Mood swings: All the phases, emotions after the break-up

Break-ups often lead to emotional breakdowns for most people, involving a myriad of emotions. Some people bounce back quickly and are able to cope with rejection well. Others convince themselves they will never love again and are doomed to be alone forever.

I’ve read about the five stages of grief in various classes, and I found that every stage coincides pretty well with any break-up I’ve ever had. So step-by-step, let’s have a closer look at what we can expect in the weeks or months following a break-up.

Denial – You tell your friends you are doing fine, but really you want to cry every 15 minutes on the hour for a month. You act like you were over the relationship before it ended, but inside your spirit is so crushed you don’t think you’ll ever iron out all the wrinkles. Denying your pain to yourself isn’t a great idea. It will not just go away if you ignore it for long enough. Admitting to yourself you are wounded and vulnerable sucks, and having to let others see can be trying. But don’t internalize. The healing won’t start until you admit you are heartsick.

Anger – Anger at the other person can be the most fun or the most dangerous part of grief. Think of how many great songs were inspired by the anger of a break up. Hell, Alanis Morissette made millions off of it. Ben Folds Five, “Song for the Dumped?” Who doesn’t love screaming the “Eff you too!” part? You have the anger in you. So let out that anger in a constructive way. Scream into a pillow, start working out, make a voodoo doll, burn some pictures. Don’t let it get out of hand though — keying your ex’s car is never the best course of action.

Bargaining – I like to think of this more as the “questioning” phase. Was it my fault? Did I make a mistake? What could I have done differently so we’d still be together? The truth is, if there were anything you could have done, you probably would have known and tried it already. Ask the internal questions if you need to, but understand you might never get an answer

Depression – The most well-known of the break-up stages. Refusing to go out, living in sweats, eating cookie dough in bed — it might seem absurd but it actually helps. Cry, mope and pout for a while. But limit that depression. Just enough to purge yourself and then get up, get dressed and get out there. Lingering depression often leads to pleading voicemails, telling your ex you still smell their shirt every night before you go to sleep. Always awkward and always regretted later.

Acceptance – Ah, the step that seems to never arrive. But have hope. The sun will shine again. Maybe it won’t be as bright at first, but you will love again. Acceptance is that wonderful deep breath when you realize you are just fine sleeping alone.

Remember, these are just common phases. There is no such thing as a “normal” way of dealing with a break-up. Some people skip a phase or two, or bounce back and forth between stages. Whatever emotions you are feeling though, feel it to the fullest. The sweet side to even a painful break-up is you come out the other side stronger and more aware of yourself.

Katie Saltz is a journalism junior.

lauren says:

I’m experiencing all of this…its been a couple of months and I still feel like I got that awful phone call the other day.

Chalie says:

Very true and helpful…thanks

Michael says:

It’s good to see our text books being used properly! Great journalism!