This is the last in our series of blogs looking at your wellbeing in a separation. In this series we’ve talked about the importance of knowing your stress points, of getting support, and given our tips on how you can look after yourself if you’re going through a separation.  In this blog we’re going to look at when it might be all too much and that can happen to anyone going through a particularly stressful time.

In our experience in family mediation we have identified the following clues that things might be getting a bit much for you and that it might be time to get some support:

• You’re not sleeping properly and by this we mean waking early, not getting to sleep, or being awake for long periods of time on a regular basis.

• You’re not eating – we all have days where we don’t feel like it but if you find you’re not eating (or hardly eating at all) regularly then this is something that needs to be addressed. Your body needs nutrition for energy and to function properly.

• You know that your performance at work has been under par and people are noticing this.

• You feel like your emotions are managing your behaviour and you can’t stop feeling angry/crying/feeling anxious/despondent/lashing out physically or emotionally/all of the above

• You’ve noticed changes in your children’s behaviour that are concerning you. This might be that they are withdrawn, or struggling at school or unusually angry or pushing boundaries

• You have thought about suicide as a way out of the current situation

• You’re concerned about yourself either because of your own behaviour, your thoughts and feelings or your actions

Right now we want to say that there is no blame attached to any of these points. The purpose of this blog is to help you to identify when you might need help. That’s not always an easy thing to see when you’re the person in the thick of everything. These points are designed to help you to look at whether you might be having a really difficult time and in need of support. They are not a stick to beat yourself with for having fallen short of what you, or anyone else, may have expected of you.

If you’re concerned about your children’s behaviour then a first port of call is often to speak to their nursery, school or college. Firstly, to see if they have noticed any changes and secondly because they will have a good idea of what support is out there for your children. If your children are struggling then it can be helpful to have a two pronged approach in ensuring that they get what support they need, and you get what support you need to help you to help them and yourself. Sometimes this can be an impartial person to offload to. Again your GP may also be able to help you to know what help is available and to assess what may be the right help for you. You may find our blog on finding support helpful too.

Suicide is a difficult subject for people to discuss. There is still much taboo surrounding it. But as family mediators we can tell you that we have encountered lots of clients who have admitted to us that their separation caused them to have suicidal thoughts and to feel sometimes that the world would be a better place without them in it. Many people feel like this and it is a symptom of not being well and of needing support. Talking about it is the first step and this can feel like a very scary hurdle to get over. But do remember that professionals have heard this from a number of people and are not going to be shocked by it, or to judge you for having felt this way. If you’re feeling suicidal right now then the Samaritans are there to help and can be contacted 24 hours a day, 365 days a year by calling 116 123 in the UK or the Republic of Ireland. You can also email (in UK) or (in ROI).

Particularly in the early stages of the aftermath of a separation you can feel like things will never be right again but this can often change as you move forward in the healing process, and as you start to work out what the future will look like. If you’re feeling overwhelmed with things then it can help to slow things down and look at what you can postpone dealing with until you feel a bit stronger. This isn’t always an easy conversation to have when your ex partner is keen to move on with sorting out arrangements. That’s why it’s important to get the right support at the right time whether that is from a family mediator, lawyer, counsellor, doctor, financial expert, coach or a combination of all or some of these people. There is only one you and there is no right way to deal with a separation – only what is right for you.

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