Common Causes of Brain Fog in Narcissistic Abuse Recovery (and How to Improve Them)

Common Causes of Brain Fog in Narcissistic Abuse Recovery (and How to Improve Them)

You’re feeling like it’s getting harder and harder to remember things. Maybe you have no idea where you put your keys, or if you already told your friend about a movie you watched.

As strange as memory loss sounds to people unfamiliar with brain fog, this is actually quite common among narcissist abuse victims.*

In fact, if you’ve ever experienced the ongoing abuse of a malignant narcissist in a toxic relationship, you’ve probably also experienced brain fog.

If you’re currently struggling with brain fog or any other symptom of C-PTSD, chances are that it’s at least in part due to the trauma the narcissistic abuser has caused you, and its symptoms are proof that you’re suffering from it.

What is “brain fog?”

Brain Fog is the feeling of dissociation or disconnectedness often experienced by victims of malignant narcissists during and after narcissistic abuse. Survivors describe it as feeling lost – like you’re not really there, or like you’re watching your life through a screen or a bubble.

The term is commonly used to describe short-term memory loss, forgetfulness, difficulty concentrating, confusion and difficulty thinking. Brain fog is a common symptom of C-PTSD, or complex post-traumatic stress disorder.

In other words, brain fog is exactly what it sounds like. A fog that clouds your thoughts, memory, comprehension, and judgment. See this video for more.

What happens to you when you have brain fog?

Brain fog can affect your sleep, professional life, and personal relationships, and lead to other health problems such as obesity. When you lack mental clarity, you make poor decisions and may take inappropriate actions.

If you suffer from brain fog, you are not alone. Brain fog affects roughly one out of every nine Americas during their lifetime. Some people also call brain fog mental fatigue.

How do you know if you’re dealing with brain fog?

If you aren’t sure whether you’ve felt brain fog, stick with me – it is a little confusing. For many people, it feels like you’re sort of “cloudy,” or like you’re not really participating in life.

You might feel like you’re sort of inside a bubble, or like there’s a thin barrier between you and everyone else. 

Learning the symptoms of brain fog can also help you to understand if and when you’re having episodes.

What are the symptoms of brain fog?

Check out the symptoms of brain fog below. Keep in mind the symptoms will vary from person to person but usually includes one or more of the following symptoms.

  •  Anxiety
  • Body aches
  • Confusion
  • Depression
  •  Emotional detachment
  •  Forgetfulness
  •  Headaches
  •  Inability to focus
  •  Insomnia
  •  Irritability
  •  Mood swings
  •  Lack of mental clarity
  • Low energy
  • Low motivation
  • Poor concentration

Why do we experience brain fog in narcissistic abuse?

Before I get emails and texts from people telling me that brain fog is only about narcissistic abuse, I’ll remind you that I’m well aware that it can also manifest for countess other reasons. Learn more about brain fog in this video,

Common Causes of Brain Fog and What You Can Do to Alleviate Them

Brain fog can be part of many issues, conditions, and illnesses. Here are four of the common causes of brain fog and what you can do about them. Please note that each of these issues can be affected by or even caused by the effects of long-term and/or ongoing narcissistic abuse.

Inflammation and Hormone Imbalances

Poor diet and exercise routines can lead to poor nutrition and vitamin levels that cause inflammation. Inflammation is by far the number one culprit of many diseases and symptoms. It restricts oxygen and blood flow needed for your brain to function at its best.

Consult with your physician and request a complete blood count if you suffer from brain fog. In addition, low blood levels of vitamins such as D, B12, and iron can easily cause inflammation, lack of mental clarity, and difficulty focusing.

Stress and Anxiety

Oxidative stress or free radicals caused by environmental stressors such as pollution and heavy metals damage your cells and tissues.

These free radicals are responsible for many symptoms of stress and anxiety seen around the world.

Vitamin E, flavonoids, and polyphenols are great resources to use to combat these free radicals. Chili peppers, whole grains, red wine, and fruits and vegetables are a few examples.

Poor Sleeping Habits

If you aren’t sleeping soundly and wake up feeling tired, you may have one or more sleep habits that are inhibiting a good night’s rest. For instance, you may be a night owl, suffer from sleep apnea or insomnia, have a sleep pattern that varies, or have a poor sleep environment.

All of these can contribute to brain fog.

As an adult between 17 to 64 years old, your body needs seven to nine hours of sleep each night to give your body time to repair itself on a cellular level.

Sleep deprivation can cause mood swings, depression, and even permanent brain damage in advanced cases, due to constant overstimulation.

Electromagnetic Radiation and Overstimulation

Smartphones, personal computers, or any technology that requires radio waves, microwaves, infrared, optical, ultraviolet, x-rays, or gamma rays will cause problems when overused.

In other words, scrolling on social media or spending too much time in front of the television can cause strain on your eyes and affect your sleep patterns, ultimately leading to brain fog. Therefore, limiting time spent on or with technology is crucial.

Takeaway

Don’t let brain fog get in the way of living a successful, happy life. Many of the causes of brain fog can leave you with lifelong or permanent damage. Try these solutions with the consent of your own doctor.

Be sure to seek the help of a physician or other medical professional to find the underlying cause of brain fog if you have it. 

*Disclaimer: I am not a medical professional. Nothing in this article or on this website should be taken as medical advice. Always check with your own doctor or medical professional before attempting to use any advice found here or anywhere on the internet. 

Start Getting Help with Narcissistic Abuse Recovery Today

Want to fast-track your narcissistic abuse healing with a celebrity psychologist?

Want to fast-track your narcissistic abuse healing with a celebrity psychologist?

Have you experienced the devastating effects of narcissistic abuse in a toxic relationship? If you have, you’re not alone!

In fact, millions of people have been affected by narcissistic abuse from their spouses or partners, family members, friends, bosses, coworkers, and even acquaintances. So many survivors suffer in silence, and some don’t even recognize the abuse due to its pervasive nature.

But now you can change all of that – and the best part is that you don’t have to go it alone. You can get personal help from celebrity psychologist, Dr. Judy Rosenberg.

