Fighting your way back from heartbreak is a universal experience fraught with intense emotional anguish. It colors your days and your nights in slow-motion nightmare tones.
It’s suffocating, you feel like you can’t draw a full breath. You’re in physical as well as emotional pain. Your entire body aches and your head throbs. Saying you’re exhausted is an understatement, but sleep eludes you. All you see is a long, dark, foreboding road stretching out ahead of you, waiting to swallow you up.
Most of us have been to that awful place where you’re questioning how to move on from or end a relationship. It’s the worst feeling in the world, and pretty much unavoidable in a world filled with people, places, and things to love.
While it’s common to automatically associate a broken heart as signifying the end of a romantic relationship, that’s not always the case.
Grief is never simple, and love takes many forms. The death of a loved one, a divorce, a job loss, or losing a close friend can break your heart and make you feel like the earth is giving out under your feet.
Here are some more signs that you’re still struggling with a broken heart and need some more healing time.
1) Your heart literally hurts
Yes. Your heart will literally hurt, and if you’ve felt it, you’ll never forget it. This isn’t psychosomatic pain, either. Stress hormones are flooding your body in response to your emotions. This pain is the real deal.
This phenomenon can jumpstart broken heart syndrome, aka stress-induced cardiomyopathy. Symptoms include an irregular heartbeat and chest pain. Sometimes the chest pain is pronounced enough to mimic a heart attack.
If you’ve invested a lot of time and energy into your now-defunct relationship, the emotional repercussions of the time lost are hard to bear.
But you probably feel mostly numb, because your brain is protecting you from the full-on assault of emotional pain waiting in the wings. This is why emptiness and numbness are so common when people have their hearts broken.
So your brain has put all calls from your heart on hold and now your emotions are blocked, so you feel nothing. Wonderful, wonderful, nothing.
But it won’t last.
While suppressing your pain may seem like the safest and easiest route in the moment, prolonging emotional emptiness and repressing your feelings can mess with your mental health in a big way.
3) Changes in appetite
Losing your appetite during a breakup is very common. You have a lump in your throat that food won’t fit around, and you’re steadily losing weight thanks to stress and anguish taking up residence in your head.
Then there are those who go to the other extreme and stress eat, especially junk food. This can cause you to pack on the pounds, giving you another thing to dislike about yourself, which of course is just what you need.
4) Easily distracted
Are you having trouble concentrating? Is your mind wandering all over the place, making it impossible to focus? Do you begin a sentence, lose your train of thought, and then totally trail off?
That’s par for the course at the Heartbreak Hotel.
And it’s not hard to pinpoint the reason why you’re easily distracted these days:
5) Can’t get them off your mind
If your heart is broken, it’s exquisitely painful that most of your thoughts are of the person who caused you all this gut-wrenching agony.
Intrusive thoughts about your person are synonymous with rumination, and that can be emotionally debilitating. There’s no way you’re even close to being over this person. Persistent ruminating indicates that the relationship still consumes you.
If rumination goes on long-term, you may feel hopeless about stopping, and desperate for the intrusive thoughts to leave you alone.
There is support available to help you end the endless pain and frustration of rumination. Don’t hesitate to reach out for professional help.
First off, give yourself a break. No matter the origin story of your heartbreak, your world has been torn asunder. Of course you’re anxious! Your entire existence looks like funhouse mirrors to you. You’ve lost your bearings, and youre stumbling around in your dark night of the soul searching for them.
You may even have a panic attack or ten, which incidentally also mimics the symptoms of a heart attack sometimes.
It’s completely clear to me now why people turn their backs on civilization to live in an isolated windswept cave as a hermit.
7) You blame yourself
In your darker moments, you may blame yourself for the breakup, which is beyond pointless. Even if it was your fault, it’s a moot point, anyway.
And let’s face it, relationships of any sort rarely fail due to just one party’s missteps. So yeah, it probably is at least partly your fault (barring abuse and such), but it’s their fault too.
