“I Believe God Brought Us Together”

Recently, someone told me this about how they met their partner. “I believe God brought us together.” I began thinking about this.

I am not an expert in religion or spiritual matters. I am not a Christian counselor. Further, I do not wish to offend anyone’s beliefs in God .I was raised in a devote Catholic home, attending church every Sunday. I have one brother that is a priest and another that is a deacon. Over the years, I believe I have matured in my belief in God and how God is present in our lives

I have heard that phrase (“God brought us together.”) before in my therapy office and I have said it before about my own life. I believe the person who said this recently believes what they said and this needs to be respected.

With that having been said however……… it occurred to me that such a phrase puts the speaker in a terrible personal/spiritual bind. If a person seriously believes God brought them together but they were to later decide to divorce, this would be essentially going against God’s will, which most people don’t want to do.  On the other hand, if they were to believe divorce is best due to insurmountable differences but further believed they had to stay together because their relationship was “God’s will”, this could be the death of both of them and their relationship, spiritually and psychologically.  Ever seen a couple in a “dead” relationship?

But, one could ask, what if it were God’s will that the relationship end? This thought further illuminates to my overall point…namely that one needs to be careful and think further about what one attributes to God or what is God’s will.

I do not believe God ordains who I am to marry or do in my life. But I do believe God expects me to treat others with respect (a.k.a. love one another) and do the best that I can in any situation I find myself in or put myself in; this includes any promises I make, including marriage. How then can I justify divorcing earlier in my life. I justify it by believing that I tried my best to make the relationship work and eventually came to believe it was not best that I be married. I keep that in mind as I go forth in life and enter new relationships and I hold myself ready to face God’s judgment about my decision to divorce previously.

Something to think about when it come to thinking about your religious beliefs and hard choices we face in our lives….like whether to divorce or not.

 

 

 

 

She Asked for a Divorce

The following is an email discussion I had with a woman contemplating divorcing her husband.  At the time of our dialogue, she had just, in session, announced to her husband, directly, that she wanted to divorce.

This is a wonderful example of why it is difficult for women to ask for a divorce, “…it kills me to see the hurt in his eyes”.  Note her thoughts being “all over the place”.  Finally, look at my last response to her, specifically my challenge for her to take seriously her thought processes DESPITE what others would say.

 

Ed,

As you know I have gotten off my chest that I do indeed want a divorce.

Though last night when we got home Bill begged me not to be done to give him one last chance. Even after I have told him I don’t think there is anything he can do now to change my mind. He really is hurt by me wanting a divorce. I know that he has hurt me for so long but it kills me to see the hurt in his eyes. I am having so many emotions right now that I can’t hardly think straight. I find myself using work to get a break from my mind these days. I know the choice I have made is not an easy one, or maybe it should be easy if it is really meant to be that way. I am completely all over the place with my thoughts, but it’s really hard for me to have a clear thought process right now. Is that normal?

Along with all this he has asked me to take a trip with him this weekend.

Would that be leading him in the wrong direction by going on a trip with him?

Please help me try to understand all my thoughts.

Thanks

Becky

 

Becky,

Real quick….I’m in between people.

It is normal….jumping from topic to topic. This is traditionally the most stressful situation most humans face. So, if you are confused, have a hard time concentrating or go from one thought/feeling to the opposite thought/feeling….know that that is normal.

Good point….or good awareness….that you have hurt a lot at his hands during the marriage AND that it hurts you that you’re divorcing him is killing him. That does not mean you are crazy or mean, that means you are human and empathetic…..it doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t divorce him however.

The invitation to the trip is I think a way of wooing you back to him.  Go at your risk. The same is true of having sex with him. The more you do, the more it will make divorcing difficult.  He is hurting and I am and I know you are sorry about that. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t divorce him.

Need to go.  If you have more questions, please email me.  These are good awareness’s on your part!

Edward

 

I do have one last question… Am I crazy for asking for a divorce? Bill claims this is me taking the easy way out….  I don’t see it that way due to the fact that we have been trying counseling sessions for at least two years and we are still needing to continue these sessions.  At what point is it OK to just say your opinion no longer matters.

He also is trying to bring our children into this by saying they are going to have an awful life if we separate, I feel very differently from that but he been there and I never have.

 

Becky,

Responding to your question, “Am I crazy for asking for a divorce?”…..

You must answer that for yourself. I say this for two reasons. First, I’ll give you my answer AFTER you give me your answer. Second, this is a more serious question than you think.  If you think you are crazy, then you are crazy…..regardless of what you do or say.  I have worked with people who believed they were, for example, the “black sheep” of their family. Everything they considered doing or thinking they looked at as if it were something a black sheep did or does AND they often only did things that were extreme or inappropriate or disruptive….the things that they thought only a black sheep would do. So, if you think you are crazy, you will probably not take this decision as seriously as you would if you thought you were of serious and stable temperament and if things turn out badly, you could say to yourself that you did such because you thought you were crazy and you consequently did crazy things.