Introducing Dr. Judy Rosenberg’s Mind Map – BREAKTHROUGH THERAPY

A Life-Changing Journey To Be The Cause® Of Better Outcomes For Your Life!

DECODE YOUR PAST…RECODE YOUR FUTURE®

This is a proven system designed to identify childhood wounds, dismantle them at the CAUSAL level, and Paradigm Shift into mental well-being. You Will Finally Get To The Truth of WHY You Seem to Attract Toxic People and Learn How to End the Pain, ONCE AND FOR ALL! 

The Mind Map Will Help You to:

  • Identify Your Childhood Wounds
  • Learn how to identify childhood wounds from your past, how you reacted to them, and how you encoded them.
  • See How Your Wounds Still Affect You Today
  • See how your wounds created your current chaos and how to identify defense mechanisms that keep you stuck.
  • Break through your defenses and release yourself from psychological prison. 

You Will Learn To Shift: 

  • Paradigm Shift Into Mental Health
  • Learn how to paradigm shift your relationship with yourself and others, heal, recode, and reconnect. This will allow you to Be The Cause® of better outcomes for your life.

GET TO THE HEART OF THE PROBLEM AND STRAIGHT TO THE CAUSE

  • Don’t Get Treatment for the Symptoms, Treat the Underlying Cause
  • These Are Not Just Techniques. It’s an Entire System That Has Worked for Thousands, Including Many of Dr. Judy’s celebrity clients.
  • Get Instruction From a Licensed Clinical Psychologist Who Has Been in Practice for Over 25 Years
  •  Journal Your Mind Map™ Journey, your storyboard of your pathway from DISCONNECTION and MENTAL UNHEALTH to your mental HEALTH and CONNECTION

You Will Learn:

  • WHO is the cause of your mental dis-ease
  • WHAT Human Disconnect does to your psyche
  • WHERE you are going on the pathway to healing
  • FROM – Past mental health
  • THROUGH – Dismantling your old psychological DNA
  • TO – Paradigm shifting into a newly encoded and healthy blueprint of mental health
  • Do this NOW so you don’t have to carry your dis-ease within and spread it to the next generation.
  • WHY? Because you’re sick and tired of suffering from anxiety, depression, bad habits, relationships, and other unhealthy symptoms and patterns

What if you could personally jumpstart your healing process with a renowned celebrity psychologist?

In her mission to help heal Global Disconnect, Dr. Judy Rosenberg has been helping to heal some of our society’s most elite members for over 30 years. Now, she wants to take her mission to the next level with an exclusive offer! But this offer will only be extended to a select few – so you’re going to need to hurry if you want a spot. 

Learn more about Dr. Judy’s mind map system

Here’s a video interview I recently did with Dr. Judy about her amazing mind map system. If you have questions, give Dr. Judy’s office a call at (855) 431-0360.

Only a few spots left in Dr. Judy’s upcoming online workshop!

Here’s the exciting part: Dr. Judy has created a special, 3-part live interactive webinar workshop, during which she will personally guide 25 special people through her personally developed, proven, and shockingly effective Mind Map system.

Yes, the same one that countless celebrities have used to heal from their own childhood traumas and adult toxic relationships.

The catch? Because she wants to personally guide each survivor through the system, she has limited access to this exclusive event to only 25 people.

So how do you qualify to be part of this rare event?

  • First, you must be able to attend each session and ready to take back your power.
  • Second, you must be willing and able to do the work involved.
  • Finally, you must be genuinely committed to creating profound personal change in your life.

What do you get out of this?

I mean, besides the opportunity to have this celebrity psychologist personally walk you through the system that has been helping the elite heal for years?

Not only will Dr. Judy teach you how to “think like a shrink” so you can manage your own mental health, but you’ll come away with a new secret superpower: you can reuse the Mind Map, again and again, to dig into and resolve most issues that keep you from living your best life.

Plus, you’ll get the benefit of the shared community experience with others who are on their own healing journeys.

Learn practical strategies for making a successful transition from victim to survivor and master how to: avoid the pitfalls of narcissistic abuse, interpret narcissistic signals, manage distorted feelings and emotions, avoid the problems of codependency, gain clarity from past experiences including childhood wounds, and reclaim your true identity, once and for all.

YES, the Mind Map system is THAT powerful – it really works.

What Dr. Judy’s Clients Say

” I was so excited to see and work with Dr. Judy as I had been following the WTF shows from London. From the start, Dr. Judy ‘got it’, I mean she got my story! For the first time in my life, someone was able to understand and see the patterns. It wasn’t at all easy if I am honest and sometimes I was filled with so much fear that I would never be able to escape my core belief system but in the end, after a climactic panel 6, something inside me began to shift.

I am so grateful to have had the opportunity to work with Dr. Judy who really does all this from her heart! I’m still working through a lot even though I’m almost on panel 9 but what I know is that deep within me a seismic shift has taken place. I’m discovering more about the effects of narcissism and uncovering deep offshoots of my core belief which is painful fascinating at the same time.

It is true what they say- ‘when the student is ready, the teacher comes.” ~C,D.

“She mindfully shifts our conversations to relevant behavioral patterns and provides useful, constructive tools through her mind map principles, which causes me to better understand the relationship with myself and others in a completely new (and healthier) perspective.” ~T.R.
“After only 10 sessions I became a better, stronger person with Judy. When I first came in I was full of issues and not having any idea about how to deal with them and start living life again.” ~K.K.

Learn more and sign up for this one-time online event

Visit Psychological Healing Center to learn more and sign up for this amazing opportunity – but hurry, as there are just a few spots left!

Questions you’d like to ask before you sign up? 

Just give Dr. Judy’s office a call at (855) 431-0360, or take a look at this video featuring more information about Dr. Judy’s Mind Map system

Your Brain on Narcissistic Abuse: Cognitive Dissonance, Trauma Bonding & Healing in Recovery

Your Brain on Narcissistic Abuse: Cognitive Dissonance, Trauma Bonding & Healing in Recovery

As a survivor of narcissistic abuse, I know how hard it can be to believe you could have been abused by someone you thought loved you. It’s not just that they were charming, seductive, and desirable. It’s also that they seemed to care about you. You may have even felt loved – at least on some level. It’s hard to imagine that everything you thought was true about your relationship might have been a lie. This is one way you can deal with serious cognitive dissonance. And don’t worry – you’re not alone here. This happens to nearly every narcissistic abuse survivor somewhere along the way. You might also be living with a form of post-traumatic stress disorder that significantly affects your everyday reality.

