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How My Breakup Taught Me to Prioritize My Mental Health

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Three years ago, I met someone who would soon become the most precious person in my life. He was my rock, my guardian angel. No matter how irrationally my depression made me act, he would always stay. He stuck with my moods, my panic attacks and my random bouts of emptiness better than anyone would have or could have. My family loved him, I loved his family. It was truly perfect. He was my better half and my soul mate.

But it soon became too much for him. He was the only one who made me feel OK, my only source of happiness on my worst days… And that was exactly the problem. My mental illness made me more dependent on him than I should have been. I couldn’t last a day or two without talking to him on Facebook. My anxiety made me desperate for his reassurance, to be certain that he wouldn’t change his mind about us overnight, though I knew he wouldn’t. And then, he did.

One day he called me, in tears. He said he had to tell me something very important and then he uttered the words that would hurt me more than I had ever anticipated, but also teach me more than anything ever had.

“I’m sorry, but I really need to break up with you.”

These words came out of his mouth not because he didn’t love me, but because he loved and respected himself enough to do what was best for him. And that meant ending a relationship that was too mentally draining and exhausting to him, a relationship that was costing him his own mental health. My own issues were too hard on him and his sense of personal responsibility was too much for him to bear. I know this now. But I wish I had known sooner.

I thought I had ruined the most important relationship I had and was determined I would not let it ruin me. I decided in order to avoid this event repeating itself (which it would if everything stayed the same), I needed to change something within myself.

That’s when I started taking a little bit more care of myself. I started talking to myself a little more nicely. I started encouraging myself and celebrating my victories, instead of beating myself up for my failures. I started valuing my qualities and building on them. Instead of only working on my flaws and seeing them only, I focused on these qualities I found in myself and quickly saw myself in a more positive light.

Though the process was hard, exhausting and sometimes painful, it was worth every effort. Though they are more easily said than done, these little changes made all the difference in the world.

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Thinkstock photo via RKaulitzki

Originally published: April 6, 2017
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