So….are you crazy?

I will answer this question only after you tell me your answer to this question.

In regards to, “At what point is it OK to just say your opinion no longer matters?” I am assuming that what you are saying is “At what point is it ok to just say Bill’s opinion no longer matters?”  That is what seriously considering getting a divorce is all about…..deciding that the other persons opinion doesn’t matter and you want to live your life how you see fit.  YOU must decide that….WHEN his opinion doesn’t matter. You wouldn’t be considering divorce if you hadn’t already been thinking about IF his opinion matters or WHEN it doesn’t matter. Most decide it doesn’t matter when they see a history in the relationship that reflects going along with the other person’s opinion has lead repeatedly to bad consequences for the person consistently, that this pattern will continue in the future and that they know that that to do such in the future would be bad for them/the kids involved. You must also remember that, if you decide to divorce and he doesn’t want to divorce, he will not agree with your opinion and you will have to pursue this course of action AGAINST THE ADVICE of him. Most people, especially women, are not comfortable doing such. The more you are aware that you will have to do that as you pursue your divorce, the less this aspect will de-rail you.

Please email me again if you have further questions.

Edward

 

How Couples Can Rebuild Trust after an Affair

Below is a link to a TED TALK by Ester Perel.  She speaks of trust in relationships and more specifically the impact of an affair on trust in a marriage.

Really worth a listen…

http://news.stlpublicradio.org/post/how-can-couples-rebuild-trust-after-affair

A Monster Calls

The following is dialog from the movie, A Monster Calls, between a 15 year-old boy, Connor O’Malley, and a “monster”, voiced by Liam Niesen.  The boy’s mother is dying from cancer.  The monster has come to help the boy face this tragedy.  The boy has been having a dream in which his mother is falling into a deep hole and he catches her by the arm.  He struggles to pull her up.  Eventually, he can’t save her and after considerable struggles, he lets go of her.  He’s deeply ashamed of this.

The dialog occurs after the boy describes this dream to the monster.  Note what the monster says about the lies we tell ourselves.

Connor:  “I’ve known forever she wasn’t going to make it.  She kept telling me that she’d get better….because that is what I wanted to hear.  I believed her.  Except I didn’t.  I started to think how much I wanted it (her death) to be over but I couldn’t stand how alone it would make me feel.”

Monster:  “A part of you wished it would end even if it meant losing her.”

Connor:  “I let her go, I couldn’t hold on any longer, I always let her go.”

Monster:  “That is your truth, Connor O’Malley.”

Connor:  “I wanted to be there.  That was real.  Now, she is going to die and it’s all my fault.”

Monster:  “That is not the truth at all.  You were merely wishing for an end of pain.  Your own pain.  That is the most human wish there is.”

Connor:  “I didn’t mean it (the wish) though.”

Monster:  “You did but you also did not.”

Connor:  “How can both be true?”

Monster:  “How can a prince be a murderer and be loved by his people?”  How can an apothecary be evil-tempered but right thinking?” (referring to earlier sections in the movie)

Connor:  “I don’t know.  Those stories never made any sense to me.”

Monster:  (chuckles) “You humans are complicated beasts.  You believe comforting lies while knowing full well the painful truths that make those lies necessary.  In the end Connor, it is not important what you think.  It is important what you do.”

Connor:  “So what do I do?”

Monster:  “What you did just now….speak the truth.”

Connor:  “That’s all?”

Monster:  “You think it is easy?  You were willing to die rather than speak it.”

A Therapist’s Suggestions for Grandparents Raising Grandchildren

A couple came in recently….grandparents, wanting to discuss rules to set before their grandson moves in. They brought in a list of rules/expectations they had created. It is the best set of expectations I’ve seen…so I thought I’d share them with you.

