Love isn't in the air, but who cares?

16th March 2007 at 00:00
Break up but don't break down if your relationship comes to an end. Deal with a split constructively, and start living the life you want, says Christine Webber

If I feel a headache coming on, I pop a paracetamol. Nowadays, most of us whenever possible seek instant solutions to discomfort. Unfortunately, there is no quick fix for the agony of rejection.

Statistics show that most of us have been through (or will go through) at least one major break-up in our lives, and the knock-on effects can be shattering. Life for a dumped teacher can, sadly, be particularly tough.

In many jobs, you would be able to drift into work late and tackle routine tasks while surreptitiously dabbing at your teary eyes. Teachers do not have that luxury. Somehow you have to function as normal - in front of 30 individuals who will be quick to spot your palpable misery. Luckily, you can take steps to help yourself get through this.

First, you need to accept the relationship really is over. If you still think that one day your partner will miss you and return, or they will realise the error of their ways and plead forgiveness, then you have not faced the truth that this is the end. Of course, sometimes romances do resume, but in terms of your recovery, it is always better to assume that this will not happen. Unfortunately, such acceptance can evoke devastating pain.

While that phase is going on, you should treat yourself as though you are recovering from major surgery or a car accident and let your family and friends take care of you for a while.

Should you take antidepressants? Frankly, in the early days it is pretty pointless. These drugs take about a fortnight to kick in, and the harsh fact is that it is entirely normal to suffer sadness when a relationship ends. So if you can avoid medicalising the problem, you probably should.

However, if after a fortnight you still cannot face people, or cannot stop crying, then you should definitely see your GP. What about taking time off? You may need to - especially just after the split.

Most doctors are used to signing teachers off for stress, and you might find it helpful in the first instance to hide behind that diagnosis. On the other hand, you may feel that teaching is the one aspect of your life that seems relevant and real - and helps you to feel needed.

This can be important when you are struggling with the concept of being unwanted by a loved one.

If you prefer to work, confide in some of your colleagues about your situation. Also line up some support for the evenings, as you may feel wobbly after keeping up appearances all day.

Sadly, you cannot rush the process of healing a broken heart, but after a few weeks, the fog of rejection will start to lift, and you will begin to embrace singledom with more enthusiasm.

It is a good idea to plan a holiday, arrange to see old friends, or sign up for that course you have been meaning to do for ages. Eventually, you will realise that you have got through a whole day without thinking about your ex.

At that point, you will know that you are over the worst of it and you will feel more able to start rebuilding your life www.relate.org.ukwww.ondivorce.co.ukwww.soyouvebeendumped.co.ukwww.netdoctor .co.ukChristine Webber is a broadcaster, psychotherapist and life coach who specialises in relationship issues. She is also the author of How To Mend A Broken Heart

DO

Eat healthily, even if you cannot see the point.

Exercise daily to release endorphins, the "happy chemicals" in the brain.

Play music that will enable you to cry.

Talk to your friends about your feelings, even if it means late-night phone calls.

Make a list of everything about your ex that you do not miss. This can help, especially if you add to the list every time you think of something new.

DON'T

Drink excessively. This solves nothing and will make you more miserable in the long-term. Plus, you don't want to reek of booze in the classroom.

Indulge in irrational thinking. It is irrational to assume that you are now going to be miserable and alone for ever. You cannot know that, so do not compound your misery in this way.

Have sex with your ex. This is probably the worst thing you can do - and it can happen all too easily. Ending up back in bed will delay your recovery by weeks, and leave you more upset and confused.

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