completely alone after breakup
March 17, 2012 9:35 AM   Subscribe

How do you get through a breakup when you are depressed and have no support system?

I've been through breakups before and know all about what would be good for me right now (friends, family, taking care of myself, no contact with him, etc). But what if I don't have friends or family I feel like I can turn to? I've struggled with depression for quite awhile, and was recently going through a low point, when I got a new therapist and change in medications. Things have been getting slightly better, but then this breakup just toppled my already precarious stability.

I can deal with a broken heart and missing him. But I have no other support system and am worried I'm going spiral into deep depression, alone in this big city. I will be meeting with my therapist, which might help unravel my thoughts, but doesn't give me the comfort, support, and love I need right now. I am so sad and scared and lonely...
posted by lacedcoffee to Human Relations (14 answers total) 11 users marked this as a favorite
What you need is just a group of people to shoot the shit with. Even if you're not close enough with them to talk about your feelings and breakup, it'll help to just be around people who you can talk to. If you're in a big city, go to a MetaFilter meetup and just hang out.
posted by griphus at 10:01 AM on March 17, 2012 [2 favorites]

Get out of the house and take a walk in the park. If you have an iPod, iPhone or some other device to listen to music with, I suggest listening to Good Life by Francis Dunnery and Strangers by the Kinks. Lie on the grass in the park and focus things around you.

Most importantly, ask yourself if this will really matter in 6 months or a year. It takes time to get over these things, and that time seems endless when you're stuck right in the middle of it. Fast forward somewhat, and I'm pretty sure you won't be that concerned.

It will get better. MeMail me if you want - you're not alone.
posted by doyouknowwhoIam? at 10:02 AM on March 17, 2012 [3 favorites]

Some people may disagree with this, but fuck that: Friends on the internet count as real friends.

If Miss Popularity spends all her time networking on facebook, and more people than not do in the modern age, I don't see why chatting on message boards should be any less valid. Yeah, we'd all like to be living in a sitcom, but there are many valid ways of making connections in lieu of or in the meantime.
posted by quincunx at 10:59 AM on March 17, 2012 [3 favorites]

I don't know if this is feasible, but I'll just throw it out there- you could also look into getting a roommate.
posted by quincunx at 11:16 AM on March 17, 2012 [1 favorite]

Ha, this is the second break-up question I can relate to today.

During the break-up of my last major relationship I was in your situation. Not a good relationship with my family and all of our friends were mutual--and took his side. The friends who were sympathetic were far away and I didn't have money to go visit them. I was also struggling with major depression. I had no sources of comfort, love, and support. I had to get along by myself.

This is what I did, your mileage may vary:
1) Completely invested myself in things I enjoyed doing.
One of this things was lifting weights, which had the double benefit of also giving me exercise. If there is a form of activity that just makes you happy to do and gives you a good feeling inside then go do it, do it all the time. Especially if it is a physical activity.

2) Explored parts of the city I couldn't with him, ate food he never wanted to eat, did things he never wanted to do.
We all make accommodations for our partners. There's gotta be stuff you enjoyed doing (hiking? Leaving your clothes on the floor? Making Indian food?) that he didn't. Go do those things! You're free now!

3) Explored the future I could form now that he wasn't there.
We all make sacrifices in our life goals for our partners. I realized since I wasn't dating anyone, didn't have any ties to the city, I was completely free to go wherever the hell I wanted without answering to anyone (it helped that my job was dead-end). The end result of this was I decided to move across states in order to further pursue lifting--ended up grabbing a cheap apartment and another minimum wage job near a great gym and lifting coach and did that for a while. It was actually one of the best decisions of my life, at the time I had been pretty stagnant in all areas of my life and uprooting myself like that completely turned everything around and got me going towards pursuing tangible life goals.

You may not be in a position to just change everything that drastically, but the thing to take away is that this really could be an opportunity to challenge yourself in ways you've never challenged yourself before.

I apologize, none of these things really provide love and comfort. But like I said, if you don't have those available sometimes what you have to do is resolve that you will exist and continue to grow without them. It is hard and scary but if a support system isn't there, then there's no other alternative. Like Churchill said, "If you're going through hell, keep going."
posted by schroedinger at 12:01 PM on March 17, 2012 [4 favorites]

Hey, totally been there. like, multiple times.

It's really tough to go through this shit alone, and I know what you mean about fearing depression. I'd say, short-term, work the program your therapist gives you, along with any hints from people on the internet. My deal is to watch a lot of TV and smoke cigarettes (don't do the second thing, I beg of you). Then after like two or three days I get up and start kicking so much butt, in terms of accomplishing A, B, and C for myself.

If it helps: Going through this shit alone really does make you stronger. We are all, ultimately, howling beings in the dark wilderness, and going through a break up w/o support drives this fact into one's brain with a searing poker. But! Going through it and surviving with make you into The Bride in Kill Bill in terms of toughness.

To address your fear of depression: Talk to your therapist about medication. You'll get through this. Memail me anytime.
posted by angrycat at 1:22 PM on March 17, 2012

Look for other things in your life that don't require other people, and "turn up the volume" on them to drown out the anxiety over losing your SO. Exercise, read at the library, go to a museum, try geocaching, go somewhere and fly a kite, just make sure you're putting one foot in front of the other as much as you can. Make lists of things you can actively do to make your situation better when you start to feel down.

