Daily Mail

Kirsty’s wise words on the real devastatio­n of divorce

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Astaggerin­g 42 per cent of marriages now end in divorce. that means that nearly half of us who say ‘i do’ end up saying ‘i don’t’. Behind this statistic lies untold grief and upset. it’s not discussed much, but in a candid interview last week, TV presenter Kirsty gallacher, 47, spoke about the emotional toll of her divorce in 2015.

the turmoil of the split led to a deep depression and her physical collapse at sky sports in 2016. Kirsty revealed that in the months prior to that, she struggled to juggle her broadcasti­ng duties, her training schedule (she was a competitor on strictly Come Dancing in the autumn of 2015) and being a single mum to her two boys.

Over the years, i have seen so many people succumb to similar stresses after divorce. Women often have to contend with massive shifts in responsibi­lity. suddenly they’re alone with the children for large parts of the week and frequently on a reduced income.

But the economic and social upheaval pales in comparison to the sense of failure and loss they experience.

‘i was a wreck,’ said Kirsty. ‘skinny as a rake, running on empty . . . a cauldron of emotion.’

and yet, often, we talk about divorce as though it’s a good thing. a simple solution to an unhappy marriage. the fact that divorce rates have increased over the years is almost seen as a positive. it means more people are taking control of their lives and excising themselves from a troubled relationsh­ip.

Butthat view leaves little room for the profound psychologi­cal and emotional consequenc­es of divorce. the end of a marriage stirs up many complex feelings in people.

in fact, psychologi­sts argue that most people going through divorce experience the five stages of grief outlined by Dr elisabeth Kübler-ross: denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance.

Divorce, after all, is a sort of bereavemen­t. gallacher has spoken of ‘ grieving and mourning’ her old married life. it is a loss of your future, your plans, your identity, the life you thought you’d have together.

some people progress through all these stages, while others might skip one or two or experience them in a different order.

i think a lot depends on who instigated the divorce, because that half will have mentally prepared themselves for months, or even years, beforehand.

if it comes as a shock to the other, they’re much more likely to experience denial and anger.

But feelings of guilt, shame and failure are commonplac­e regardless of who initiated it. From the patients i’ve spoken to about this, i think women in particular feel they have let people down and struggle to face friends and family in the immediate aftermath.

Part of overcoming these feelings is appreciati­ng that they are a normal response to something that is incredibly traumatic. so don’t beat yourself up. try to be kind to yourself. take one day at a time.

i often say to patients to imagine that a friend is going through it instead. What would you say to them? try to use that

same language of kindness and understand­ing when thinking about your own situation. it’s very tempting to dwell on the past and wish you’d done things differentl­y, but this is quite futile. Look to the future. Divorce often brings up deepseated issues that may have been latent for years: feelings of insecurity, inadequacy and low self- esteem may have been hidden but now bubble up to the surface. i’ve seen a lot of people benefit from a brief course of psychother­apy to address these issues. this helps them come to terms with the split and not get stuck in one of the stages of grief. as with a bereavemen­t, friends and family can be a great source of help — providing they follow some basic rules. if a friend or loved one is going through divorce, follow these guidelines to offer them the best support possible:

■ KEEP inviting them out, even if they turn down your invitation­s. there’s a tendency to isolate

I’M a great fan of the new ‘flab jab’ Wegovy. It’s a diabetes medication that’s just been approved for the treatment of obesity. I’ve had patients try this recently and the results have been startling. No, it’s not a panacea — but for many people who have battled with their weight, it may be a life-saver, literally.

when something upsetting like this happens. When they’re ready, they’ll start to say yes, but in the meantime it shows you are there for them and want to spend time with them.

■ IF they have to move, then help them to pack. they might decline your initial offer, but on the day, turn up anyway saying you were passing and wondered if they wanted a hand.

■ AVOID criticisin­g their ex — even if you always disliked them. if they criticise them, listen but don’t engage in lots of negative talk as it just feeds into them dwelling on the past. this is particular­ly important if children are involved.

■ AVOID giving them too much advice, particular­ly around relationsh­ips and when and if they should start dating. try listening instead.

■ HELP out with things that a partner might do, like shopping and Diy jobs, or offer to accompany them on trips out with their children.

■ IF they appear depressed or stuck, then encourage them to see a psychologi­st to help them address these issues with a profession­al.

 ?? ?? Kirsty Gallacher: Struggled to cope with work and family
Kirsty Gallacher: Struggled to cope with work and family
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