Q&A: Just broke up with my DIDO partner and finding life very difficult

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By psychologist Angie Willcocks

Q: Recently my partner and I broke up. He works DIDO and we have a child and I am finding everything extremely difficult. I am from overseas and have no friends or family here. I found it hard before, but now I can't even look forward to him coming home. I get upset all the time and don't feel like I can enjoy time with my child. Can you help please?

A: Hi and thanks for your email. I'm really sorry things have been so tough for you. Moving to another country is a huge thing! Being so far away from friends and family is hard enough at the best of times, let alone when things are difficult. It sounds as though you and your partner have separated now. Is that correct? It sounds like you were finding things difficult anyway, and now that you're not with your partner anymore it feels like there is nothing to look forward to at all, and each day is dragging into the next ... it's even hard to enjoy being with your son.

There are a couple of issues here: firstly, it's really important that you start to make some connections here in Australia if you are going to stay here. One way is to try to make some connections through your son's friends at kindy, playgroup or childcare. Have a look at my previous column: The art of friendship

The second issue that is concerning me from your email is how your mood is. I'm worried that you might be experiencing depression at the moment. If you are, getting out and about is going to be more challenging (mostly because you'll be hard pressed to find the energy or motivation to make new friends). 

Have a look at the following symptom list. In the past two weeks have you:

  • Been feeling sad or depressed?
  • Lost interest or pleasure in usual activities?

If you answered yes to either of those questions, have you also experienced:

  • Appetite disturbance (more or less hungry than usual)?
  • Difficulties sleeping, for example waking too early and being unable to get back to sleep?
  • Feeling tired, lethargic or heavy in your body?
  • Feeling agitated or unusually irritable?
  • Low motivation, finding it hard to 'get going'?
  • Thoughts or feelings of worthlessness or hopelessness?
  • Thoughts of death or dying (your own or other people)?

If some or all of these symptoms sound familiar to you, it's really important that you go along and have a chat to your doctor, who will be able to talk with you about treatments for depression (one of which should be seeing a psychologist for some extra support and strategies).

If you answered no to the symptoms above, then your best way forward is making new connections here, as well as continuing your connections with family and friends back home, via Facebook, phone, Skype and 'snail mail'.

All the best. We’re thinking of you.


To read other columns written by Angie Willcocks during her six years with Mining Family Matters, please click here. And remember that we offer a free email Q&A service with our psychologists, so just click here to ask a question about relationships, parenting or your career. All advice on Mining Family Matters is for general information only and should never be regarded as a substitute for professional health services or crisis services. To talk with a trained volunteer telephone counsellor at any time of the day or night, call Lifeline on 13 11 14. To contact the info line at beyondblue: national depression initiative, phone 1300 22 4636.

Angie Willcocks is a registered psychologist with a private practice in Adelaide – for details about Skype consultations please email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. She’s an expert in tackling issues such as depression, anxiety, postnatal depression, child sleep routines and relationship difficulties. She has a Bachelor of Health Sciences in Psychology and a Masters of Counselling Psychology. She is also the co-author of The Sensible Sleep Solution: a guide to sleep in your baby’s first year, which can be ordered from her website www.angiewillcocks.com.