  1. Chores. The grandson would be given a list of household chores. He had to pick, I think 3-4 that he had to do every week (or he would lose a privilege). He could also opt to do an extra chore (a bigger one, like mow the yard), for which he would be paid.
  1. Curfew. They listed their curfew times for him. Not negotiable. They allowed his curfew to be later on Friday and Saturday nights but not beyond the legal curfew.
  1. Study time. They expected a set amount of time for the youth to study, either at the dining room table or in his bedroom, with the door open.
  1. Special events (i.e., basket/football games, etc.). They expected him to let them know 2-3 days before the event, ask permission to go and if they consented, they expected him to put it on the family calendar.
  1. Civility. They expected him to say “Hello” to them upon arriving home, “Good morning”, “Good night”, and “Good bye”.
  1. Meals together. They expected him to eat 2-4 meals with them a week, depending on practices and his work schedule.
  1. Privacy. They expected him to have his bedroom door open at particular times….study time, anytime there was a girl in his bedroom, and when unknown friends were visiting (until they were known to the grandparents).
  1. Transportation. They expected him to use his bike with temperatures above 40 degrees and to ask 1-3 days ahead of time if he needed them to take him to/from or wanted the use of their car.
  1. Accidents. He is expected to report all accidents (in-home or away, minor or major) immediately and would be granted amnesty, unless the circumstances were grossly irresponsible.
  1. Doctor appointments. He must make them aware of all doctor appointments; he must go; they will be taking on the “parental part” of any treatments and he must follow-through with any doctor recommendations.
  1. Checking and savings accounts. He must open such and put them on the accounts. He must allow all checks/withdrawal to be counter-signed by them. He must put 1/3 of his paychecks in his savings, 1/3 in checking and 1/3 will be for him to spend as he wishes.
  1. Employment. He must have a part-time job, even if he plays a sport at school.
  1. Specific rules. Specific rules could be added as needed, i.e., No sitting in grandpa’s chair in the living room.

This was the most complete list I have ever seen a couple comprise. Kudos to them.

The New Infidelity: Are You Guilty?

This is an article from Men’s Health, January/February 2018.  Be forewarned, this article contains adult themes, ideas, and crude, sexual wording.  However, it also references an interesting book on affairs, The State of Affairs: Rethinking Infidelity by therapist Ester Perel and observations by therapist Marty Klein.  From the book, old myths of affairs are examined and thought provoking questions are posed.  Dr. Klein then shares 3 stories of affairs, provides intriguing views of each, and gives specific suggestions the participants are to consider.  The article closes with factors to consider and factors that suggest he or she could be unfaithful.

Worth a read!!

Ever sexted with a woman who’s not your partner?  Followed an ex on social media?  Shared secrets with a “work wife”?  Many women would call you a cheater, our exclusive poll found.  And a gender gap appeared:  Women are more likely than men to call given behaviors cheating.  Fair warning, men.

What’s clear:  Lust and temptation are eternal, and modern life makes it easier to succumb.  Of course, intercourse and oral are considered cheating by nearly 100 percent of men and women.  Kissing?  For 95 percent of women and 81 percent of men, yeah, that’s cheating.

But beyond that, it’s complicated.  Watch porn?  She’s probably okay with it.  Log on with a camgirl?  Not so much.  And cheating is not just a guy thing:  Plenty of wives and girlfriends cheat too.

There’s a new thinking about why we cross the line into a real affair.  Therapist Ester Perel sets out to bust myths in her new book, The State of Affairs:  Rethinking Infidelity.  Such as:  that an affair means the relationship is bad – or the cheater is.  The motive is often a yearning for a lost part of your identity.  “It isn’t so much that we’re looking for another person,” she notes in a TED Talk, “as much as we are looking for another self.”  Other myths, she tells us:  that men cheat out of boredom and that a marriage can never recover from infidelity.

Marty Klein, Ph.D., a California therapist for more than 30 years, says many of his patients want to make marital sex as exciting as affair sex.  “It isn’t a realistic comparison,” he says.  But you can learn from cheaters.  Treat your partner like a paramour:  Prepare for sex (prioritize, visualize), be present (savor it), embrace novelty (break your normal routine), and make your partner feel attractive, desired, and excited.  Start by reading some of his case studies on the next page. (below)

  1. The guy who keeps going back to younger women:

Joel had one or two affairs every year.  He took up with inexperienced young women impressed by his nice clothes and fancy dinners.  But he wasn’t just a jerk looking to screw younger women – it was more complicated.

According to Joel, his wife loved him but wasn’t impressed with him.  She knew him before his success and had plenty of sexual experience of her own.  And while Joel had no concerns about disappointing his girlfriends’ sexually, he was concerned about disappointing his wife.  The results:  performance anxiety, sexual frustration, and lower desire for his wife.

He needed a new attitude, I told him, one of “we’ll have fun in bed no matter what.”  First:  De-emphasize intercourse, making it one of many activities in bed.  That makes erections unnecessary, reducing pressure.

Joel also needed to understand that he is interesting to his wife.  I suggested he ask her what she liked about him – and to believe it.

He didn’t need to confess the affairs; he needed to confess his insecurity.  This meant opening uncomfortable conversations with his wife and choosing to be vulnerable, disclosing his lack of confidence.  “If you can do that,” I told him, “you’ll have plenty of erections and desire, and you’ll both enjoy sex more.”

