Heartbreak has been defined in several ways: crushing grief, overwhelming anguish, consuming agony etc. The truth, however, is that no one can really explain how this until you feel it yourself. It is an indescribable feeling that comes from a strained love. A love that used to be so rosy, that lady who seemingly could not do without you and vice versa, that guy who promised you the world plus more suddenly disappears.They take you high and suddenly abandon you in the sky with no parachute. It could happen in different ways: he cheated, you found out something ugly about her or they simply grew tired of the relationship and gave you flimsy excuses like “we are no longer compatible”, “we should just be friends”, “it’s not you, it’s me’’ , blah blah blah. At that moment, your whole world suddenly begins to crumble and everything seems to come to an end. You cannot breathe, think or even move.
We read about it in novels, watch it on TV and even have one and dismiss it with a wave of the hand, saying, ‘They’ll get over it’, ‘why is he crying like a baby because a woman left him?’ ‘Is she the first person to get dumped by a guy? How come her case is different?’, forgetting that no two persons are the same. We tend to overlook the fact that people react differently to certain situations. Some may be able to bounce back few days after a breakup, but others may not. As a matter of fact, heartbreak might be so excruciating for some people that they go numb from the intensity of the pain. It is really sad to see that many of us do not take this seriously. We expect whoever just got out of a relationship to deal with it and move on immediately. It is even worse for the men who are expected to act strong in all situations even if they might be dying inside. This should not be the case. Those going through a heartbreak need help and should be taken seriously because the consequences could be terrible and even fatal if some of them are ignored.
Although, some people are able to get back on their feet in no time after a breakup, it takes it takes many months and years for others to recover from the hurt due to the following effects:
1. PAIN: The emotional pain felt after a breakup is akin to the physical pain one feels after sustaining an injury on a part of the body. The same part of the brain that is activated when one has an injury is also activated when one suffers a breakup. Rejection, betrayal and abandonment could be so excruciating beyond description depending on the type of relationship the person once enjoyed. It could make you feel like you have lost a huge part of yourself which cannot be gotten back.
2. OBSESSION: It is not easy to let go after a breakup and it is more difficult for some than for others. To these, it is hard to accept that what used to be is no more. Their minds have already gotten used to the fact that they have a partner somewhere. They still hold on to past memories of the good times they once shared with their partners and are not willing to let go. It is, therefore, not surprising that such people send plea messages and make calls to their exes, reminding them of the good times, beg mutual friends to help them reconcile, try every means to monitor their exes lives end even deny that they are no longer in a relationship. These obsessions, if not checked, could lead to abnormal behaviours like threatening and stalking their exes.
3. STRESS: Dealing with a breakup could be very stressful. The pain, anger, sadness, confusion and many other emotions could affect one’s health. These could lead to underfeeding, overfeeding, lack of enough sleep, brooding etc., which would eventually cause weight loss, weight gain, fatigue, migraine, inability to concentrate and other adverse effects on one’s mental and physical health.
4. ISOLATION: Anyone going through a breakup tends to isolate himself from other people. Such a person becomes a recluse and withdraws into his shell. He avoids hanging out with others, going to parties and other social functions where he is likely to meet happy people and happy couples for they would only cause him more grief.
5. IDENTITY SHIFT: Embracing singlehood again after a breakup could be difficult. A person who used to do things together with someone else suddenly has to start doing things alone. This sudden change causes the individual to be disorientated for a while and needs time to get used to his/her new status.
6. DEPRESSION: This is the ultimate effect of a breakup. A breakup could stir up a whole lot of emotions: extreme anxiety, irritability, sadness, the feeling of rejection and hopelessness. All these could cause one to be depressed. A person suffering from a breakup is lost and vulnerable to depression. He feels that he has lost a part of him which is irreplaceable. Depression not only affects the mind but the body as well. Depression, if ignored, could affect all areas of a person’s life: mood, thoughts, feelings, behaviours and physical health. Many depressed people do not feel like they can go on living and suicide becomes an escape route to end all their sufferings. Others find temporary solace in the bottle, hard drugs and even ‘revenge’ sex.
WHAT TO DO
There are helpful steps one could take when dealing with a breakup and some of them include:
1. TALK ABOUT IT: Never be ashamed to talk about your breakup. As a matter of fact, it is advised that you talk to someone about your broken relationship and how you feel about it. It could be a friend, a pastor, counsellor etc. You could even place an anonymous phone call to a radio or TV show or write a book or article about your experience.. Also talk about what you have learnt from it. This helps a great deal in your recovery process.
2. IT IS OKAY TO GRIEVE: Grieving is an essential step on the road to recovery. It is okay to cry after a breakup. Do not lie to yourself by saying you are not hurt by it unless the relationship meant little or nothing to you. Cry, if you feel like it. You could do this in the privacy of your bedroom with no one there to reproach you. It is harmful to bottle up your emotions. It could drain you mentally and physically.
