Just dumped. Super busy. Need tips on getting work done.
May 7, 2015 3:32 PM   Subscribe

I was just dumped. I realize now I was a bad partner because I've been depressed. I have an appointment to see a therapist in a week but I'm having trouble figuring out how to get through and meeting my obligations for the next few days (I am not suicidal).

My girlfriend just broke up with me. We were together for about 6 months. This was the first person I have dated in over a decade who I was really excited about being with, so I am not taking this well, to say the least.

She said that it was because I never seemed interested in her. I didn't ask her a lot of questions, and when we were together she felt like she had to carry most of the conversation. These things are both true. I was vaguely aware of this problem while we were dating. But to be honest, that doesn't sound like me. At least, that's not how I used to be. I never really had these communication problems before. And honestly, while I really liked her, I never felt like myself when I was with her.

Now that I've thought about it, I haven't felt like myself around anyone for the past year or so. I'm pretty sure I'm dealing with depression.

She said she would like to keep in touch and remain friends, and I believe she is sincere in that. I have a lot of important work to do this weekend and next week and I just don't have time to curl up in a ball on the couch for hours on end. The only thing that even remotely soothes me at this point (and helps me focus on work) is to think about getting help for my depression, seeing her once I'm feeling better, and convincing her that I'm not really the distant and uncommunicative person I was while we were together.

I know this is unhealthy. Sure, it could happen. But then again it might not. Even if I manage to beat this depression and become "my old self" again, she could have a million reasons why she doesn't want to get back together.

I have an appointment for therapy in a week, and I'll be evaluated for medication. But that seems like a long way away from here. I will be seeing some friends briefly, which I know is what people recommend in these situations, but I'll have to spend most of my time working. I don't know what to do. Do I indulge in these reconciliation fantasies to help get me through the next week? Is there anything else I can do?
posted by mcmile to Human Relations (13 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: So when I have stressful situations that lead to obsessive thoughts I try to use mindfulness techniques to reduce my level of anxiety about them.

For example, http://ianellis-jones.blogspot.com/2010/12/mindfulness-and-obsessional-thoughts.html - I don't know if everything on that site is perfect, but that one page sums it up reasonably well.

Basically you can have obsessive thoughts, just recognize them as being that - just thoughts. Observe them. But you don't need to act on them. Focus on what's right in front of you.

It's not easy nor does it really solve anything in a permanent sense but I find it helpful to just recognize that thoughts are just thoughts, they're not reality and that you can let your mind race or obsess while at the same time doing something else completely.
posted by GuyZero at 3:59 PM on May 7, 2015 [9 favorites]

1. Go to therapy for yourself, not for her
2. Be the bigger person spiritually/mentally/whatever and wish her happiness. I'm reading a lot of "me" and "I" here. If you really like her as a person- not just "excited to be with her" but actually like her- let her go. Let her be herself and find happiness. Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, am I right? Let her have that basic right, and try to respect it as a human thing and not through a girlfriend lens.
3. Do things that make you happy but aren't destructive.
4. Call your mom or dad.
posted by quincunx at 4:00 PM on May 7, 2015 [5 favorites]

Your work is not a hindrance in this next week, it is actually a big help. You can use it to keep your mind off the break-up if you can visualize it in a more positive way. Hyperfocus on what you need to get done, and keep pushing the unhealthy thoughts away. Channel Scarlett Ohara and tell yourself you won't think about that right now, you'll concentrate on your work. You'll think about that later. Repeat over and over as necessary until you can see your therapist.
posted by raisingsand at 4:51 PM on May 7, 2015 [3 favorites]

if you actually just feel like moping all the time, drink a ton of coffee or take caffeine pills and then sit down and work. Not sustainable; bad if you are anxiety prone. Don't, don't, don't do it if you feel anxious or spend a lot of time worrying about things. But you can keep it up for like a week and get everything done.
posted by vogon_poet at 5:05 PM on May 7, 2015

Best answer: I also just got dumped, and the mornings are the hardest part. Sometimes I lie there in bed and entertain fantasies of turning up at his door with roses and lavish pleas of love, and then I let them pass. I think as long as you let them pass, it's ok.

Also I don't think you need to be happy for her as a person or whatever just yet. You can hate her, miss her, not think about her, whatever.
posted by zutalors! at 5:51 PM on May 7, 2015 [5 favorites]

It sounds like you work from home (at least part of the time). Can you do your work somewhere else for a few days? Library, coffeehouse, office, friends house? If you and she spent a lot of time in your home, you're going to be reminded of her more if you stay there. Try to find different environments that you don't associate with her or the two of you. Is there a co-worker you can pair up with to keep you focused?

Spend your time meeting your work demands but also take breaks. Get some fresh air and exercise even if it's just a 20 minute walk outside. Eat your favorite foods. Do some self-care.

Good for you for taking care of yourself and asking for help. Good luck.
posted by Beti at 6:17 PM on May 7, 2015 [3 favorites]

Best answer: Basically you can have obsessive thoughts, just recognize them as being that - just thoughts. Observe them. But you don't need to act on them. Focus on what's right in front of you.

I'll add to this. While doing mindful breathing and noticing that I'm focusing on anxious thoughts, one thing that helps me is to repeat something along the lines of "I exist in this moment alone. Nothing in the past can harm me. Nothing in the future has happened yet. Right now, in this moment, I am safe and everything is okay."

If you're open to meditation and mindfulness exercises (which have done a lot of good for me, personally), there are some really good smart phone apps: Mindfulness, Bhuddify2, and Calm are three that I have an used regularly.

