Stay in Touch

Check out CL's Book

Heart Broken: Take a Beta Blocker?

broken heartKudos to Alain Brunet, a clinical psychologist and psychiatry professor at McGill University. He recently conducted research into the chump condition that did a couple of startling things:

1.) Recognized that intimate betrayal has damaging health effects.

2.) Acknowledged that the current prescription for being chumped is hopium and unicorns.

Okay, that isn’t a direct quote. What he did do, however, was make a sly nod at the Reconciliation Industrial Complex when discussing his research.

PsyPost reports:

“Romantic Betrayal (a form of adjustment disorder) seemed like an interesting topic to study because, first, it is very distressing. Second, it is one of the most common reason why individuals seek professional help. Finally, there is very little help available for romantically betrayed individuals who do not wish to return with their partner.”

Emphasis mine.

Thanks Alain! I’ll go one further — there is very little help available for chumps (aka Romantically Betrayed Individuals) that doesn’t actively ENCOURAGE them to return to their abusive partners.

Thus this blog, and carving out this space 10 years ago. But I’m glad science is catching up. Yea!

If that sounds a wee bit obnoxious, it’s my exasperation that the devastation of paternity testing your children or discovering your husband’s hidden hooker habit isn’t taken more seriously by mental health professionals. Yes, it’s shattering. And we shouldn’t be expected to give a shit about cheaters’ “exuberant acts of defiance” (ala Esther Perel).

The mental health profession should instead ask itself why all the resources out there (with a few notable exceptions, like Dr. Omar Minwalla or Dr. George Simon), are either minimizing betrayal trauma or ignoring it completely. Or worse, shaming victims into returning and asking them what they did to be so unlovable in the first place. Christ on a cracker.

But back to Alain Brunet. His research suggests that a first line of defense after D-Day should involve a beta blocker to help tamp down the intrusive thoughts and extreme anxiety.

PsyPost reports:

A novel technique that uses a beta blocker to interfere with memory reconsolidation shows promise in the treatment of adjustment disorder following romantic betrayal, according to new research published in the Journal of Affective Disorders.

Adjustment disorder is a condition that can occur in response to a significant life event or change. While it is normal to feel some degree of anxiety or distress in such situations, people with adjustment disorder experience more intense and long-lasting symptoms that interfere with their ability to cope. These may include difficulty sleeping, depressed mood, social withdrawal, and difficulty concentrating. In severe cases, adjustment disorder can lead to self-harm or suicidal thoughts.

They have a name for it! Adjustment disorder!

Propranolol is a beta blocker that is often prescribed for high blood pressure, migraines, and certain anxiety disorders. But the drug has also been shown to weaken the emotional tone of memories by blocking adrenergic pathways.

“Reconsolidation Therapy consist in recalling a bad memory under the influence of propranolol with the help of a trained therapist,” Brunet explained. “This treatment approach is a translational treatment stemming from the research in neuroscience which stipulates that a recalled memory needs to be saved again to long-term memory storage in order to persist. Interfering with the storage process will yield a degraded (less emotional) memory.”

We’re all about interfering with the storage process of bad cheater memories. Here at CN we call it “gaining a life” and crowding out all that crap with new and improved experiences.

But to any of you chump newbies out there — consider talking to your doctor about a beta blocker. Get help!

And, of course, also get an STD test.

I’m thrilled science is taking chumpdom seriously. May this treatment for trauma move from medical research journals into wider practice and clinical understanding. Huzzah!

Ask Chump Lady

Got a question for the Chump Lady? Or a submission for the Universal Bullshit Translator? Write to me at info@chumplady.com. Read more about submission guidelines.
  • One of my kids has been diagnosised with an adjustment disorder following our D-Day. I’m sure I have one also. I’m genuinely doing all the right things but three and a half years later I’m exhausted and my reality is still fractured even though I look ok on the outside. Maybe I should consider this therapy.

    • I did an Ayahuasca retreat a couple weeks ago and I can’t even begin to tell you how much it changed my life. It was like night and day. I feel like I had 20 years of therapy in one weekend. I walked away just leaving it all behind.

      It was why I went, and I knew it could help but didn’t put too much into it in case it didn’t make that much of a difference. I left there just so happy and felt like my marriage and all the bullshit was another life lived long ago, even though I’ve only been divorced less than a year. I went in to the weekend not being able to talk about it without tearing up. In fact, when I arrived I cried to the first woman I met about it. I sobbed when I left because of how much I felt connected to the people I spent the weekend with. I also felt like I was releasing all my marriage bullshit for the very last time. Now I’m at meh. It’s wild. The sun is brighter, I’m happier, and I can just roll with the punches. I don’t want to break bread with FW, but I don’t care about him either. He’s nobody to me. I expected a therapeutic experience but not something that dramatic.

      You have to prepare quite extensively and you have to be open to that sort of thing. You also have to be willing to face some not so nice things about yourself and do the work of deep introspection, but if you’re willing I think it’s so worth it. I’m so glad I did it. It’s not nearly as scary as people make it out to be.

        • I would definitely recommend going with a well reviewed group or place. I found my group on safe ceremonies and I felt entirely safe the entire time. Not just with the shaman, but with the group of people as well. The group was small and is always kept that way. There were 10 of us and his private chef and 3 assistants. It was a completely safe environment. Some others there definitely talked about how they had been to some other sketchy experiences.

          So I will say, as with anything, do your research. It’s also not safe if you have certain health conditions or psychiatric conditions.

          All of my doctors were aware of trip and knew I would be doing it. I discussed this with them as far as my medications, etc. My therapist was aware and knew I was preparing. I followed protocols and diet very strictly and went in prepared as best I could. I think that matters.

          You are definitely very vulnerable and you want to feel safe and comfortable. I never worried at all, but I did all my worrying before I signed up and before I found the right group so I could feel relaxed enough when I got there.

      • Some people have died after doing Ayahuasca (eg a young healthy New Zealander) so I don’t think it is something that I would recommend at all.

        • The kid who died drinking the tobacco “purging” tea people consume before taking ayahuasca? There have been other deaths from that. Even substances plucked from nature can have side effects.

        • It is an MAO inhibitor and you must be careful about following protocols before taking it. It takes preparation. You can’t decide to take it today and do it tomorrow. I would say it’s best to give yourself a minimum of two months to prepare and make sure you’re in good enough health to partake. It’s quite safe if taken properly but should not be mixed with certain things and that list is pretty long.

          I’m very healthy and I consulted with my doctor for months before I left and in the weeks leading up to it while I was following the dieta. She wasn’t concerned at all, but did help me discontinue my medication safely as to not have any issues. It’s a commitment that isn’t just a simple thing.

          The reality is the death rate is less than .00001%.There have been only 9 Ayahuasca related deaths of the millions of people who have taken it and none of them were directly attributed to the Ayahuasca. One was a murder, and others had other substances or factors involved.

          At least 2000 die from Aspirin every year, so a lot of that is just overblown fear mongering from people who read something and are scared of something they know nothing about.

        • Nothing is for everyone. It helped me. It’s for people who would be willing to do it and are open to that type of thing. There was a time in my life I thought I would never try it and now I’ve done it and I’m so happy I did. As much as I felt like it was such a quick transformation, I went through months of preparation, and I didn’t leave there thinking I’ll never have problems again. I’m still working on things I took from the weekend and will continue to do so. I think that’s a huge part of it as well. It’s probably akin to a crash diet. It will all come back if you don’t keep working.

          It’s not nearly as scary as everyone makes it out to be. I didn’t shit myself uncontrollably (no one did) or have diarrhea, and only puked a little bit the first night. It was over quickly. Full disclosure, the men there purged a lot, like a lot, the women there, barely at all. I’m not sure why this was. Some never did, some only a little. I could make a joke about men and their weak stomachs, but I am genuinely curious as to why I heard the men purging a lot and for long periods whereas the women didn’t at all or did quickly and spent the rest of the night resting pretty comfortably. I had a thought that maybe it was a testosterone thing but idk. Whatever it was I was grateful j in wasn’t them.

          • There is a lot of research into psychedelics now for Refractory depression, fear of death due to terminal illness, PTSD. Ketamine, LSD, MDNA, mushrooms, ayahuasca. It can open your mind, you feel one with the universe, you can also have a bad trip, or a bad reaction to it. But a lot of people walk around taking multiple drugs for all sorts of things, they can have adverse reactions as well. I took ambien for a week and became suicidal, and I said wow I think I’ll stop taking it. Definitely can see how things like this can be beneficial to people.

  • Exhibit A: Unicornomore

    Being betrayed by the person I loved and trusted was the worst thing that ever happened to me. It turns out that I was betrayed through most of the era that I thought was a marriage but was rather a one-sided thing that I have not come up with a word for.

    I reflected (back in the thick of it) that I would have chosen being beat up by thugs and left to bleed on the street over what my then-partner did to me. Yes, I struggled with “Adjustment”…it was ongoing abuse. My life is great now but I still struggle to accept the breadth of the reality that I lived. I feel like they are pathologizing Chumpdom while simultaneously minimizing the abuse.

    • I understand your point Unicornnomore about pathologizing chumpdom. However, since we have little (really no) control over the abuser, this may be the only way. And at least a diagnosis of something that didn’t exist pre-chumpdom proves (to anyone who cares) that there are REAL RAMIFICATIONS to cheating. I doubt there is any Rx that can completely soothe a chump, but at least science is acknowledging the problem. Next a little Rx cocktail for FW and AP please!

