is which will help you explore and acknowledge your feelings and help you be present but not wallow and get stuck permanently there. Some suggestions include
- Equine therapy http://www.equinepsychotherapy.net.au/about/
- Pet therapy. Pet ownership has been shown to reduce stress, cholesterol and feelings of loneliness.
- Painting, drawing, sculpture, photography or any kind of artistic endeavour.
- Build something to keep your hands busy and your mind focused. This could be adult lego challenges, joining a group based project challenge- eg Mens Shed, or Red Bull challenge.
- Keep a journal and write down your feelings. Don’t edit them. Just write.
- If exercise is not your “thing” normally, grab a friend or join a team challenge. If you’ve always wanted to walk Cradle Mountain or go hike the Routeburn Track now’s the time! 16 weeks of regular exercise has been shown to help in the treatment of mild to moderate depression according to the Black Dog Institute.
Other helpful ideas to help reduces feelings of sadness include:
- Eat well. Get plenty of Omega 3s, Vitamin B and D and Zinc and Magnesium which can help improve depression symptoms. See a Naturopath or nutritionist to find specific information and tailor a plan for yourself.
- Reduce caffeine
- Get sleep. If you’re not sleeping try dabbing lavender oil on your pulse points at bedtime, dim the lights an hour before bed to give yourself the signal that its time to wind down. Play relaxing music and make sure that you don’t have screen time an hour before bed.
- Get your hormone levels checked by your GP. Ask to have your cortisol, estrogen, progesterone, adrenal function and melatonin checked to help your practitioner design a treatment for you.
- Aromatherapy and complementary medicine approaches
- Hypnotherapy- use a qualified practitioner, or the apps from a qualified practitioner. I recommend Darren Marks and Joseph Clough
- Practise Gratitude
- EFT and Tapping: Emotional Freedom Technique : my favourite practitioners are Paul Boulton, The Tapping Solution, Brad Yates and Margaret M Lynch.
- Attend a mindfulness class with a qualified practitioner. I recommend Kate Hubert from Mindfulness Reflection.
Seek help- you don’t need to do this alone.
It’s vital that you seek help if you need it. You must recognise if your sadness is no longer the “blues” or “situational depression” and has become clinical depression. Situational depression is short-term depression that arises because of a particular set of circumstances that you find yourself in. You find the changes in your life are difficult to cope with and become extremely stressed and down as a result of this.
Situational and clinical depression share common symptoms, such as anxiety, restlessness, sadness, inability to sleep, feelings of hopelessness. Clinical depression can arise as a result of situational depression if not treated. Generally speaking, the number of symptoms, the evidence of psychosis and the length of time the depression remains after the situation has passed, lead to a diagnosis of clinical depression. It varies for each individual, so please consult with your doctor if you are not feeling better.
Your local GP is the best starting point. Mental Health Treatment Plans are available through your GP, which can help you qualify for a Medicare Rebate. They can refer you to a number of specialists including psychologists, psychotherapists. If in doubt call The Black Dog Institute, Lifeline or Beyond Blue.
Please remember that there is nothing to be ashamed about. You are human, and we all experience a wide range of emotions. It is natural to feel all of these emotions. It is only harmful if we become stuck in one emotion and let it be the force of our life. You must believe in yourself. Become your own cheerleader and recognise that yes this is a tough moment in life, but you will get through it. Say it out loud and repeat frequently.
Lifeline 13 11 14
SANE Australia Helpline 1800 187 263 www.sane.org
Beyond Blue Support Service Line 1300 22 46 36
Black Dog Institute www.blackdoginstitute.org.au
Mind Health Connect www.mindhelathconnect.org.au
Mindspot Clinic www.mindspotclinic.org.au
Mensline 1300 78 99 78
These are the specific books which I read during my first year alone. They became my lifeblood and source of inspiration as I felt the authors had an understanding of what I was going through. I own copies of these books and they are highlighted and I often refer back to them for inspiration when feeling blue.
Please note that these links contain an affiliate link to Amazon, thank you.
Brown, Brene. (2010). The Gifts of Imperfection. Let Go of Who You Think You are Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are. Hazledon. USA.
Matthieu Riccard. (2007). Happiness. A guide to developing life’s most important skill. Atlantic.
Hay, L. (1991). The Power is Within you. Hay House Australia.
Neff, K. (2011). Self Compassion- stop beating yourself up and leave insecurity behind. Hodder & Stoughton. USA.
Siegel, D. (2010) Mindsight. The New Science of Personal Transformation. Bantam Books.
Boorstein, S. (1997) It’s Easier Than You Think- The Buddhist way to Happiness. Harper One.
Gilbert, E. (2007) Eat. Pray. Love. Riverhead Books
Deveson, A. (2003) Resilience. Allen and Unwin.
Hahn, T.N (2002). Anger. Wisdom for cooling the flames. Riverhead Books.
Hawn, G. (2012). 10 Mindful Minutes. Penguin. USA
Johnstone, M. (2013). Capturing Mindfulness: A guide to becoming present through photography. Pan McMillian: Australia.
Essential oils for heartbreak and grief after divorce:
Essential oils are a very rapid way to help you manage your emotions. I recommend investing in a set of emotional aromatherapy essential oils. You can use a diffuser and bottles of essential oil, to diffuse in your office, bedroom or lounge or take portable roll on essential oil rollerballs and apply on your wrists and behind your ears for instant emotional support.
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