My Breakup Didn’t Just Cost Me My Boyfriend, It Cost Me My Health

My last breakup really hit me hard, not only in an emotional way but in a physical way as well. My health declined exponentially after my breakup and after four months, I’m still not back to normal.

  1. I felt like I was going through withdrawal. I’ve heard that love is like a drug but I never knew how powerful it was until I was cut off from it. Love can make you feel high. Ever hear someone say that love will make you do crazy things? Well, it’s because we’re addicted to it. It’s addicting because it acts as a constant supplier of dopamine. Once my source of love was taken away, I kinda went nuts.
  2. I was in fight or flight mode 24/7. My breakup left me in a constant state of panic. I’d jump at any loud noise and feel threatened by things I thought I saw in my peripheral vision pretty much non-stop. I felt permanently unsafe, like I’d been abandoned, which put me in a constant state of perceived danger. My therapist said that old traumas from childhood can be triggered later on in life and make you feel like you’re that helpless little kid again with no one to take care of you. That’s exactly how I felt.
  3. All kinds of weird health issues started popping up. My stomach hurt constantly and I felt generally weak and confused. I eventually had to go on medication for anxiety as well as proton-pump inhibitors to fix my digestion. I just felt spent and constantly unwell. I’m sure my immune system took a hit too. That’s the thing—when you go through a breakup, the stress of it can really break your body down.
  4. I was tired all the time. I didn’t feel like doing anything. I think I expended so much mental energy that my body had nothing left to run on. I guess it also didn’t help that I completely lost my appetite and didn’t feel like eating for days. It truly felt like a full-body sickness. I couldn’t exercise or do any kind of strenuous activity without collapsing in the end.
  5. My cortisol was through the roof. I was constantly on high alert. Apparently that’s what happens to people when they go through something traumatic—their heart pounds non-stop and they’re trapped in a never-ending stress response cycle. This is exactly what was happening to me. The cortisol being released was wrecking havoc on my body, and too much cortisol can spell major eventual health problems.
  6. What started off as anxiety turned into depression. I’ve heard that depression often hits a few months after a trauma that causes prolonged anxiety. It’s like you’ve burnt your brain out and all that’s left is feeling absolutely bereft. I hated everything and everyone and lost all hope for the future. I was inconsolable and I felt powerless to do anything about it.
  7. I couldn’t focus on anything. I was eventually given medication for generalized anxiety, and it helped a little, but I never quite recovered from the shock of my breakup experience. It came out of nowhere, so it’s not like I had time to wrap my head around it. Because of this, the days following the split left me so unfocused and confused. I couldn’t even concentrate on what people were saying to me. It kinda freaked me out. The medication helped, but now I’m stuck with this anxiety disorder probably forever.
  8. I was shedding hair like crazy. One thing that really disturbed me was that my hair started to fall out. I knew that hair shedding can happen when a person’s going through adversity, and I was going through a crazy stressful time. It’s just ridiculous how a breakup can cause all of these health problems!
  9. I felt like I was walking through sludge every day. I started to have thoughts that I’ve never had before. I would look at happy people and think, wow, I have no idea what that feels like. I became someone I swore I’d never be but I couldn’t help it. Everything just felt so slow and weak and cloudy. There’s really no other way to describe it other than that it was really scary.
  10. I’ve never felt the same since. I feel like the stress of my breakup really did a number on me and I’m still feeling the effects months later. I’m more sensitive than most, so I get that it’s probably not normal to feel the effects of a breakup throughout your whole body. Still, I know I can’t be the only one who feels physically debilitated by heartbreak.
Jennifer is a playwright, dancer, and theatre nerd living in the big city of Toronto, Canada. She studied Creative Writing at Concordia University and works as a lifestyle writer who focuses on Health, B2B, Tech, Psychology, Science, Food Trends and Millennial Life. She's also a coreographer, playwright, and lyricist, with choreography credits for McMaster University’s “Spring Awakening,” “Roxanne” for the Guelph Contemporary Dance Festival, and “The Beaver Den” for The LOT, among others.

You can see more of her work on her Contently page and follow her on Instagram @jenniferenchin.