Divorce is a death of sorts

My wife's and my divorce will be finalized on December 21. We have been married 35-1/2 years.

My first episode of bipolar disorder was in 1986 and I was hospitalized three times in three months. My second episode was in 1990 and I was hospitalized once. Then, I went for 20 years without any episodes.

At the beginning of 2010, it came back in waves. I was hospitalized twice between February and May.

On June 17, I attempted suicide by overdose. My wife came home from work to find me near death on the living room couch. I was still alive, but barely. She called 911, they got me to the ER and then I was in the ICU. I do not remember any of that. The first thing I remember is waking up in the psych ward.

It was decided for me that when I was discharged on July 4, I would be sent to live with my 86-year old mother out of town.

It was about July 14 that my wife called to tell me that she was filing for divorce. She said that she was there to support me through all of my episodes and hospitalizations but felt that no one was ever there to support her - family, friends or me. She said that the trauma she experienced from finding me near death at my own hand just "drew a line in her soul" from which she could not come back.

I cannot blame her for her decision. All of it had to have been excruciating for her. As we have been going through the divorce process, we have found that there were other issues in our marriage that needed to have been, but were not addressed.

We still profess our love for each other. My wife says (like Jane Fonda said about Ted Turner), "I still love you, but I just cannot live with you." While I guess that is the way it must be, my heart aches for the loss. It is just so sad.

That is why divorce is a death, of sorts, that needs to be grieved.

Your thoughts and comments would be welcomed.

Report post

6 replies. Join the discussion

Divorce is an end of a chapter in your life. It is not death but it is a loss and does need to be grieved. Your wife was a part of your life for over 35 years so it will not take a month or two just to be over it. Like grief we all process this in our own time. There is no time limit. I hope you are seeking counselling to help you through this. It is often easier to speak with a stranger than with family. Nobody has the right answers that will make this any easier but they will provide you with the tools. I don't know if having bipolar will make this more difficult but I would assume at least for a while you need to be aware of how you are feeling and seek you doctor if things are getting worse so they can make changes to your medication-assuming you are on medication. I find if I keep myself busy I don't have time to reflect. For me that is what works. I also started reading a lot and that takes me away from the world for a while. Also good to keep yourself around friends and family. Although that was hard for me to do I can admit that it was better than feeling alone. Wish you all the best.

Report post

rw, I think I understand how you are feeling. I too went through a lot when I divorced many years ago. It is always harder to divorce when the love is still there. It must be easier if there is no loss of love. My ex and I were in the same boat. We still loved each other but could no longer live together. I don't think that is as uncommon as many think.

Grieving is a way of adjusting slowly to the changes in your life. Living without someone you have been with for 35 years will not be an easy transition especially if you have emotional issues. I am sorry you are having such a difficult time with the separation. Try to remember that it is not your fault. Many things have changed during that 35 years and many more things will change in the years to come. Nothing is certain in this life even though we sometimes wish it could be.

Please keep in touch with your doctors, family and friends, during this time in your life. Being bi-polar is difficult even when things are good but it is a challenge during the rough times. Stress brings on many emotional changes so keep aware of your feelings.

Take care and keep us posted on how you are feeling.

Report post

BarbCar & ksb1205:

Thank you for your kind words and for providing some perspective to help me through these difficult times. Yes, I have a psychiatrist for meds and a therapist for talk and they have been helpful to a degree. I have no family in town other than my 86-year old mother, but, usually once a week, I do talk/email with my two grown sons and my sister and brother-in-law, all of whom live out of town. I am hoping that, after the divorce is finalized and with the beginning of a new year, better times will lie ahead. We can only hope!

Report post

Hi rwcarlson311,

Just wanted to see how you are doing. This is a horrible time of year for me and I know how difficult it is just to even want to wake up and face the day so I wanted to check in with you too as it is always nice to know that somebody cares. I had a horrible week so I ended up taking my sleeping pills and anxiety pills last night which was a huge mistake. I missed my sons Christmas party and I feel horrible about it. So I took him bowling tonight as that is what he loves and it made me feel a little better now. It is very hard for him without his dad around and he just does not understand and it makes it harder on me to. So if you are having a good day or a bad day know that my thoughts are with you.

Report post

BarbCar:

Thank you so much for your concern. Don't stress about your son's Christmas party. I am sure he probably got more enjoyment being together with you doing something he loves to do. And, like you said, you got something out of it, too!

It sounds like your son is younger. I can only imagine how difficult it is for him not to have his father there. And, I am sorry for the burden that puts on you. Both of our sons are in their 30's but I know that this has been a difficult time for them as well. Just be comforted by the fact that you have your son there for you to shower him with love!

In my DBSA support group this summer and fall, the topic of BP triggers came up and several people said the holidays are triggers for them. At the time, I didn't think that would be the case with me. However, our older son was here for Thanksgiving and I was a mess. Couldn't stop crying. My sister and brother-in-law are coming in today for Christmas and I can already feel the water-works ready to start. Our younger son is coming in early January. Hopefully I can get myself under control by then!

You and your son have a very Merry Christmas and let's all hope that the new year will bring health, happiness and peace for us all!

Report post

I divorced my first husband and even though I'm the one who wanted it, I remember saying many times that divorce is like a death. It is - it's the death of a relationship, a home life, a lifestyle. You will adjust, I promise you. It was easier for me because I'd stopped caring for my husband; I only felt bad about breaking up my home, and I'm not talking because of material things; it was the feeling of "home" itself. Seven years later I remarried and have been married over 25 years now to a wonderful man.

The pain will diminish over time, you'll see. I wish you the best.

Report post

This discussion is closed to replies. We close all discussions after 90 days.

If there's something you'd like to discuss, click below to start a new discussion.

Things you can do

Support Mental Health America

Help Mental Health America reach its goals and support people like yourself by making a donation today.

Donate to  Mental Health America

Discussion topics

Resources from Mental Health America

Mental Health America 2013 Annual Conference on Wellness

Receive e-mail news from MHA

Community leaders