“I was admitted to a psychiatric ward” Breakups in lockdown

Going through a breakup hurts and for anyone who has had their heart broken, there is no emotional pain that can replace that feeling. It honestly feels like your heart is shattering into a million pieces whilst being punched in the stomach. You feel as if your falling apart and as your pulse quickens, you begin to feel weak and physically sick, all at the same time.

It is a difficult time for anyone and for both individuals involved.

But going through a breakup in the middle of a pandemic is even more challenging. In a time of uncertainty, the restrictions on how you interact with others limits your moving on process.

What you would have turned to in normal circumstances to help you process the loss and grief, such as hugging friends, holidays or dancefloors, you aren’t able to access.

When I experienced a breakup just before lockdown in March last year, I found the months afterwards difficult. I changed my kitchen to a dancefloor and I relied on my housemate to help numb the pain, as well as jumping into a rebound relationship entirely on Zoom. It wasn’t healthy.

Being the storyteller I am, I reached out to other women who had been in a similar situation to me, as well as some experts on why this breakup felt a lot harder to process.

Below is the audio package I created:

Here is the article: 

Relationship expert, Dr Kalanit Ben-Ari says that when people experience a breakup, “we need to move towards connection, as connection is really healing and supportive and it gives us an anchor for our wellbeing. On the one hand, we don’t have this social interaction now, so we are deprived of that need. At the same time, with everything that is going on, our nerve system is a little more vulnerable and it makes it more challenging. Things that affected us less before, will affect us strongly now.”

Molly originally spent lockdown with her family in Oxford, whilst her boyfriend of 6 years was just down the road from her with his family, but they weren’t able to see each other.

“It sounds so cliché but it was heart-breaking, I’d spent nearly every day with him for the past 6 years, so to not just be able to see his face was very strange.  And I think that human contact is so important anyways over lockdown, let alone the person you love and the person you go to for so many things. “

For Molly, she was able to go through her breakup with her family at home where she felt safe, “I knew I could just cry, I could just have a hug from my Mum whilst if I was on my own I would not have been able to cope.”

But Kylie experienced going through the end of her 8 year relationship alone in lockdown in London. “I felt like I had lost everything. I had lost my whole life. It felt like I had to start again from scratch. I felt like I had given all my love and there was nothing left.”

She became sleep deprived and confused, which in turn, led her to have a psychotic episode.

“I wasn’t thinking clearly, and I thought it was all a game. I started to think that my computer was watching me, my phone was watching me, the TV, all the electronical devices. I was convinced that the world was watching me, like a social experiment.”

She ended up dancing outside of her flat and her behaviour was alerted to flat security by a neighbour. The police and paramedics were later called, and she was admitted to a psychiatric ward where she stayed for a week.

“Everyone has struggled with this pandemic, if we didn’t go into lockdown, I am not sure this would have happened. It was being told you can’t go and see your friends. I’d been used to having human interaction and affection and it was all stripped away from me.”

Integrative therapist Abbey Robb says, “there is a lot of research now that shows when you spend a lot of time with a person, you start to naturally fall into sync with them, you start to co regulate, all of your systems move into sync with theirs. When you suddenly break up with somebody, your body all of a sudden has to learn how to regulate itself again as well as all of the emotional stuff that is happening.”

“There is a chance that if somebody is coming out of a relationship, particularly if it had a very sudden or very traumatic ending to it and they don’t have access to their support system, their social network, and they are really struggling because of coronavirus, there is a chance that they could become really depressed and they may end up being suicidal.”

If you’ve experienced a breakup in the last 10 months or are finding your relationship more challenging than usual, you are not alone. Research from the charity Relate suggests that younger people aged 16-34 are currently feeling the most pressure on their relationships. If you or someone you know needs support during this time, here are some organisations that may be able to help.

Relate: 0300 100 1234

Samaritans: 116 123

The Mix: 0808 808 4994

MIND info line: 0300 123 3393

Click here for the BBC website link with additional help I was referring to.

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