I am a big believer that with awareness comes the ability to manage. CBT supports that belief of mine in a big way.
#3 – I reframe my negative thought patterns.
Once I became aware of what thoughts and emotions had developed because my ex wasn’t communicating with me, I started making an effort to reframe them. To think of them in a way that didn’t cause me pain.
The first thing I did was to recognize that my ex had never been great at getting back to me in a timely manner. He has always been very busy at work and he struggled to manage things as well as he could. As a result, he wouldn’t get back to me, even when we were married, so why would he change his behavior now that we were divorced.
Understanding this led me to realize that taking his lack of communication personally was ridiculous. He wasn’t getting back to me because of a lack of respect but purely because he was busy. I also recognized that many of the times that he didn’t get back to me had to do with money and money conversations are hard even for those who live in the same house.
By not taking his behaviors personally, by being able to look at them realistically instead of emotionally, I was able to reduce their power. I was able to shut them down before they brought me down into depression.
#4 – I practice positive self-talk.
Another part of managing my depression around my ex with CBT was by using positive self- talk.
I would remind myself how good I was at juggling multiple balls at once, something my ex really struggled with. I would remember that while my ex-husband, who walked out on me for someone else, might no longer respect me, I respected myself and knew that I had the respect of many other people. I reminded myself that I made a difference in the life of many people every day. I was an awesome person, whether my ex got back to me or not.
It is truly amazing how telling myself positive things about myself instead of ruminating about all the negative things that I, inaccurately, had associated with my ex’s absence of communication helped keep me from sinking into depression.
I was able to move past what happened fairly quickly and get on with my day. How great is that?
#5 – I develop personal coping mechanisms.
The final part of using CBT when I was feeling depressed was to create and practice personal coping mechanisms.
A few years back, when I was feeling really good, I made a list of things that I knew helped me when depression was settling in. Now, when I feel it coming, I refer to that list to help shut the depression down or carry me through it.
What kind of coping skills? Walking, eating pad thai, having sex, hanging out with friends, watching The Walking Dead, hanging with my kids.
All of these things are coping mechanisms, practical things that I can do for myself, to help me feel better when I am struggling in the world. They have made a huge difference for me, helping me get through the bad days.