On the people side, have you considered volunteering?
posted by alphanerd at 1:54 PM on March 17, 2012

Find out what support groups are meeting in your city. Attending these will let you share your feelings and thoughts with others who understand what you're going through, and talking with others in similar situations, you'll realize you are not alone. You might find a depression group, or just a general mental illness group. There might be a group for people ending relationships. Maybe your therapist can help you find out what groups are available.
posted by exphysicist345 at 1:56 PM on March 17, 2012 [1 favorite]

I so feel you on this. Alone in a big city is the worst.

My number one solution for you is: join a gym. This has gotten me through the loneliest times of my life. Visit a couple and join the one that feels right, hopefully one open late. Some people spend like four hours a day at the gym, and you can be one of them. Do the yoga classes. Do the kickboxing classes. Use the free trial session(s) with a personal trainer. Sit in the sauna. Hang out in the lobby as though you were waiting for a ride. Refill your water bottle. Walk around the weights area as though you're about to do your next set, even if you have no clue what any of the machines are for. Do the stairmaster. Sit there stretching and watch people. If you can put up with feeling a bit clueless, you'll start to settle into a routine, you'll get better at everything, and you'll become healthier in the process. There are gyms where most people look a certain way, but there are also gyms with all kinds of body types (beefy people, scrawny people, curvy people, old people, young people, and so on), so find a place you feel comfortable.

Basically, even though you want to curl up into a ball, try to keep yourself moving, if not to the gym then even just for a short walk around the block. And use moments of clarity and resolve to create solutions that will work for you for many evenings, as opposed to one-time events. But at minimum, go for a walk. Try to find parks to walk to, especially dog parks and tot lots. You can bring a book to prevent any awkward moments of "I'm just sitting here staring at you people." You just wanted to read your book on a park bench (totally normal!), but-- "oh look at the cute little puppy! Who's a good boy??" You can also try to walk to places with good views, like the top of a hill or a bridge over a river. Taking care of your body, and moving it, is the best path to feeling better. Even when your mind is feeling awful, if you keep your body moving, it will feel at least an occasional moment of joy, and that'll bring some hope and confidence. Definitely pay attention to self care: avoid drinking and get enough sleep. Walling yourself off to immerse yourself in the pain of your mind, well, that has a place, but then take a walk or go for a bike ride.

Last, do feel your feelings and be with yourself as you go through this. You mention being scared. That makes real sense. But given the awareness you show here, I think you can find the help and resources that you need, and ultimately get through this like you've gotten through hard situations in the past. What has worked for you before? Pema Chodron's book When Things Fall Apart was a help for me during one breakup. It's about feeling the pain rather than staying in the (worse) fear of feeling the pain. It's about being your own good friend during this time when you're recently detached from so many of the comforting things that supposedly explain your life. Chodron believes this means you have your eyes open more than most people do. Most of us sleepwalk through our days, but your days now are raw and vivid, and even though it's hard, it's good, it's more real. Try to stay with the discomfort and befriend the confusion you feel. (I'm not doing her message justice. The short book is so worth the $7 and hours it takes to read.)

Here are a few other places where people gather where you could become a regular and potentially meet people: libraries, coffee shops, a second job, art facilities (e.g., take a pottery class that gives you access to the pottery studio during non-class hours), churches, volunteer groups, and political campaigns.

Last, find some books that give you solace and companionship when you need to take a break from all this other mental and emotional work. I got through one breakup reading every book ever written by Robertson Davies. For some weird reason, the way he explained his characters' inner life helped meet my desire to feel emotionally intimate with someone. Ideally, find some author who has written a lot of books, with characters whose lives you like to mentally inhabit.
posted by salvia at 2:41 PM on March 17, 2012 [7 favorites]

Can you 'borrow' (maybe offer to walk, or babysit) a friendly dog? Dogs are great breakup therapy; walking them forces you to get exercise (even if you don't feel like going out, the dog HAS to go out, so you will take him) and they are always willing to cuddle and kiss and sympathize. My room-mate's dog saved my sanity more than once.
posted by The otter lady at 6:18 PM on March 17, 2012 [1 favorite]

When I was in your position I joined a depression support group and started walking dogs (volunteer basis) for a local shelter. If you happen to be in NYC feel free to memail me and I can give you any pertinent info you need.
posted by devymetal at 6:46 PM on March 17, 2012

Sent you an email, mail me back if you need to talk.
posted by readygo at 8:00 PM on March 17, 2012

This is extreme so don't use it unless you have to but it will work if nothing else does.

Whenever you think about them, think about them drinking eight drinks and slutting their self out to Mick Jagger or Madonna. Their attraction to you will quickly inevitably steadily fade.
posted by bukvich at 9:10 PM on March 17, 2012

Give and/or create
Soup kitchen, cause walk, paint, write
help others, heal self.
posted by nickrussell at 5:01 AM on March 18, 2012 [1 favorite]

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