What is cognitive dissonance?

Cognitive dissonance is the mental discomfort (disagreeing cognitions) we experience when we encounter information that contradicts our existing set of beliefs or knowledge. In other words, when we experience cognitive dissonance, we feel anxious because part of us wants to reject new information because it is threatening to our established beliefs – but another part of us knows that the new information may be true and is demanding that we accept it as such. This internal tension can cause stress and anxiety – especially if we are unaware of its source. 

Did you know that your brain betrays you in narcissistic relationships?

It’s true! The chemicals oxytocin, which encourages bonding, endogenous opioids – responsible for pleasure, pain, withdrawal, dependence; a corticotropin-releasing factor which involves withdrawal, and stress; and dopamine which is connected to the craving, seeking, wanting the narcissist back, even when they’ve caused you extreme emotional stress and pain. Toxic relationships and narcissistic abuse lead your neurochemistry to fall into dysregulated states, which makes it really hard to leave a narcissist and even harder to finally get over a toxic relationship. Take Dr. Daniel Amen’s free Brain Health Assessment to discover your Brain Type and your Brain Fit Score!

How can you re-wire your brain after narcissistic abuse?

Your brain is neuroplastic, meaning it can change and heal in some pretty amazing ways. When you’re dealing with the type of brain damage that is caused by narcissistic abuse, you can sort of re-wire your brain yourself. (Of course, you should always check with your medical professional to ensure there’s not some other underlying reason for brain fog or being forgetful.) Speaking of brain fog, let’s define it. 

What is brain fog? 

Brain Fog is the feeling of dissociation or disconnectedness often experienced during and after narcissistic abuse. It’s a very common symptom of narcissistic abuse-induced C-PTSD. Most survivors report feeling lost like they’re not really there, or like they’re sort of watching life happen through a screen or a bubble.

Self-Help Options for Healing Brain Fog After Narcissistic Abuse

Most memory training techniques involve exercises to improve linking objects to certain items or using numbering systems to stay on top of being forgetful. However, oftentimes the only thing that is needed to keep your mind on track is to get organized and to stay that way! Below are a few good tips that will help you:

Use a filing system effectively

Take the time to think through your filing system. Figure out what organization will work best for you – client files versus project files, color coding, and so on. Once you’ve worked out your system, make sure to use it. File all pertinent information in the appropriate file (not a desk pile). It’s also helpful to attach blank sheets of paper to the inside right back flap of file folders. Then, you can take notes on relevant conversations, memos, and meetings right where you need them. And make sure you put your files away in an organized fashion.

Use a task list for projects

Overwhelmed by a complex project? Think through the project concretely, step by step. Then, make a list of all these steps, or tasks, to help you get them done. Here’s another suggestion: Keep your task list stapled to the inside front cover of your project file. That way you can refer to the task list whenever you work on that project. Personally, I LOVE Bullet Journaling for this kind of stuff.

Avoid paper piles

Are you surrounded by a sea of papers at work? Is your dining-room table so covered with mail that you’re not even sure it’s still there? There are generally two things that happen to information buried in a paper pile – either it is forgotten or it can’t be found when you need it. Paper piles are like the plague – they should be avoided at all costs. When you get a piece of paper, you should do one of three things: file it, write the information down elsewhere (such as in your scheduler) and toss it, or simply toss it.

Un-sticky your life

Avoid constantly putting information on sticky notes and other small pieces of paper: If you need to write something down, put it on your Master Plan or on your to-do list. While it’s okay to use a reminder such as a sticky note every once in a while, using such notes all the time will make them less noticeable and—as a result—less useful.

Don’t overdo it

Organize your day according to your energy level: Most of us are at our best in the morning. Therefore, set aside time in the morning to work on projects that require your full focus and ability. Schedule less important meetings and other tasks for later in the day.

Supplements That May Help With Your Healing

Did you know that there are certain supplements designed to help with healing your brain? Did you also know they can be taken while your brain is still in recovery from trauma bonding in narcissistic abuse? Are you wondering what supplements actually do this and if the claims are true? I’ve compiled a list of supplements that have helped me and others I have coached in recovery. It is based on personal experience, what I have read, and what other people have told me. This is by no means an exhaustive list, but my aim is to help you find some useful information about healing your brain in recovery.

*Please note, I am not a medical professional and nothing on this site should be taken as medical advice. Do not take any supplements without first discussing with your doctor and getting their approval.

  • Calm My Brain: Quell your worried mind with this highly effective formula for the relief of anxiousness, featuring the ultimate calming mineral magnesium, the powerful stress-busting herb KSM-66® ashwagandha, and the fast-acting amino acid L-theanine.*
  • Attention Support: Trouble concentrating? Can’t sit still? Attention Support contains natural ingredients selected for their clinically proven benefits to help you relax, stay calm, and increase your attention span.
  • Betaine TMG: Provides the nutrient betaine (trimethylglycine, TMG), which enhances SAMe for healthy mood; provides crucial methyl for DNA, brain neurotransmitters, melatonin, and myelin production; and helps cells regulate their water content.
  • Brain & Body Power: The easiest way to get your daily mind and body essentials – parceled into convenient packets including a brain optimizing multi-vitamin-mineral, and pure omega-3 fish oil capsules.
  • Brain & Body Power Max: The most advanced memory-directed formula – perfectly portioned into convenient daily packets including a multi-vitamin-mineral, maximum memory-boosting nutrients, and omega-3 fish oil for complete daily nutrition.
  • Brain & Memory Power Boost: Our most advanced, best-selling memory formula with a lineup of powerful nutrients clinically proven to help protect circulation in your brain, boost mental connectivity, sharpness, and sustained focus.
  • Brain Boost On-The-Go: Fight brain fatigue and tackle your day with the zero-calorie, caffeine-free, and sugar-free, effervescent berry blend that’s perfect anytime, anywhere. Quick natural energy and hydration to help promote mental clarity. Simply add to water and enjoy.
  • Craving Control: Anyone who has ever tried to make better choices knows all too well how cravings can sabotage the best intentions. Craving Control contains all-natural ingredients that help to calm the craving centers in our brain, balance blood sugar and promotes a positive mood.
  • NeuroLink: Feeling irritable or sad for no reason? NeuroLink helps to balance our emotional ups and downs by delivering an exclusive blend of key nutrients to neurotransmitters in our brain helping us to feel tranquil and clear.
  • BrainMD’s GABA Calming Support: Calm your mind naturally with GABA Calming Support, an exclusive formula that contains clinically studied nutrients that help to calm your brain waves and help act as the biochemical “brakes” your brain needs to slow down your anxious or fretful thoughts.
  • Serotonin Mood Support: Does your mind race with negative thoughts? Try our customer favorite Serotonin Mood Support, which contains a patented form of saffron along with other key nutrients that help to promote calmness, positive mood, serotonin balance, and even healthy weight management.
  • SAMe Mood and Movement 400: SAMe Mood & Movement 400 provides SAMe (S-AdenosylMethionine), a nutrient with very high energy that helps power numerous enzymes important for the brain, joints, liver, muscles, and other organs. SAMe is fundamental to the body’s renewal, repair, and overall well-being.

