Broken Heart, Divorce, and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) Have Common Threads & Symptoms.
PTSD has been spotlighted in returning war Veterans but it also affects millions of people who suffer, or witness, a tragedy or loss. Any form of traumatic incident, including, “mugging, rape, torture, being kidnapped or held captive, child abuse, car accidents, train wrecks, plane crashes, bombings, or natural disasters such as floods or earthquakes” are susceptible to PTSD and its symptoms. That means that significant emotional trauma, like divorce, dissolution of partnership, discovery of infidelity, breach of trust and many other events can induce PTSD.
A broken heart and PTSD can be commonly associated. Ms. Melissa Kantor, author of The Breakup Bible, relates a candid and vivid description of a painful break-up and that “the pain can feel agonizing, all-encompassing, and eternal. Many describe that the actual breakup and ensuing weeks feel like an out-of-body experience. Along with the suffering comes a roller coaster of complex feelings: embedded grief, abandonment and fear, guilt, monstrous rage, [and even] seeing healthy people behave insanely when they have been rejected.” Depending on the length of the relationship, depth of emotional vesting and how the relationship ended are all causal factors in creating risk for PTSD and should be delt with accordingly. Such powerful feelings are not to be swept under the rug, or dismissed as “being crazy.” These are real world emotions that must be addressed and resolved before healing can begin.
PTSD has entered the media spotlight in recent years because of the challenges that Veterans face both on and off the battlefield. While I discuss PTSD, its risks, and available resources in detail in other section of this blog, I want to be clear that I am not minimizing the risk and danger to Veterans that PTSD presents, nor am I am I trying to draw a direct analogy between a broken heart and the battlefield trauma that a Veteran lived with for weeks or months while serving this nation. As a nine-year Veteran of the United States Marine Corps, some of my closest friends and I struggled with PTSD in varying degree. I am simply acknowledging that a broken heart can be a devastating event, especially when coupled with betrayal or an immediate, yet unknown event.
The National Institute for Mental Health (NIMH) notes that PTSD can impact any victim of a traumatic event and everyone deserves both compassion and help. PTSD research has uncovered both genetic and environmental factors for individual susceptibility, but the science is still evolving as thousands of wounded Veterans return each year without adequate support. The NIMH notes that “the main treatments for people with PTSD are psychotherapy (“talk” therapy), medications, or both. For difficult breakups, there is nothing more powerful than a qualified professional to start your path toward healing.
Heartache and emotional trauma are not the only challenges that one who recently suffered a difficult breakup faces. You might find yourself alienated from even your best friends who no longer welcome your emotional roller coaster. I should know because I experienced this first-hand. While my closest friends where sympathetic at first, their emotional support lasted not more than a few weeks. I was expected to just “get over it.” How does one do that exactly? Is that not what your best friends are for? I soon found myself alone in a crowd with no more sounding board to help maintain my sanity. Like the broken-hearted, the returning Veteran faces similar challenges in addition to an increased risk of PTSD. The transition home can often leave the Veteran with both separation anxiety from his or her former combatants, as well as a sense of isolation. The Veteran can be surrounded by family and loved ones who do not, or cannot, understand, leaving the Warrior alone in a crowd. All victims of emotional trauma can face this type of isolation and no one should have to suffer alone.
Living Single Living Well™ creates an open forum of sharing common experience and PTSD Resources links for all people who feel displaced, alone, or suffering from PTSD. It is through this shared experience that healing begins.
Life is a gift and full of abundance. If you are a loved one is suffering from a broken heart and PTSD, or is suffering in silence, and at risk of harming himself/herself or others, please contact one of the crisis lines in the PTSD Resources page.