He did, and they did.

What you can do:  Some Saturday evening when you and your mate have privacy, make a list of fail-safe erotic activities that you both enjoy:  dirty talk, stroking your own genitalia together, reading a hot story together, kissing for fun (not as “foreplay”), and asking questions.

  1. The guy who just wants some superhot porn sex, that’s all:

Claudio hadn’t had an affair – yet.  He loved his wife and thought she was hot.  But they couldn’t sustain a decent sex life.  They’d quarrel over sex, and then it was off the table for weeks.  Claudio was reaching his limit.

He wanted porn sex.  “Some deep throat once in a while,” he said.  “A little anal – not every day, but maybe once every month or two.  And she won’t even discuss a threesome with one of her girlfriends.”

“It isn’t helpful to think your wife is the problem,” I said.  “It’s a lot easier to change yourself than someone else.”  For starters, Claudio needed to realize that real sex doesn’t feel the way porn looks.  When we see porn as a manual, or expect our partner to be like the actress, that is a problem.

Instead of focusing on specific acts, I said, he should focus on how he wanted to feel during sex – and work with his wife to create that.  Some want to feel young or free or wildly attractive.  That’s what people create in affairs – sex that satisfies those emotions.

Like many people, Claudio wanted to feel manly, alive, desired, and as if the world had no boundaries – that he could do anything he wanted, without refusal by a partner or society.

He yearned to feel his wife’s enthusiasm for him.  This, of course, wouldn’t look like porn sex, something he needed to understand.  In real life, a little bit goes a long way.

What could he and his wife agree to do that would give him those feelings?  She was willing to send him a few sexy texts during the week.  He could pull her hair in bed as long as he didn’t hurt her.  They could have a soft light on, just not so bright to make her self-conscious.  She could be the one to reach for the lube, and she could stroke his penis without being asked.

What can you do:  Maybe you want sex to make you feel more desired.  If she says, “But I do desire you,” negotiate how she can express that.  She could look in your eyes during sex, use a pet name, text you during the day (“Can’t wait for tonight”), or ask during sex if you’re loving what she’s doing – even when she knows you are.  Invite her to negotiate like that with you.  Talk about what each of you can do to create the feelings you each desire.

  1. The guy who fears his wife’s judgment if he asks to get kinky.

Ted was having great sex, but the guilt and fear were killing him, so he wanted to end his five-month affair.  The sex in his marriage, though, was so-so.  “I’ve tried to leave my girlfriend, LaDonna, a million times in my head,” he said.  “But giving up a Mercedes for an old Chevy, I can’t do it.”

He loved a finger in his butt during oral sex – it made him orgasm like he had in college.  He loved playing a brother-sister pretend game with LaDonna.  And he loved lying on his back while she “climbed aboard.”

“We do other nasty stuff too,” he said.

And how many of these things had he discussed with his wife?  None.  He was sure she’d judge him, and idea he couldn’t bear.

“Maybe you’re judging yourself.” I said.  “It would be hard for you to imagine her accepting your sexual preferences – like a finger in the butt – if you didn’t accept them yourself.”

Self-acceptance is always easier in an affair than in a long-term relationship.  That’s because the stakes regarding rejection are so much lower.

I suggested he and his wife have a meta-conversation:  that they discuss how to share without fear.  They could agree not to ask “Where’d you get that idea?”  They could agree to be more curious when one partner suggest something new.  They could agree to take a few sexual risks together.  And he could start.

What can you do:  Tell your wife you want to make your relationship emotionally safe by each disclosing something that makes you self-conscious. (“You can be rougher with my nipples,” “Telling me you love my butt while we make love gets me hot!”)  Assure her that you’ll receive what she says without judgment.  Don’t tease her.  And do not compare her to other women, even favorably (“Your clit is more sensitive than most women’s”).

Daddy, I’m getting married!!!

Remember the movie, Guess Who is Coming to Dinner?

Remember the song by Paul Simon, Slip-sliding Away?

Remember the movie, Fiddler on the Roof?

A few weeks ago, a friend of mine told me his daughter (with fiancé) made that announcement, “Daddy, I’m getting married! Isn’t that great!”

My friend is divorced, successful business man, father of two children (a boy and a girl). His daughter is in the third year of college and intends to go to graduate school. She is a good student and expects (and is expected) to do well in grad school. She believes she will not have trouble finding employment after school. Her skills are and will continue to be in high demand.  She is also known as a serious, deliberate person; one who thinks through her decisions.

