First and foremost, I would like to thank Juliet for giving me the opportunity to talk about what is very concerning to me.
My name is Fred Nielsen. A couple of years ago, or so, I went through a divorce. Not a big deal, right? It happens to a lot of people. Well, it’s not like on TV, or on the movies. It’s not both parties agree they need divorce, or both parties are angry and throwing stuff at one another and calling each other names.
No, you see for one it’s what they want, and for the other it’s the end of a life.
I would like to start off with a few statistics. Suicide rates are 3 times higher in divorced men and women than in married men and women. It’s two times higher in single than married people. And the suicide rate is twice as high in divorced men than women.
That was me. You see I was married almost 20 years. I had met my ex-wife who had a boy and within a year we were married and had a daughter. We started with nothing and made it to the top! New cars, brand new house, and all the new furniture and things you would want and need in a brand-new home.
Later, after my divorce and talking with others, I was told it was obvious to the outside world, but not to me, that my ex-wife treated me poorly. My ex-wife planned our divorce. She had planned it for a year before it happened. Yes, she told me this. You see she had her gastric bypass surgery, breast reduction, liposuction, and a tummy tuck. She told me she planned on meeting different men. Well, she definitely did that and then finally told me it was over. I tried to save our marriage to no avail.
I was broken with no friends to talk to, or family to support me. I fell to pieces. I went to the doctor who put me on depression medicine. Well, that was great, but all the medical attention in the world won’t help the depression in anyone. I went on trying my hardest to make it and wishing I just had someone to talk to. Finally, after three months of trying, I ended my 14 years of sobriety. I went on drinking for quite some time, self-medicating my pain. One day I went to work, just to hear the voices in my head telling me it will never get better, and no one cares. At that time, I decided I was going to stop the pain forever.
That’s when God said, “One last chance. Give me one last chance.” So, I went to the doctor again, I was put on suicide watch.
A police officer was notified of my situation. I was told I had to see a mental doctor the next day.
Well, that’s great, but the time in between? Well, there was a lot of it.
I went to the store on my way home, bought more alcohol, got my gun, and took a little drive. After the gun wouldn’t go off for some reason I went back home and took enough sleeping pills, Benadryl, and my depression pills, to kill a horse.
I then crawled into bed and fell asleep and for some reason I woke up the next day to a voice screaming in my ear, “Fred, wake up!” I did.
Somehow, I made it to the doctor’s appointment. I then had a mental breakdown. I was asked to go to the psych ward at a mental hospital. At that time, I couldn’t. I was selling the new home that we had and wanted to make sure that my daughter received the money from the sale. I didn’t think I could get the help I needed when I needed it and still finish the responsibilities I had.
So back home I went. I pulled into my garage, closed the garage door, opened the windows in my truck and fell asleep. I awoke 3 hours later. The radio was still on, but the motor was off, and I had the biggest headache I’ve ever had.
I realized at this time that not only could I not save my marriage, but I couldn’t even kill myself. Things kept on this way for about three more months. In that time, I had a great mental doctor, went on a few dates, and had a lot of time to think.
I’ve now found a wonderful, beautiful, smart woman and I’m now getting better. I even thank my ex-wife for what she did to me. I still deal with depression on a regular basis. But after all of these experiences the underlining question I have is, “Why was there no help for me in the beginning?”
I looked for help. I looked online, in the phone book, and asked medical people if there was any help for men going through a divorce. I got the same answer everywhere, “If you’re depressed see a doctor, otherwise deal with it.”
The fact is no one should have to just deal with it and when it happens, it’s not just the end of a marriage. Divorce brings up all the hidden stuff from your past. Men are just as open to hurt and pain as women and children.
I am hoping we can change the picture of divorce. Divorce is not just something people go through. It’s a life changing experience at best, and hopefully not the end of a life.
Here are some things I do to stay mentally healthy now, and tools that I use to keep myself on the right path to stay healthy:
- I use a breathing technique. When I breathe in, I tell myself it’s going to be OK. When I breathe out, I tell myself I am moving forward and can’t change the past.
- I picture myself walking down a path. It is just a blank path, with trees on both sides, sometimes it looks like I am walking through a forest. I picture the good on one side, and the bad on the other. The object is to stay focused and just walk the path.
- I’ve also put a lot of faith in God. I now have the support that I need from my girlfriend, my church, and my family.
There are a lot of things that could have changed my wanting to kill myself. A lot of those things were things I didn’t have access to.
When I first went to the doctors, they could have had a better understanding of what I was going through. I believe there should have been help groups, something similar to AA where people can go to get support and talk. There are no resources for people going through a divorce. Just help afterwards.
I think there should be more focus on the divorce side of the depression rather than just the depression itself. There should have been more focus on the root of the problem rather than the whole picture of the depression itself. The cause of the pain and brokenness, not the effect.
I believe that people should take divorce more seriously than just something that people go through, like a day at school or work. After all, divorce is a life changing experience. And should be looked at as that.