      • I’m remembering how upset a therapist I knew when she perceived that normal grief (after death) was being deemed a disorder but with it (in some circumstances) comes coverage for therapy maybe covered by insurance. I just resent that we get looked at as the broken ones.

        • I don’t see that seeking support from a professional during grieving or times of emotional upheaval is being the “broken one.” We’re the smart ones who don’t want to get stuck living in the past or dreading the future.

    • Agree 100%!

      Drugs have side effects. Going no contact, getting the divorce, cutting out all cheater-apologists, and reading CL archives at least 6x a day will cure the heartbreak. Will I ever forget what XH did to me and the kids? No. But, 8 years out from Dday, 5.5 since divorce, the details are fuzzy and I feel great a lot of the time.

      Ditch the mental health community, imo, and save the time and $ for a great gym membership, a Hawaiian vacation, massages, school for a new credential, or a retirement account.

      • I respect your opinion, but please be careful about telling people to ditch the mental health community.

        Yes, a lot of them are bad, just like any kind of profession, which is why it’s important to find the right one. I was lucky to find a therapist that not only recognizes infidelity as abuse but was crucial in my healing. She saved my life & my sanity.

        • Maybe MotherChumper meant to ditch the dysfunctional mental health community associated with cheating, which happens to be the largest and most pervasive one, unfortunately. I’m sure she didn’t mean to eschew all mental health support.

          I can tell you one thing, if I had found CL before I started seeing a couples therapist with my cheater ex, my mental health situation would have been much improved. It’s just gaslighting on top of gaslighting…and I think that effect, almost more than the cheating itself, sent me into a deep depression. The moment I saw a new therapist who said to me “hey, I think your husband is a narcissist, you can’t fix that” and then found CL, the clouds lifted. It was still alot of painful work from there, but my internal clock began being properly re-calibrated.

          Bet yea, no amount of exercise was gonna help me. I needed cold hard truth, which CL provided.

        • If a chump seeks talk therapy, interview the mental health care provider. First question is “what causes somebody to cheat ?”. If the counselor espouses any “it takes two to tango” b.s. or doesn’t frame cheating as abuse and domestic violence, get up and leave. I would also ask to see an official uni transcript. No coursework on personality disorders ? Not versed in narcissistic abuse, in my opinion. Ergo a waste of precious time and money.

        • Agreed, I have an amazing therapist. I know a lot of people who could benefit from one. I do agree that marriage counseling with a cheater just ends up doing more harm than good. When I think back to that, it makes me angry because it was just subjecting myself to further abuse. The therapist wasn’t abusive, he was quite good and did call FW out, but for a while when I thought about things said in those sessions it made me so angry that I let FW get away with saying them.

        • You are lucky and likely the rare exception following Dday. I’ve been abused by so-called therapists in the aftermath. Marriage counseling with a diagnosed sociopath? Pure money grab and harmful.

      • Motherchumper99,
        I’m truly impressed that you have been able to find your way though your horror through no contact, divorce, exercise etc.

        Your words strike me hard. It is not my intention to be harsh but this might be life or death for someone out in Chump Nation.

        Yours is very dangerous advice! Yes, it worked for you but being abused through cheating is not one size fits all nor is the reactions of us chumps.

        I have always been a leader in my field and community. I am what others have called “strong”. I lived through losing a parent at a young age, being bullied as a teen and having a crazy family. Yet I survived and thrived.

        DDay broke me in ways no one, especially me, could have predicted. I had children I loved dearly but the only way I could see dealing with the pain was suicide. I was admitted to a psychiatric facility; a great one, thank god. This was a whole new world for me and it was all I could do to survive. If anyone thinks that being in a psych ward is comfortable, let me assure you it is not. It’s scary and horrific but it is safe and it kept me alive.

        I have been fighting for my life for the past 13ish years since that hospitalization. The word FIGHT is appropriate because it is so, so hard. There have been many adventures in medication and I have been very public about my support for genetic testing for psychotropic medications. The genetic test and the right medication saved my life. I’ve also had success with EMDR and therapy. But it is a daily struggle with some days great and other spent inside a dark hole.

        One of the reasons why I stay active on this site is to make sure that offhand comments don’t do harm. My reading that a gym membership or vacation would be what I should look at as being helpful might have been the one comment that put me over the edge and left my kids without their mother.

        Please, please choose your words carefully and try to give advice that would help everyone here.

        Getting off my soapbox here but I will add that anyone here who is desperate is welcome to ask Tracy for my contact info. This is too important.

        • PS: I am no contact, have the best, supportive friends (anyone Switzerland is long gone), I swim every other day, take fabulous vacations and am starting a new business…all the things Motherchumper99 recommended and it’s just not enough. Some of us need much more to survive and NO ONE should feel less than if they need more help.

          • Rebecca, I would really like to continue this conversation. I have a ditto etc story. Ongoing. Perhaps we can communicate privately, in time.

        • Thank you for posting this Rebecca

          I was sectioned under the mental health act . I had stopped eating and was self harming it’s the only way I could see as an “out”
          I don’t think I wanted to kill myself but I just wanted it to stop .
          I was in for 14 days by law and stayed another 11 voluntary.
          It was horrific but it’s the only way I could have coped at that time . A holiday / hiking / walking a gym wasn’t going to help then or now I’m afraid

          I’m 3.7 years out now and although doing well and no longer on medication or under a dietician ( my eating as back to normal) I still have my days

          If you need help please reach out for medical help as it saved my life

      • It’s sad that there are too few worthy specialists in PTSD who are genuinely knowledgeable about domestic abuse. There’s still a lot of victim blaming in helping professions. Because I worked in advocacy for DV survivors, I at least knew a few good ones exist and knew what to look for and what to avoid. I found a great talk therapist but only after walking out on several duds. The difference is readily apparent. If you ask a prospective therapist if they believe in the “psychological deficiency” theory of DV and victimology, the good ones will say, “Oh God no,” and then light up as they explain in clear terms why they don’t support the concept. This is because the good ones, by not believing in the dominant victim blaming approaches, also tend feel embattled in their own fields and won’t miss a chance to defend their positions. The duds either utter a miffy, defensive “yes” or start looking nervous and blather out some mumbo-jumbo quasi-apologia.

      • I remember stumbling about like a zombie immediately following DDay. I went for nearly a week with ZERO sleep, and finally went to my doctor to get a sleep aid. I didn’t tell her why (the STD panel was a year later).
        I know that if a drug had been available to help me cope with my mental cycling and recycling of my FW’s confession(s), I would have been all over it, side effects be damned. I was that desperate.

        Yes, I made it through. There are some who don’t, though.

        I am grateful for the therapist I traveled hundreds of miles to see; a therapist who specialized in PTSD, and who truly did help me with childhood issues that may have helped me fix my picker.

        The single biggest thing that helped me, though, was this website. Knowing I am not alone, that my struggles were, unfortunately, shared by a lot of people.

        From the bottom of my heart, I thank CL for starting this, for her daily postings, and for CN for being passengers in the lifeboat with me.

      • I’m glad vacations and massages worked for you, but I have a PTSD diagnosis and would be dead without the mental health community.

    • UNM– I can attest to that pretty literally. I actually was beaten up by a thug on the street and it was nothing compared to what FW did to me without taking his hands out of his pockets. Two weeks before D-Day, I weighed so little that the thug was able to hoist me by my coat collar into a construction enclosure during a noisy street demonstration. It could have been worse if two construction workers hadn’t started shouting and throwing things from the scaffolding above, but I ended up in ER with a bleeding face, dislocated knee and a shallow knife jab in the ribs. It all barely registered on the Richter scale compared to the earthquake at home. Plus I think FW’s fuckwittery dimmed my usual street sense and made me an easier target.

  • My doctor did put me on an anti-anxiety medication (Mirtazapine, which I believe is a beta blocker) when I was dealing with the fallout of FW leaving me, and I can highly recommend it. It stopped my catastrophic weight loss (Mirtazapine is a also an appetite stimulant, and I was unable to eat due to stress/anxiety – I lost 30 lb, and I wasn’t overweight to begin with), and helped me sleep. It is essential, I think, to take care of the physical symptoms of betrayal, in order to deal with getting your ducks in a row and getting out. Combined with talk therapy from a wonderful therapist who took my betrayal and abuse seriously, I was able to get my head on straight, stop blaming myself, accept my anger and grief, and move towards emotionally separating and starting my divorce process. She compared my life with FW to living a war zone, and helped me deal with my very real PTSD. Even just having my experiences validated was so helpful.

    So yes, I’d recommend seeking medical help, especially in those early days. Trying to deal with custody, settlements, paperwork, etc. when you can barely function can lead to bad or hasty decisions that could harm chumps in the long run. I also had to deal with still being a parent through all of my trauma, and my son deserved the best from me. Being able to manage my anxiety made me a better parent and better able to support him through his own trauma from the fallout of everything.

    I’ve always been rather anti-medication, but it was necessary and did help. I stayed on it for several years. I recently stopped and I’ve been doing great, because all the logistical things have been dealt with, and (in my case) FW has been dead for a year and I no longer have to deal with any ongoing abuse from him.

        • Basically beta blockers will usually have names ending in -lol. Propanolol, metoprolol, etc.

          I’m almost done with nursing school and I work in an ER so I see all kinds of meds every day.

        • I was put on prozac, I honestly feel it saved me.

          I was able to concentrate on my job, which I needed to survive. I gained enough stability to know I had to hire my own lawyer. FW was desperately trying to get me to use his lawyer, so many things to deal with and in the first few weeks I was in shock.

