Recent and first break up
I recently broke up with my first girlfriend of about 9-10 months mutually. She lives in another country, but wont move. I want kids, she doesn't. Makes sense, right? We even want to stay close friends for the rest of our lives and for the most part, get along very well, which is why we dated online and even people that didn't know about us exclaimed how well we fit together. But since the break up (on and off since about March-May) I've basically fallen into waves of depression. I've never felt this before, nor been clinically diagnosed, but I feel like it's definitely the case. Every so often, maybe multiple times a day, a massive wave of sadness crashes over me, my chest tightens, I panic a bit, feel super alone, hopeless, physically painful and my thoughts get both sad and dark. Very dark from my normal self. I'm going to assume this is depression, unless someone tells me otherwise.
I suffer from social anxiety, I'm a 28 yo man (in 5 days from this post) and this was my first "proper" relationship. I was extremely happy, the happiest I've ever been. But now, it's quite the opposite. I feel like I know what I should do. Go out there, meet people, work out, eat healthy, better myself, etc. But, I just get this massive overwhelming sense of hopelessness and lack of motivation that prevents me from trying (nobody will talk to me at a cafe/etc). And because of the current state of the world, I can't exactly safely go outside to better myself and clear my head/thoughts right now either.
And to top it all off, me and my ex have been arguing almost constantly since the break up because of, basically, me and how fast she's moved on. She no longer feels the way she did when she was with me. She moved on about 3 or so weeks after the break up (no boyfriend but, she is looking). Meanwhile, I keep begging her to change her mind about kids and moving here, knowing full well that she wont. Not exactly topics people just flip their decisions on. So I feel like my emotions and potential depression just force me into insecure panic attacks that just result in me begging her for answers and badgering her with questions when we should be close friends. Instead, she occasionally tells me that she thinks we shouldn't talk anymore and that she's falling out of love with me because of these arguments...
...So, I guess my question is... Anyone got some advice or help?
Hi Autumnnado! 🙂
Welcome to the forums. Congrats on having the courage to come here and explain your problem- often this is difficult!
This seems like a horrible situation for you :(. It is entirely understandable for you to feel the way that you do.
It is so hard for us to make ourselves do things (e.g. exercise, things you mentioned) when we feel like this.
Although there are many different paths you could take, I would say as a first step; you should make an appointment to see your GP and explain these feelings to them. Your GP will be able to understand your situation and take the most appropriate course of action. From there, he could set you up with a counsellor/psychologist so that you might work through these feelings with a professional.
Also, I would recommend using these forums as a place to share your progress, kind of like a support network. There are many people here that have gone through similar situations and feel similarly to you that can offer you counsel. Hopefully, a few more people will introduce themselves to you.
I would love for you to keep in contact (if you wish) and keep us updated!
Nice to meet you! 🙂
Thanks for sharing your story. It shows strength to come on the forums and share what you are experiencing. The loss of a relationship and hope for a future (and possibly children) with your girlfriend is heartbreaking. It's understandable that you are feeling so low. As it's your first 'proper' relationship its especially difficult because you haven't experienced this before. Talking to your GP and then a counsellor may help you to work through these big feelings to work out if it is depression or not.
If there is lots of arguing with your ex would you consider taking a break from communication with her for awhile?
Be kind to yourself and accept that it will take time to heal from the relationship. I found that when I was putting those 'shoulds' on myself after a breakup, like I should be better by now, I should be over it by now, it did not help. You are where you are in the healing process and thats ok. Please keep sharing how you are coping and I hope we can continue to support you.
Due to the word limit, I did neglect to mention that I am in fact seeking help via a therapist, and have been for years now. However, it was for my social anxiety, so while depression was initially brought up and a concerning topic a few other bad times in my life, it's never be a true threat like it is right now (if it is in fact depression that I have). I will definitely be bringing all of this up with them next appointment (7 days from now) and hopefully get something from it.
