Divorce! How to survive it without going off your brain.

Dads do it tough during a divorce. Kids are more than likely siphoned off to the wife and the father is forced to find accommodation elsewhere while settlement and custody are worked out.

It can play on the heart strings of the most iron-willed of men, and it’s no surprise some get the black dog, and in not-so-rare cases, suicide. But it doesn’t have to get to that.

Dads in Distress (DIDSS) runs a helpline and support groups for men who feel they’ve drawn the short straw in the separation stakes.

But it’s not some angry, anti-woman, blame the system sounding-off group. Rather, DIDSS encourages men to “look in the mirror to understand and accept their contribution to the breakdown of their family”.

It was formed in 1999 by a bunch of downhearted blokes who would meet on a veranda in Coffs Harbour, NSW, on a Saturday night — the empty time after they’d just returned their kids to their mothers — and talk about how separation was affecting them.

Now it holds meetings across the country, and as well as support, offers one-on-one counselling, advocacy and a comprehensive website with news and important links.

Founder Tony Miller says the group’s positive impact was evident from the beginning. “Night after night we saw the miracles take place. Dads who were filled with anger, remorse, bitterness, depression, loneliness, helplessness and who were often suicidal suddenly turned a corner.”

But it’s no sook-fest either. DIDSS offers real tips on how to beat the divorce blues. These seven will get you started:

  • Contact DIDSS on 1300 853 437 to get linked into local supports and resources.
  • Keep a diary. Jot down advice, contacts, decisions, questions and issues.
  • Stay calm. Emotions can lead you to make rash decisions. Keep a clear head.
  • Meet your obligations. Do what you can to maintain your routine and get bills paid.
  • Look after yourself. Your kids need you to eat right, sleep well, exercise and stay positive.
  • Make the most of any contact. It may not be much at first, but your kids will love it.
  • Work towards a working relationship. Be patient and do whatever you can to get on with your children’s mum, for their sake.

dadsindistress.asn.au