Going Forward in Narcissistic Abuse Recovery

Being in a relationship with a narcissistic abuser causes survivors to experience a form of trauma and shock. For this reason, trauma therapy is helpful because it acknowledges that healing is a process and that there is more than one way to move forward.

Trauma therapy is often focused on the past but will also guide you toward future goals and dreams while teaching you how to deal with various triggers. Awareness of cognitive dissonance, trauma bonding & emotional flashbacks can be instrumental in understanding what your inner experience of the relationship was so you can work through it & begin letting go. Find a therapist here. 

You might also want to try narcissistic abuse recovery coaching, or if you’re looking for more of a small group setting with a lower price point, try our small group coaching plan – there are significant benefits to this and the price is significantly less than one-on-one coaching. 

Takeaway

You are not to blame for your traumatic relationship with a narcissist. By understanding what happened to you and having the right support on your healing journey, you can go on to live a happy and meaningful life. After overcoming narcissistic abuse, you may find yourself feeling like a whole new person. If you have found yourself in that stage, take comfort knowing you’re not alone. It is a journey that is as exhilarating as it is exhausting, but the end result is well worth all the effort.

You can recover. You just have to take your time, and you have to trust the process. Give yourself permission to rebuild your life from the ground up. It’s going to be a long and difficult road, but it will be worth it in the end.

Get Help With Your Narcissistic Abuse Recovery

Cognitive Dissonance, Trauma Bonding & Healing in Recovery – Here’s the link for your free tools.

When Your Partner Has C-PTSD

When Your Partner Has C-PTSD

Do you or your partner suffer from complex post-traumatic stress disorder (C-PTSD), whether due to a toxic family of origin or a previous toxic romantic relationship, family relationship, or friendship involving narcissistic abuse?

Are you struggling with how to deal when your partner has C-PTSD?

If so, you know that CPTSD can trigger intense reactions in both sufferers and their loved ones. In fact, the reactions may be more intense when the person with CPTSD is triggered by someone they love. This is because loving someone makes it harder to put up a wall against their pain.

Helpful: This video offers an understanding of how C-PTSD can really affect you long-term. If your partner is the one dealing with C-PTSD, it may help you to better understand why they do some of the things they do.

If you’re looking for answers, stick with me and I’ll fill you in. But first, a couple of definitions so we’re on the same page going into this discussion.

What is Complex Post Traumatic Disorder (C-PTSD)?

Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (C-PTSD) is a serious mental health condition affecting a large percentage of victims and survivors of narcissistic abuse. This disorder can take years to treat and many professionals aren’t familiar with its symptoms or misdiagnose it. They may even victim-blame if they aren’t familiar with the subtle tricks of a narcissist. Unfortunately, it can be a lifelong condition, but it can be managed with mindfulness and behavior modification, among other therapies and modalities. Learn what are the 17 symptoms of complex PTSD.

Helpful: This video offers 37 things you need to know about narcissistic abuse syndrome, AKA C-PTSD.

What is Narcissistic Abuse?

Narcissistic abuse is a pervasive, covert type of abuse that involves the exploitation and emotional and/or psychological abuse of one partner in a toxic relationship. This kind of abuse can affect a personal connection, such as marriage, partnership, friendship, or family relationships. When you’re dealing with a narcissist in the family, they will often abuse everyone in the household and even affect the extended family members. Even professional relationships and acquaintanceships can be affected by narcissistic abuse.

What is narcissistic abuse like?

While narcissistic abuse can result in profound emotional and psychological harm, as well as long-term, often debilitating, life-changing physical effects, the covert nature of this painful form of relationship abuse can make it difficult to spot and even more challenging to manage. Worse, if you find yourself involved in this kind of relationship with a malignant narcissist, your self-confidence and self-worth are often so low by the time you realize it, you can’t or won’t leave.

What do narcissists do to their victims?

Narcissistic abuse involves subtle manipulation, pervasive control tactics, gaslighting, and emotional and psychological abuse.  Many narcissistic abusers might be diagnosed with a narcissistic personality disorder – if they actually go to a psychologist for diagnosis, but this rarely happens as narcissists don’t feel that there’s anything with them. They may be overtly narcissistic, or they may be more of a covert narcissist. In either case, anyone in a close relationship with one of these toxic people will be used as a form of narcissistic supply and not treated like an actual person. Sadly, even the most intelligent and educated people can be manipulated and abused by a narcissist. Spend any significant amount of time with a narcissist who knows you well, and you’re guaranteed to get a taste of toxic. If you live with or communicate with the narcissist on a regular basis, chances are that you’ve been gaslighted so often that you might almost feel like it’s part of “normal,” but the idea of just one more instant has you doubting your sanity, your IQ, and your memory, not to mention your whole sense of self.

Helpful: This video offers insight into how C-PTSD from narcissistic abuse can affect you long-term, and it can also help you understand your partner’s C-PTSD and the effects it has had on their life. Also offered: tips for healing and hope for recovery.