Her fiancé is 3 years older and a recent college graduate who is well established locally with strong working relationships with other colleagues in his field, in the area. He is a hard worker, has initiative and is eager to prove himself.

They dated on and off in high school. They have been dating steady for the past three years; since she began college. She loves him and all indications are that he loves her. They have been through some tough times and worked through them together, staying together as they worked through them.

All indications are that they are a level-headed couple with a bright future ahead of them.

Now….for those of you who are in this situation or fear being in it (a divorced parent of marrying aged children), this is a moment of great pause.

What do you say?

She/he wants you to say, “Wonderful. I am so happy for you!”  You may want to say, “Wonderful. I am so happy for you!” It would be easy to say, “Wonderful. I am so happy for you!”

But you hesitate. Why? Because….you are divorced. You have been there, done that. And you found out how life has a way of living itself, whether you notice it or not.  Life has a way of changing things. And no one told you about that. And yet, you are still responsible…for the consequences of those changes, for your reactions, despite your lack of experience in such situations,

What do you say then to this, “Daddy, I’m getting married!”

After A LOT of consideration, something like this occurred to me:

“Darling, I am so happy for you. You will make a beautiful bride and _____ will make a very handsome groom. You are in love and your futures look so bright!

I wish for you and _____ all the happiness in the world.

I also wish for you time for consideration about the decision you are about to make. The decision you are about to make is unlike any decision you have ever made before. It will be both a private and public decision that will affect you for the rest of your life. You will think about this decision nearly every day of your life…judge yourself by it and imagine others judging you by it.

You are going to change as you age. _____ will also. Despite these unknown changes, you will expect yourself to love and remain with _____. And he, you. Further, no one knows how you will change and you can’t prepare for such changing.

There will be times in marriage that you can’t see your partner; nor he, you; won’t know your partner, nor he, you; won’t know the right thing to do; can’t give any more despite there is more to be done; and can’t see a way around obstacles in your way.

It is in our very nature to pair off and everyone enters marriage this way.

If you want my permission or my blessing to marry, know that there is a big part of me inside saying, “No, don’t” because of what I have learned about marriage.  This is too big of an issue for you to ask someone else’s direction. It is your decision and your decision alone. All I can tell you is to consider what I have said about marriage and if you still feel the right choice is to marry, than know that I will support you, win or lose.”

Marriage in the Middle

This is a reproduction of an article, “The View”, (by Belinda Luscombe), from the February 19, 2018 edition of Time Magazine.  It describes two books about marriage, targeting midlife marriage.  “The Rough Patch”, by Daphne de Marneffe, and “Happy Together”, by Suzann Pileggi Pawelski and James Pawelski.

I decided to highlight this article because the article and books address something I see in my office frequently, midlife marriage and more recognizably, midlife crisis.  These are difficult, painful, and too-easily ignored topics.

Enjoy the article and consider the books.

Everyone who just got married is psyched about it.  It’s a new adventure with their best friend.  Everyone who has been married for 50 years or more is psyched about it.  They’re living with their closest companion—it’s been a trip, totally worth it.

But the people in the middle?  They’re, you know, they’re fine.  They perhaps didn’t expect marriage to be quite as much work as it is.  Not just the child care and the housekeeping and the paying of the bills but the parts that are supposed to be fun—the talking, the planning, the throwing a leg over.  They had been led to believe it would feel easier, more natural.  The thing about walking off into the sunset together is that then it gets dark and people stumble over each other.

Two new books seek to solve just this midlife marital ennui:  The Rough Patch, by San Francisco clinical psychologist Daphne de Marneffe, and Happy Together, by husband-and-wife marital educators Suzann Pileggi Pawelski and James Pawelski.

The midlife crisis is an old cliché, with little support in research, but when we dismiss the happiness dip that people experience in their middle years, “we are actually trying to disarm the intensity of the forces we are grappling with,” de Marneffe writes.  “The midpoint of life represents the moment of maximal conflict between our drive to seek external solutions to our emotional dilemmas and our recognition that ultimately they don’t work.”  It’s also often the point where our tenacity falters and the neat selvages of our certainties about who we are and whom we chose start to fray.

Being married, as Ben Affleck memorably implied while accepting an Oscar for Argo, can be like pretending to make a film in a hostile land.  There’s a lot of negotiation, a lot of compromise and, sometimes, a hasty exit.  And yet a 2017 analysis of tens of thousands of Britons found that marriage really keeps people happier, especially if they’re best friends.  So how do couples find a way through?

Happy Together’s co-authors, who claim theirs is the first book to apply the principles of positive psychology to romance, advise “building and broadening” –expanding the life you have together—and “lengthening and strengthening,” which sounds like a shampoo commercial but is about savoring the good things you have, a sort of slow-food movement for feelings.  It’s an old marital chestnut that couples in it for the long haul should find new things to do together and new things to do apart.  Perhaps positive psychology might propel couples to try.

