Coping With Divorce and DepressionQUESTION: Coping with divorce and depression - What is the relationship?ANSWER:
In coping with divorce and depression, I have found divorce and death are both accompanied by grief, despair, depression, sense of failure, end of a way of life, and uncertainty. The several times I've experienced these were different depending on where I was spiritually.
Hard-headedness brought on my first marriage. My father wisely spoke against the marriage which made me more determined to go through with it. Because I sang in churches, I thought I knew Christ and we'd have a Christian marriage. I later realized I'd married while on the rebound. As a naïve 22 year old, I stepped into the world described through paperback novels; in one year experiencing more than most do in a lifetime. Abuse, adultery, and abject poverty were only the surface. Out of pride, shame, and despair, I severed contacts with most friends and family; focusing on making our marriage succeed.
Only after he went AWOL, did I return to my home area. To many, I was a failure. Jail protected him from creditors, but I was easy to intimidate. Finally, I saved money for the divorce. With pride and hurt as my guide, I looked for love in all the wrong places. Weekends were the hardest. Almost penniless, I'd spend my last dollar on wine to drown my depression.
Another time of coping with divorce and depression was years later when I married a divorced man who, with his mother, had custody of his four daughters. Our togetherness lasted less than a year. Again, the husband left, but because of different circumstances. I'd never known that divorce - especially with children involved - could leave a person psychologically bereft. Their mother was awarded trial custody of the daughters, and my husband withdrew from life. Not loving anyone - even me - would prevent additional hurt which he couldn't take.
We remained friends, with me hoping he'd be healed and that we would reconcile. That didn't happen, but I had help other than a bottle. In the early months of marriage, I found the love for whom I'd searched: The Lord Jesus Christ whom I received as my Savior. There was heartache, depression, and disappointment, but as I grew in Christ and His Word, there was comfort which often came through Christians who were there to help me. A minister introduced Proverbs 3:5-6 to me which became a life Scripture. "Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight."
After 11 years, God brought the one He'd chosen to be my husband. As a retired, widowed pastor, he became my friend, lover, mentor, and spouse. When he left me, it was far different. God shared him with me for 16 1/2 years but, after a 2-year battle with cancer, God took him home. Scripturally, marriage is a union of a man and woman physically, emotionally, and spiritually where the two become one. Though God had given us time to prepare for his death, I had ceased to function as a separate person - half of me had been severed. This time it was coping with loss and depression through death, which is akin to divorce.
God let me run from grief, burying myself in His service. That, with my job, left me little time alone. I came home late at night, dropped into bed, slept a few hours, woke up, and began another day. He brought many needy people to whom I ministered and led to receive Jesus Christ as Savior.
After my aunt and sister also died, grief encompassed me. I was grieving for them and my husband. After seeking professional help, I was diagnosed with severe clinical depression (SCD); mostly due to a chemical imbalance. Through ministry and care giving, I'd run myself down. Even through SCD, I had joy from God's presence. Medication and healing of body and spirit stabilized me because, through it all, "Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever" (Hebrews 13:8).