Ugh, is there anything worse than lying awake at 3 a.m. thinking about the person who broke your heart? The hours spent mentally going over instant replays of the events leading up to and culminating in your breakup? The last conversation you had when you knew in your heart it was really over?
You’re losing much needed sleep to these toxic late-night strolls down memory lane and adding to your own heartbreak.
Being tired makes us feel more emotional, too. It’s a vicious circle that requires daily auto-delivery of Kleenex at its apex.
With the combination of emotional stress and physical pain, it’s pretty obvious that overcoming heartbreak is very taxing. You may be dragging yourself through your days because your broken heart is taking a humongous physical toll on you.
Exhaustion could also be caused by the aforementioned insomnia. Sleep pattern disturbances are hard on you, mind, body, and soul.
If you’re getting less sleep than you need as a matter of course, it will undoubtedly impact your energy level and productivity throughout your day.
Take your sleep where you can get it for a while.
10) Spinning your wheels
A broken heart keeps us stuck in the same old patterns of dysfunction that landed us at Heartbreak Hotel in the first place.
It’s not until we admit to ourselves how broken we are that we can begin to slowly but surely heal our wounded hearts.
11) Risky behavior
Heartbreak hurts like a you-know-what and might make you more apt to lean into your vices, whatever they may be.
Because of the tumultuous emotions of heartbreak, those who’ve overcome past addiction are susceptible to relapse because of the emotions triggered.
Safeguard your hard-won sobriety, my friend. There is no relationship more precious than the one you have with yourself.
When you’re in love, your brain releases a sweet little chemical called dopamine that stimulates your brain’s reward system the same way it would react to nicotine or cocaine.
When you break up with someone, you’re no longer getting your love fix, and your brain can’t activate the reward system anymore.
Because your brain still needs time to acclimate to your new reality, you could experience physical withdrawal symptoms similar to those of drug addiction.
And if you’re still jonesing for them, you’re not close to being over them.
13) In no one we trust
When you’re hurting, you have a choice to make. You can take the rocky road of processing your pain and healing properly so your next relationship can be built on trust.
The second option is getting over your heartache as quickly as possible. Avoid thinking about the situation. Ignore your battle scars and shove that pain down, way down. Move on at any cost.
This is what most people choose to do.
But that poses a big problem down the line. When you don’t heal from your past hurts, you carry it like unwanted baggage into your present or future relationships.
To protect ourselves, we erect and fortify defenses in the hopes of sidestepping the pain-in-the butt we call love.
14) Love and affection? No thank you
Let’s face it. Even the most physically affectionate among us aren’t all huggy and kissy when we’re heartbroken. In fact, we live our lives in the shallow end as much as we can.
Understandable, given the circumstances. Our tired souls and broken hearts can’t deal with the deeper stuff. It’s just too painful to bear. We close ourselves off as our wounded hearts are leery of genuine affection.
15) Look back in anger
Hurt often manifests as anger. When our hurts haven’t healed, it infests every facet of our lives.
Whether you verbalize your anger or allow it to burst at the seams, it’s because you haven’t dealt with your heartbreak.
16) You’re a one trick pony
If your friends roll their eyes and sigh every time you bring up you-know-who, that’s an obvious sign you’re not over them yet.
It’s probably in your best interest to find a new topic, if only for your friends’ sake and to save you from further cringe when you look back on this era of your life.
I speak from experience. I still wince at my obsessive goofiness decades later.
Remember, any loss can result in heartbreak. Whether it’s the end of a romantic relationship, the death of a family member, estrangement from a friend, or getting fired, separation from anyone or anything we cherish can break our hearts.
It’s just part of being human.
This is important, so please listen. If you think you’re not improving or you just can’t handle the hurt alone, please reach out for professional help.
Having your heart broken sucks, but you can overcome it with emotional support, patience, and time. Lots and lots of time.