De Marneffe’s book is situated in the highly therapized air of San Francisco.  She too offers a two-pronged approach, which she calls “feeling with and thinking about.”  The response spouses need from each other, she claims, is one that is empathetic and then helpful.  When a child comes home with a scrape, good parents don’t just coo sympathetically.  Nor do they just turn away and reach for antiseptic.  They do one, then the other.  Similarly, relationships thrive when partners can acknowledge each other’s existence and feelings and troubles, then improve them.  This also means that saying to your spouse, “I just want you to listen, not help,” is actually depriving them of half the ways they can show love.

Ultimately, both books agree, the best way to right a marriage is everybody’s least favorite: hold up your end of the couch.  The Pawelskis spend half their book on cultivating character, becoming someone to whom another might like to be married.  De Marneffe offers specifics:  you become such a person by “facing authentic emotion and vulnerability.”  She encourages her patients not to settle, to have unflinching conversations about sex, money, drinking, bodies, desires, the whole mess.

If the only advantage of growing older is greater self-knowledge, then it follows that growing older with another offers a still richer source of feedback.  (Presented, one hopes, with compassion.)  And yet self-knowledge is not the point of spending life as a twosome.  Marriage’s chief promise is another-knowledge, a decades-long exploration, as de Marneffe says, of “a distinct being whose contour and interior you have yet to truly know.”  Like so many things, marriage is better when it’s between good friends.

Real(istic) Holidays

On Christmas, I spent a few hours with my family having dinner and my daughters got me a number of grand gifts but MY Christmas present was making and eating Christmas brunch with them.

I went to bed on New Year’s Eve at 10:00 and slept well that night.  On New Year’s Day, I took a 3 hour nap and spent a few hours just reading.

I have had many sad and painful sessions with people lamenting the holidays because…..they were alone.

Personally, I think this a matter of perspective and maturity.  Would I like to celebrate Christmas in a beautiful house (AKA, Downton Abbey), have a 10 ft. Christmas tree, go to Vail Colorado and ski on Christmas Eve, bring in the New Year with group of young and beautiful friends with champagne and caviar and kiss my 6 ft. blonde girlfriend at the stroke of midnight?  Yes, of course.  Are these things going to happen (I am holding out for the 6 ft. blonde girlfriend!)?  No…or I highly doubt it.

Why am I not sad and despondent?  Perspective and Maturity.

Perspective:  I have what I have and don’t have what I don’t have.  I could focus on what I don’t have and have focused on this in the past.  What I got when I focused on that was……depressed.  You recall that saying your mother or father used to say…something like “Count your Blessings”?  Well, I have learned it is true.  When I focus on what I have and can reasonably obtain, I am happier than when I have focused on what I didn’t have and told myself I needed to have.

Maturity:  Someday I am going to die.  Do I want to look back on what I didn’t have and obsessed about or what I had, and shared and took pleasure from?  Obviously, the latter.  It is my belief that those who obsess about what they don’t have and continually strive for never think about their mortality….the fact that they will someday die and will, in a short amount of time, be forgotten.  It is not that I am morbid or negativistic.  It is that I am realistic.  This death will come for us all.  I am only recognizing it and deciding how I want to spend the time I have today…by taking a (3 hour) nap, reading a book I have been looking forward to (instead of doing a lot of other quasi-necessary housework) or simply accepting what I have and making the best of it (instead of obsessing over what I don’t have and feeling miserable).

Depression in the Workplace

Signs Employees Are Suffering From Depression and How Employers Can Help

The mental health of employees is imperative to the success of any organization. Sadly, mental health of employees is often overlooked in the corporate world. Employees are expected to give their best, and talking about depression is not really encouraged. A lot of managers have no idea how to deal with employees who are suffering from depression. Globally, 300 million people are affected by depression and 80 percent of this number don’t have the courage to seek help.

According to a resource published by Mind.org, many employees choose not to talk about their mental health because they are afraid of losing their jobs, and are concerned about confidentiality. A lot of employees are also unaware of the fact that they are depressed or fear that their insurance won’t cover the costs of treatment. Reports show that workplace depression is a huge problem for economies worldwide, costing billions to organizations annually. Research carried out by Mental Health America revealed that in the United States, when depression is left untreated, it costs over $51 billion dollars in absenteeism from work, and lost productivity, compared to $26 billion in direct treatment costs.