Is every kind of abuse narcissistic abuse?

Certainly, the term narcissistic abuse can refer to a variety of behaviors, as described above. So, emotional abuse and psychological abuse are often the results of narcissistic abuse. Sometimes it may also involve a number of other kinds of abuse including the following.

Are all abusers narcissists?

Of course, most abusers seem to have some narcissistic traits, but while not all abuse involves narcissists, a large percentage of abuse cases seem to have at least one narcissist is involved. Of course, when you’re talking specifically about narcissists of a toxic nature (often referred to as malignant narcissists or toxic narcissists), you’re talking about those who have little to no empathy for the people around them and who act from that perspective.

In other words: they don’t care how you or anyone else feels, and you can tell because of the way they treat the people around them. Their actions clearly highlight their extreme lack of emotional empathy and compassion.

How does relationship trauma affect your other relationships?

Research shows that dealing with relationship trauma affects more than just those involved in an abusive relationship. It impacts people from their immediate social circle as well. In one study, researchers interviewed 88 college students and found that those who experienced a relationship trauma felt the need to isolate themselves from others and felt significantly less attractive to potential partners. They were also more likely to feel they had a lack of control over events in their life.

The point is that when one person in a relationship is traumatized it can create an imbalance in communication between the partners and other people they come into contact with. For example, if one partner has been exposed to prolonged and/or extreme forms of abuse or neglect, it can create an imbalance in communication between the partners.

Can you have PTSD from narcissistic abuse?

A lot of people don’t understand that you can develop C-PTSD from long-term narcissistic abuse. It’s confusing because conventionally, post-traumatic stress disorder is associated with war, terrorism, natural disasters, and other life-threatening events. If you have PTSD, you may be experiencing flashbacks or nightmares about the event, avoid people or places that remind you of the event, feel numb or disconnected, have difficulty sleeping or concentrating, be constantly on guard for danger and have feelings of anxiety and fear. But what if you are suffering from PTSD after narcissistic abuse? Let’s talk about the differences between PTSD and C-PTSD.

What are the symptoms of PTSD from narcissistic abuse?

And how do you know if you have it? C-PTSD and other kinds of relationship trauma can be devastating to your physical, emotional, or psychological health, not to mention painfully life-altering – and usually not in a good way.

Not only can you end up depressed, numb, and feeling lost, but C-PTSD from narcissistic abuse may lead to behaviors such as:

See more symptoms and indicators of C-PTSD here. 

Can someone with complex PTSD have a relationship?

Short answer: YES, as long as they’ve healed or mostly healed before entering that relationship.

Detailed explanation: When you’re dealing with someone who has complex PTSD who has taken the time to do the work (or in some cases who are still in the process, a healthy relationship is entirely possible. The newer the discovery of C-PTSD and the less recovery work a survivor has done, the more difficult the relationship could be. Still, if you’re patient and willing to be supportive in a kind, consistent, gentle way, you can be of tremendous help to ease many C-PTSD symptoms. Just be careful to maintain your own boundaries in the meantime.

When you’re dealing with a less-healed person with complex PTSD, things can get a little difficult, but there’s still hope. You can make it work if you’re willing to be patient and compassionate. It can help to remember to consider their perspective and to treat them with kindness – just as you’d want to be treated if you were in their shoes. Let your empathy shine.

How should I deal with a partner who has C-PTSD?

It’s important to remember that not everyone is capable of loving everyone – and in some cases, of loving ANYONE – they meet. Some people are naturally more kind and honest than others, but other people have been taught to keep their feelings hidden from the world.

With this in mind, here are some things to keep in mind when dealing with someone who has been through relationship trauma.

  • They might not say anything until they’re ready. In other words, they might not express their feelings at all. Don’t take this as a sign that they don’t love you — it’s just a way for them to control how they feel until they’re ready to let go of their pain.
  • They might try to avoid any discussion about their exes or other relationships out of shame or embarrassment. If you ask them about someone else, it’ll make them feel uncomfortable and bring up bad memories from the past. But if you respect their privacy, they’ll open up eventually without pressure from you.
  • They might get defensive when you bring up past relationships or talk about your own experience with other people. Their own history might make them feel vulnerable and insecure — particularly if they’re still working through their feelings — so they might become defensive when confronted with issues from the pasts of others. This is a sign that there’s something going on inside that needs healing, but your questions could be interpreted as a challenge or intrusion by someone who feels threatened by the vulnerability.
  • They might go silent when talking about topics related to their exes, such as what happened between them and how they treated them in the relationship.

What should I do when my partner struggles with C-PTSD triggers?

A better question might be what are the best practices for your own behavior during C-PTSD triggers? See, this will depend on two things: the understanding that this really IS NOT about you, even if you did cause the trigger. So, stay calm and remember that this is one of those times when “better or worse” comes into play. Here’s where, most of the time, avoidant partners will just shut down. They will do their best to avoid situations that could cause them to feel hurt again. The problem with this is that there is no chance for healing, which can lead to depression and feelings of hopelessness.

How much responsibility do I have when it comes to my partner’s C-PTSD triggers?

This is sort of up to your partner, in some ways, because they may or may not be able to accept any support, depending on how damaged they are and what phase of the relationship you’ve reached. Of course, you’re always free to walk away, but if you care about them and want to make the relationship work, chances are you’ll accept the level of responsibility they’re willing to give to you.

One important note: If you’re not equipped for it, please let your partner know. If you’re willing to help but don’t know how, that’s okay – there are ways you can learn. For example, You could choose to get some kind of counseling or coaching together or separately on how to deal with C-PTSD as a couple.

And remember this:

  • You don’t necessarily have to prevent your partner from shutting down, but you can certainly facilitate a safe, emotionally supportive response if the situation warrants, or some distance, or even a period of extreme closeness – depending on which of your partner’s needs you feel comfortable fulfilling.
  • The point is, listen and watch for what best serves your partner I’m the moment and read up on other ways to help your partner cope with C-PTSD triggers. 

How do I get out of a CPTSD trigger? 

Step One: Identify the trigger.