          This was in 1989, no internet, no CL nor any other help at my fingertips. Also, in many ways even a different culture than now.

          So yeah, no shame in needing medical help. If others sailed through with spa days and long walks in the woods that is wonderful but not everyone can. Sometimes (I would say many times) the chumps needs are immediate to prevent further damage.

      • Mirtazapine is also used as an appetite stimulant in dogs and cats, and can be used as such off licence in humans too. There is actually a trial underway at the moment looking at appetite stimulant in cancer patients.

        • It was prescribed to my 95 year old mother after she lost a lot of weight in just six weeks. It made her so dizzy and foggy brained they took her off it in two days!

    • I also got on meds right away. I couldn’t eat or sleep and I had a baby to nurse and two kiddos to be functional for. I remember one day right after the first D day one piece of toast sitting on the kitchen table that I’d force myself to take a bite of every few hours. I called it the Abandonment Diet. Har har. The meds helped me function in an emergency. But when it was time to ween off the meds 4 years later, the withdrawal process was wild. I cried hard every day for 4 months and it affected all aspects of my life. I would do it again but would try to ween even more gradually and would build in some sick time to give myself the space to go through it all.

      • My doctor told me to force down a protein shake with sugar every day, if I wasn’t able to eat. It wasn’t easy.

        Fortunately my withdrawal has been okay. Maybe a little melancholy, but nothing too horrible. I was on my meds for about 4 1/2 years, but I had switched to a lower dose about 2 years ago.

        • Yeah that’s sometimes what has to be done with people who aren’t eating and are becoming malnutrition risks. Suck down a protein shake with full fat yogurt or something just to get the calories in.

    • I’m pretty anti-med too but mostly because too many prescribing doctors are too credulous of drug company promotions and defenses, don’t keep an eye on side effects and formation of tolerance nor oversee the withdrawal process carefully enough. If an assassin killed someone’s whole family, I’d hardly judge them for going on sleep aids. Medication is a tool, just one that has to be handled delicately.

  • My therapist agreed to write a letter for me about my dog being an emotional support animal just in case I didn’t get the house. My dog is 55 lbs, bigger than many condos and apartments allow.
    The letter stated that I had been diagnosed with anxiety and depression and all the right words for the dog and me. I remember thinking, wow FW really made me sick and here it is in black and white.
    I did get the paid for house and am getting better day by day, 4 years since Dday

  • I think it’s important to remember how difficult betrayal feels emotionaly, physically and the enormous impact it has on your life, it’s part of what CN is, the knowing and understanding of what others are / have been through. It gives us compassion for others.

  • I am also pleased to see medical acknowledgement of the physical trauma of betrayal. Medication might be an important option for some chumps.

    I was recently remembering that my ex-FW had a prescription for beta blockers from his cardiologist to treat a rapid heartbeat only FW could detect, an anxiety medication that he claimed he only took rarely and a daily drinking habit. I’m guessing that he was trying to tamp down the feelings one gets when they’re secretly destroying a 30 year marriage. I think he was getting Viagra from the OW. Eeeww.

    • Icansee: interesting because one of my kids told me that his dad was taking blood pressure pills (aka beta blocker) now too. I guess OW gets this version of him even being being less “memory-reconsolidated”. I wonder if this partially explains the 75% divorce rate of subsequent (older) marriages?

    • Victims of abuse can end up with addictions in the course of trying to function. But the general wisdom in DV research is that abusers drink and take drugs in ORDER to abuse rather than abusing because of drinking and drugging. Those who continue to claim otherwise and blame “demon whisky” for abuse are sort of demonstrating how muddling and conflating the MOs and behaviors of victims and perpetrators misses the boat.

  • DDay was October of 2017. Today another painful trauma anniversary-laden October is in the books.

    Summer of 2021 I was diagnosed with AFIB. There is nothing structurally wrong with my heart. I passed the treadmill and the ultrasound tests. When I told the two cardiologists assigned to my case that I was getting divorced because I found out my husband had a secret sexual double life, they agreed the cause was stress.

    It’s really scary to be a pretty healthy person your whole life and suddenly be asked to wear a heart monitor. Within 24 hours the hospital called and asked me to go to the ER. NOW. (More lies had been revealed that morning).

    They told me the body is not designed to withstand a sustained extended state of fight or flight, which what happens physically with being cheated on. Sustained fight or flight response can absolutely result in the onset of AFIB, and did in my case.

    My father died at age 55 from a heart attack a year after I started dating Traitor Ex. I was almost 58 last summer.

    This could have easily left my daughter without a mother. Gee thanks, Traitor Ex.

    The culprits responsible are my former fake husband and anybody who knew he was married with a child. Cheating is a violation of the partner in the dark, their children, and anyone the cheaters are lying to.

    It requires an accomplice, and all legal adults in that role are guilty of grievous harm, emotional and physical.

    • Am sorry to hear it, Velvet. The long-term health impacts of betrayal stress are real. Today, I am consulting with my doctor about my latest A1C blood test, and I fully expect to be told that I need to start taking metformin to control type 2 diabetes. I am 49.

      It’s true that both my parents and all my aunts/uncles have type 2 diabetes – but my dad managed to control his pre-diabetic condition for a decade (until his early 60’s) before crossing the line to requiring medication. I am trying to be grateful that there are options other than insulin now.

      I eat well. Could exercise more, like many of us, but I’m tired all the time and doing the best I can (survived cancer in my 20’s and was married to a FW for 2 decades). Am certainly not sedentary. My doctors have agreed with me that the most obvious explanation for my suddenly crossing the line into diabetic territory is that my body was awash in cortisol for at least 2 years, and still frequently experiences elevated levels. I am working on trauma therapy and mindfulness, etc., but nobody can gaslight me into believing that I can conquer bodily factors through mindfulness and willpower alone.

      My advice to newer chumps: along with the beta blockers, make sure you are NOT continuing to live under the same roof with your abuser, even if you have some hope for reconciliation at some point. I get that finances and kids can make it difficult to separate living spaces. But I made the terrible mistake of doing an in-home separation for 15 months, and living in constant cognitive dissonance has taken a physical toll (although it’s impossible to avoid trauma after D-Day even if you do separate immediately). No (or low) Contact is an important prescription. All best to all new and recovering chumps!

    • That’s terrible 😞
      Afib can kill you if left untreated. Which is why they told you to go to the ER immediately.

      Afib is related to the electrical conductivity of the heart and it’s a disregulation of the atrial contraction. Being in constant fight or flight means the neurotransmitters that effect speed and contractility are just firing, firing, firing with no relief. Eventually the heart is like “Omg what is going on?!” and the rhythm of the SA node gets thrown off. Afib.

      I’m sure you know it isn’t fun when that happens.

      For anyone who hasn’t experienced Afib, symptoms can involve sweating, nausea, shortness of breath, fatigue even when sitting, a feeling of anxiousness or “impending doom,” and a fluttering in the chest like your heart is skipping a beat…because it literally is.

      Afib won’t kill you right away, but it can. It is a medical emergency.

      • I was dx with A fib deep in the thick of my husbands secret life. 10/21, I thought it was the worst year of my life until Jan 2022-D Day, and then had a procedure to correct the Afib. Lying in a hospital for heart procedure 2 months after D day and having to tell the medical folks I no longer had an emergency contact was a memory I’ll never forget nor forgive .

    • “It requires an accomplice, and all legal adults in that role are guilty of grievous harm, emotional and physical.”

      Absolutely, if they know they are equally guilty of any harm done to those who are kept in the dark.

    • Interesting Velvet…..I have not been back here in a year or so but I remember you well from my 3 years trying to recover from the cheater. My D-Day was also in 2017, May of that year and I also went into A-Fib in June of 2022. Definitely stress related, although my doctors did not even try to figure out a cause, they just treated me with Metproperal (sp) and Eliquis. It is also interesting to know from todays discussion that the beta blocker also has effect on emotional memory. Must have been the cosmos that brought me back here today to learn something. I seriously have not been here in year or so. Thank you to all of ChumpNation it really is a life saver. Just wish I would have found it sooner in my journey.

    • I also really have not slept a full night since D-Day. Crazy that is was over 5 years ago. It has been Monday afternoon for me for a long time now. Hoping to wake up to a Tuesday here soon. I have started to think that if you hit Monday afternoon sometime maybe you have to force a Tuesday sunrise if that is at all possible. TRYING!

      • I have all my life been a great sleeper up until my mother went into memory care for dementia and the middle of the night calls began. Then one of my BFFs passed at age 40. Then 2 1/2 years later, D-Day. I still wake up at 3:30 most nights and it’s been years.

      • Waking up around 3am is a very common phenomenon, stress or not. People in times past would get up and go out and visit, and then go home and go back to bed. I also understand 3am waking as a sacred practice called “amrita”….the hour most receptive to the voice of God for those of certain spiritual disciplines and disciples are trained to wake up and use that time for mediation. That’s what I do. What’s new about my sleeping after DDay is waking up MULTIPLE times during the night, not just the 3am magic hour. Waking up four or five times a night is typical for me and it is really frustrating. I sleep the best if I play something on super low volume on my phone during the night….YouTube videos, movies or series from streaming services, podcasts, audiobooks, or the 24 hour AA meetings on Zoom. I used to love total total total silence and now when it’s quiet a tsunami of upsetting thoughts floods in and overwhelms me. I am at the five year mark and for me, I see recovery from this is a long long road that I am still trudging. I am much better and get a little better every day but I am nowhere near skipping along, healed and happy, joyous and free.