Employees with depression find it difficult to function properly. Even great artists like Van Gogh, when faced with depression struggled to find motivation to work. Research proves that early identification and treatment is important to productivity and recovery. It is important for managers to look out for the mental health of their employees. Here are some signs that managers should look out for:

Loss of motivation ― Depression is usually characterized by low motivation. Is your employee suddenly unenthusiastic about tasks?

Increased Frequency of Sick Days – Is your employee visiting the doctor more often but refuses to tell you the issue, even under confidence?

Decreased Productivity ― If your employee is constantly missing deadlines and doing sloppy work, it might be a sign of a greater problem.

Change of Social Behavior in the Work Place – The sociable employee becomes withdrawn; the cooperative behavior is now argumentative.

Absenteeism –– If they suddenly start taking sick days of more than usual, they might be dealing with a problem.

Tardiness –– Are they constantly late to work? Do they look cheerless when they get to work?

Tiredness ― Do they complain about being tired after doing the most basic of tasks?

 How managers can help depressed employees

Depression can easily be misinterpreted as laziness or poor work ethic. You can’t treat depression with threats or a pep talk. Chances are, you’re probably making it worse. If your employee is depressed, here are some steps that you can take.

 Create an open environment

Encourage workers to talk to you about any stress, anxiety or depression that they face. Create a culture of support where employees understand that they are not alone, and you will work with them to get through their depression.

Respect their confidentiality

Always remember that mental health information is highly sensitive. If an employee opens up to, it means they trust you enough to do so. Don’t pass on information to others except they give you permission to do so.

Don’t assume

Respect your employee enough to understand that the symptoms they display may not affect their ability to do their job. Don’t talk to them like they’re suddenly incapable ― a lot of depressed people are able to manage their conditions and perform their roles well. Instead, ask how you can help and explore options to make their work easier with them.

Offer flexible work options

If your employee is depressed, your priority should be their mental health. Give them flexible work options. Allow them to work from home, take naps at work or work lesser hours. Let them take a few days off when they don’t feel too good. Encourage them to take only tasks that they can handle and give them a chance to reduce their workload.

Check up on them

Offer a friendly shoulder and ask them how they’re doing every now and then. Don’t pressure them to talk, but make sure they understand that you are available to listen. Include them in activities with their co-workers when the feel up to it, and make them feel supported.

Managers have the responsibility of ensuring that workplaces are filled with positive energy, and employees feel safe. Standing by an employee when they are dealing with mental health problems reflects your organization’s values. As a leader, you should be heavily invested in the mental health of your employees and take steps to encourage them to take care of their mental health.

Depression (major depressive disorder)

Overview

Depression is a mood disorder that causes a persistent feeling of sadness and loss of interest. Also called major depressive disorder or clinical depression, it affects how you feel, think and behave and can lead to a variety of emotional and physical problems. You may have trouble doing normal day-to-day activities, and sometimes you may feel as if life isn’t worth living.

More than just a bout of the blues, depression isn’t a weakness and you can’t simply “snap out” of it. Depression may require long-term treatment. But don’t get discouraged. Most people with depression feel better with medication, psychotherapy or both.

Symptoms

Although depression may occur only once during your life, people typically have multiple episodes. During these episodes, symptoms occur most of the day, nearly every day and may include:

  • Feelings of sadness, tearfulness, emptiness or hopelessness
  • Angry outbursts, irritability or frustration, even over small matters
  • Loss of interest or pleasure in most or all normal activities, such as sex, hobbies or sports
  • Sleep disturbances, including insomnia or sleeping too much
  • Tiredness and lack of energy, so even small tasks take extra effort
  • Reduced appetite and weight loss or increased cravings for food and weight gain
  • Anxiety, agitation or restlessness
  • Slowed thinking, speaking or body movements
  • Feelings of worthlessness or guilt, fixating on past failures or self-blame
  • Trouble thinking, concentrating, making decisions and remembering things
  • Frequent or recurrent thoughts of death, suicidal thoughts, suicide attempts or suicide
  • Unexplained physical problems, such as back pain or headaches

For many people with depression, symptoms usually are severe enough to cause noticeable problems in day-to-day activities, such as work, school, social activities or relationships with others. Some people may feel generally miserable or unhappy without really knowing why.

Depression symptoms in children and teens

Common signs and symptoms of depression in children and teenagers are similar to those of adults, but there can be some differences.

  • In younger children, symptoms of depression may include sadness, irritability, clinginess, worry, aches and pains, refusing to go to school, or being underweight.
  • In teens, symptoms may include sadness, irritability, feeling negative and worthless, anger, poor performance or poor attendance at school, feeling misunderstood and extremely sensitive, using recreational drugs or alcohol, eating or sleeping too much, self-harm, loss of interest in normal activities, and avoidance of social interaction.