3. FOCUS ON THE BRIGHT SIDE: A breakup is never the end of the world, no matter how bad it makes you feel. Always remember that whatever has a disadvantage is sure to have an advantage even if you are unable to see it. There are always positive sides to a breakup and these are what you should really focus on. Think about all the things you missed out on when you were in that relationship; the things your relationship prevented you from doing. It could be hanging out with your friends regularly, visiting family members, attending church activities, eating whatever you felt like eating, chatting with whomever you wanted, volunteering for one service or the other, buying the things you loved, having more time for yourself etc. You can get back to doing those things without anyone breathing down on your neck. Do not dwell on the negative aspect for you will only continue to wallow in your sorrow. Rather, see it as a blessing in disguise. It could be an opportunity to grab better things ahead. Remember, when one door closes, another opens.
4. ALLOW OTHJERS TO HELP YOU: If you find it hard to deal with a breakup alone, do not hesitate to get help. Do not isolate yourself from everyone in order to grieve alone. Allow your friends and others who have gone through a familiar experience and are willing to help you to do so. Visit the internet to read up articles about dealing with breakups, join support groups, and go for counseling, if necessary. Do not shut out those with good intentions to help you. Admit that you need help and be grateful when it is offered.
5. MOVE ON: This might to be the hardest thing to do after a breakup, yet the most necessary. You cannot stay at a spot forever and completely throw away all other chances of finding love again. A house shut for a long time becomes dusty and begins to stink. The house has to be open for people to come in and clean it up and make it tidy. The same applies to the heart. If shut up for too long, will only end up doing more harm than good. So, after grieving, let it go. Go out, have fun and find love again. If you get hurt again, dust yourself up and try again. Never give up on love; it’s always out there. In the words of Bob Marley, ‘keep on searching for true love until you find for nothing good comes easy.’
With all these effects, it is no surprise that many cannot deal with breakup on their own. Therefore, if you notice a friend or family member going through a breakup, you should try to help by doing the following:
1. ALLOW HIM/HER TO VENT: Letting off steam should be expected of a hurt lover and should, in fact, be encouraged. It does no one any good to bottle up emotions. Let your friend know it is okay to cry, scream, lament and even throw things if they feel like. If your male friend feels like punching something, take him to the gym and let him grab a punching bag. Do not criticize your friend, either male or female, as being too weak to bear the breakup. Rather, be a listening ear to their complaints and a warm shoulder to cry on. If they feel they have been wronged and complain to you, do not counter their opinions while they are still grieving, even if you feel otherwise. Allow them to feel the way they do, then, when they get over their grief, you can advise them.
2. BE PREPARED FOR A CHANGE IN THE RELATIONSHIP: Your friend might not be the same person he/she was before the breakup. He or she might no longer be the outgoing, funny, social person you once knew and loved and it might take quite a while for them to bounce back. You should be prepared for this and respect your friend’s recovery process. No matter how badly you miss their laughter, jokes and company, if you push too much, you might be perceived as insensitive and your friend might take it out on you. Anyone going through a breakup is likely to be flaky, sour, distant and dismissive. But you should try to see past all these sudden behaviours and be supportive. With time, hopefully, things will go back to normal and you can have your relationship back- this time, stronger and better, for your friend will come to appreciate you the more for being patient with him/her.
3. HELP THEM TAKE CARE OF THEMSELVES: Brokenheartedness could be overwhelmingly engrossing. Anyone going through a breakup could forget certain things about his welfare. He or she could be so engulfed in his or her sorrow that they forget certain details about their well-being like: eating. Exercising, doing laundry, keeping their home clean etc. it is important to help them with these things. Remind them to eat regularly and cajole them gently if you have to. Help them clean their house and sort out the laundry. When you go to the store, do not forget to buy some groceries for them. If possible, you could even move in with them to ensure that they do not do much harm to themselves. If not, try to hear from them regularly. Your efforts might not be recognized during this period because sorrow takes people to another world, but be assured that when your friend recovers from his grief he or she will appreciate you as a true friend.
4. HELP THEM CUT THEIR EX OFF: It is not easy to let go after a breakup especially for the one whom was dumped. The response the brain gets is similar to one trying to let go of a bad habit. Your friend should be helped to quit his or her ex. Help them discard the letters, photos, cards, messages and even the number and other means of contact, Facebook, Instagram and the like. Help them avoid their ex as much as they can. Even if they run into each other, they should simply say a brief ‘hi’ and walk away. Many people still deceive themselves that they can remain friends with their exes. This is dangerous and will only bring back memories which could be detrimental to your friend’s recovery and personal growth altogether.
5. GET EXRA HELP: After doing all you can to help your friend and it does not seem like he or she is making much progress, do not hesitate to seek extra help. He or she might not like it at first, but it is for the best lest your friend sinks into depression. The help could be from a religious leader, a general health practitioner, or a counsellor. Depression has been proven to drive people into committing several terrible acts. Therefore, you should not wait for your friend to engage in such acts before you seek help.
Heartbreak in a relationship is almost inevitable. As long as you are willing to love, you should be ready for the consequences. This, however, should not deter you from falling in love for you never know the right one until you give it a try. So, no matter how many times your heart gets broken, be assured that you can get always get better by using these steps and you keep moving on until you find the one. You definitely will!