Are you breaking your own heart? Literally

A girl collects a broken heart in his hands

Valentine’s Day is around the corner. Whether you’re single or still holding on to a narcissistic relationship with your dear life, this is for you. It’s important.

February is not just Valentine’s Day and Black History Month. It’s also American Heart Month and “broken heart syndrome” is a real condition. The first time I heard about it I thought the doctor was joking. We often talk figuratively about having a broken heart but I never thought I would physically experience it.

After years of living in survival mode with a narcissistic, I ended up in the ER. I almost died! I’ve always been pretty healthy. I don’t smoke, drink, and have never done any kind of illegal drugs. I was the obedient child most parents want growing up.

However, on May 5, 2016, my heart broke. Literally. The doctor told me the overwhelming amount of stress and anxiety took over my body and my heart was ready to let go. Luckily I felt something was wrong with me and went to urgent care. From there they did an EKG test on me and quickly sent me to the local hospital for a CT scan. It was a wake-up call that I needed to change my life!

The medical term for “Broken Heart Syndrome” is stress cardiomyopathy or Takotsubo cardiomyopathy. The condition is due to a period of high emotional or physical stress that rapidly weakens your heart muscle.

The symptoms are very similar to a heart attack.

  • Sudden, severe chest pain (angina) – a main symptom
  • Shortness of breath – a main symptom
  • Weakening of the left ventricle of your heart – a main sign
  • Fluid in your lungs
  • Irregular heartbeats (arrhythmias)
  • Low blood pressure (hypotension)

Broken heart syndrome mostly affects women (about 88%), especially in later middle age. No surprise! We’re all going through a mid-life crisis. Treatments include heart medications, anti-anxiety drugs, stress management, and cardiac rehabilitation. It’s not as deadly as a real heart attack but it could lead to a real heart attack.

How do you avoid having Broken Heart Syndrome?

You relax. Find ways to ease your mind and body. Life is hard and even harder in a narcissistically abusive relationship but you must find a way to manage your emotions. If you have to walk, find the courage to do it. I learned this the hard way and nearly died.

Stop freaking out about everything. Accept the things you can’t control and do the best with what you can control. Celebrate small victories and put up boundaries if something or someone is hurting you. Life is too short to keep trying to fix broken people and things. Most important, stop breaking your own heart.

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