Tag Archives: recovery from divorce for men

Happiness & Meaning For Men After Divorce

meaning happiness  mean divorcemeaning happiness  mean divorceWhat is being happy?

This is a question that plagues he thoughts of many divorced men for a long, long time. There is so little joy and happiness after a painful divorce many come to believe that happiness is an illusion and spiral into bitterness. Other go in search of happiness with a fervour that can only be described as manic as they clutch at anything that brings a fleeting sense of happiness, joy, or pleasure at the very least – only to find it slip away all too quickly.

So does happiness really exist? We all felt it when we got married surely – not that it ended well – but for a time we knew that for at least for a time we were happy. We remember childhood happiness as well, and happiness of friendship. We know the happy feelings when we get a present, or receive a compliment, or buy something we really wanted. Happiness does exist, but I believe we often describe such happiness with the wrong words. All of these things give us happiness for a moment in time, but they fade over time leaving us less joyful than before. Some might call this pleasure which brings to mind a more fleeting experience while happiness is something people want as a state of mind.

So what does this all have to do with men after divorce and the search for meaning?

I was reading an excellent article titles There is More to Life Than Being Happy which caught my attention the other day. It ties in very closely to the advice I give in my own ebook on Recovery for Men After Divorce but from a different perspective somewhat which I would like to explore.

The article stipulates that the endless pursuit of fleeting happiness is detrimental to a long term sense of self satisfaction in life. It insinuates at least that modern living has given us all the tools we need to engage in pleasurable pursuits, but has left many of us devoid of a purpose in life, and that purpose and meaning is what we derive real lasting contentment from. From the researchers of happiness and meaning cited by the article author:

“the researchers found that a meaningful life and happy life overlap in certain ways, but are ultimately very different. Leading a happy life, the psychologists found, is associated with being a “taker” while leading a meaningful life corresponds with being a “giver.”

Happiness without meaning characterizes a relatively shallow, self-absorbed or even selfish life, in which things go well, needs and desire are easily satisfied, and difficult or taxing entanglements are avoided,” the authors write.

So we two issues here – the definition of happiness and meaning. I want to explore this in relation to this blog which is how to get over the pain of divorce and it is quite tied together.

Happiness

happiness after divorceThis I would argue the article really means as pleasure and pleasurable activities and things. They are tied to meeting the needs and wants we have as individuals, not the needs or wants of a group. They also seem to be defined as things that bring us pleasure from ‘taking’ things. Buying things, being given things and so forth. In marriage we can end up being takers in this regard. We love the attention of our wife and kids. We like the home we create, and the things we buy and use together. We like the security that marriage and a home seem to bring and the position it places us in society – that of a married man, a breadwinner, a member of our society with some social standing as a partner and often a parent. Whether you recognise this or have not really thought about it – these are things that can bring pleasure and happiness that are tied to the self – our ego.

Meaning

meaning after divorce for menmeaning after divorce for menMeaning and purpose are a different beast. They refer to people with a sense of meaning in their lives as being ‘givers’. Those who sacrifice, who worry, who give and see the point in such sacrifice are the ones who find a greater sense of accomplishment and satisfaction in their lives. As a married man this was a part of our sense of self as well. Men often sacrifice their time, their money, and their own pleasure for their wife and their family. This is something some do willingly, while other might resent somewhat – but it is a massive part of our psyche. The sacrifices men make in marriage bring pleasure when they are praised of course, but it also brings a sense of purpose to build a family even if nothing else in life has a sense of purpose.

The Destruction of Both

Divorce destroys both of these things. The loss of purpose however is obviously the most worrying for men. Without the centre of family life many men are devoid of a meaningful day to day existence. They try to fill this gaping hole with pleasures such as alcohol, drugs, sex, entertainment, even violence for some. Nothing fills this gaping hole unless they find a new sense of meaning. Religion does it for some, work can also fill that gap for many, but unless they are truly believers on those things they are a shadow of the meaning they gained from family.

This journey to finding a meaning in life and a new sense of your own self in the universe is the crux of my men after divorce ebook on the psychological front – but backed up by practical tips to help you edge towards this loftier goal. If you are suffering after divorce perhaps this strikes a chord with you – if so, please comment and lets start a conversation about happiness, divorce and meaning.

