PTSD from last relationship breakup :(

iVillage Member
Registered: 03-28-2012
PTSD from last relationship breakup :(
14
Sun, 11-03-2013 - 1:12am

My on-and-off boyfriend of 9 years broke it off last year in August and it was incredibly hard on me.  We were living together, I truly believed this was it and we would eventually get married.  Without elaborating too much, the breakup came as a big shock to me and I literally had a nervous breakdown from it.  He left for a week and left his loaded 9mm for me (for protection) and I had never felt so suicidal and desperate before in my life, the anxiety attacks I was having were crippling and all I could do that week was panic and cry and throw up and wonder what I was going to do... 30 years old, had lost my job a year prior so I was in college full time and collecting unemployment.  I literally had constant anxiety for a week straight and couldn't function, and I couldn't tell anyone how bad it was because I was even afraid of myself.  If anyone reading this has ever suffered from anxiety attacks, they are terrifying and horrible and I can't help but think the only solution is death, but I would never do anything to harm myself.  I have to remind myself it will pass.... Well it's now been well over a year since the breakup.  The anxiety came and went for a long time, and I thought it was gone completely until I started dating again.  I started seeing a man on a regular basis and I started to develop feelings for him, which in turn started to give me massive anxiety attacks again :(  While he was with me I had 2 anxiety attacks and not only was it humiliating to confess to him, it is extremely depressing for me to think that I may have to live the rest of my life with this crippling anxiety.  That man has since decided that I am not ready for anything more than friendship.  He was very understanding and comforting when I had the attacks but he's not looking for a woman with issues..no man is.  Well that was about a month ago.  Since then I started to see a new man and I spent the night with him last night... I woke up at his house and I was fine initially, but then anxiety kicked in... It seems the moment I start to like a man, I start having panic attacks.  I am so terrified of having my world turned upside down again.  I don't want to get hurt again.  I long for the companionship of a man in my life and the affection and everything, but I am absolutely terrified of being hurt again and this fear is now ruling my everyday life.  I don't want to live with this anxiety :( I am scared now that I will never be the same, and that I will never be able to love again. It's so depressing :( At least this new guy also suffers from anxiety attacks so he totally understands but it felt pretty lame telling him this morning that I was having anxiety and that it was because I like him.  I can't believe this.  I was in counseling for a few months to try to address this but since I got a full-time job (THANK GOD) my counselor had to end the sessions because she doesn't work after 5:00.  That was a big blow, just when I thought I was getting somewhere....  I don't know what to do now. I like this guy, I really liked the last guy.  I am very ready to have a man in my life, but my mind and heart are ruined.  So sad....

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iVillage Member
Registered: 12-03-2006
Sun, 11-03-2013 - 3:39am

I frequently say faciously I have PTSD to emphasize how important certain experiences are to me but if you mean the clinical definition then what you describe it not really it, unless you have other symptoms you're not telling here. That is not to say your panic attacks are not important. I can imagine at the age of 21-30 being with someone only for him to up and left is very catastrophic. If I were you I wouldn't do any better since I'm the emotionally fragile type. Didn't grow up with a lot of nuturing and affirmation so I have a exagerated need for emotionaly security.  

If you only have panic attacks (and not the PTSD) then it's better. Most likely not life-long. Medication for a year or so may suppress it for good. Maybe you should give it some thought until you're able to settle into a secure R/S with a man. I think as you get older, heartbreaks become less disabling and don't have the impact it did. You have already showed you're able to find love again. You're very lucky within a short time already found love with two new men. So maybe that's the new kind of thinking you need to focus on, and see if you can get into therapy again along with meds.

 

Community Leader
Registered: 07-16-2001
Sun, 11-03-2013 - 10:02am
It sounds like medication might be something to consider. We all have anxiety to some degree about being hurt. Most of us don't get panic attacks, though. Talk to a doctor. There's no shame in getting some help.
iVillage Member
Registered: 11-28-1999
Sun, 11-03-2013 - 10:24am

You need to go back to therapy and perhaps get on medication since they haven't gone away.  I had a friend who had anxiety attacks for a while but that was years ago and she did get to the point where she doesn't have them now.  The only way that you can be 100% certain that you won't get hurt again is never to date--there are no guarantees for anyone.  Now I can see how the breakup of a long relationship was devastating.  I got divorced after being w/ my ex for 15 yrs.  But you managed to keep going after that and you will be able to go on even if someone else breaks up with you.