Hang in there.
posted by mudpuppie at 6:24 PM on May 7, 2015 [9 favorites]

Figure out a time in the not-too-distant future when you'll have the time and space to feel crappy about the end of your relationship. When you are working and those thoughts come up, tell yourself "It's okay, I have time scheduled for that on Tuesday."

If you find yourself struggling to get work done slow way down, figure out the next small step you need to take, and take that step. Rinse and repeat.

Also, exercise.

Good luck.
posted by bunderful at 7:48 PM on May 7, 2015 [1 favorite]

posted by lathrop at 9:46 PM on May 7, 2015

Excercise, ideally everyday. A little bit is better than none. If all you have time for is to sprint to the end of the block and back - do it. Do it once every 2 hours. Or, if you can, jog for 30 minutes. Whatever you are capable of and whatever you enjoy.

KNOW that you WILL be back to your "old self". It may take time and efforts that you have yet to recognize, but it WILL happen.

Mindfulness is indeed powerful and useful, but in my experience it can come up short in the immediate, reactive period of trauma. Gauge your expectations accordingly.

Comfort food, whatever that means. No judgements.
posted by fingers_of_fire at 11:05 PM on May 7, 2015 [3 favorites]

If you just got dumped, it's way too soon to be the bigger person etc.
posted by spitbull at 4:23 AM on May 8, 2015 [3 favorites]

Break your work up into little pieces. Plan to do 10 minutes of focused work, see how it feels. Getting started is the hardest part, but once you get started and move along for 10 minutes you will likely feel a lot more motivated. If not, take a break, go for walk and come back for 10 more minutes, rinse repeat.
posted by waving at 5:34 AM on May 8, 2015 [2 favorites]

Best answer: Dear mcmile,

I can definitely relate, speaking from personal experience. I went through a breakup about three months ago that left me utterly devastated. I was really busy with work for the next three weeks at the time and really struggled trying to meet my obligations.

For me, no matter how much I tried, all I thought about was the relationship. I was filled with self-doubt, a lot of regret of who I could have and should have been as a girlfriend, and self realization (I too felt that I wasn't myself and thought I had really lost myself in my insecurities and perhaps depression while my ex and I were dating). Anyway, I think you are stronger than me. It sounds like rather than wallowing in self-pity and self-doubt, you are driven to at least get over the next couple of weeks. I, on the other hand, let the break up get to me, and was basically dysfunctional for a couple weeks, calling in sick to work, not eating at all, not sleeping, going into severe depression, etc. Looking back, here's what helped me, and what I would recommend.

1. Don't get stuck on the thought of reconciliation. Maybe it will happen in the future, maybe it won't. But you can't live with the hope of reconciliation. You have to live for yourself and focus on yourself.
2. Avoid any trace of her. Do not revisit texts, or check her social media.
3. Go to therapy ASAP. I know you have an appointment next week, but tbh, I think it is much more helpful to spend one good hour with a therapist now, than to try to cope with your hurt this whole upcoming week. In the long run, you will probably spend less time overanalyzing "what went wrong", etc.
4. Reach out to people. If you felt like you were disconnected, and you mentioned that you haven't been yourself lately and that you used to be a good communicator, maybe there are people that you haven't talked to lately, whether it's since you were in a relationship or not. Reach out to them and open up to them. That will help you feel like you have a support system and you will probably start to feel a little more like true self.
5. If you need, take one day off of work. Rather than feeling bad for yourself during spurts, I found it more efficient to literally just take one day off where I didn't have to worry about anything, and I just pampered myself. Then, be determined to get back into your work routine after that one day.
6. In the mornings, you might feel sad. Force yourself to get up. Some mornings were really hard for me, and when I didn't force myself to get up, I would just waste my whole day in bed.
7. Take care of your hygiene. I think in cases like these, it might be easy to let yourself go, but it only makes you more self conscious of going outside. You'll have thoughts like, "what if I run into her friend, A". You want to feel as good about yourself as you possibly can given the circumstances. So shower, and put on a decent outfit. (It'll make you feel confident too).
8. I know it's easier said than done to recommend that you not think about the relationship, but if you must, give yourself 5 minutes to obsess about it, and then say, "that's it" and shift your mind to other things.
9. Make obligations. If there is work you can do around other people, do it. You can't exactly mope around at work, esp. if your peers are looking or interacting with you, so it'll keep you preoccupied.
10. I know you're busy with work, but try to stay around people (and I know I said you should open up to your support system about this to help you get through it but don't talk about the relationship all the time) and avoid places where you made specific memories with that person. For me, that included my house, so I tried to spend as much time away from there as possible.

After you get over the hump with work, I think you really should take time to reflect and digest what happened. Maybe that's journaling, or maybe that's just sitting and thinking, but ask yourself, "do you really want your girlfriend back". You mentioned that you felt that you weren't yourself when you were with her b/c you have been depressed. But maybe it's that she didn't bring your you-ness out either. Maybe you just couldn't be yourself and you're giving her an excuse for leaving the relationship. Ultimately, it's something you have to decide for yourself but think of your career goals and the type of person you want to be, and see what YOU need for you to grow and become that person.

I have some more suggestions but I don't want to write a long message, esp. b/c I'm not sure if this is helpful. So let me know if you want more suggestions.

At the end of the day, know that you will be hurt. And you will have to grieve and come to terms with your feelings. But it is ok to feel this way. Let yourself feel and grieve. You will get through this. :)
posted by littleliar at 3:33 AM on May 10, 2015 [4 favorites]

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