 

Depression in Men After Divorce

depressioninmenDepression is very common in men after divorce. However, there is a major stage of grief that is usually referred to as ‘Depression’ – but what we are talking about here is not passing sadness, but what is referred to as clinical depression. Something that has been with us a long time but has only more recently been recognised as a major problem. It was even referred to in great leaders such as Winston Churchill as his “Black Dog” that has become a symbol of depression and other mood disorder.

Clinical depression is not something everyone who goes through divorce might feel. It is often something they may struggle with all of their life in fact, but a life changing event might make this already fragile state massively worse. What is even scarier is that suicide among clinically depressed individuals is substantially higher as well. In fact, 60% of all suicides have a depressive disorder or other mental disorder involved.

So, it is important to discover the difference between the more generic ideas of depression compared to its much more serious brother clinical depression. This will help you to assess your own mental health, or the mental health of someone you love who is going through a divorce.

Defining Clinical Depression in Men after Divorce

The symptoms of clinical depression are different to those of normal sadness from loss. It is obviously more pronounced, but doctors will have specific things they look for that will clue them in on the severity of the depression such as:

  • Feelings of extreme sadness or unhappiness
  • Frustration and irritability over the tiniest of matters
  • Complete loss of interest and pleasure in normal activities
  • Greatly reduced sex drive
  • Insomnia, or the opposite with excessive sleep
  • Marked change in appetite. This might be cravings, lack of appetite, or eating for comfort. So weight gain or loss is often accompanied.
  • Restless agitation. Pacing, wringing of the hands, or involuntary movements when you are worked up.
  • Angry outbursts over small matters
  • A slower pace of thinking, speaking or movement
  • Indecisiveness, inability to concentrate
  • Marked loss of energy and fatigue. Everything seems to take a huge amount of effort to do.
  • Feeling worthless or guilty. Being fixated on past failures.
  • Thoughts of dying, death or suicide that occur frequently
  • Bursting into tears without any apparent reason
  • Odd physical problems such as aches and pains as well as headaches
  • Inability to get out of bed or interact with anyone at some extreme levels

Now, you might think many of these describe any man trying to recover from divorce, but most do not have that many of these symptoms, or to the severity needed. However, many guys border on clinical depression at some stages during their divorce and should be well aware of the risks and causes.

Causes of Depression After Divorce For Men

This might seem obvious – maybe the horrible heart rending divorce and feelings of abandonment and loss? Well yes – but that is actually a trigger for depression as some people are simply more susceptible to depression than others. Some men go through much worse post-divorce blues than others, but do not get hit by depression at all.

This is not a deficiency in you if you are suffering from a depressive disorder; it is simply the way your hormones and brain chemicals work which differs from man to man. Brain chemicals such as serotonin that keep our moods balanced can be out of whack, or blocked for a wide variety of reasons. This coupled with a major life changing experience and lack of positive stimulus is what often leads to clinical depression. This can interfere with your life greatly and can send some men right to the edge of suicide – or very sadly – beyond.

ck dog of depression

What You Can Do About Clinical Depression

If you are feeling very poorly, very sad, and you feel you are exhibiting many symptoms listed above then you might be suffering from clinical depression. However, only a doctor can actually determine this and give you a definitive answer. This is nothing to be ashamed of though, if I have one piece of advice SEE A DOCTOR and ask about it as there are many ways to help with the depression. It does not make you less of a man it does not mean you have failed. True strength is being able to reach out when you are low – and you build on that by reaching out to others when you have recovered so we all help each other.

While only you can get over the trigger factor that caused the depression, doctors can organise counselling if you need it, and they can also prescribe drugs that can help balance the brain chemicals that have led to a lack of serotonin. However, most need to be prescribed and carefully monitored. This is not a cure for depression but it can help you even out your moods while you work through the pain of divorce.

The other things you can do by yourself is approach this the natural way to increase your good mood hormones and brain chemicals. This is mainly about diet and exercise.

  • Exercise has an amazing effect on your moods. After enough intensity it releases feel good hormones called endorphins which flood your brain and body alleviating stress and depression for a while. Continued exercise will have a more permanent effect. This is hard to do consistently when depressed but if you can manage it makes a massive impact on your mental health.
  • Diet is also extremely important to aiding in returning your brain to a better state. There are various foods that you should eat more of, and other that inhibit better moods that you should avoid. Hydration is also extremely important and is easy to do. More on anti-depression diets here

To help with the long term recovery from divorce for men though – click through to see my eBook on this very subject.