PTSD from divorce?

I heard an interesting analogy today, regarding the constant struggle for fathers to keep hold of their sons. It went something along the lines of this:

“Imagine your home has just been bombed and you are lucky enough to have saved your child. After a short mourning period for the life you knew, you have to move on. In a divorce, the child won’t have the life it would have had if it had both mum and a dad, your life will forever be changed but you need to focus on giving them the best possible life you can with what you have”

I thought this analogy described the trauma of divorce and custody battles flawlessly. You no longer have the right to go into your marital home, whether you’ve had it for 10 minutes or 10 years. You no longer can simply play with your child when you wish. Your lover and best friend has decided you are not a fit father and you now have to play by their rules. It’s no surprise that men who have suffered traumatic, sudden divorces – whether there are children involved or not – can suffer from symptoms similar to PTSD.

According to mentalhealthy.com, Divorce Stress Syndrome can give you the same side effects as PTSD[1]. Loose women presenter Andrea McLean has recently suffered a panic attack just minutes before she was due to appear live on TV. This panic attack happened because she was struggling to cope with the emotional aftermath of her marriage breakdown. Although PTSD is usually a term coined for war veterans, it can be applied to any emotional or social event deemed as abusive or emotionally traumatizing. I’ve seen it first-hand and its horrifying.

According to psychologytoday.com, there are two different causes for this stress – known and unknowns. The known are those anxieties that people commonly associate with divorce; how to start over, whether you keep or throw the house, loss of life as you know it and how you are going to afford it all – both the divorce and your life afterwards. Then there are the unknowns, those thoughts that keep you up at night, or as I refer to them ‘the what ifs’. Is the settlement going to be fair? Will I find a job? How will the kids fare? What happens next?

According to nhs.co.uk, there are three common symptoms that are associated with PTSD. These all can be easily associated to going through a divorce or separating from a narcissistic partner – sadly it can last years. The symptoms don’t occur every day, nor will there always be a trigger. Often you can experience long periods between symptoms so they may not even be apparent at first.

Avoidance and emotional numbing
People going through a particularly horrible divorce, or child custody battle, will isolate themselves further from family and friends. Plenty of people will have experienced isolation throughout their marriage but then they don’t go out to their way to rebuild relationships, often distracting themselves with work and hobbies. This behaviour is not to be horrible, or even because they want to be alone, but because they don’t want to face the questions that force them to re-enact it or even think about it.

Hyperarousal (feeling on edge)
Imagine if you were approached by a scary looking figure on the way home from work. For the rest of that journey, your adrenaline is pumping and you are on edge. Coming out of a divorce is very much the same way and you’ll often find yourself on guard at all times. This can lead to irritability, angry outbursts, insomnia and difficulty concentrating – even more so if your life is being absorbed fighting off the all the lies and rumours being fed to the courts about you.

Re-Experiencing
Unfortunately it’s hard to avoid a partner during divorce and custody proceedings, even more so if you have children together. It is expected that you will have negative thoughts about the whole relationship but you have to be careful to not drive yourself mad may start driving yourself crazy asking ‘what if’ questions, moving on from the flashbacks or even physical symptoms (nausea, pain, sweating).

The most important thing to remember during this difficult time is that you’re not alone. There are millions of dads across the world going through the same situation where they are fighting for their children. Don’t bottle it up, talk to someone or join our Suffragents Clubs. Open to Men, Fathers, Grandparents, Friends and supporters. For more information, visit our website www.suffragents.org.

 

[1] http://www.mentalhealthy.co.uk/news/1481-divorce-stress-syndrome-similar-to-ptsd.html

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International men’s day

 “It’s a shocking fact that around the world, one man a minute dies by suicide with men and boys being twice as likely to die by suicide as women and girls. That’s not just a statistic, that’s somebody’s son, husband, brother, father or friend dying and we can and must do more to save these men’s lives.”
-Warwick Marsh, InternationalMensDay.com coordinator

Saturday 19th November 2016 marked a historical day for men. Finally, after years and years of fighting for it, we received an international day that focused on men’s issues such as

  • Mens and boy’s health
  • Improving gender relations
  • Promoting gender equality
  • Highlighting positive male role models
  • Celebrating their achievements and contributions, in particular their contributions to community, family, marriage, and child care while highlighting the discrimination against them.

