How My Mental Health Condition Affects Breakups

November 11, 2019 Hannah O'Grady

My mental health condition affects the breakups I've experienced. A breakup, or the ending of any relationship, can be one of the most devastating events that anyone may have to face in their life. As someone who used to describe myself as a serial monogamist, I sure have had my fair share of heartbreak. I understand that no one enjoys getting broken up with; however, I have noticed that breakups hit me harder than most. I have always been someone who feels extraordinarily deeply, both the good and the bad. This ability to feel deeply, combined with my mental health conditions, has affected how I experience breakups in a myriad of ways.

The 3 Stages of a Breakup with My Mental Health Condition

First Comes the Dissociation 

I tend to dissociate during moments of extreme distress, such as a breakup. In these moments, it feels as if my body is leading my mind; I can feel myself move, yet, I am not fully conscious of what is happening. During my most recent breakup, I began to dissociate, and as a result, I do not remember the majority of my last conversation with this ex-partner. I feel as if dissociating is my body's way of shutting down my brain, to avoid the unbearable stress I am experiencing. When I come to and am fully back in reality, the pain hits me in crippling ways. In the past, this had led to moments of self-harm and other self-destructive behaviors to avoid facing emotions. 

Next Comes the Rumination 

Thanks to my anxiety and obsessive thinking, I experience rumination to a severe degree. At times I feel like I cannot control my mind, and my brain is digging deep into these wounds, like someone repeatedly picking at a scab. After a breakup, I will ruminate about every aspect of the relationship that I had with my ex-partner. Did I text him too much? Did I text him too little? Did he not like the way I wore my hair down? Did he not like the way I joked around so frequently? I call this line of questioning spiraling since it often sends me deeper and deeper into subsequent depression. My mind is on an endless loop, and the stop button is broken.

Here Comes the Depression 

Once I have stopped dissociating and am left to feel the pain of the breakup fully, I typically become severely depressed. After the first heartbreak I ever experienced at the age of 15, I was depressed for over a year. I stopped eating and began to isolate myself. The depression following subsequent breakups has not lasted as long; however, it has been just as intense. My self-harm usually spikes after a relationship comes to an end. A therapist once told me that when we are grieving, our mind tends to bring up past losses. Whenever I go through a breakup, my mind begins to fixate on past relationships that have come to an end. Eventually, I feel myself mourning relationships that ended years ago. As you can perhaps imagine, grieving over the loss of several relationships at once is practically unbearable. 

How I Cope with a Breakup While Having Mental Health Conditions

Everyone copes and grieves in different ways. Some people binge eat, while others binge-watch television. I, personally, need to engage in activities that get me out of bed. Otherwise, I will not leave my bed for hours, if not days, on end.

Finding solace and support in friends is crucial. Most importantly, I have been working on practicing acceptance of reality as it is. In the past, I always fought reality after every breakup. I refused to believe that the relationship was over, and I would suffer for months. Practicing reality acceptance does not mean you approve of your circumstances. However, in the long run, it may eventually leave you with a sense of peace and calmness once the suffering subsides. 

How do your mental health conditions affect your breakups? Leave your thoughts in the comments.

APA Reference
O'Grady, H. (2019, November 11). How My Mental Health Condition Affects Breakups, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, June 18 from

Author: Hannah O'Grady

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Lizanne Corbit
November, 11 2019 at 11:35 pm

This is a topic that is so important to discuss because it impacts more people than we realize. Breakups are very much a part of life, and mental health is something that gets involved on both sides when dealing with a breakup. It can impact how we handle it, and our present state with it. I love the idea of "reality acceptance", this is something we can all benefit from practicing in breakups, and other trials as well.

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