Losing the Will to Survive a Broken Heart

It’s not that I felt suicidal. I didn’t want to take my life. But I also didn’t know how to live. My sadness, depression, anxiety, and hopelessness were all-consuming and wholly and utterly crippling. I mean, crippling.

I couldn’t will myself to sit up in bed. My brain encouraged my body to move, but my heart hit the kill switch.

When I did manage to escape my nest, I recurrently found myself melting to the floor, my legs disengaging and turning to Jello beneath me.

There were days I actually believed the next burst of anxiety in my chest would kill me dead.

Being thrown into the deepest, darkest pits of despair from a broken heart can make a person nearly lose the will to live.

(If you’re reading this right now, and you’re losing that will, I assure you, you CAN survive. It’s going to be hard for a little while, but you can make it. I did.)

During that time, my heart wouldn’t work. It was achieving its biological mission; however not its emotional one. It couldn’t feel. No passion. No bliss. No contentment. Sometimes not even sadness. Just nothing. Except periodic eruptions of anxiety.

I tried to feel love, and I couldn’t. Even towards people I knew I loved.

I’d prayed for God to take away my feelings, to turn my heart off. Oddly enough, I think, in some ways, He did.

Days of emotional thunderstorms and wreckage slugged by. Metaphorical lightening ripped through my body striking my insides over and over and over again until I felt my bones would break and my body would crumble. Ever been there? It’s unbearable, but you push on.

Those thunderstorms can be relentless. Suffocating. Nearly fatal.

The hooded figure of Depression has a long reach… He’ll grab your ankles with his gnarled fingers and drag you mercilessly into his depths. At times, you don’t have the ability to fight. All you can do is close your eyes, muster a breathy moan, and go limp, surrendering to its appetite for sadness and humiliation.

I surrendered. Bad.

I wasn’t hungry. I didn’t eat.

I felt worthless, neglected, unloved, and unloveable.

I felt wrong, different, and wrong for being different.

I felt like someone had snatched my soul, and I was only this robotic, human body – a zombie.

I laid in bed staring off into space surrounded by used Kleenexs.

Some days, somehow, I collected enough gusto to roam. (I’ll never know where that energy came from.) Simply walking around my bedroom was a triumph.

One second at a time led to one hour at a time. Survival.

Then, one day, after much persistence, the sun shines through. It may only be a few rays protruding at first and thunderstorms will periodically reappear, but the sun grows stronger as your power, strength, and confidence intensifies by overcoming one small emotional battle at a time.

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Mr. George Herbert is absolutely correct.

My agonizing heartbreak led to unimaginable physical, emotional, and mental strength. Because I didn’t give up.

I started working out, eating healthy, and gaining muscle mass. I should’ve felt strong. Some days I did. But other days I looked in the mirror, flexed my muscles, and thought “How can I feel so emotionally weak when I’ve never been more physically strong?”

I continued to pushed on.

“My body felt robotic laying in bed, so let it feel robotic being productive,” I thought. “Keep pushing. Don’t stop.”

I continued each day with a regimented, but emotionless, schedule. Wake up, coffee and reading on the front porch, meditation, eat, work out, eat, write, eat, sleep. Occasionally, I threw in some Netflix binge-watching for an escape.

Positive momentum began to build, and happiness slowly crept in. The rich soil of my regimented routine began to blossom flowers of fervor.

As months (and years) went by, I found the cool thing about being completely brokenhearted is when life begins to get good again, when you realize your blessings and view your depression as a gift. The page turns and you start writing the next chapter.

It certainly doesn’t happen overnight.

My resurgence began when I peered outside one morning and truly grasped the grace and assurance of the rolling, tenacious hills around my childhood home. A distinction I overlooked for years. My eyes identified the individual beauty of single trees, their resolute trunks and reaching branches, instead of dismissively scanning the mountain as a whole.

The next day, I walked through the yard barefoot feeling the cold dew of each blade of grass on my skin thankful my heart and mind were friends again and that I had the ability to walk. Some don’t.

One the third day, like a locomotive gaining speed, I perched on the porch letting sunbeams hit my face and warm my body. I relished what felt like nature embracing me in a hug.

I visited my horse in the field and ran my fingers through his course mane as he laid his soft, velvety nose on my check.

I began to experience mindfulness in a truer form.

The little things, the things most take for granted, the things I used to take for granted, became invaluable necessities – life-giving fruits.

Daily exercise starting to do its job – physically and mentally.

Slowly, but surely, I rose from my ashes. My body and mind morphed into something stronger simply by recognizing basic blessings.

I developed the ability to view my emotions as a slideshow – seeing my emotions, acknowledging them, processing them, and guiltlessly moving forward understanding why I felt a certain way, knowing it was okay to feel that way, and having the peace not to react defensively or maliciously.

I wasn’t as angry. I could consider once-infuriating thoughts, rationalize my feelings, and be strong enough – mentally and emotionally, in my soul – to decide and execute how I wanted to react. When I didn’t want to be upset about something, I wasn’t. Simple as that, or so it should be.

My advancing self-empowerment provided inner strength to know my only judges were God and myself.

Occasionally, resentment would return, but when it did, I was ready. Internally process and move forward.

The biggest blessings of overcoming depression is realizing this: Everything that was important, may not be now. And everything that’s important now is the real stuff, the stuff you should care about.

I’ve seen heartbreak and tragedy nearly consume strong, amazing people, but when a person makes it through, they’re even more of a force to be reckoned with.

They truly understand the preciousness of life – to be thankful for the rain, to be thankful for every cent of money they make, to be thankful for the most simple of belongings they possess – fuzzy socks, books, and hands to dig in the garden dirt with. (To name a few of mine.)

It’s a gift to behold your blessings and never, ever take them for granted again.

Heartache and tragedy are disastrous, but when you defeat it, when the sun shines through the storm, and you realize just how much you have, nothing can fill your heart and feed your spirit more.

You find what truly makes life matter and you cling to those fundamental, yet crucial, necessities like your life and happiness depends on it… because it does.

The funny thing is – those essentials were likely there all along.

And if you haven’t experienced depression or tragedy, don’t let it come to that before realizing the blessings right in front of you.

About the author

Hi! I'm Dorothy! First off, thank you for visiting Life's A Dance! Secondly, you're reading this to find out more about me, so.... Long story short: I grew up on a cattle operation in the mountains of western Virginia, where I still live today. I enjoy Clogging, teaching at my dance studio, reading, writing, traveling, trying to be artistic, and finding new and improved ways to work while still enjoying this wonderful blessing we've been given - life. I'm a dreamer and an outside-the-box thinker that lives life slightly differently than most and is not a fan of conventionalism. I believe in living out loud, stopping to smell the roses, loyalty to family and friends, and being grateful to look up at a beautiful, blue sky.


  1. Hi Dorothy, I truly enjoy your Blog! It is so inspiring. I’m sorry for the things you have been through and yet at the same time amazed at how you are able to write to help others.

    1. Hey Terri! Thank you so much for reading!! The things I went through were tough. (Everyone has their tough times.) But I’m thankful for mine. They made me who I am and inspired me to write and hopefully help others. It makes me feel so good to hear from friends who read the blog and are inspired by it. THANK YOU SO MUCH!!! Miss you!!!

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