Men, like women, make sacrifices every day in their work, role as husband and fathers, for their families, their friends and communities etc. Over 60 different countries across the world worked together to celebrate this contribution and – more importantly – discuss the silent killer that is taking so many fathers, sons, husbands, brothers and grandfathers from us: Suicide. Find out more below but an important fact to remember is that 4 men commit suicide to every 1 woman.

In the UK, 4,630 men killed themselves in 2014, men are nearly four times more likely to kill themselves than women with 13 men dying from suicide every day. International Men’s Day UK invites all people, all over the UK, to use 19th November 2016 to start a national conversation about male suicide in your country.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QRktbxX2Zos

According to dedicated website, ukmensday.org.uk, The theme is designed to help more people consider what action we can all take to “Make A Difference” by addressing some of the issues that affect Men and Boys such as:

  • The high male suicide rate
  • The challenges faced by boys and men at all stages of education including attainment
  • Men’s health, shorter life expectancy and workplace deaths
  • The challenges faced by the most marginalised men and boys in society (for instance, homeless men, boys in care and the high rate of male deaths in custody)
  • Male victims of violence, including sexual violence
  • The challenges faced by men as parents, particularly new fathers and separated fathers
  • Male victims and survivors of sexual abuse, rape, sexual exploitation, domestic abuse, forced marriage, honour-based crime, stalking and slavery
  • The negative portrayal of men, boys and fathers

 

A long fight
Although an amazing day, and one that will change a lot of lives, it hasn’t been an easy fight. The first call for International Mens Day was over 50 years ago in the 1960s. Many men came forward and asked for 23rd February to be International Mens Day, the male equivalent of International Women’s Day which is on March the 8th. In 1968, journalist John P. Harris, wrote an editorial brining to light the lack of balance in the Soviet System which promoted the day for women without celebrating men. Amongst the article is a quote about the communist system still very much relevant to society in general today, if not more so:

“makes much of the equal rights it has given the sexes, but as it turns out, the women are much more equal than the men[1].”

The interest in International Mens Day has been nothing less than outstanding with 60 different events across the country to bring attention to these issues. It has also made history. Following an argument bought forward by MP Philip Davies, the backbench MPs discussed the highlighted issues and bought them to light including male suicides, male victims experience of domestic violence and marginalization amongst others. They have published the full debate online which can be downloaded and read here.

 

We don’t need to tell you how happy we are to see International Mens Day and hope that it makes a positive difference around the world. But that doesn’t mean we can sit back and relax, there is still so much to do. We need you to keep talking about it, sharing things you see (including our tweets and Facebook posts) and highlighting any person who is seen to be actively promoting the denial of a father to his children. Join the fight and keep the conversation going – without that, men will still suffer in silence.

[1]  John P. Harris, ‘Red Women – Painted Town’, Salina Journal, p.4. 28 March 1964

Persona Non Grata

One of the hardest parts of any divorce, whether domestic abuse was involved or not, is the loss of your child. The courts, and partners, struggle to see the child’s best interest through the hurt and ‘petty wins’ of the divorce, often resulting in the child not being able to see their father other than a few hours a week.

Thomas Parker gave us a sneak peak at ‘Persona Non Grata’ at our Suffragents conference. Recently he got in touch to show us the final copy of his fantastic video. He uses brilliant visuals and a genius script to show the trials and trepidation that comes with battling for your child in a court of law.

Many of us have been in the same situation and, with the sharing of this video across social media, hopefully the world will see the hurt and hardship that comes with it.

Let us know what you think and, please, please, please share it all you can. You can make the difference!