Quite often, we associate post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) with extremely traumatic events in our lives, but the loss of a friendship that we thought would fulfill us can also be extremely jarring and traumatic. Friendship PTSD is often caused by friendships that have ended suddenly and badly.

Friendship PTSD can come in the form of feeling dread when the people you considered your day ones were never that all along. Or perhaps the love started out real, and the bond was unbreakable, and over time it just weakened. The fault could have even been on both ends. Either way, friendship PTSD is real. In some situations, our immediate response might be to conclude that the problems lie within us and that there has to be some flaw in our being to warrant people treating us poorly.

After the first few times this occurs, it’s often hard to see people in the same light. It can make us subconsciously become cynical toward relationships in general. What if they talk about you behind your back like your last friend did? This dread and pain has the potential to cloud your eyes and lead to a life of isolation if not addressed at the root.

The pain of friendship PTSD might make you subconsciously look out for the worst in people and write them off immediately. While pain may hurt your heart, it doesn’t have to harden it and dim your light permanently. Sometimes, the best step is to decide to be the type of friend you would want in your life, reflect on how you would value people and be honest with yourself in terms of acknowledging the role you may or may not have played in the fallout.

The interesting thing about friendship breakups is that they often sting more than romantic breakups do. The solution lies in giving yourself time in the same way you would after a bad breakup — allowing yourself to explore your likes and dislikes, build your finances, invest in yourself and pour the energy you have so freely poured out to other people back into yourself. Don’t rush to jump into situations that no longer serve you to avoid loneliness.

Quality people will come when you least expect them, but in the meantime, make your life a conducive environment for good things. Heal your heart, collect the broken pieces and fill the cracks and holes with love, laughter, and peace. Learn from the misdeeds of others and make a conscious decision never to do to others the things that have been done to you. Increase what it costs to have access to you and never settle for less. We often end up at the receiving end of a bad friend breakup because we do not follow our initial gut instincts about people. But we learn, and we move on. That is the beauty of growth. Although friendship PTSD is a thing, past events can no longer define you when you have consciously made an effort to heal and move on.