        I also remember my psych professor lecturing about experiments where all markers of time were removed and people exhibited wildly different sleep patterns over the period of time of the experiment. What happened for sure is that my normal sleep patterns were radically disrupted in such a way that I feel exhausted all the time. Menopause, hypothyroidism, the pandemic, and the death of my mother have only further complicated my ability to sleep well or even know what normal for me is anymore.

        I just know that I feel EXHAUSTED all the time and sleep the best I can whenever I can.

        😩

        • I hear you, Velvet. I feel exhausted all the time, too. I am trying a new sleep doctor but have had a terrible time finding someone who will actually listen and think outside the box. Keep us posted, and as they say in Turkish, geçmis olsun (May it pass)!

  • Trauma therapy EMDR was very helpful for me. The description of what the beta blocker does sounds similar. Doesn’t get rid of the memory just makes it less intense.

    The RIC question of how I contributed to his cheating was so damaging and the recovery so painful. Tuesday has arrived though.

    • I did EMDR as well and found it to be very helpful. My older brother is a therapist and is certified in this treatment. He has used it successfully in all kinds of trauma. He found a therapist who use it to treat me. It was originally developed and tested in VA hospital for Viet Nam vets with debilitating PTSD.

      • Another vote for EMDR. When my first marriage was falling apart, I was also having business problems (turned out that an employee was embezzling from me and I ended up losing my entire retirement – but that’s a long story for another day). It brought up all sorts of trauma from a former abusive relationship and all the way back to my narcissistic mother. My primary care doctor had prescribed medication but unfortunately I didn’t respond well to it and had to wean myself off. I was not doing well, to say the least, but EMDR saved me from sinking deeper and eventually enabled me to pick myself up and go on with my life. I was skeptical because it sounded like voodoo when my therapist suggested it but I trusted her and it made all the difference.

    • “The RIC question of how I contributed to his cheating was so damaging and the recovery so painful.” YES. It’s just gaslighting on top of gaslighting that makes you question your reality because, although somewhere in our souls we know that this cannot be true–that we cannot have been the cause of our own abuse, all these so-called professionals are saying the exact opposite. It is seriously maddening, pathologically, not just metaphorically. I felt insane for a while.

      When I meet someone trying to “save their marriage” after cheating, through therapy, regardless of how well I know them, I find a private moment to express to them that the emerging mentality is that cheating is abuse–physical, emotional, mental, and financial–and that going to therapy with their abuser is not a great move for personal healing.

    • Big up vote for EMDR. Years ago when processing childhood trauma I had success also with a clinically certified, university-teaching therapist who used hypnosis. If you can find a good one (not the kind that does weight loss and ending smoking) it’s a great way to cut through a lot of stuff on the surface.

  • It is time that this becomes more mainstream — that cheating is abuse and there are physical and mental health consequences. And we need real support — not to be told to reconcile with abusers.

    I’d like to add that the ongoing abuse from a FW should be recognized as well — by the medical world as well as the courts. This was posted on social media by a great Chump this morning and I think it should be shared. It is validating for so many of us: https://familycourtawarenessmonth.org/blog/post-separation-abuse-wheel

    • So glad to have made a difference. Even if only one person approved of the post. It was a huge step. 6 years of post separation abuse almost killed me. This is no joke. Yet, society does not acknowledge it. It is the dirty secret no one wants to acknowledge or talk about.

      • Chumpadellic: it’s a dirty secret because so many benefit from it & indulge in it (entitlement). Thank you too if you’re Alain. 🙏

      • Chumpadelic I can understand how you can say abuse almost killed you. Not eating drinking coldness numbness nausea and insomnia sure felt like dying to me! People can and do die from a broken heart. Society really does not like to focus on the impact and the trauma of betrayal. It’s just something people expect you to get over and move on. People live the delusion of a happy life and loss and trauma of any kind is a jolt back into reality or a possibility it could happen to anyone .

      • Thank you for this!

        DD was in 2017. So. Much. Abuse…….. AFTER!

        Asshat left to be with his “soulmate” and live happily ever after except it’s just been an onslaught of hate, smear and revenge. I honestly do not know how I survived. So glad I never contacted HoWorker/Wife and have been NC since March 2019, even with ongoing legal “punishments”. What people don’t understand is THEY DON’T JUST LEAVE!

        As an aside, both my parents died during the divorce and I was getting zero sleep. I finally went to a sleep doctor who didn’t provide me any sleep medication. It was horrible. I finally went to see my GP months later who put me on trazadone. I hated how groggy it made me feel, but at least I could finally sleep. Was on that for about a year and then stopped. That was in 2019. Fast forward to me getting my COVID shot in 2021. I went to a pharmacy I never go to because I refuse to shop there. Anyway, I went in and they asked if I wanted to update “my” account. I asked what phone # they had and it was Asshat’s. I freaked out. When I came back for my second shot, I asked for a record of “my” account. Asshat is a doctor, and he was prescribing “me” narcotics from 2007 until 2013 (and also using his brother’s creds). I wonder if the sleep doctor saw that and wondered if I was shopping for drugs, impacting my health.

        I’m still not sure what to do about that information…….

        • That is really scary Ginger_Superpowers. How on earth did you even process this information that he was prescribing you narcotics? I’m so sorry. These FW’s are just unbelievably sick!

        • This is disturbing on a whole other level. At the very least, I would try to correct your own medical records. If your area uses a platform like MyChart it may detail a process to make corrections. Since it ended in 2013, I’m not sure if you can still report the information to the health department or licensing board in your state.
          This is awful on top of everything else.

      • Yes! I thought the pain might kill me. At the time, I wouldn’t have cared. The deep dysfunction lasted a long time. The fact that society doesn’t get it, and that there are few consequences for the FW, makes it so much worse.

        The difference between a loss from death vs betrayal is astronomical.

  • I became licensed as a mental health professional after my chump experience. I am very vocal with patients as well as peers about the fact that CHEATING IS ABUSE.

    I constantly refer to Lundy Bancroft’s work – as well as to Chump Lady!

  • It’s a relief that it’s being acknowledged finally at a research & diagnosis level. I really wish I could have alpha-beta blocked any memories of the FW through all the trauma & adjustment! I saw him driving the other day & he looks like shit with an icky bushy beard & both my mom & friend pointed out that I was joking about the encounter so I obviously am doing better. I am, but I would of appreciated some pharmaceutical help through it all in the beginning, other than sleeping pills. I hope adjustment disorder & beta blockers gets more mainstream attention & that people going through this trauma initially can get more help than sitting on a counsellor’s couch ( helpful, but it wasn’t enough either ).

  • Huzzah! Thinking back on those first few months, being able to corral all of those thoughts would have been such a blessing. It was a painful, depressing, and literally unsafe time. I don’t know how many times I burst into tears while driving past one of the (many) places I found in online (Meetup) photos where my special AH took his schmoopies to wine, dine, and dance the night away. Those photos were burned into my brain for a while, but they’ve faded a bit now.

  • Great to have a potential medical condition which most often leads to a treatment. But as CL mentions we already know the condition, trauma, and the treatment, removal of the trauma and apply follow on self-care however that needs to be for you. I am not a doctor. I had cancer during the various D-days and RIC counseling and had a heart attack just after the divorce was finalized and the division of assets (which dragged on for over a year afterwards) was completed. I concur extended emotional trauma certainly exacerbated the existing conditions I already had for my situation but let me add some experiencial observation. After my heart attack I was dosed pretty high with a cocktail of drugs (including beta blockers) in an aggressive attempt to avoid another, a common reactionary medical procedure. The feelings of ‘out of body/mind’ or just ‘going through the motions’ or even ‘just existing’ were very real after all the d-days AND the heart attack. These cardiac medications are strong and important. My brain was flooded with cortisol, the fight or flight chemical, by my own body due to these life circumstances and so to add more chemicals that have mild mind altering effects may not be the best solution. Historically docs have prescribed low dose seratonin reuptakers (aka Prozac, my sis and sis-n-law took these because of their cheaters) or maybe even mood stabilizers (aka Zanax, also ‘mothers little helper’ pill). Chumps have many life alterning important decisions to make and while calm, clearheadedness is needed I cannot get behind mind affective medications intended for other uses. Its important to have thorough discussions with your doctors so they can help you as an informed team. I am not a doctor, just a classic chump who has found clarity and meaning in this group because of this author and her concise anaylsis in her book!

    • Follow-on comment: Everyone is different and we all have the autonomy to make our own adult decisions, so make them. I was all stages of emotional trauma but I will admit to clinging to the anger the most. Anger has energy and I needed that energy to make things happen, big life altering things to sustain myself and my kids as the FW attempted to steal our lives from us. That energy had a cost which may have had a negative impact on my health. Rally your troops/community/inner circle and let them pour some energy into you as well. I reached out to just about anyone and anything (groups, businesses) I could to get knowledge and support. Things will go wrong, outcomes will not be as planned so thinking quickly and with informed knowledge are critical. Most recently a court awarded item was severely delayed in its processing. When I inquired frequently (8 months calling every 2 weeks) and was given the run-around. I got my local representatives office involved as court orders are legal matters and it is the law that if a state or federal representative makes an inquiry, there must be a response within 30 days. 30 Days! I wasted months and they got the answer in 30 days or less. Just FYI

  • I hope this is ok – I just wanted to extol the virtues of propranolol for immediate anxiety relief (as opposed to an anti depressant or anti anxiety med that can take weeks or more to work). I’m NOT a doctor but my son suffered a very bad concussion and one of the main after-effects was severe anxiety attacks at any minor stress. All the neuropsychologists tried many meds but the one that worked and continues to work was propranolol. It physically (not mentally) calms your anxiety symptoms (racing heart etc) which has an immediate emotionally calming response. Again, I’m NOT a doctor but I advise anyone suffering from acute symptoms to ask their doctor about this med.

