At the end of an important relationship in my life, I experienced symptoms that were very much the same as when I was dealing with the worst parts of the unidentified chronic illness that has been with me for more than 20 years: lack of energy, lack of self-confidence, depression, and increased anxiety. I was neglecting myself: I allowed myself to wallow in a feeling of inadequacy that made me skimp on self-care—I wasn’t exercising, and I was making lots of bad food choices.
As a result, my physical issues flared up. My limp was more pronounced, and my old symptoms of stiffness, spasticity in my legs, and pain increased. There was a sense of unworthiness, low self‑esteem, and a general malaise. I lost my zest for life; I was spending too much time and energy obsessing about my ex while also feeling sorry for and shaming myself.
Oh, and the best one: wondering whom she was being intimate with now that I was out of the picture. Every day, I felt as anxious as if I'd had a dozen cups of bad coffee and as heartbroken as if I'd just lost her again for the first time. And I was sure that the breakup was my fault: If I had done this or that differently, if I had been better somehow, I could have pleased her.
It was lovesickness. And, while causes may be mental and emotional, the physical symptoms can be very real and really painful. This is a common story, but there are ways to create a new story of adequacy and strength. We are all capable of progressing from lovesickness to loving well. Here are three of the foundational steps of dealing with pain and moving through trauma to ignite health and happiness: