As I mentioned in my first blog post on tackling depression after abuse, in order for me to overcome the deep dark depression that overcame me as I ventured out into the world without my abuser telling me what to do, I found reaching out to professionals extremely helpful. I’ll be the first to admit, for the first few years of my recovery, I thought time alone was going to heal the horrors of my past. But, time along proved to be an insufficient way for me to destroy the emotional turmoil my abuser had caused in my thoughts.
Depression and Anxiety After Domestic Violence
People in my small world offered great tips for easing my depression. Some told me I should eat better, walk more, and be grateful I am separated from that horrible person who changed me into someone they didn't know anymore. Yes, I agree, too much processed sugar and not enough exercise was bad for me during these times. Yet, these outsiders had no idea what I was going through therefore didn’t realize the magnitude of confusion in my head.
One recommendation that did work for me: finding that one good thing during the day and focusing on that. Often times it was a smile or hug from my children, a day where I went an hour without thinking of my past or it could have been a day without my boss finding a mistake I made. I found focusing on finding positive snip-its in my day, provided me an easier way of finding them. Eventually, I could break a slight smile when I experienced a positive thought.
Focusing on finding the next positive thing that happened in my small world assisted me in keeping positive thoughts the priority of my thoughts. When I found myself going through a rough spell, I started keeping a journel so if I needed a thought for the day, I could always go back to one I had written down.
A few other approaches I used to combat my depression included:
- When I found myself reminiscing about the good times (in other words, hoping the good guy would come back) I tried to combat these thoughts immediately before the positive thoughts settled in. As quickly as possible, I tried to switch my thoughts over to remembering my abuser as the abusive guy that he was. Earlier in my recovery, I had to go slow on this and use gentle reminders. As I became stronger, I was able to strengthen my negative reminders easier.
- When I found myself missing my abuser, I focused on remembering all the times he wasn’t there for me. Whether it was not allowing me the proper rest time after an outpatient surgery, or leaving me alone in the hospital for days on end when our daughter was battling cancer. As I became stronger, I was able to focus on the fact that my abuser physically being close by was totally different that he being there for me.
- I tried my hardest to remember that being alone and being lonely are two different things (maybe link loneliness and being alone blog post; really early one)
- Compartmentalize (divide into categories to excessive degree; triage what was most important) the exhausting list of things I needed to do. I found if I could prioritize my list and for the most part, stick to it in an effort to deal with the most important two things first. For me, I found it worked better out better if I worked on two tasks at a time; one easy and one hard. I found it less overwhelming to put a majority of my effort into two projects versus putting my energy shifting around in multiple projects. Working on many projects at the same time didn’t allow me to get anything done; I felt like I was running around in circles. Yet, if I completed one task completely before I moved on to the next I felt like my effort did give me a focus and since of accomplishment.
Please leave comments below on other strategies you found helpful as you navigated through the dark depression phase most of us go through after the realization of being out on our own is extremely overwhelming.
See also "Recovering from domestic violence" and "Abuse Recovery"
Hi, I'm Sue
Welcome to my blog! I served twenty-one honorable years on active duty, living a double life of capability and accomplishment in the service while enduring brutality and abusiveness in my twenty-one year oppressive marriage. Today I'm happily married and have three children who are my inspiration and motivation.
My goal is to help combat the lies of abusers with the truth of God. I hope you find my words to be healing and helpful through your own life experiences.
Being separated from my abusive husband didn't make me a domestic violence survivor. It surely didn't release me from the grip of his brainwashing control and the innate power he had on me.
Read the full raw story in my new book, Rock Bottom and Faithless.