    • Good info.

      And yes of course there are other non medical type treatments, but unfortunately they take much more time and in the thick of the trauma many of us still have to take care of children and/or work a full time job. A job that may very well be our lifeline to prevent us living in poverty for years to come.

      A lot of folks lose their jobs because of this shit, that they didn’t even do.

  • I have mixed emotions about Brunet’s study.
    Of course the traumatic effects of romantic betrayal are real – the pain – the shock – the disbelief- the chest pains- the rapid heart beat – sleepless nights – crying those blood tears that make your pillow case black with mascara etc
    -in my case the shock of a 30 year marriage to Dr Perfect who really had a hidden hooker habit
    -but I hate the thought that this Fkwit could stain me with any label. I hate the thought he has the power to slam me in the knees again only this time with a label of mental illness. He’d love that.
    The only adjustment (disorder) that I would make it to have his filthy penis surgically removed.
    God bless Chump Nation

  • Lundy Bancroft pointed out on his blog that no training program for mental health care professionals in the US requires a class on abuse in relationships. Not one. It’s no wonder the RIC has flourished. 🤦‍♀️

  • Please see the post-separation abuse wheel that MichelleShocked provided above.

    A very kind police officer told me that my then-husband had made a hobby of harassing me by any means possible, and he said it was something he often saw with men who discovered they had been catfished. He said they are humiliated because they have been so foolish, and try to regain face by blaming and harming their innocent spouses.

    This included changing the addresses on all my personal and financial mail, repeatedly changing the phone numbers and emails on my store rewards programs, etc. These weren’t oversights or accidentals. He had to input my car’s VIN number into the DMV site to register it to HIS address, and did the same with my insurance, which invalidated my insurance since your car has to be registered and insured at the address where the car is garaged. He also got my car’s registration stickers, and without my DMV mail I didn’t know they expired. He changed passwords on accounts that I had to pay, such as utilities. Removed me from credit cards and bank accounts.

    I suspect my ex had a dirty tricks handbook to come up with various ways to interfere in my life. After he assaulted me, I sat outside waiting for help while he packed. He tried to steal my computer, but my grandson caught him with it hidden under his shirt on the way to his car, so I got it back. He also switched lines in the toilet to pump the methane gas into the house, left a live wire exposed in the space between the desks my grandson and I used, and smashed the smoke detector in that room. Each of these actions came to light over time, and a social worker to put them together and theorized he was trying to cause a fire or explosion in the house.

    In his first hours away, he logged into every account he could reach and changed the passwords for our computers and cell phones. I had to get an IT guy to come in to the house to secure the computers, and he’s the one who got shocked by the live wires that were left exposed. Fortunately he was OK.

    He did even worse to our then sixth-grade grandson (we had custody). After a single visit where he ditched the supervisor and attempted to leave town, he was not allowed to see grandson in person. He then made secret calls via cellphone using apps that didn’t leave a record of the calls. He repeatedly threatened and terrified grandson, trying to convince him to give the codes for our doors and alarms, steal valuable items and weapons from the house, and run away. After being dumped by yet another woman he had love-bombed, ex created an elaborate plan that involved making false allegations that I abused grandson, and getting grandson to meet with him secretly at an isolated location at the time police and DHS arrived at my house. The plan fell apart because I called grandson to come home at the very moment grandson had arrived at the meeting spot on his bike and noticed ex had changed the license plate. I don’t know what ex was planning to do, but it could have been horrific. His scheme backfired, and DHS recommended he have no contact at all. The parental responsibilities evaluator concurred, and I got sole custody and decision-making. It took a long time for grandson to even start to recover.

    • Dear God, Goodfriend, what a fucking nightmare. I’m
      So sorry that you were out through such a meat grinder of an experience. I admire you for surviving.

      So odd that men who are tricked react by being cruel to their loyal partner. I have long said that many men would rather look like assholes than appear stupid. It would follow that the lengths of cruelty are in direct proportion to their revealed stupidity.

      • Thank you, all of you, for the support. He told a mutual friend that he expected to have to go to prison, but managed to spin that too, by saying he might have to plead guilty to things he didn’t do. It might have been another bid for sympathy and image-polishing. Months later he called me on a burner phone so I didn’t recognize the number (I’d been steadfast no contact) , and said he had been in psych facilities and also locked up. I suspect he faked a psych illness. He lied in written reports to law enforcement, banks and credit card companies, claiming his identity was stolen to take out credit cards by people he didn’t know. Per his emails to his online AP, and evidence left behind, he took out credit cards in Shmoopie’s name and authorized her and her friends to run up over $5k monthly in charges. After I proved to him that Schmoopie was a romance scam, he refused to pay the cards, claiming he didn’t know about them.
        Towards the end of the custody case, he stopped appearing online for court hearings. His attorney made excuses about his physical and mental health until the judge had enough and said she’d order a competency hearing. He finally signed the stipulation to relinquish custody and decision-making , but subsequently on some financial issues I saw that he had a POA.
        Mentally ill or physically ill or not, there’s nothing that excuses his behavior to me and especially to our grandson. He IS in some kind of facility now. He should be in prison.

        • I hope he stays there a long time. I’m sorry you went through this. Are you guys safe now? Do you have a restraining order?

  • Donna Chapman, who works with couples in which one half has identified as trans, wrote a paper back in 2012 in which she identified the hit taken by the non-trans-identifying partner as “attachment injury.” Personally I like this term, “attachment injury,” better than “attachment disorder,” because it de-pathologizes the person suffering from it, and puts the onus on the person who has (ahem..) “dealt it.”

    I’m quite interested to read about this research, as I started taking a beta-blocker (Metoprolol) for my paroxysmal supraventricular tachycardia about three years ago (this is a non-fatal condition in which the electrical signal that regulates the heart gets out of whack, and the heart beats irregularly). I take it both at the onset of an episode, and in situations of stress, as stress is one of the triggers for the onset of an episode. I never take more than one 25 mg pill, and I do not take it daily.

    I have noticed in the past few years that memories–all of them–seem to have less emotional power than they did, and this has bothered me, as my mother suffered from both cognitive decline and memory loss. I know things happened (meaning I haven’t forgotten them), but they seem weirdly void of emotional power. At times I’ve wondered whether the trauma I suffered at the end of my marriage broke my mind. I’ve also wondered whether my former state of heightened emotionality was pathological, and I lived in stressful situations for so much of my life that I just didn’t know what normal emotional regulation felt like. But I will say that this feeling of memories having a flattened emotional quality and effect is akin to the one I experienced when I was on the anti-depressant Zoloft, which flattened out all my emotional affect, wiped out my libido, and led me to gain weight (all of which are reasons I stopped taking that drug). So I don’t know whether my beta-blocker or my new non-stressful state (or, god forbid, the onset of dementia) is responsible for the change in the emotional power/content of my memories. At times I’m grateful for this new state of being, at times I’m bothered by it.

    A quick search I just did of the literature on propanolol (the drug in CL’s entry) reveals that along with its efficacy in preventing the consolidation and re-consolidation of memories, it may be implicated in long term memory decline (metoprolol, which I take, is said not to be so implicated). That information would make me personally more hesitant to take the drug and more likely to seek out therapies like EMDR–but that’s just me. In any case, it’s always a good idea to do a search of the literature and have a long conversation and ongoing check-ins with your pharmacist and doctor when you’re prescribed a new drug.

    Hope I didn’t come off negative and too anecdotal. I am all on board a focus on our loss as an attachment injury and the focus that can bring to helping us.

  • I worked at a large city hospital. We used to say, men who had been cheated on, had a huge risk of a heart attack within two years. The women developed breast cancer. These were people without other risk factors. Of course there was nothing scientific about it. But over and over it was noticed. People talk when frightened and alone. Surprisingly, anger seemed to be very healing. There is something very real about betrayal and health

    • Takotsubo cardiomyopathy, broken heart syndrome is a real thing. Traumatic emotional stress induces it. And they treat it with beta blockers and rest.

  • A family member of mine took Propranolol during exposure therapy for a phobia. The idea is the same, that phobias are caused by memories – often ones from so deep in childhood that we don’t consciously remember them. Going through exposure therapy while on the drug seems to weaken the connection between the fear and the memory.

    As I recall it wasn’t a magical cure for them, but it helped enough that they were no longer paralyzed by that fear.

  • I so wish that betrayal abuse was recognized legally and medically, and that there was a place that victims could go for desperately needed treatment. I don’t think we have anything like that and we so need it. After Dday, FW went off to Vegas to give me some space (I know, I know) and I curled up in a fetal position, unable to eat, drink go to the bathroom, or think coherently. You know how they say you can’t go more than 3 days with water? Well, you can. In the weeks following I took my (normally low) BP because I felt the way I did when I had pre-eclampsia of pregnancy, and I had severe hypertension, the kind for which I’d have been immediately admitted to hospital for treatment. But unfortunately the processing part of my brain was so impaired I couldn’t recognize the need for this. I was in so much pain I felt like my skin was on fire, and my brain was spinning in a closed loop of what had happened. There should be a kind of supportive mental treatment for people who are usually normal but are faced with a trauma they can’t handle, and removal of the abuser for a period should be part of it, as they do with physical domestic abuse. Imagine if there was a place to go where others could help you make sense of what had happened, give you propanol so that these terrible memories did not become etched in acid on your soul, share with you a realistic appraisal of the possibility of your partner “healing”, talk to you about your options, be comfortable with your wailing and disbelief. Yes, CL does much of this, but I am talking about the early days when you are reeling and incomprehending. To me it is as if there is a person in a car accident, broken bones sticking out through your skin…and you are left by the side of the road, all alone. Well, until the RIC vultures come along to pick the remaining meat off your bones (which also is abuse.)

