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How do you heal a broken heart?

 Tis better to have loved and lost,
              Than never to have loved at all.
                     Alfred Tennyson: In Memoriam, xxvii.

If you've recently broken up with someone or worse yet, been broken up with (yeah, I know it was a so-called "mutual decision")  you would probably disagree with Tennyson.

Fortunately, it gets better.  I know you don't believe it, but it does.  When you're in it, you can't see your way out.  When you've found your way out of the fog it's hard to remember how bad it was.  That's what healing does. It takes the memory of the pain away, or at least it dulls it.

Breaking up is a very painful and stressful event.  It is one of the hardest things a person can go through.  It is a time of mourning.   There is the loss of the future that you thought you had.  The letting go is very difficult.  It feels unbearable. Sometimes people have thoughts of hurting themselves or someone else.  If you are thinking about hurting yourself of someone else, please go to the phone and call 911. This web site is not meant as a substitute for face to face psychotherapy.

It's normal to feel quite sad after a breakup.  If this persists you may be experiencing clinical depression, if so please get professional help.  Here are some symptoms to look out for:

Changes in sleeping habits - excessive sleep, insomnia, early morning awakening
Appetite changes - over or under eating
Weight changes
Helpless or hopeless feelings
Thoughts of harming oneself
Sad or empty feelings (depressed mood)
Lack of interest in activities that usually interest you
Loss of energy, feeling tired
Feeling worthless
Difficulty concentrating, indecisiveness

Dr. Helen's tips for taking care of yourself after a break up:

These are general suggestions. Only you know what's best for you.  If you have a therapist please discuss your feelings and questions with him or her.  Please feel free to email me with your arguments on these points -- after all, they are just my opinion, but they are based on experience.  Questions are welcome to.

1.  Once you've broken up, make it a clean break.  You've probably done as much talking it out as you need to for now.   You know when you have a cut and a scab forms over it?  Well, what happens when you pick at the scab?  It hurts more!  Worse than that the healing has to start all over.  Don't pick at it.  Let it heal over. One day you can call and sort it all out.  Today you need to think about making yourself feel better.

2.  Spend lots of time with friends.  Find someone whom you can pour your heart out to.  They don't have to say anything, just listen.  Hopefully you have good friends who will intuitively know that they should be keeping you busy.  If they don't, ask them to.  Say, "Hey, Bill/Betty, I'm hurting.  Can you make sure I get out a little more this week?" Other things to say:  "Don't let me call (fill in ex-s name here)."  "Don't let me go to (fill in names of places that your ex goes here)." Help your friends help you.

3.  This is a good time to rekindle relationships with old friends.  It'll remind you of who you were before this relationship. You'll start to feel like your old self again.  Perhaps the person whom your ex didn't appreciate.  You're friends know and love you and appreciate you. They knew you before...  They'll remind you that you had a life before this relationship and help you to believe that you can have one again.

4.  When you find yourself thinking about your ex and all the great times you had try to remember the worst times.  Remember how bad you felt when...  Breaking up has a way of making you highlight all the good stuff.  Fight this tendency, but know that it's normal.

5.  Everything is going to remind you of your ex.  Every song.  Every movie.  This will happen for a long time.  It's like you never had a life before the two of you met, but you did.  It'll come back to you.  You'll want to share things with your ex, just like you used to.  You see something that he or she would like...This is normal, but don't do it. If you have a burning desire to tell your ex something and you are afraid that you will forget it, write it down if you have to.  You can always call tomorrow.  Don't call today!

6.  You want closure?  I don't believe in it.  It's not closure.  It's opensure.  Opening an unhealed wound.  Don't do it.  Is there a reason to call and ask why he/she broke up with you?  Yes, if you want to feel more pain.  There's time for this tomorrow (and when tomorrow comes, you won't care to know the answer).

7.  How do you know when you are over it?  It's not when you hate the person.  It's when you don't care anymore.  You feel almost neutral.

8. Whey you find yourself focusing on your ex's feelings instead of your own, force yourself to focus on your own feelings.  It's natural to think about what your ex might be doing or thinking.  Try to think more about yourself and your own needs.  Pamper yourself.  People do different things - take baths, drink tea, watch favorite movies, play with a pet.  Do whatever soothes you.

9. Do things that you have put off for a long time.  Fun things.  Frivolous things.

10.  Don't over indulge in drugs or alcohol.  You might do something you'll regret and end up feelings worse.  While feeling down you may be tempted.  This is not the time to indulge, you'll feel worse afterwards.

11.  Put pictures of your ex away!  Don't look through your albums.  Don't throw them away right now either.  You may be sorry later.

12.  Don't make major life changes in other areas.  You can do things that make you feel better, but don't have lasting consequences.  Examples include, a new haircut, a new outfit...

13. If you have suggestions for things to do to get over a break up email me and I'll post them (anonymously of course).

14.  A great book on breaking up:

You can phone me for a consultation or to ask a question:  310/393-8783


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