I have thought about breaking communication with my ex a few times, but we share several chat rooms/servers together. And so by proxy, I see her comments, videos with her in them, etc. All not anyone's fault at all, but it does hurt quite a lot to see her acting normally/happy at times when I'm torn up. Jealousy and fear are definitely things I'm experiencing regarding her moving on and finding another man, which will probably put me in an even worse place than I am now. That's pretty much my #1 fear right now.
On top of this, we both just do not want to cut contact. We very much want to remain in each others lives, and both of us have expressed that if she changes her mind and we're single at the time, she'd come back. But that's a big "if", and I probably shouldn't hold onto hope for it. And I do, which is a part of the problem.
While I do agree that spending time to heal is the right path, it just seems like far too long of a path to prevent me from diving into a worse mental state. I want to heal as soon as possible for both our sake's. We're miserable right now and it's basically because of my constant fear, yet we want to go back to being best friends as soon as possible. I just can't let go, can't heal as fast as her. And it's not that I should heal faster or that she should heal slower, it's that she's moved on and I'm stuck. I suppose the underlying fear is that I just cannot "go out into the world" right now and find a girl. I don't consider myself eye catching enough to grab women's attention initially, nor does my life have my going for it at the moment (I am changing this however, just a transitional year right now). And everything I want in a girl, I had with her. So the big fear I've had all my life is now a part of losing her; never getting the girlfriend I've always wanted (not the cliche of a smoking hot woman. Just a caring/loving/wholesome angel). All of this with the quarantine stuff going on, yea, leaves me trapped.
Hey Autumnado 🙂
Thanks for replying! I'd just like to say that you have excellent writing/description skills.
I can somewhat relate to what you are talking about. Back in college (where we all boarded together), there was my 'perfect girl' that I was quite attached to. I would see her in the dining hall, walking around, through interactions with my friends, etc., so it didn't make sense to break communication completely with her. It felt like someone had ripped my heart out every time she would hang around with another guy- and I couldn't do anything about it. She was generally a happy person and would hide sad emotions- it hurt seeing her so joyful when I was so miserable.
And I had that fear you describe- that she would find another guy that she clicked with and move on completely. I understood that I probably had to move on, but I kept making excuses not too: we could still be friends, she was such a great energy that I needed in my life, etc.
To be completely honest, I didn't completely move on until after we left college and had about a year of seperation. We are actually good friends today, but in a healthy way- not an awkward forced friendship that we were faking in college. Closer to how we were when we first met.
Unfortunately, healing does take time. It took a year of my life. Something I realised during that time is that I am my own person. So much of my life during that time was defined by this girl- nearly every action, she would be at the forefront of my mind. It cost me a lot of time. I lost my provisional medicine entry (my dream) because I was too distracted to study.
I fear that you are defining yourself by this woman when you are your own, glorious and wonderful person. You have so much to offer, you just don't realise. One day, you will look at yourself and be completely comfortable in who you are.
It's a bit cliche, but they say the 2nd best time to grow a tree is right now. The sooner you begin the process of healing, the sooner you will have what you want. Somehow, I think you should find a way to let go of this girl- hopefully, your therapist can help you with that.
I hope that wasn't too melancholy... If you need someone to talk to, I'll be here 🙂
Oh and one more thing... I'd just like to echo what Lillipilli80 has said:
"Be kind to yourself and accept that it will take time to heal from the relationship. I found that when I was putting those 'shoulds' on myself after a breakup, like I should be better by now, I should be over it by now, it did not help. You are where you are in the healing process and thats ok."
I think that this is super helpful advice- not only for situations like this, but for life in general. Having self-compassion is incredibly important in being able to accept ourselves for who we are. I believe it is very important to keep in mind during the healing process.
"I fear that you are defining yourself by this woman when you are your
own, glorious and wonderful person. You have so much to offer, you just
don't realise. One day, you will look at yourself and be completely
comfortable in who you are."
Thank you for the kind words, and what you said here particularly struck me. Although, I'm not too sure if I'm defining myself by her, or just crushed what I had is gone. But I definitely lived my days head over heals with her.