    • “To me it is as if there is a person in a car accident, broken bones sticking out through your skin…and you are left by the side of the road, all alone. Well, until the RIC vultures come along to pick the remaining meat off your bones (which also is abuse.)”

      This is a great analogy.

    • I am sorry for what you went through, I so feel for you and with you. Thank you for describing your feelings, it has helped me to feel less alone and “wrong”. I did not know what was being done to me, what was happening to my body, and wasted countless years being shamed in submission by the whole RIC crap. But I am so happy to have now found ChumpLady – it is so healing to finally know I am not alone. I actually have just told the STBXH today that I want him to leave. It feels a bit unreal, he is a quiet type so I will find out in a few days what kind of manipulative shit he’ll throw at me as punishment, but I’m done, no matter what.

  • Interesting science. I wonder if I had had the help I needed from the onset, maybe I wouldn’t have experienced massive hair loss about a year later. Oh it grew back, but never as full and thick as it was before. At age 40 you just don’t bounce back as well as when you are 20.

    I am so excited and encouraged for baby chumps. I also foresee a day when our CL is front and foremost in the conversation.

  • This makes so much sense, wish I had known about this when I first found out about the cheating. I am an anesthesiologist and commonly give patients beta blockers. The science makes perfect sense!

  • I believe the brain has four responses to extreme stress – fight, freeze, flight and fawn. Chump Lady’s blog has provided the anecdotal information which supports the theory that flight (no contact) is most effective. Perhaps the cognitive dissonance and physical symptoms chumps experience is due to our efforts to try the other methods. Confronting FW and/or the AP, spackling and staying put, the pick me dancing might be frantic survival efforts which work in other situations.

  • Interesting! I studied beta blockers for years during my early research and have published on them. They’ve been used to reduce anxiety for performance such as giving speeches etc. Just a word of caution-they do have side effects particularly in smaller women or men and may cause your blood pressure to drop and you may pass out. Their primary use in medicine is as antihypertensives. But certainly an interesting concept worth learning more about. Hugs to the newbies!

  • I wish I had had more knowledge to handle the early days of my life implosion event. I felt so deeply traumatized, almost to a level of paranoia and massive distrust of practically everything and everyone that surrounded me. It felt like a conspiracy I was only becoming conscious of and the rest of the world all knew about.
    My brain had shut down and I was unable to process anything whatsoever, at a time that I had to be able to do the most processing I’d ever been expected to do in my entire life!
    When I’m hurt, I pull inward, it’s always been my MO, so this experience exaggerated that impulse for me and I felt the most isolated and alone I could have possibly ever felt in life.
    Betrayed by my wingman, incomprehensible!
    I wouldn’t have trusted a mental health counselor to be able to figure it out for me. I was on an island all alone that was sinking and had to come up with a solution all by myself and did not have a brain capable of processing that level of pain, a pain beyond description.
    If I wasn’t trying to be super strong for my kids, I think I would have seriously considered exiting this earth to get away from, what felt like, a completely inescapable event.
    It’s beyond horrific, as this nation is completely fully aware!
    I feel hopeful that it is reaching main stream platforms and it’s being less seen as, oh, you’ll be fine, you just need to get away and be happy again. There is nothing simple about abuse recovery!!
    It goes so much deeper than the majority of ppl have the capacity to realize or ever truly want to know.
    I think the use of propranolol sounds like an exciting mode of therapy. Any way to tamp down the memories would have been a greatly welcomed experience, it was a complete runaway train!
    I think I still have C- PTSD from it, but I can distract myself better now and can find the little things that bring me joy and appreciate them to a whole new level, I’m so very grateful for that.
    Four years ago, it just loomed over me like this heavy load of darkness and despair that would never be okay.
    Thanks for sharing that research CL, the narrative and understanding is ever so slowly evolving.
    ‘Huzzah’ the hell out of that!! 😊👍

  • I’m as big a believer in positive thinking as anyone, but there’s a level of trauma that isn’t going to be cured by raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens (with due apologies to the deity of my childhood).

    The thing that was necessary, was my physically removing myself from the house I shared with my then-husband. Intellectually, I knew the man I’d come to depend on for over half my life wasn’t real … but he was like a phantom limb; in my pain my instinct was still to lean on him.

    I don’t know if propranolol would have helped. I had persistent flashbacks for eighteen months. I believed then (and now) that they were necessary to my ultimate healing. They brought back memories of irrational rages and incomprehensible incidents that had never been satisfactorily explained — going back decades, to the earliest days of our marriage. I knew at the time this was my mind re-organizing the puzzle pieces now, into a cohesive narrative.

    What would I have reconciled with … a phantom limb?

    • I really like the phantom limb comparison. That’s a great one!

      I had the same instinct, to lean on him, exacerbated by my having medical insurance through his work and my being self-employed. (The U.S.’s stupid linkage of health care coverage to employment keeps many abused people attached longer than they would be otherwise).

      • “linkage of health care coverage to employment keeps many abused people attached longer” – oh, the irony! FW abuse is so damaging to one’s health, mental and physical.

      • I’ve compared FW to a gangrenous arm. It hurts like a mofo, and I will hurt even worse when it gets amputated. Life will never be the same and I will miss having two arms!

        BUT… it’s poisoning my entire body as we speak. If I don’t get rid of it it will kill me.

  • I talked my GP into prescribing me Propanolol since I had read even before discovering the betrayal that it was used off-label for anxiety. My mother always said I’d been anxious since birth – and the beta blocker works against adrenaline. I think I need to up my dose since I do feel like I get palpitations regularly. I too feel like my next blood test will show pre-diabetes as the result of the stress and trauma of the past year.

  • I couldn’t eat, sleep, or concentrate after D Day. When I finally fell asleep, I would awaken with my heart pounding. Clonidine at bedtime helped tremendously. Clonidine is an old, cheap, off patent drug that reduces the adrenaline produced during your “fight or flight” reaction.

  • I was lucky enough to already be on an antidepressant when D-Day happened. I did have to up the dosage to function. Still, it was awful. I lost 5 pounds in a week…while pregnant!! I was so worried my baby was going to be born messed up.

    I moved away within two months to get away from then-stbx. I paid for chiropractic care (out of pocket) to prepare me for the birth. That was INCREDIBLY helpful as my chiropractor was wonderful and did so much to loosen my tense muscles. She was very much into the idea of the body carrying trauma, so I told her everything and that helped ease the burden so much. Releasing the weight of this story as she released the tension from my muscles – it was a great combination.

    My son was born six months after D-Day – healthy, thank God! A few months after that, I developed severe pelvic pain. The midwives referred me to a pelvic physical therapist, who as we were in sessions together, asked me if I had any trauma related to this area. So I told her, and once again it was incredibly freeing to release that burden as she untwisted the tension in my pelvic floor muscles. I had so much less pain after the six week session, and I still use exercises from that time when I feel myself tensing up from anxiety.

    My point is, I think antidepressants and massage therapy are so helpful for people suffering the trauma of betrayal. Because it *is* a trauma that the body carries keenly and very painfully. Any sort of relief during the triage process of surviving day to day after betrayal is so needed.

  • When my ex delivered the news that he was leaving because after three years of supporting him while he took two classes per semester at the local community college (while I worked a high pressure corporate job AND went to MBA school at night), I had become a drag and not much fun to be around. He delivered this news immediately after he accepted a job.

    I had been diagnosed with Graves disease the same month and my doctor put me on beta blockers to calm down my heart which felt like it was going beat right out of my chest. It saved my life. I went from being an anxious mess losing a pound of weight a day and hoping I would die in my sleep to literally not giving a S$!t focusing on getting through the next minute in the new state of blissful calm those wonderful pills had given me. Beta blockers saved me during those first few months.

  • I just wish there was something I could take to specifically blunt my reactions to the ongoing stress of having to deal with ex nearly every day, as I raise my three littles. It constantly feels like I am being threatened by him. Sometimes I am and sometimes I just know he could undermine me at any time. It is such a marathon. Someone asked me if I felt I had forgiven him. Maybe, for the demise of our relationship. But for the ongoing and daily shit he serves up for me and the kids – No.

    • I don’t know your situation, but is there any way of reducing your contact? Even with kids, you shouldn’t have to be communicating with him every day. Parenting software? A third party? A separate phone/email that you don’t HAVE to check until you want to (like at a set time each day)? There’s no reason why school communications, for instance, can’t just be sent to both of you so you don’t have to relay information (my ex was terrible about remembering school functions, handling homework, all of it – but I just let him have his own fallout from that; if he didn’t show up to a parent-teacher conference, then so be it – not my problem). At least with parenting software or direct communication with the school, etc. you have a record of the interactions, which sometimes (though not always) makes the other person behave a bit better. My son was in also daycare, and my ex and I communicated with the providers separately (and did drop offs/pickups at daycare for quite a while so we never had to see each other). I hope there is some way you can reduce your interactions with him. It is awful “coparenting” with these people.

