Depressed, Anxious and Alone
My husband and I agreed that he would take a job which has him working out of the country for a rotation of two months away, back home for three weeks, and so on. We became parents when we were 40, and we know that this opportunity will be able to pay off our mortgage and post secondary education for our daughter.
I have suffered from Generalized Anxiety Disorder and depression for most of my life and am finding that both problems are significantly worse with this family separation/work situation. I am deeply conflicted–worrying about the impact on our daughter and on me, psychologically. I feel strongly that this is a good opportunity, but at the same time, I feel the depression weighing so heavily on me. Unfortunately, I don’t drive, so this adds to the isolation and sadness I feel. Any advice you could offer would be much appreciated.
Should I try to ‘tough it out’, so to speak? Was I foolish to think I could tolerate this in the first place?
A: I appreciate you asking the question. GAD and depression are a tough combination and the systematic loss of your partner will be something to cope with until the next job change. But I feel strongly that you can ameliorate the reactions you are having by investing in activities of self-growth and well-being.
First, I would cultivate two well-known practices for shifting your internal dynamics. The first is to highlight your gratitude journaling so that your morning focus gets put on the right track. I would begin by writing down the things you have had gratitude for during the past 24 hours. If you do this each morning it helps to reframe your past day. Focus on the positive, and when you are done think of one thing you are looking forward to in the coming day. This tends to help.
Second, I would cultivate meditation practice to help tolerate and use alone time and to bring more peace into your life on a regular basis.
On the behavioral front, I would increase my contact with others. While cabbing or busing it to your destination and arranging for babysitters will help to get you launched, I would encourage you to push yourself beyond your comfort zone and arrange to have driving lessons. Unless a disability absolutely prohibits your driving, I strongly recommend you develop this practical autonomy. This opens up a whole world to you and your child, makes you more autonomous, and will make you less dependent.
Tomasulo, D. (2012). Depressed, Anxious and Alone. Psych Central. Retrieved on May 5, 2016, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2012/06/03/depressed-anxious-and-alone/