This is a picture I took the day my divorce decree was signed. I was lying in bed feeling like I could stay there the rest of my life. What you can’t tell is that I am lying on a tear-soaked pillow. That morning, I could have sworn there were about three hundred pounds of weight stacked on top of me, preventing me from getting out of bed.
I took this picture for my clients – past, present, and future. I took it to remind myself of how it felt – how it felt gray and sad and shameful to get divorced.
I have never shown this picture to anyone because I feel embarrassed by how I look. Not because my forehead takes up half the picture, but because of how depressed I look. But I was depressed. I was on anti-depressants. I was struggling with depleted energy levels to get out of bed some days. I was horribly sad. I was seeing a counselor. I felt an overwhelming sense of hopelessness that I had never experienced.
This all from the woman you know who goes on “joy journeys” and “happy adventures.” Yes. Me. I was depressed. I have yet to find a client I represent who doesn’t experience depression on some level during the divorce process. I have yet to find a client who doesn’t report some sleepless nights. I have yet to find a client who goes through divorce anxiety-free.
More clients than I can count have looked at me with worry when telling me that they can’t sleep or suspect depression. They are worried it will impact their case, their kids will be taken from them, or that they will lose everything. They don’t want to take an anti-depressant because that is evidence that they are struggling.
Depression has hit center stage in the media this week with the suicide report of comedian Robin Williams. There are more articles than I can keep up with being posted on social media about what depression means. It reminded me of the stigma attached to the very word. It reminded me how reluctant people are to be truth tellers around this topic. How we tend to hide it. Yet, I know from the work I have done, from helping my own friends, and from my own circumstances, that depression is more likely than not to impact you or someone you know during your lifetime.
The key is to not be afraid of it. The key is to get support in dealing with it. The key is to tell the truth about how you are feeling. Tell a family member, a friend, your lawyer, a counselor, or a trusted advisor. Don’t be embarrassed by it. Don’t hide from it. Talk about it. Be brave.