Triggers in C-PTSD can be overwhelming for both you and your partner. If you’re the one dealing with the trigger, the first thing you can do to help yourself is to identify it AS A TRIGGER. In layman’s terms, this can help to switch out of your emotional side and into your intellectual one.

Step Two: Understand why you’re triggered.

Then, take a deep breath and remember that you’re not alone – even if you are in the middle of a CPTSD trigger, you are not alone.   Even if you feel like an alien, you are not the only one who has C-PTSD as a result of narcissistic abuse.  This is not an easy question to answer, because everyone responds differently to triggers, so there really isn’t a sure-fire plan on how to get out of one.

Step Three: Who is your narcissistic abuse recovery support team?

Start by figuring out your support team – who can you count on to get you through the hard times in recovery, and who will be there to celebrate your wins with you.

My Best Support Team Recruiting Tip: If you’re feeling alone in your recovery, I get it. I did too, and that’s why I do what I do – and why I always suggest a check-up with your doctor to have C-PTSD diagnosed and to determine if you need to be medically or psychologically treated. A lot of survivors also need support from outside of these helpful but time-restrained support people – and their friends stop listening after a while – or worse, side with the narcissist. Or for any number of other individual circumstances, you find yourself feeling lost and lonely after narcissistic abuse – you’re going to want to join a narcissistic abuse recovery support group. 

That’s why I suggest that you also consider finding yourself a good narcissistic abuse recovery coach or coaching group, or a therapist to help guide and support you along your C-PTSD recovery journey. Or, if you’re struggling with money and can’t find someone who takes your health insurance, or you just want a little extra support, you can join one of our free online narcissistic abuse recovery support groups.

Dr. Robin Bryman’s C-PTSD Healing Tips

Dr. Robin Bryman, QueenBeeing’s clinical psychology content partner, offers the following tips for self-help healing for C-PTSD.

1. Ground Yourself.

Dr. Robin recommends that you first and foremost physically ground yourself.   She offers this simple technique for grounding.
A. Breathe…
  • Inhale through your nose, count to 6.
  • Fill your abdomen with air.
  • Stomach distended.
  • Do not hold your stomach in.
B. Hold your breath for 6 seconds
C. Exhale 6 seconds through your mouth.
Repeat 3 times.

2. Try Reparenting Yourself. 

Dr. Robin recommends a reparenting exercise that can be very effective, especially if you grew up in a toxic family and were invalidated or at least not given proper validation by your parents. Her simple exercise, below, offers a shocking amount of help because you can learn to validate yourself in the process.
  • Talk to yourself like you’re your own best “mom ” or “dad.”
  • Be loving and kind.
  • This can help you feel calmer and less alone, as well as improve your self-image and self-esteem.
“Know that you got this,” Dr. Robin says. “You’ve been through so much and have developed residency. Much more than most. Believe in yourself, and remember that survivors become thrives!”

Help Yourself Through Narcissistic Abuse Recovery and C-PTSD Healing

You have to keep in mind that relationships go through many stages. And if you’re going through a rough period, it’s possible that your partner may not be able to fully empathize with your situation. Explaining the situation might help, but you can serve yourself and any potential future partner best if you work through this healing before committing yourself to a new relationship.

Help Your Partner Through C-PTSD Healing After Narcissistic Abuse

If you’re in a relationship with someone who suffers from trauma, remember not to get caught up in the drama of their anger or occasional outbursts of violence. Instead, try to understand what’s going on for them and offer them support by listening and talking things through instead of rushing in and trying to fix them. Remember that they’ve been through a very difficult and painful situation that took them away from who they were supposed to be.

They can’t get back the person they once were, but they can certainly become a better, more balanced version of it – and that’s what you’re going to help them shoot for. And consider where they’re coming from, what they were taught, and who they really are by thinking about the following questions, and asking them if appropriate.

  • How did they grow up?
  • What did they learn from their parents?
  • What did they experience at school or in the workplace that made them who they are today?

It’s important to take into account these things when understanding what caused the problems in the relationship. This, along with steady, unfailing support and a willingness to keep an open mind, can go a long way into helping your partner feel safe again.

Advice for Managing C-PTSD in Your Relationship

In either case, remember this: how you go on from a traumatic event is important – and the most important thing when it comes to getting into your next relationship is that you’re ready. You must take the time to heal and to learn to stand up for yourself and to set firm boundaries. You must learn to value yourself properly and to recognize your worth. If you grew up with toxic parents, chances are that you’ve never fully managed to do that.

Here are some resources to help.

Resources for Healing After Trauma Caused By Narcissistic Abuse

Professional Help for Managing Trauma and Narcissistic Abuse Recovery

If you are experiencing symptoms that are affecting your day-to-day life, it is important to get professional if needed. There is no shame in working with experts to improve your overall health and wellbeing. Consider talking to experts if you experience the following symptoms.

  • Ongoing distress, anxiety, sadness, etc for multiple weeks.
  • Feeling like you’re stuck or you have an inability to function in your life.
  • Feeling hopeless all the time.
  • Your work or school is affected.
  • Your daily life and activities have been affected.
  • You are using drugs or alcohol to cope.

It never hurts to start by contacting your family doctor or mental health professionals. Also, consider talking to a clergy member about a referral if you go to church. They may know a professional in your community that you can work with. You can also check out the narcissistic abuse recovery support resources here.

Self-Assessments for Managing Trauma and Narcissistic Abuse Recovery 

More Resources for Narcissistic Abuse Recovery

  • Best Books on Narcissistic Abuse Recovery
  • Comprehensive Narcissistic Abuse Recovery Glossary: This is a comprehensive guide to words and phrases (related to narcissism, NPD and related conditions, narcissistic abuse, and narcissistic abuse recovery) that are commonly used in articles, videos, and narcissistic abuse recovery support groups. Defined here as specifically how they relate to narcissism, narcissistic abuse, and narcissistic abuse recovery, these terms have been developed by psychologists, coaches, therapists, and survivors of narcissistic abuse who need a way to understand and overcome the abuse.
  • FAQ Help: Whenever you need help with something related to this site or you want to know how to find something, join a group or otherwise deal with an issue you’re having, visit our new FAQ Help page.
  • Self-Care for Survivors: This is a page that covers everything you need to know about self-care, from how to build your own self-care kit to how to sign up for self-care support, and more.
  • New Resources Page: This is a one-stop overview of narcissism, NPD, and narcissistic abuse recovery, offering a long list of resources that will be helpful for you.
  • Stalking Resources Center: If your narcissist is a stalker, the information and resources on this page will help you get and stay safe.
  • Visit Our Narcissistic Abuse Recovery Resources Page

*Disclaimer: This article is for informational and educational purposes only.  It’s very important to always check with your doctor before taking any action that could affect your physical or mental health.  