      I was on an antidepressant for most of the time when I had to coparent, and it did help. It wasn’t a high dose, just enough to sort of “take the edge off”. I, personally, didn’t have any side effects once I’d found the right medication. You might consult with your doctor about trying something (I took Mirtazapine, but I had tried a few others as well, some of which made me feel “foggy” or tired, so you have to find what works for you). I was also in weekly or bi-weekly talk therapy where I could rant to my therapist and work through my frustration and anger. My therapist was wonderful; however, she was the fourth or fifth person I’d gone to, so finding a good therapist also can take awhile.

      Hugs to you. It sucks. I coparented with my abusive ex for 4 1/2 years. He was always putting my poor kid in the middle (using the kid to carry messages, or try and get information out of me). He stalked me (via other people, since he was blocked on all social media), and tried to use anything he found against me. He tried to paint me as an unfit parent, questioned my mental health to the courts, tell the court blatant lies, etc. He’d interfere with holidays I had my son for by harassing me with constant texts and calls. He’d threaten me as well, and tried to blackmail me. It was awful. I’m so sorry you are dealing with all that.

      My ex died last year, and it is so much better being a single mom than it was coparenting. My workload and stress went DOWN. I realized I’d been doing everything anyway, pretty much.

  • I was told by a psychiatrist that I had an adjustment disorder, but the symptoms were actually classic PTSD. I had done my research, so I pointed that out. He was very dismissive and patronizing. I got the strong impression he was sexist. I think he didn’t want to give me outpatient psychiatric care, and an adjustment disorder is considered less serious than PTSD, so he could justify his decision that way. The psychiatric nurse who did my work-up did not agree with his diagnosis, but could do nothing about it.

    There were patients in the psych outpatient waiting room freaking out who had to be sedated and restrained. I wasn’t freaking out, so those patients got the benefit of triage. The doctor even lied to me and said he would put me on the list for outpatient care. I checked back and I was not on the list.
    It was yet another experience which made it harder to trust.
    So I am wary of anyone claiming that severe betrayal trauma is an adjustment disorder.

  • A close friend of mine sent me a statement, not sure of its origin, that explained that extreme independence was a response to trauma. Those who are supposed to love you, protect you, defend you, instead betray you, or let you down when you need them most. It is a survival technique you learn to cope with the situation.

    Another friend told me, with great sorrow, that she thought I had never been really loved and cherished by any man in my life.

    I see a pattern in their observations, and believe they have a legitimate point. They spoke from love and concern, not in a critical way. I cannot control who my father, or grandfather was. I picked bad husbands. I’ve had less devastating bad relationships with boyfriends. Really, why should I trust or depend on a man? I’ve also had bad bosses, both sexes, and some conniving schmoopies. So why wouldn’t I become independent?

    I have dated men who told me they found me too independent. I don’t know what the proper level of dependency is, for them, but I certainly would not want a dependent man in my life.

    I don’t know what the answer is, and I don’t know if I need drugs. I’ve always thought I graduated from the School of Hard Knocks. I didn’t even want to attend, but that is where I found myself. I think we need to do whatever it is that makes us feel better and healthier. In early days, I sure could have used a boost. I am far out of the fray now, so I doubt I will change my independent ways. Nice to know science is investigating the phenomenon without blaming us for experiencing it.

    • I so relate to this. Now reading “how to do the work” by LePare (I think). It is all about response to trauma and techniques to overcome. A lot of what you present is reflected in this book. I know we talk a lot about trauma and abuse here. I am also of the belief that my early trauma dissociated my emotion from my brain and has made me lest emotional and loving than I’d like to be and to feel unloved. So I put up with bad behavior or rather was an easy target for chumpdom in many forms. My response at this point is to also just live alone and not be interested in the least in a romantic relationship. It makes me sad for myself but also quite content. Hugs!!

    • I so relate to this. Now reading “how to do the work” by LePare (I think). It is all about response to trauma and techniques to overcome. A lot of what you present is reflected in this book. I know we talk a lot about trauma and abuse here. I am also of the belief that my early trauma dissociated my emotion from my brain and has made me lest emotional and loving than I’d like to be and to feel unloved. So I put up with bad behavior or rather was an easy target for chumpdom in many forms. My response at this point is to also just live alone and not be interested in the least in a romantic relationship. It makes me sad for myself but also quite content. Hugs!!

  • Couple these findings with ongoing research that seems to indicate autoimmune response (think fibromyalgia, Hashimoto’s, PCOS, and in my own case Giant Cell Arteritis which can cause aneurysm growth in the aorta or the brain) is triggered by repetitive interactions with disordered individuals. Your narcissistic ex can literally make you long term and seriously sick.

  • All in all, I still think the best “cure” for socially-induced conditions like complex trauma from intimate abuse are forums like CL/CN, movements that change the cultural paradigm and like-minded therapy. I tend to suspect that any successful hunt for “cures” lies in cause for most things and the answer to bad psycho-social theory for socially-borne trauma is improved psycho-social theory, not necessarily drugs.

    Because the pharmaceutical industry doesn’t need any facilitation boosting sales in the age of DTC drug promotions, it’s probably helpful to include the full list of side effects when mentioning any particular medication or psychoactive drug. For instance, one of the many side effects of beta blockers (whether used for blood pressure or anxiety https://rxisk.org/top_100_reactions/Propranolol/) is global memory loss (https://www.aarp.org/health/drugs-supplements/info-2017/caution-these-10-drugs-can-cause-memory-loss.html).

    I worked for an environmental health publication for more than ten years that mostly reported on the epidemiological effects of environmental toxins on human health– pollution, chemical dumping, plastics, pesticides, food additives and blockbuster medications. My job was digging up hidden money trails and helping to pick apart the PR defenses of culpable industries for which having a background in DV victims advocacy was key because industrial DARVO is virtually identical to perp DARVO.

    Every toxic industry has its versions of Esther Perel spin doctors but, instead of extolling the upsides of domestic abuse and minimizing societal and personal costs, they publish junk science claiming that pollution is good for toddlers or that things that destroy neurons actually “regenerate” neurons, etc., etc. And like Perel promoting and being promoted by the reconciliation therapy for victims of what Perel claims are the not-so-terrible and even “beneficial” effects of intimate abuse, toxic industries invest in Haliburton-esque “disaster capitalism” profits from peddling cures for the very ills they contribute to– e.g., AstraZeneca, that, in addition to producing breast cancer treatment drugs, profited from the sale of an herbicide known to cause cancer.

    If you want to investigate bogus PR claims and “tobacco science” style defensive research manipulation, pharma sets the pace for other industries and they all swap tobacco science claims. The publication I worked for also worked with several leading psychiatric and psychopharmaceutical whistleblowers and watchdogs (none of whom had any association to Scientology, btw) because the same cellular effects (particularly on the theme of acquired mitochondrial damage) are often seen in the wakes of environmental disasters/exposures and iatrogenic illness alike. It makes investigating health effects sort of like Murder on the Orient Express– a “perfect crime” because specific cause is extremely difficult to determine beyond the fact that rates of so many cognitive and physiological conditions have risen exponentially at various points in the industrial age and pharmaceutical era. It gets really funky when the treatments for environmental ailments cause or compound the same effects as the original toxic cause.

    At this point I think everyone should acquire some science literacy if they want to stay healthy and participate in democracy because modern laws and policies are often based on cellular science for better or worse. And behind a lot of those laws and policies are bill mills and think tanks dominated by various toxic industries that crank out their own junk science. There’s a lot to untangle and consumers are caught in turf wars between treatment theories which are mostly bent on profits and name rights. Psychiatry is no different. In any event, psychiatric watchdogs generally concluded that, though psychoactive drugs might be useful short term in cases of extreme distress, they don’t actually “cure” anything, don’t “correct” brain chemicals (https://cyberleninka.org/article/n/229214) and all carry side effects that can impact different individuals in unpredictable ways. Industry has long been criticized for spending far more on PR than safety trials so individual genetic propensities to develop severe side effects haven’t been identified in most cases so that susceptible individuals can’t be screened out. It’s like playing roulette and consumers and society absorb the risks and pay for the fallout.

    Brunet has been promoting drugs for traumatic memory for more than twenty years (the bio photo on Psypost is about that old). Sort of like how microprocessors originally designed for nuclear warheads can end up in your phone, the foundations of Brunet’s work at McGill have some dodgy origins. For example, one of the founders of Brunet’s department was a psychiatrist who received funds from the CIA to run torture chambers for brain-washing and memory-destroying experiments on his patients (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Montreal_experiments). Brunet’s focus seems to be finding more profitable applications for all those memory-meddling discoveries. Proponents of ECT, lobotomy and drug treatments for PTSD have long claimed that invasive or chemical treatments can selectively prune or “de-energize” only bad memories but professional critics point out science has no means to identify the cellular processes related to specific types of memory beyond which parts of the brain light up in scans or which multi-purpose receptors are more or less engaged. At most, invasive and chemical treatments are simply carpet bombing parts of the brain in the hopes of hitting a target. Science currently understands less about the human brain than they do the galaxy.