Avatar for cfk_3
iVillage Member
Registered: 05-14-1999
Sun, 11-03-2013 - 11:09am

Did you give yourself a little time to experience life being healthy and happy alone?  I know you had that period where you were depressed and alone but . . . do you know how it feels to be alone and content?  Maybe that would be good for you.  Not forever, but maybe long enough to find another therapist and get the panic attacks under control?  I've never had a panic attack, but I have been depressed to the point that life seemed hopeless and I felt I had nothing to look forward to . . . I came out of it but it took me a while.  If I had it to do over again, I would have sought out some type of professional help.      

iVillage Member
Registered: 03-28-2012
Sun, 11-03-2013 - 11:34am

The last counselor I had I really liked, and she is the one who said I have symptoms of PTSD because I have anxiety attacks, claustrophobia and nightmares now.  Most of my nightmares are about having anxiety attacks and wanting to die.  I think the anxiety attacks I had the week he left traumatized me more than HE really did maybe, because I've never had lows like that in my life and felt so out of control of my mind.  The 9 years with him were some of the worst of my life, constantly breaking up with me and using that as his power, he manipulated me into an abortion once and that really screwed me up, and he was just extremely emotionally abusive and occasionally physically.  But I grew up with abuse, my father was an alcoholic and very abusive, and my alcoholic co-dependant mother usually kept her mouth shut probably out of fear of him.  My parents were emotinally unavailable most of my childhood, but I did feel very loved because they told us so often (my 2 brothers and I) and spoiled us with material stuff.  I don't see material posessions as love now, but I do find chaos and abuse OK and I stayed with my ex much longer than any normal woman would have :(  I just figured since he told me he loved me, he must love me.  And I really loved him and was attached to his daughter and I just put way to much of myself into that.  It was like losing my life when it was over, every time he would dump me.  Then I would cry and apologize profusely for being a horrible person and he would give me another chance...when I should have told him to suck it.  So now I'm 31, starting to finally get back on my feet.  I spent a year getting myself back together.  Now I go to the gym regularly, I just landed a great job, I'm independent and I'm generally happy again.  I want the affection of a man again and I'm ready for it, or so I think.  I just can't imagine getting my guts ripped out again like my ex did and feeling that awful anxiety of "what the hell am I going to do now" again.  It was literally enough to make me want to die, but I couldn't do that because I know there is too much to live for.  I really do have a good grip on myself but the moment I start to feel mushy feelings for another man I lose my cool... I don't miss or even think about my ex at all, I'm glad it's over and I knew in my heart that this would happen eventually.  I stayed with him out of comfort and I did have hope it would change but I knew deep down we were destined to break up... I just hoped it would have been at a time I wasn't so dependant.  Anyway, I will have medical coverage in 3 months and I definitely plan to address my issues with a doctor and maybe get some xanax for my anxiety attacks.  It's not just men that are making me have them lately, tho.  My father is ill and I've been having anxiety attacks imagining losing him.  I'm all messed up, and it sure would be great to have a man to give me a hug once in a while!!

Thanks all for your replies!!!!!!!!

Community Leader
Registered: 07-16-2001
Sun, 11-03-2013 - 2:15pm
It sounds like the abuse could be what's traumatizing you and causing the attacks. Is there a domestic abuse support group in your area you can go to? It would be something until you have medical coverage again.
iVillage Member
Registered: 12-03-2006
Sun, 11-03-2013 - 2:52pm

sounds like you have a case depression and severe anxiety. PTSD revolve around the trauma not the attacks. From your history didn't sound like you have extreme abuse (i.e. sexual, physical abuse).  The meds you need to treat this i.e. xanax, ativan (any short term benzo) and SSRI's (prozac, paxil, etc...) are very inexpensive costing $4 per month so you may not need to wait until you get coverage. You have to pay for the dr. visits though.  

iVillage Member
Registered: 05-08-2006
Sun, 11-03-2013 - 5:25pm
I used to have panic attacks...not sure if they are what you are describing, but they were quite frightening, and some were tied in worth the fear of a relationship ending. I made the choice that I am happier when not in a relationship, but I don't recommend that...it is the right choice for me, but I know not for everyone. I think your plan to get counseling and maybe medication is excellent. But I want to point out to you that you are a very strong person...you are a survivor. Some of the most dificult things that anyone can experience...abuse, loss of job, loss of love, loss of security...happened to you and you faced them and picked yourself up and moved forward. I have many 'stupid' fears (I label them that for myself, if they are someone else's, I am not downplaying them). I am afraid that if I go out to dinner with someone, I won't be able to think of anything to say...believe me, this has NEVER happened. I am afraid of getting lost...and I have been lost but always found my way home. I think you were very brave to tell the person you were with that you were having an anxiety attack. Being brave doesn't mean you aren't afraid...it means you real the fear and do it anyway. It might help you to reframe how you think about yourself to see the strong, brave woman you are...not instead of counseling, but until you get there....best wishes.
iVillage Member
Registered: 03-24-2003
Mon, 11-04-2013 - 5:54am

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iVillage Member
Registered: 11-28-1999
Mon, 11-04-2013 - 12:13pm

I think it's unhealthy to have the idea in your mind that you could not function w/o a partner because at some point almost everyone has to do this, like it or not.  Even if your partner never breaks up w/ you, he could die before you--that's just a fact of live.  Since men usually die before women, I know a lot of older widows who aren't sitting in the house mourning and doing nothing.  I'm sure they miss their former DHs.  Of course most people are happier with a partner.  the problem with trying to date while you are messed up is that those people usually attract bad partners.  It's like women who were with someone abusive and don't deal with that issue chosse another partner who is also abusive.  I dont' say that people have to be perfect to date, but if the OP gets anxiety attacks everytime she starts getting close to someone, then how is she going to have a relationship?  the guy could be perfect for her, but she could drive him away because she's not ready to be in a relationship.  

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