Relationship Connection: I’m so depressed I want to give up

Question

I am so depressed and feel so worthless. I was struggling with a surprise heart condition and while I was in the hospital our neighbor put the moves on my wife. Needless to say they had an affair and I was devastated. I wanted to work through it but my wife wanted a divorce.

It has been three years and I am still heartbroken and have no self-esteem. There are no divorce support groups in my area and my friends are tired of being around me because of my depression.

I feel isolated and want to give up on everything. I don’t know what to do or how to move on.

Answer

You are experiencing betrayal trauma, which creates feelings of hopelessness, despair, and depression. This isn’t something you’re going to pull out of alone, so I want you to find a mental health professional and work with your physician as soon as possible.

The mental health professional can work with your depression, help you find healthy coping strategies, and allow you to make sense of what you’ve been through. Additionally, the professional can help you rebuild a good support system so you can have the ongoing support you’ll need with these new transitions in your life.

The physician can work with you to make sure your physical health isn’t adding more strain to your already difficult emotional challenges. You have enough hurdles to overcome in adjusting to life post-divorce that you don’t want your health creating more complications. There is no shame in asking for medication to help you with your anxiety and depression so you can resume a functional routine with your life.

Divorce is traumatizing for most people who go through it because they often experience a type of isolation they didn’t expect. For example, many of their friends may struggle to know how to connect, as they don’t want to take sides or are too busy with their own families.

Men especially struggle after divorce because they don’t often have the strong social networks that come more naturally to women. Your friends may want to be there for you, but don’t know how. A good counselor can help you know how to interface with them so you can build a solid support system.

I encourage you to continue seeking a group you can attend. I think it’s a great idea to attend a support group so you can have other people support you in your struggle.

Even if you can’t find a divorce-specific group, you can attend a group that offers support to family members of addicts, a grief/loss group, or other groups where you can connect with people who are struggling with unexpected losses. Even though the content may be a little different than your particular situation, the connection and empathy is the same.

You might also consider joining a religious congregation and connecting with the pastor, getting involved in service activities in your community, and looking for ways to make contributions.

Depression and despair tell you there is no hope and you have no options. This is simply not true and you have to actively work to engage yourself in activities that connect you to something bigger than you. This gives you connection to others, purpose, and a true sense of contribution.

I realize you’re probably struggling to get the energy to even initiate something like this. You’ve reached out to me, which is a great first step. You have a new life to live, even though you never anticipated having it turn out this way. Keep reaching out and don’t give up until you are experiencing more purpose and connection with others.

Stay connected!

Resources

  • If you or someone you know may be experiencing suicidal thoughts, please call the 24-hour National Suicide Prevention Hotline, 1-800-273-TALK (8255); if you or someone else is in immediate danger call 911

Geoff Steurer is a licensed marriage and family therapist in private practice in St. George, Utah. He specializes in working with couples in all stages of their relationships. The opinions stated in this article are solely his and not those of St. George News.

Have a relationship question for Geoff to answer? Submit to:

Email: geoff@lovingmarriage.com

Twitter: @geoffsteurer

Facebook: facebook.com/GeoffSteurerMFT

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2014, all rights reserved.

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8 Comments

  • Denise June 25, 2014 at 11:09 am

    I have always been a great listener and I am willing to be an ear if it helps and I wont get tired off it I know sometimes you just need somebody to vent to and I have broad shoulders

  • LOL'd June 25, 2014 at 11:38 am

    The important question: was this a temple marriage?

  • S Steed June 25, 2014 at 12:15 pm

    I would recommend reconnecting with your own intuition. Depression is a very natural form of communication that you need to be doing something different. A mental health professional is a good idea because they know what questions to ask but they just stir the pot. You have all the answers. Suppressing your depression with drugs will only compound the problem- you’ll still be depressed and your organs will be destroyed and your glands will not know when to give adrenaline, serotonin, or dopamine. Get honest with yourself. Face the problems head on and oh, count your blessings. Focusing on the good things you have will get your energy flowing and that’s critical for healing.

    • Bretticus June 25, 2014 at 5:18 pm

      I think he’s past the point of … I’ll just change my behavior and suck it up! People who recommend this route are either a) Scientologists or b) never experienced long-term depression. Listen to the words, “It has been three years…I feel isolated and want to give up on everything. I don’t know what to do or how to move on.” If he doesn’t or can’t get support, it’s time for a professional for sure. They will teach him how to take your advice later. Pointing him away from professional and medical options at this point is not great advice.

  • Dana June 25, 2014 at 3:33 pm

    Someday, you are going to emerge from your depression and realize how much better off you are without your unfaithful wife. You are still in the “mourning” stage. Not for her…but for your marriage. Your comment “our neighbor put the moves on my wife ” is a good starting point for you to shake her out of your system. Keep in mind… SHE was a willing participant…. SHE wanted a divorce…. SHE isn’t worthy of your tears.
    Get out and meet other people. Get involved with community activities. Take up a hobby. But don’t let your life pass you by dwelling on the past.

  • Brian June 25, 2014 at 3:40 pm

    Sometimes traumatic things like this can trigger depression that doesn’t go away, even after you’ve come to grips with the things that led to the trigger. I fought depression for 25 years (started when my parents divorced when I was 7 and again when I was 14, and both were very hard on me) and tried everything. Then I heard about EFT / Tapping and did 3 one-hour sessions and the depression was gone. 6 years later it hasn’t returned. It was like there was a radio station in the back of my mind constantly putting me down, and all at once it was just gone, permanently. Needless to say I’m grateful for my miracle.

  • Incognegro June 25, 2014 at 8:00 pm

    Here is what you do. Get rid of your iPhone. Get rid of your Facebook,including any access to social media. Go out and get laid. Then read Saint George News with whoever you slept with over breakfast the next morning. Don’t forget to blow off some steam in the comments section with a uber synical remark. Guess what…no more depression. Or you could just accept yourself for who you are or aspire to be!

  • St. George Resident June 26, 2014 at 10:39 am

    Depression has many elements. One element is anger. We get angry when the world doesn’t play out the script we have in our heads (some call this “blocked goals). Learning to think differently helps, namely not being resistant to life–which will unfold anyway–and developing confidence to know that whatever comes I will find inside me the strength to deal with. I wouldn’t say it’s a cure, but I’ve found a lot of help with depression and anxiety by understanding the principles of ACCEPTANCE as taught by Eckhart Tolle (you can find videos on youtube or snipets online to read). We often walk around in denial, but we must first accept everything before we can react to it, or we just get further off track. Good luck.

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