You've seen celebrity clinical psychologist Dr. Sherry Blake, author of The Single Married Woman: True Stories of Why Women Feel All Alone in Their Marriages, keep the Braxton sisters calm on the hit show Braxton Family Values. Now it's your turn to sit in her chair...
Q: I feel like I'm stuck in a life of unhappiness and I can't seem to shake it off. I’m a divorced mother of a beautiful 12-year-old daughter who I try to not let see me so down all of the time. But I’m angry about being a single parent and now I must hold my head up and take everything on with a smile. It's just not that easy. I feel like I want to end it all, but I would hate to put my daughter threw that. I pray and try to do what I'm supposed to as a loving mother but my life has got to get better. I feel like I'm in a hole and the dirt is being kicked in on me every time I try to make a change for the better and have a happier life. I don't know what to do or which way to go next. I just want to scream from a mountaintop, but with the way I feel, I don’t think I could make it to the top. Can you please help me out of this sad place in my life? I can't take much more.
A: I clearly hear your incredible emotional pain. I also hear feelings of hopelessness and helplessness with some possibly suicidal thoughts. Your anger regarding your divorce and becoming a single mother has overwhelmed you. I don't know of anyone that marries with the intent on divorcing and becoming a single mother. But, sometimes life happens. Sometimes we feel that things are unfair and that we’ve gotten the short end of the stick. This may or may not be true, but what matters is that we deal with the issues at hand. My guess is that you were unknowingly a single mother before you actually became divorced. You could have been what I call a “single married woman.” Your intense anger with your new role has attributed to your depression.
Depression can be totally debilitating. It is robbing you of all the joys of life. Your life is worth living and you must choose to live it. Choosing life means letting go of old emotional baggage, including all of your anger and hurt. No pain is worth taking your own life. You say that you have a beautiful daughter. I am sure that she loves you, and most of importantly, she needs you. I am also sure that she is aware of your anger and depression. Children often believe that their parents’ divorce is their fault in some way. If your daughter believes this, she is also going to feel responsible for you being unhappy and upset. Although that is not your intent, it is still unfair to her. If you are not careful, you may see emotional and behavioral changes in your daughter too. I suggest that you seek individual therapy immediately to address your depression and any other emotions you’re feeling. I would also suggest some individual therapy for your daughter combined with family therapy for both of you. This is a great opportunity to create a new life for you and your daughter. Remember, this will take time and effort, but it can be done. Have faith and get the help you need along the way. You are not alone in your anger and depression – so many women experience similar pain and confusion about how to move forward. Plus, many people struggle with these feelings after a divorce or a major lifestyle change. Regardless of how you are feeling right now, remember that this too shall pass. -- Dr. Sherry
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