Just say “no” to negativity

When depression fuels self-doubt, it’s hard to stop the spiral.

Our elder shares her story—along with advice on how to be your own cheerleader.

Dear EWC:

Hi I’m 40 and my wife of 16 years left me nine months ago and my daughter went with her. My 13-year-old son stayed with me. I’m dealing with the mid-life thing. I have no friends and my mom, who was my only emotional support, died four days ago. 

I’m very unattractive and I suffer from depression, which makes it hard for me to relate to people and hard to form connections. I want a relationship so bad but I’m vain, I have no sense of humor, no sense of style, I’m not interesting, and I’m on disability because of my depression. I feel so alone and I need a woman in my life. I just don’t have the resources needed to fix myself. 

What is life without the things we need to be happy? I don’t know what to do.

JensPen replies:

I am so glad that you have written for some advice about your current situation. First my condolences on the loss of your mom.  I know how difficult dealing with the loss of a parent can be. Both of mine are gone now and with each the grief was different but very intense.

My theory is that no matter how old you are, you still are your parents’ kid. The emotional support of a mother to her child is like no other. I know you will miss having her to talk to and you are just beginning to experience the grief that you will go through.  

 What I can tell you about grief is that it is an intensely personal emotion. There are no right or wrong ways to grieve. Be kind to yourself and cry when you need to and let yourself feel all the different emotions. No one can tell you what you should feel or when to do this or that. There is a lot of information online and in books about the stages of grief. These emotions also relate to other types of loss such as divorce. When you feel up to it, I highly suggest that you read some of this material. I think you will be able to relate much of it to your personal circumstances. 

You also have your family to think about. Your children lost their grandmother. Not knowing what the family dynamic was or how close they were to her, it may certainly be a traumatic and emotional time for your son and daughter. As their father, please look after their needs, especially your young son. Make sure he knows how much she loved him and that her memory will be kept alive by talking about the fun times you all had.

As for you and your lack of social life, let me begin by saying that I don’t believe for one minute that you are all those negative things you listed. You may think you are but without even knowing you I can tell that you are kind, thoughtful, and loving. You were clearly a loving son and I am sure you are a loving father. You have a family and at one time, you had a loving relationship with your wife. These days one out of two marriages fail so the fact that yours didn’t work out doesn’t mean you failed or can’t find another woman.

In my opinion, first and foremost, you need to change the way you think about yourself. All this negativity has to go out the window. Instead of listing all the things you aren’t, try making a list of your positive attributes. I know you have them. Can you cook? Are you caring and kind (yes)? Are you well read? Do you have a hobby? Are you creative in any way? What skills do you have? What were your favorite classes in school? Do you like the outdoors? Start looking up instead of down. 

I know this is a lot and I would really suggest that you don’t go this alone. I found that seeing a therapist was exceptionally helpful. A therapist is a sounding board; someone who can help you untangle all your emotions and help you take control of your life instead of letting it flounder.

Group therapy for grief and loss would, I think. be something very helpful. You will meet other people who are experiencing the same types of situations. You are not alone. Within the group you will certainly make some friends while working through your grief. If you are seeing a doctor for your depression he/she could surely suggest some places to go. Many hospitals also offer bereavement groups. With the virus you might prefer a one-on-one experience. I know there are online therapists such as Talkspace and Doctor on Demand.

I understand that your life feels dark and lonely but I also know that you need to be your own cheerleader. I know you can get through this to a happier, more fulfilling place if you start moving forward. It won’t happen without you believing in yourself and changing your negative attitude. 

Think of the great example you will be for your son. Show him that by setting goals and having patience and perseverance you can get what you want in life.  



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