The end of a relationship is one of the most painful experiences one can go through. A breakup not only brings excruciating heartache and physical loneliness in its wake but often has the potential for endangering one’s emotional and mental health. If you find yourself in the grip of or even precariously close to depression in the aftermath of a breakup, here are a few tips on how to cope.
Understand what it entails
While it is natural to feel absolutely miserable post breakup, in most cases it is a stage of grieving that one is able to pass through; such a period of blues usually range from several days to perhaps a few weeks and eventually the person is able to emerge from its shadows. However if your low phase continues beyond several weeks and you find yourself completely incapable to get back to your routine life, you had better see a doctor. Depression is an affliction and like other such conditions, it needs prompt and correct diagnosis as well as treatment for a full cure. In fact depression itself can be of different types - there is situational depression and then there is clinical depression. The former is brought about specific circumstances like a job loss or as in your case a breakup. Though situational depression involves some of the same symptoms of clinical depression, they're of shorter duration and lower intensity. On the other hand clinical depression's symptoms are more pronounced and last far longer. The absence of pleasure in the activities a person once enjoyed is greater; problems like malaise, anger, or weight loss are more noticeable. If you feel that latter describes your situation best, lose no time in seeing a doctor. Even if you believe you are not clinically depressed, a mental health expert is best qualified to give you the help you need to cope with the emotional impact of the breakup.
TIP: Download the guide to getting back together with your ex.
Accept the emotions
Even as you see a doctor or a therapist, you can take recourse to certain self-help measures to cope with the situation. And one of the first among these, is to accept your emotions. Though the breakup may have been inevitable, there are times when you are sure to feel vulnerable, lonely or scared of the changes taking place. At these times, you may think of the good times when you were together as a couple and feel even more depressed. Accept these trips down memory lane. There is no point in fighting back your emotions of sadness and longing. Rather allow yourself to feel all the emotional stages of the breakup since they are necessary if you are to move on in your life. Expect that there will be some days when you are glad you broke away from an unhappy relationship while on others you will feel lonely and scared at being alone.
Take care of yourself
Self-care during and after a breakup is extremely important if you wish to emerge saner and stronger from this experience. Eat a healthy diet and work out in any way you like, whether going for a morning run or attending aerobics classes. Since even keeping to a regular routine can seem difficult when you are struggling with depression, the prospect of working out may initially seem too much to face. However endorphins released during physical exercise are known to work as a natural mood-lifter and you may find real benefits from episodes of working out, if only you can remain committed to it. At the same time don’t be in the mistaken assumption that taking on too much work will drive all thoughts of your ex away from your mind. So get plenty of rest too and avoid stress as much as possible. Put non-essential things on the back burner for now. Under no circumstances fall into the temptation of substance abuse as a way of coping with regret and loneliness. Alcohol and drugs may only provide a temporary escape into oblivion but the costs can be too high for your physical and emotional well-being.
One of the most common causes of depression in the aftermath of a breakup is when your kids are wrenched away from you, as in case of a divorce. So get involved with co-parenting, if the terms of your divorce allow. Show interest in your kids’ school performance as well as hobbies and interests. Above all be ready to address our kids’ concerns and feelings whenever they wish to share them with you. Children need to know that the two of you will be continuing to work together for them, even though you will no longer be staying together. Co-parenting will not only go a long way in assuaging your feelings of loneliness and pain but even prove beneficial for your kids in the long run. Only ensure that you and your ex are on the same page regarding the modalities – ideally, work out a schedule with your partner regarding attending holidays, important school and family occasions to be with the kids. Visitations and handovers are especially heart-rending times so agree with your ex to behave in a way that these are as emotionally comfortable for the children as possible.
Take up new interests
At the same time, focus on your life as a new single. One of the best ways to cope with the emotional and physical vacuum post breakup, is to go about exploring new interests and people. Take up a new hobby like pottery-making or baking or go back to school for a course like on Elizabethan poetry – something which had always interested you but you never got around to trying it out. A good way to recover from a broken heart is to do things you couldn’t or perhaps weren’t allowed to in your previous relationship. For instance plan a walking tour through the Himalayas of Bhutan or soak in the sun at Acapulco if your ex disliked going abroad. Or get a pup if your former partner was against having pets in the house. One of the worst parts of a breakup is witnessing the plans you had made with your partner as part of a future together fall apart. So setting and achieving new goals will not only help you look ahead again but also feel that loss may have brought some dividends after all.
Welcome offers of help
No matter how full your life is, sometimes you may need a sounding board or a shoulder to cry on. Don’t shy away from seeking support and validation from family members, friends and co-workers. Depression is a torturous path to traverse and there is no need to make it harder on you by having to go through it alone.