Dealing with relationship trauma

Dealing with relationship trauma

Are you dealing with relationship trauma?

The bad news? The second you fall in love with someone, the likelihood that you’ll be dealing with relationship trauma increases exponentially. The good news is that you don’t have to suffer in silence – and there are things you can do to begin to heal and resolve relationship trauma and move forward.

What is relationship trauma?

Relationship trauma is a term used by psychologists and other mental health professionals to identify the condition people suffer after having been subjected to relationship abuse (emotional, physical, and otherwise). Many victims were also exposed to prolonged and/or extreme forms of abuse/neglect during childhood. This can predispose them to end up in toxic relationships as an adult, which cause them to be retraumatized in adulthood.

What are the signs of relationship trauma?

The signs of relationship trauma can be as subtle as they are obvious. If you’re dealing with it, you’re far from alone. In fact, according to the National Domestic Abuse Hotline, nearly 10% of couples experience relationship abuse. Other research shows that as many as 40% of women and 25% of men have experienced some form of domestic violence in their lifetime; 1 in 4 women and 1 in 7 men report having been sexually or physically assaulted by a partner at some point in their life.

Common signs of abuse include:

  • Fear for your safety
  • Feeling trapped and/or controlled
  • Being isolated from friends and family
  • Losing self-confidence and self-esteem
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Feeling like you can’t trust anyone else (including yourself)

See more signs of relationship trauma and narcissistic abuse here.

Are there different types of relationship trauma?

There are three main forms of relationship trauma: Acute, Chronic, and Complex, according to MedicineNet.com.

Acute Trauma

Acute trauma is the result of a single incident that traumatized the victim. This could be something like a car accident, having your home broken into, being raped or assaulted, or even a natural disaster. In any case, the event is extreme enough to cause you to doubt your physical security.

Chronic Trauma

Chronic trauma happens through prolonged trauma that happens over the course of time. According to MedicineNet, it “may result from a long-term serious illness, sexual abuse, domestic violence, bullying, and exposure to extreme situations, such as a war.”

Complex Trauma

Complex trauma means that you’ve dealt with a variety of traumatic events, to put it mildly.

“The events are generally within the context of an interpersonal (between people) relationship,”  writes Shaziya Allarakha, MD.“It may give the person a feeling of being trapped. Complex trauma often has a severe impact on the person’s mind. It may be seen in individuals who have been victims of childhood abuse, neglect, domestic violence, family disputes, and other repetitive situations, such as civil unrest.”

What does relationship trauma look like?

Relationship trauma can profoundly affect your entire adult life, including your present-day relationships, career, family life (including communication with your own children).

People develop different types of relationship trauma that can change the way they relate to others. Some people become addicted to relationships that are too good to be true. Others fear intimacy and can’t get close enough to their partners. They’re afraid of being entrapped by someone they love, and this fear may keep them stuck in unhealthy relationships. Some psychologists suggest that this could also be related to attachment styles developed early in childhood.

What are the long-term effects of relationship trauma?

The long-term effects of relationship trauma are varied and depend on both the person and the traumas they’ve suffered. Some examples include the following.

Parental rejection leads to toxic people pleasing

Valuing yourself highly and feeling safe and secure is important for everyone, but it’s especially important for those who’ve suffered from parental rejection. At the root of this is the belief that your value is based on what you do, not who you are. This leads people to put their own needs aside, putting themselves at risk for burnout and breakdown.

Sexual shame leads to extremely low self-worth and intimacy issues

Trauma tends to make us think we’re broken — we may come to believe that we’re “damaged goods” or “damaged goods who can’t be fixed.” If this is our experience with sex, it makes sense that some people would have a hard time enjoying sex or being interested in sex. In some cases, it’s been hard for these people to see themselves as sexual beings at all.

Others have trouble understanding what sex has to do with their value as a person. Or they’ve had parts of them broken so long that they don’t think they have a right to enjoy sex or be sexual at all. All of this can lead to chronic sexual shame and a need for constant reassurance of the kind “I’m good enough” or “I’m lovable.”

Risk avoidance leads to isolation and chronic fear

If you’ve had a lot of parental rejection or sexual shame or both, one thing may become clear: You don’t feel good about yourself most of the time. You may grow up thinking that if you’re not perfect, then you’re worthless. That can lead you to avoid situations where things might go wrong, which often means avoiding new experiences altogether or limiting your experiences to those that feel safer to you.

You may feel unable to trust anyone ever again. You might not want to believe that another person could do this to you again. But the truth is, it’s not rational for you to have total trust in anyone else from here on out. You can learn to trust selectively and build a bond of mutual respect again with a partner who has betrayed you in some way.

Why do we stay with partners who traumatize us?

You can’t change the past, but you can move forward. If you find yourself with an abusive partner, you might be afraid to leave, or you might even wish you could go back once the relationship ends. This is likely a result of trauma bonding and C-PTSD (complex post-traumatic stress disorder).

What is trauma bonding?

Similar to Stockholm Syndrome, this is a condition that causes abuse victims to develop a psychological dependence on the narcissist as a survival strategy during abuse. Trauma bonding also makes recovering from a toxic relationship significantly more difficult.

What is C-PTSD (Complex Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder)?

Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (C-PTSD) is a serious mental health condition affecting a large percentage of victims and survivors of narcissistic abuse. This disorder can take years to treat and many professionals aren’t familiar with its symptoms or misdiagnose it.

Some therapists and other mental health professionals may even victim-blame if they aren’t familiar with the subtle tricks of a narcissist. Unfortunately, it can be a lifelong condition, but it can be managed with mindfulness and behavior modification, among other therapies and modalities.

