Ask The Therapist: “I’ve just gotten out of a relationship…I’ve stopped eating and I can’t sleep properly, but my ex is all normal.”

In 2016, the number of people estimated to be suffering from mental health issues like depression and anxiety amounted to roughly 1.1 billion. Since then, numbers have likely continued to rise. Moreover, studies have also shown women especially on average are a) more likely to suffer from mental health issues, and b) less likely to talk about them. The taboo in Pakistan surrounding depression and anxiety disorders only serve to aggravate the individuals suffering even more. For the women who cannot seek out full time therapy, we’ve enlisted the help of a trained therapist. You sent us in your questions – here are the answers!

“I’ve just gotten out of a relationship and things have been weird ever since. I’ve not been able to be focused on my studies, I’ve stopped eating and I can’t sleep properly. On the other hand, I see my ex being all normal and moving on with his life which is making me go crazy. It’s not like I like seeing people suffer when I am suffering, but it’s just that we were in this together and I think he should feel the same too. He blocked and unfriended me from all social media accounts which is again stressing for me because I was the one who should have done that considering I was the one who was dumped.”

Shahrukh’s Response:

Dear Anon,

Break-ups can be really tough! Not only are you struggling with your own emotions, but what ends up happening is that you are also wondering how your ex is doing. It’s human. It’s human to hope that they’re hurting too. It doesn’t mean that you have any ill intentions, but rather you just want to know that you were valued, that the relationship meant enough for them to grieve or be sad. The truth is, it’s hard to say how it’s impacting them. Some people dive right into their grief and face the magnitude of emotions that await them. Others prefer to ignore their grief and busy themselves with work and distractions, pretending like nothing has changed for them. I can’t speak for your ex and their experience, but I can tell you a few things that I have come to learn about break-ups, and the grief that comes with them.

Relationships: They Deserve to Be Grieved Too

When we talk about grief, people mostly think about someone passing away. However, what we don’t often realise is that grief comes in the form of different things – anything that involves change can be considered a loss. Moving to a new city, losing a part of your identity, falling out with a friend, or in your case: getting out of a relationship.

When a relationship ends, there is a lot that happens. The person you are attached to – someone that was once a very regular part of your day – is no longer there. This can definitely take some time to adjust to, and it’s perfectly natural to experience emotional pain. This can have an impact on your appetite or even your sleep routine. I have said in my previous articles that there is no wrong way to grieve, and I say it again: there is no wrong way to grieve. Allow yourself the space to experience the emotions as they come. It’s alright.

 How To Move Forward

When dealing with a break-up, it’s natural to miss someone, or to be curious about what’s going on with them. Sometimes the best thing to do is to get a bit of space in the initial stages of your grief. This would help with coming to terms with how things are now, and it would allow you the opportunity to create a new routine for yourself. The initial stages of adjustment can prove to be the most challenging bit of grief – it can feel scary and unfamiliar. While I cannot comment on the timeline of how long it’ll take to adjust, I can say that after a certain period of time, things will begin to feel a little less painful, and a little easier. The key is to take it one day at a time.

“It hurts too much! What do I do?”

Reach out to your support system: whether it’s family or friends, look for those who make you feel safe. The idea is to be able to find those who you can be open with about your pain without that fear of judgement.

Journal: Write out your feelings. Sometimes keeping it in your head can be overwhelming. It helps to just express it by writing them out on paper.

Try a creative outlet: Whether it’s drawing, music, dancing, baking, gardening, cooking or even knitting, it helps to have a creative outlet where you can channel all that built up energy, and just giving yourself the chance to rediscover some hobbies you may have not explored for some time.

Cry: Crying is your body’s natural way of releasing certain energy or trauma. So, if you feel the urge to cry, just allow it to happen! I promise you, you’ll feel better and lighter. [Pro tip: the louder the cry, the lighter you’ll feel]

Self-Compassion: While I do say that self-compassion should ideally be practiced regularly, even without the presence of an emotional turmoil, I do think that it is especially crucial to practice it now. Remind yourself that you are human, and that you are hurting, and that you’re allowed to feel hurt. Give yourself time and space to adjust to your new normal, it’s alright. 

Therapy/Counselling: You can always look into counselling if you’re looking for a safe space to talk about what you’re experiencing, monitor how you’re experiencing each day and perhaps learn a few grounding and coping techniques.

Anon, everyone will process a loss differently. It’s entirely possible that by blocking you, your ex is disconnecting from the event itself, but that’s an assumption on my part. Again, I can’t speak for him. What I will tell you is that it’s not about what anyone else is experiencing, it’s about YOU and what this relationship meant to YOU. If you’re hurting more than the other person, all that means is that you were brave enough to be vulnerable and let someone into your life, and now, it might be time to mourn the loss of that relationship. I know I can’t say anything to make your pain go away, I wish I could. Just know that it will get better with time. It might still hurt every now and then, or it might not hurt at all, it just won’t be what it is now. This much I can promise you. I wish you all the best, Anon. Good luck and stay in your power!

The above article is written by Shahrukh Shahbaz Malik who is trained in humanistic integrative counselling at CPDD in the UK and currently has her own private practice in Karachi. The views expressed in this article are those of one expert. They do not necessarily represent the views of Mashion, nor do they represent the complete picture of the topic at hand. This article is for informational purposes only and is not a substitute for medical diagnosis or treatment.

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