    The publication I worked got lobbied by a lot of crystal healers and other woo proponents but the publication didn’t promote alternative treatments for environmentally or socially acquired ailments beyond acknowledging emerging science. For PTSD treatment, I was impressed by advances in “nutritional psychiatry” and that behavioral desensitization therapies like EMDR seem to be effective in selecting and dampening specific memories. But by all accounts, PTSD appears to be extremely complicated and tricky to treat. Again, when looking for a cure, looking to cause can be helpful. In study after study, PTSD appears to be deeply intensified by lack of social and community support which are in turn impacted by cultural and political messaging. When victims are partly blamed for their own misfortune (the example often given is veterans of unpopular wars like Vietnam who came home to jeering and rejection) they tend not to be embraced and supported by the community and will suffer worse effects than those who are recognized and supported.

    Anyway, these are some of the reasons I love CL and CN. In an imaginary clinical trial, I suspect the UBT and tap dancing on the heads of RIC mavens would top any drug treatment for safety and efficacy.

  • My then GP at my local health centre was brilliant. She prescribed a beta blocker immediately. She sadly lost her job because she spent ‘too long’ with her patients (UK where they are allowed only 10 minutes for each patient on the NHS). I am very grateful to her. I was a mess. I developed a terrible cough and my weight dropped nearly 2 stones, down to 8st 5lbs within 2 weeks (I’m 5ft 6ins and I looked very ill). I was eating but the adrenaline and cortisol were so powerful, it made no difference. The ex was particularly abusive and unpleasant. I’ve had therapy twice a week for most of the last 3 years. I’ve just dropped the sessions to once a week. It’s working but I do still feel anxious quite regularly – see later. I now have a puppy and he has truly helped to save my life (no kids and my family is not equipped to deal with emotions unless they are their own). In the same year as I was dumped, I badly broke my knee in a ski accident and my dad died just a few weeks before the dumping. I had no job (I’d retired), minimal income, and I was terrified of becoming homeless. Interestingly, the farce of English politics over the last 7 weeks or so (led by yet another adulterer until last week) has brought back some of the anxiety I felt 3 years ago. I accept that I have to deal with cheaters in my life but I keep contact to a minimum and as grey rock as I can manage. In my profession, male cheaters are run of the mill and I’ve had to learn to manage that. I wouldn’t have chosen any of this, and I wish I had not wasted 26 years on a man who was nowhere near good enough for me. It has been quite an experience and I’ve learnt to look after myself so much better, for which I am grateful.

  • Yep ~ diagnosed with adjustment disorder and prescribed ultimately with propranolol cos I was paranoid about benzos.

    I took temazepam for one script but my teenage son, who was/is going through an experimental stage, said “mum ~ make sure you get those off a script (as opposed to Snapchat or the local dealer or wherever he got his from)”

    I didnt take many benzos as I read all the horror stories, including Jordan Peterson’s horrible withdrawal story. I’ve had short term akathesia twice before from nausea medication and it was the worst experience of my life. I would take betrayal trauma a million times over compared to akathesia, so be careful around benzos etc.

    • Remember when benzos used to be doled out like candy? I was offered a script for an ear infection in 2008. I passed on it. I’d heard at a conference that benzodiazepines carry the highest risk of suicide and sudden violence towards others even in people without violent histories or preexisting mental health issues. It’s apparently happened to people who took the drugs for off-label purposes like headaches from head injury or who took them by pharmacy mistake. It might not be that common but it’s spooky that one knows why some develop akathisia and violent psychosis. There are speculations that certain adverse behavioral drug reaction relates to otherwise benign or beneficial genetic immune polymorphisms which vary between ethnic groups and individuals. But unless susceptibility factors are nailed down and patients are screened, people are still walking into these risks blind.

      What isn’t uncommon with benzos is addiction. It takes less than ten days of moderate use to form tolerance because, by design, the drugs are a fast-acting version of Valium. Fast acting= fast addiction. Too scary.

  • I just want to add that one episode of cheating can easily cause this trauma. Also, it doesn’t have to involve sex workers, paternity tests or transmitted diseases. I know CL knows this.
    I wish e everyone knew this.

  • Just wow. This is an eye opening read. So many of us. Me: sertraline and EDMR. Occasional diphenhydramine for sleep. Just couldn’t do it on my own – in fact, I trained to be a qualified yoga teacher, meditated every day, and worked out all the time, but still didn’t get better. My exercise became too extreme and was a crutch until I got the extra seratonin boost and the non- judgemental help I needed – an EDMR-trained therapist who also happened to work in women’s refugees and with survivors of domestic and sexual violence. Weirdly, it also helped that that kindness and reliability came from a member of the opposite sex. Still on the sertraline – maybe one day I’ll try life without it, but for now, I’m just grateful.

  • I’m I the only one who can’t get past first few post, before it pops to top again? Guess I won’t know the answer cause it pops back up

    • Yes, that happens for me pretty much all the time. On my screen now at the bottom right is a little ad window (often shown with a dark background and a revolving picture of earth from space). At the top left of that small window is a little circle with and X. Click on the X and the window disappears, and then the bobbing to the top issue seems to go away for a while.

    • That happens on most all my sites. I use the drag bar to the right, and that seems to offer a lot more control of the screen.

  • Firstly, I’m such a huge fan of your work Chump Lady – thank you for helping to restoring my sanity and confidence. Everything you say makes perfect sense. I wholeheartedly agree with medical intervention if nothing else works to calm the farm. I’m almost 60 and about a year ago (after trying counselling for several months) I commenced taking the same beta blocker you mentioned. For me it’s about self preservation while I get myself ‘sorted’. Stress kills – take care – especially when none of this shit is your choice (this is my second marriage and both husbands chomped me with the howorker).

  • Science is a slow process. In practice, as an ideal, it should be a wrapper for neopragmatism, in the sense of the philosophical name this branch has.

    The concepts of “modernist” philosophy of science weren’t neopragmatic since their inception. The concept of systematized knowledge actually did, but at that time, such a concept was not as specific as the methodological guides we know about today.

    So yeah, is not science that is catching up, is just that one of the woes of our human nature resides, in applying philosophical conundrums in a way that’s usually a double-standard, so, in consequence, something like this is like trying to make up for the illusion that science is the only, or even a hugely successful human enterprise, when in reality is a bit overestimated (shall I say, overrated). The collective human success in general tends to be overrated, while being bestowed for the savants, and ignoring the ones who really do the job, and the real effort to get to where we actually are.

    Unfortunately and usually, in the way healthcare professions are organized, there’s a tendency to implement a rather vertical hierarchy among people, making little difference even with someone being in a very specialized role, and some people still prefer prestige over capacity and epistemological correctness, no matter where the actual results may lead.

    What I’m trying to say is that, whether a source of practical knowledge is scientific or not in relation with topics like these where it’s difficult to navigate through constant controversy, it is, still, one of the lesser issues.

    Sometimes, some prestigious people do forget that Koch’s are postulates, and, in quality of being postulates, are the fundamentals of clinical *practice*. Forgetting the fundamentals in favor of the specifics is a huge mistake, as it happens in every field, not just healthcare.

    And last but not the least, my most sincere thanks of the OP, CL, I really appreciate it.

    And finally, came to the conclusion that I suck at writing.

  • Heartbreak is a great book that talks about the physical manifestations of heartbreak and things that can help. It’s a physical jolt to your system.

    And recommend a psychologist with a PHD, they have experience with personality disorders and mentally ill. They are usually better than the average therapist. Mine was extremely insightful.

  • I just tried to send an email to Ms. Perel expressing my concern that she calls herself a psychotherapist.

    Strangely, my correspondence bounced back to me – twice. I used the email address posted on her site.

    Pretty strange that someone in her position would be so selective the correspondence she receives 🤔

  • I absolutely took 12.5 mg metoprolol before entering situations where I knew I would have to see him, because it cut the anxious reactions and because I could not afford to be sedated by nor addicted to benzos.

  • it’s just finding that one therapist that really cares and not just pushing drugs for the company. Propranolol was the worst for me. And f’wit still frolics around with gals much younger than himself. I’m pretty sure his budget goes to playing with the statutory rape levels.

  • A BETA blocker for a broken heart?
    I’m horrified at this suggestion. Absolutely shocked tbh.

    “Adjustment DIS Order”…. what?

    So a person can’t be sad, broken hearted, shattered when facing their fears of the future for them and their kids?
    We have to BLOCK these feelings?

    No.
    We need to UNDERSTAND these feelings.
    Nurture ourselves with all that research SHOWS supports our healing after divorce and any grief we’ve felt.

    “WE” as a collective don’t need medications necessarily at all!
    We need support.
    We need people who understand every crazy thought we’re having in all stages post D Day.

    The very REASONS why the MH FRATernity is shying away from all of this and simply shutting ppl up with meds is because they do not have the answers! And we ALL know they have to think they DO have all the answers, it can be a very arrogant profession indeed. I will assume no one has any answers because no one can be bothered doing specific research on this.

    (I hate the “shut up and put up” mentality in ANY of it’s ugly forms).

    HERE WE ARE…. here are ALL the amazingly brave people who LEFT a cheater and HAVE created a FAR BETTER life for ourselves AND our children. Prescription free!

    BE BRAVE with your life.
    If you’ve survived that shit, you can heal from this.

    Love Chumpantidote

  • How interesting. I wondered why my ex had Beta blockers in the cupboard when I found out about his fuck fest and saw all the photos of him with a flushed face. He is a sober addict if that makes sense and knows pills, think he took these to cope with the anxiety of his huge betrayal, said he was participating on a surf camp for disabled people but had flown his married whore out.
    Later said that him cheating wasn’t ‘the real him’ yeah case of the body snatchers or chemical help. 4 years out 2 year restraining order thank the lord, peace.

  • >