Depression symptoms in older adults

Depression is not a normal part of growing older, and it should never be taken lightly. Unfortunately, depression often goes undiagnosed and untreated in older adults, and they may feel reluctant to seek help. Symptoms of depression may be different or less obvious in older adults, such as:

  • Memory difficulties or personality changes
  • Physical aches or pain
  • Fatigue, loss of appetite, sleep problems or loss of interest in sex — not caused by a medical condition or medication
  • Often wanting to stay at home, rather than going out to socialize or doing new things
  • Suicidal thinking or feelings, especially in older men

Risk factors

Depression often begins in the teens, 20s or 30s, but it can happen at any age. More women than men are diagnosed with depression, but this may be due in part because women are more likely to seek treatment.

Factors that seem to increase the risk of developing or triggering depression include:

  • Certain personality traits, such as low self-esteem and being too dependent, self-critical or pessimistic
  • Traumatic or stressful events, such as physical or sexual abuse, the death or loss of a loved one, a difficult relationship, or financial problems
  • Blood relatives with a history of depression, bipolar disorder, alcoholism or suicide
  • History of other mental health disorders, such as anxiety disorder, eating disorders or post-traumatic stress disorder
  • Abuse of alcohol or recreational drugs
  • Serious or chronic illness, including cancer, stroke, chronic pain or heart disease
  • Certain medications, such as some high blood pressure medications or sleeping pills (talk to your doctor before stopping any medication)

Complications

Depression is a serious disorder that can take a terrible toll on you and your family. Depression often gets worse if it isn’t treated, resulting in emotional, behavioral and health problems that affect every area of your life.

Examples of complications associated with depression include:

  • Excess weight or obesity, which can lead to heart disease and diabetes
  • Pain or physical illness
  • Alcohol or drug misuse
  • Anxiety, panic disorder or social phobia
  • Family conflicts, relationship difficulties, and work or school problems
  • Social isolation
  • Suicidal feelings, suicide attempts or suicide
  • Self-mutilation, such as cutting
  • Premature death from medical conditions

Types of Depression

  • Depressive disorders come in many different types, and while there are many similarities to each type of depression, each has its own unique set of symptoms.
  • The most commonly diagnosed form of depression is Major Depressive Disorder, a condition whose primary symptom is an overwhelming depressed mood for more than two weeks. The depressed mood affects all facets of the person’s life, including work, home life, relationships and friendships. A person with this kind of depression often finds it difficult to do much of anything or get motivated, so even going to seek treatment for this condition can be challenging.
  • Another type of depression is called. Dysthymia is similar to Major Depressive Disorder, but the symptoms occur over a much longer period of time – more than 2 years. This is considered a chronic form of depression, and treatment can be challenging as an individual with Dysthymia has often already tried all manner of treatment. Individuals diagnosed with this condition can also suffer from occasional bouts of Major Depressive Disorder.
  • A third type of depression is referred to as Adjustment Disorder with Depressed Mood. This condition is diagnosed when a person is adjusting to some new facet or change in their lives that has caused a great deal of stress. This disorder can even be diagnosed when a person is experiencing a good event in their life – such as a new marriage or a baby being born. Because the individual usually just needs a little additional support in their lives during this stressful time, treatment is time-limited and simple.
  • While there are many types of depression, some kinds of this condition seem to be related to changes in the length of days or seasonality. A seasonal depression is called Seasonal Affective Disorder(SAD). People with Seasonal Affective Disorder suffer the symptoms of a Major Depressive Disorder only during a specific time of year, usually winter. This appears to be related to the shorter days of winter, and the lack of sunlight in many parts of the country.
  • Depression is also a symptom of other disorders, such as Bipolar DisorderBipolardisorder is sometimes considered a “mood disorder,” but is not a form of depression. Bipolar disorder is characterized by swings of a person’s mood from depression to mania (mania is when a person is feeling lots of energy — like they are on top of the world and can do almost anything, often trying to do just that). The cycling mood changes from severe highs (mania) and lows (depression) can sometimes be dramatic and rapid in some people, but most often they are gradual.
  • After pregnancy, hormonal changes in a woman’s body may trigger symptoms of depression. More than half of the women suffering from Postpartum Depressionwill experience it again with the birth of another child. It is critical to identify this danger and treat it early. During pregnancy, the amount of two female hormones, estrogen and progesterone, in a woman’s body increases greatly. In the first 24 hours after childbirth, the amount of these hormones rapidly drops back down to their normal non-pregnant levels. Researchers think the fast change in hormone levels may lead to depression, just as smaller changes in hormones can affect a woman’s moods before she gets her menstrual period.