Here’s why when you break up with someone with anxiety disorder, isn’t just a breakup they deal with…
I fell to my knees in a dark and empty house, watching him leave. Failing to understand how we even got there. Failing to understand why this was happening. Failing to understand so much. But feelings change. Relationships shift, and sometimes the people we thought would be there are the first to leave.
The thing about people with anxiety
— when it comes to relationships, it’s the moment they finally get it right that’s the scariest. The truth is, anyone with anxiety has thought up a hundred reasons themselves why it might not work, why they are better off alone, why they shouldn’t love you, why this might not be right.
The emotions partners don’t even know prior to the relationship even beginning is comfortable doubt. It’s overthinking everything and countering the negative self-talk that says, “this won’t work.” So, when someone with anxiety finally does end up in a relationship, there is already so much they have emotionally and mentally invested into this person and the prospect of a future.
But when you break up with someone who has an anxiety disorder, it isn’t just a breakup they deal with. It isn’t just learning to go through the motions without someone. There is an entirely mental battle they have to fight just to get through it.
With black makeup running down my face, shivering uncontrollably to the point of throwing up and tears drowning me with blurry vision, I got into my car, drove the three minutes it took to get to my best friend’s house and barged in like it was my own place.
Watching him lie on the couch, hungover from the night before when we all went out, his reaction mirrored mine. “We were all just together and everything seemed fine.” Recalling an anxiety attack three days before the breakup and hearing him repeat, “babe, we are fine.” Sometimes I wonder if my anxiety disorder hurts me or is trying to protect me.
After the breakup
The aftermath of breaking up with someone with an anxiety disorder looks like a series of sleepless nights, mornings crying, talking too much, just replaying the details to anyone who will listen because maybe there is something you missed, a minor detail or anything that would help this seem clearer.
When you break up with someone with anxiety, you won’t hear the amount of time they spend talking about it or thinking about it or running through details in their mind of anything they could have done wrong. Because, when you have an anxiety disorder, even if it’s not your fault you’ll still look for reasons it could have been.
You’ll pick yourself apart and analyze every flaw you have. You’ll run through details of scenarios, replaying memories in your mind, every look, every word, everything you could have missed or done differently.
Break up, internal guilt and anxiety
When you break up with someone who has anxiety, you won’t see the internal guilt that keeps them awake at night. You won’t be there for the 3 a.m. when they wake up because of a nightmare or the morning they dwell in the past or dwell on how much they miss waking up next to you.
After two weeks of silence, I wrote a letter addressing everything I could have done wrong, failing to realize that sometimes it isn’t something you’ve done wrong, but rather the individual. In this letter, I wrote a list of mistakes I might have made. I wrote the words “I’m sorry” more than once. I wanted closure I couldn’t find within myself and answers I didn’t have.
When you break up with someone with anxiety, you won’t see how unkind they are to themselves in the weeks that follow. The concept of an ending having nothing to do with their actions is so hard to accept.
“You did nothing wrong,” he said in some of his final words. But when you have an anxiety disorder, it’s so hard to accept that. It’s so hard to understand. It’s so hard to move forward because of the guilt you feel for actions you wish were better.