I can’t say enough about my lovely friends and family who have supported me—and at times carried me—through the separation process. Having a support network of compassionate humans is indispensible. At the same time, there was also lots of “stuff” I leaned on too. And most of this stuff can be helpful in any challenging situation we face in life, not just divorce.
What follows is the stuff that helped keep me afloat. Yes, some of it is pretty female-oriented, but anyone going through a tough time can benefit from at least some of these things.
Before we dig in, just a note that some – or most – people will need professional intervention to deal with tough life circumstances , especially if they have affected your mental illness. Reaching out for help is a sign of strength and essential for the good of your family and yourself. Speak with your family doctor to access the resources and support you need asap.
Part of my approach involved balancing out the negativity in my life with positive media content. I temporarily stopped watching the news and and heavy dramas and instead only allowed myself to watch comedies to try to boost my mood:
“Bridesmaids” (over and over and over)
“Sleeping with Other People”
“How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days”
“The Mindy Project”
“Inside Amy Schumer”
“Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt”
My mind was greedy and wanted a lot of time for worry. After awhile I was exhausted by it, and then I started drowning it out. Some of the “noise” I chose was inspirational, some introspective and some just made me get up and move. Never underestimate the power of exercise to make you feel better.
“Girl on Fire”—Alicia Keys
“Ridin’ Solo”—Jason Derulo
“Run the World”—Beyoncé
Oprah’s SuperSoul Conversations
Once I was able to get on top of the worry, I could focus on the work I needed to do on myself. I sought to understand what had happened, take responsibility for what I could, and release the shame I felt about external factors I had no control over. I’m a hardcore book nerd and dove deep into many, many pages, so these are just my top picks:
Daring Greatly and Rising Strong by Brené Brown
The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho
Wild by Cheryl Strayed
Splitopia by Wendy Paris
Yes Please by Amy Poehler
As I sought to shift the energy in my life, I challenged myself to stretch my boundaries by trying new things and re-immersing myself in things I had abandoned years ago. Everyone’s list will be different, but this is mine:
There is no easy way through dark times. It’s a grieving process wrought with intense emotion. Using “stuff” to help you with your progress can be a powerful way to push through, challenge yourself and learn from a painful experience. When combined with your support network of friends and family, professionals like a therapist, family doctor and lawyer and your own determination to be happy again, you just may find that having some stuff on your side makes it all seem more achievable.
– Erin Skillen
A version of this article originally appeared in Island Parent Magazine.