Have you ever woken up, the morning after a traumatic event, a grievance, a breakup, and for a split second when you first open your eyes, still semi-consciously oblivious, you assume everything is as it should be? I call this a ‘Utopian Second’, that flash of blissful ignorance before ‘it’ – reality – hits you, like a cold, hard slap in the heart. You’d think when this feeling becomes a regular occurrence, you’d become susceptible to it, or at least not be knocked sideways every time it hits? Unfortunately, it’s not something you get accustomed to, not me anyway. It I was asked to describe the single pain that effects me on the worst level, that ‘Utopian Second’ would bypass period pain, a tooth ache, a thumping migraine and a wine hangover combined. Yeah, it’s pretty fucking horrible.
Take two awful scenarios ; (1.) a painful breakup that seemingly occurred out of nowhere and (2.) an already fragile mental state, that is easily effected by external and indirect sources of stress and upset. Now, combine them both and imagine the outcome – a train wreck of emotion, anger, confusion and self blame, spurred on by an underlying tendency to over-analyze and criticize one’s self unjustly. Terrifying right? Well, that’s the reality of how a breakup, or any traumatic event for that matter, is perceived by someone with a mental health problem – they’re basically looking at the situation through a wonky, grey tinted magnifying glass.
Regardless of whether you’re the most self-assured person going or you have a deeply sensitive soul, a nasty break up that takes you by surprise will cause inevitable pain, full stop. I’ve been on the other side of the spectrum too, experiencing a long, drawn out break up, where we both knew the relationship was dead and gone, even months before it officially ceased existing. While that situation is no doubt tedious, time consuming and emotionally exhausting, it lacks that breath-taking, searing pain that anyone who’s experienced an unexpected breakup will understand.
Unfortunately, while the unexpected breakup occurs at a faster pace, it doesn’t resemble the method of removing a plaster – bloody painful but over in a second – but rather a very unprofessional attempt at a bikini wax – an initial jolt of severe pain, followed by continuous pulling and pinches in order to remove the patches of remaining hot wax (symbolizing anger, confusion and a sense of deep loss).
When you come face to face with an unexpected breakup, naturally, one of your first reactions will be to blame yourself for the other person’s decision to call it quits. DON’T DO THAT! Easier said than done, right? It’s human nature – when we’re suddenly told that something we felt was so ‘real’ is now just a memory of the recent past, it’s 100% normal to rush into blame mode, searching frantically for answers. Which brings me to my next point…
We can’t always know the answers, sometimes there aren’t even answers to find, but our stubborn minds won’t give up that easily. What we may view as a totally nonsensical decision could make perfect sense in someone else’s mind, that’s just the complex way in which the human brain operates. Our natural instinct, when someone declares that they no longer want to be with us, is to mentally dissect each and every event during your time together, desperate to put your finger on exactly how or where you went wrong and ‘messed everything up’.
Self-blame is futile, a bottomless pit of negative thoughts that will only continue to fill itself in on top of you. Instead, focus your energy on healthier emotions such as sadness, loss and anger – yes, they’re all healthy! Allow yourself to cry, scream, shout and throw (nothing/nobody too heavy, mind!). Release your frustration, allow yourself to grieve (just because nobody died doesn’t mean that grief can’t play its part!), it’s only natural to mourn the loss of a permanent figure in your daily routine over the last few months or years.
Of course, when all is said and done, when all the wise words in the world have been spoken, we’re all only human and emotion is the one thing that can strike us down, no matter how tough we may think we are. Remember, whatever emotion you’re feeling is perfectly okay to feel and while some days may feel like you’ve taken 7 steps backwards, the most important thing is to take 8 steps forward the next day. Baby steps…