Anxiety in Suburbia

Dear Marie:

I'm a recently divorced 42 year old female. I have three kids two teenage boys and a little girl. After the divorce, we were forced to move out of our home that we lived in for the past 15 years. Our home was in a really nice neighborhood. It had to be sold because I couldn’t afford to buy out my ex’s portion. Now my kids and I live in a much smaller home in a less desirable neighborhood.

The people here are nice but we really miss our old neighborhood. Everything in our lives has changed. Recently, I have been getting anxiety attacks. It is so hard. I even get anxiety just goingto the store. Should I be on medication?

-- Recently Divorced in California


Dear Recently Divorced:

First of all, going through a divorce (no matter who initiated it) is one of the most challenging things a person can experience. Having kids involved makes it that much more of a challenge. It's understandable that you're having anxiety attacks. You have to commend yourself for being able to put one foot in front of the other.

There are some things you can do to alleviate the anxiety or at least lessen it. You could join a divorce support group. Talking to others who have traveled the same road will help you navigate your own divorce journey.

Divorce groups are usually offered at your local community center. If there isn’t a center close to your home, and you work, check in the neighborhood near your job. Groups are usually listed in the local newspaper along with the time and place of the meeting. The library is another place to check for listings of groups. Often, the groups meet at the library.

Another option is to find a divorce coach or therapist. You can work with both a coach and a therapist, on a one‐on‐one basis or in group settings.

Make sure you take action soon and be gentle with yourself. The loss you have suffered is considered a major trauma. It's understandable and normal that you're feeling anxiety. This is a part of your grief. Taking medication might take the anxiety away but it would also dull yourfeelings. In addition, as soon as you stopped taking the drug, the anxiety may return. In order to get through the pain and anxiety in a healthy manner you must be able to feel.

There are several ways to calm anxiety. The best way to find what works for you is to work within a group or with a trained coach or therapist. This way, you're not on your own trying to figure it out.

Warm Regards,