Going in circles

By Dr. Marie Hartwell-Walker

Dear Dr. Marie,
I wrote back in July last year about my recurring depression and
suicidal thoughts. Thank you for your insightful and helpful response.

I did have counselling following my hospitalisation. I continued until
about September last year. I started to feel well about that time, my
energy picked up, I made new friends at work, and had a sense of
achievement and self worth.

I felt very clear about my decision to leave my husband. However it is
almost 2 years since I left him -the mandatory time before one can get
divorced in my country – and my husband is getting quite desperate to
get me back. I’ve become quite stressed by his turning up to see me,
visiting my family and friends, talking in church about me and to anyone
who will listen. He tells the children divorce is wrong, that the bible
says it’s wrong, that divorce means nothing and I’ll always be his wife.
He talks about “all these men” he says I am going out with.

At first it didn’t bother me as I am used to it and expected this but
just lately I’ve been feeling very stressed. My sleep, which has never
recovered since I initially became depressed, is worse, and I have that
terrible tiredness back. I really don’t want to go to work but I know I
need to both financially and for my psychological well being. However, I
do find shift work very tiring. I feel like I’m getting run down but I
don’t know how to manage my stress.

I’ve found myself doubting my perspective of how things were in the
marriage and going around the same circle again of should I give him
another chance. I really want to resolve this once and for all and his
telling the kids that the divorce means nothing has disheartened me. I
know I can’t go back but I’m not sure why I get confused from time to
time and have to go through a whole lot of turmoil to get to that
conclusion again.

Any ideas on what I can do to feel less stressed would be greatly
appreciated.

A: Thank you for writing. You’ve already taken an important first step by reaching out for some help. The next step is go back to the therapist who was helpful to you. He or she already knows your story and you’ll be able to pick up where you left off.

Therapy for a significant depression is rarely a one-time episode. Think of it as layers. You got through the most difficult one. Now it’s time to work on the next. You can draw comfort and hope from the fact that you did get better. You will again. This time you didn’t sink as low so it will probably be easier to find your strength again. Your therapist will also be in a position to help you figure out whether there is any reality to your husband’s position and whether the marriage is salvageable.

I do have my doubts. From what you wrote, your husband is not approaching you about what he can do better. Instead, he is blaming you and trying to isolate your from your family and community – and even your God. He’s also putting the children in the painful position of being in the middle of your divorce. If he were serious about making the marriage work, he would be taking some responsibility for the break down of your relationship (both to you and to others) and would be asking to join you in your therapy to do some couples counseling. Most important, he would be considering his children’s need to have two parents they respect instead of trying to get them to take his side.

Meanwhile, I hope you have talked with a lawyer about what your rights are. You may be able to limit your husband’s contact with you and what he can say to the children. I don’t know the laws of your country, though, so I caution you to seek out legal help.

Finally, ask your therapist for a referral to a local support group (or an online group) for women who are having similar difficulties. I think you will find it affirming and helpful to have the support of others who know what you are going through.

I wish you well.
Dr. Marie

Photo

 

 

Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 2 Apr 2009

APA Reference
Hartwell-Walker, D. (2009). Going in circles. Psych Central. Retrieved on November 24, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2009/04/02/going-in-circles/