I suppose the thrill and happiness of what was, is clouding my mind right now. I'm stuck thinking of what life was like in the past, the day in day out conversations that were filled with love and sweetness, never to be repeated again with this woman. Coupled with all the self love and building comments I've been stumbling across recently, I hope that this is the key to it all.
I do however, believe that I don't have much self-compassion for myself, and I honestly feel like it's all physical. Personality wise, I'm happy enough with who I am, but not physically. I'm one of those people that's insecure about my looks, can't take selfies of myself without cringing, never can comfortably talk about my appearance and etc. If this is a reason my healing is taking longer than it should, then I feel like I might be in big trouble, since I just flat out do not know how to be happy with my own appearance.
I will say as well that I am kind of scared and worried that the solution might be aided by distance/silence, so at least for now, I will try to stay in contact but distract myself with self goals and recovery. I had a friend tell me that a way he distracted himself during his break up was to just go out there and do what he needed to do, to be what he wanted to be in life. I'm not sure if this is sound advice, an individuals solution to their own problems, or a common way around this pain. But it is something I want to try, as best and safely as I can with this virus around. In the mean time, I feel like this healing process will indeed overlap with the time she gets another boyfriend. And in that period, god only knows how I'll take it.
Hey Autumnado :),
Our physical self-image does play a significant role in the acceptance of ourselves. Self-Compassion is an incredibly important part of our lives- for gaining confidence and happiness.
We hear a lot about how the portrayal of women (e.g. through social media) is not ideal for their mental health- I believe the same is true for men. There is a stigma around height, jawline, musculature, etc. that does not help our self-image. We are surrounded by handsome actors that are held up on a pedestal- and we are told that this is the beauty standard for men.
Have you tried Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) with your therapist? That is something that helped me, and has helped so many people with their self-image.
Once upon a time, I felt the same way about my physical appearance. I would spend ages worrying about it and trying to perfect my hair, etc. before I would go out into public. There is a theory of evolutionary psychology that helped accelerate my acceptance of my looks, which I can attempt to abridge if that is something that interests you?
"I will say as well that I am kind of scared and worried..."
If you feel that this solution will work, then go ahead! 🙂 There are so many different approaches, and your friend tried something that worked for him! It seems logical that if you fill your time with things other than thinking about your breakup, then these things will take priority in your life.
If you feel comfortable to do so, why don't you list your goals here? Often when we see our goals written, we are more likely to complete them. I am happy to keep in contact with you as part of your support network during this journey 🙂
I do agree that there is a stigma on men too, and it does feel like it's been a part of the reason why I can't just "get" a girlfriend nor accept myself physically. I haven't tried nor heard of ACT before, but if you recommend it, I'll definitely bring it up with my therapist and hope it works.
The theory of evolutionary psychology? I haven't heard of that either, so yea, this definitely interests me if it means getting past these painful times.
Not too sure what you mean for goals specifically, but as far as my mental state is concerned, I don't want depression, I want the pain of loss to go away and return to a healthy friendship with my ex. And, what has been the case for years now, defeat my social anxiety on all levels (gain confidence, socially adept, comfortable, etc). Tho only now, added to that list is self compassion and happiness with myself.
I won't lie though, I don't know how solid my contact with be in the future but, I can try.
I feel for you, breakups sucks!! You just have to look at the number of posts on this forum to see.I think it’s perhaps one of the certainties in life, along with death and taxes. But then there is always light and shadow. You can’t fall in love again without first having a breakup, and falling in love is my favorite thing to do 🥰 Someone once told me when I was going through a particularly hard breakup, that I didn’t miss them, I missed the person they could have been, that I desperately wanted them to be but they weren’t. You obviously want someone who lives in the same country as you, who you can grow with, buy a house with, have a family. And she doesn’t want those things or can’t give them to you. So rationally you know that she’s not the girl for you, but it still hurts, that if only...You will hurt for awhile, and then one day, you’ll start noticing people of the opposite sex again, or start dating, and the rest is history. Perhaps don’t rush back into dating right now as you seem like you need to get over this a little bit first