If you are affected by C-PTSD, you may wish to supplement your therapeutic treatment with narcissistic abuse recovery coaching. Or at the very least we recommend that you find a therapist who understands your unique situation. Check out this guide on how to find a therapist who understands narcissistic abuse and recovery.

How do you end the cycle and recover from relationship trauma?

Relationship trauma is what happens when a relationship ends and one or both parties have difficulty processing that experience. You can experience relationship trauma in a variety of ways, but, in general, the process involves the following steps:

  • Recognizing that you’ve dealt with traumatic abuse in a toxic relationship
  • Acknowledging the impact the relationship had on you
  • Coming to grips with your feelings about the relationship and how it ended
  • Deciding what to do next with your feelings and your life
  • Moving forward with your life without the toxic person in it.

The DUO Method was designed to help survivors of narcissistic abuse take back their lives. The good news is that you don’t need to do this all by yourself. It is possible to overcome the pain and move on, especially if you’ve learned from the situation. Start here if you’d like to start your recovery right now.

Here are a few pieces of advice for moving forward.

1. Ask for help.

There’s no shame in asking friends and family to help you through a difficult time because they know what you’re going through better than anyone else. They might be able to offer insight into the hurt you’re experiencing or help you regain perspective on your situation. You can also reach out to a coach or therapist, who can help guide you through this process and give you support as you work toward recovery. Online support groups can also be very helpful for survivors of narcissistic abuse in toxic relationships.

2. Remember that recovery is a process, not a destination.

You can’t just snap your fingers and expect yourself to be instantly healed. Narcissistic abuse recovery takes time and effort, so don’t expect everything to turn around immediately. Too many of us have been hurt in relationships that came to a bad end, and we’ve been left to pick up the pieces. It’s a difficult thing to do, but there are some things you can do to help yourself heal.

3. Release the need to hold the narcissist accountable. 

Obviously, forgiveness isn’t really an easy thing when it comes to recovering from relationship trauma. But you don’t have to traditionally forgive the narcissist. Rather, you need to release the need to hold them accountable and release the need to remain connected to them.

4. Be honest with yourself about what happened.

When a toxic person hurts you, you’re not wrong to blame them for your pain, but staying stuck in victimhood will prevent you from recovering. Instead, it can be more productive to look at the situation objectively and consider how you found yourself in this relationship in the first place and how you could have handled the situation differently. While the narcissist will never be able to do the work to figure out why they hurt you or what it really means, you can certainly recognize what happened by learning to understand the dynamics of toxic relationships. Thoroughly understanding why you found yourself there and what made you stay can also help you avoid future toxic relationships.

5. Go no contact if possible.

In order to work through a relationship trauma, you also need time and space away from the person who hurt you. This isn’t just about getting away from them — it’s about regrouping and getting a new perspective on what happened. You must understand that your experience was real and valid, despite the fact that your abuser likely gaslighted you and made you doubt yourself and your reality. This takes time and requires healing. If you can, go no contact (or low contact, if you have children under 18 with this person).

6. Be prepared to find your own closure. 

As much as you deserve it, your abuser will absolutely not willingly give you the closure you so desperately want and need. So, you’ll need to prepare yourself to find and create your own form of closure after the end of a toxic relationship.

7. Move forward and create the life you want and deserve.

In the end, you can intentionally choose to heal and then create the life you want and deserve. It’s a sort of personal evolution that can often be the silver lining to this otherwise miserable situation.

When dealing with relationship trauma, focus on finding healthy outlets for your feelings so you can move forward with life. Find a therapist or psychologist who is an expert in dealing with these kinds of issues. Spend time with people who can give you feedback on how your actions have affected them or others around them; seek support groups; make healthy choices, and take good care of yourself while healing.

Do you think you’re dealing with the effects of relationship trauma? Take this relationship trauma test and find out.

Resources for Narcissistic Abuse Recovery Support

Making Sense of the Eternal Internal Struggle

Making Sense of the Eternal Internal Struggle

It took me a long time not to judge myself through someone else’s eyes. ~Sally Field

When you’ve been in a toxic relationship dealing with narcissistic abuse, you might find yourself so deep in chronic people-pleaser mode that you literally focus so much on what the narcissist wants that you forget about yourself. So let me ask you: How many times have you not followed your heart because you were worried about what other people might think? How often have you avoided doing something you truly wanted to do because you couldn’t stand the idea that other people would judge you?

Who makes your choices for you, really?

Have you based your major life choices on your own desires, or have you allowed other people to influence you? Do you have regrets because you have given someone else the power to make decisions in your life, whether directly or indirectly? Have you chosen your job, a partner, or your home because someone else thought you should? If so, you’re not alone – and you might be dealing with a serious case of codependency.

What is codependency? 

Codependency is a toxic emotional and behavioral condition that makes it nearly impossible to have a healthy, mutually satisfying relationship. It is also known as “relationship addiction” because people with codependency often form and stay in relationships that are one-sided, emotionally destructive, and/or abusive.

Are you a codependent people pleaser?

Most everyone has, at one time or another, made a choice in their lives that was based on someone else’s opinion. And while there are certainly times when it’s appropriate to do so, there are plenty of times that we regret not following our own intuition.

The difference is this: when you accept the advice of someone else because you feel that it’s right for you, you’re following your own gut and can consider it inspired action  – but when you bend to someone else’s will to please them (despite your own feelings), you’re shortchanging yourself in the happiness department. And, you’re probably codependent. (Not sure? Take our codependency test here!)

Why Do We Care What Other People Think, Anyway?

It’s human nature to care what other people think. From infancy, we learn that when we do what someone else wants us to do, they’re happy with us–and that feels good. As we get older and learn to make the occasional unpopular decision, we are sometimes shocked to learn that some people actually seem to stop being nice to us when we don’t follow their “advice” for living.

But ultimately, we care what people think because we are taught to base our identities on the messages they give us. When our parents tell us we’re good for following their rules, for example, we begin to feel that we need to follow the rules to be good. When our kindergarten teachers scold us for coloring outside the lines, we begin to feel that unless we “stay inside the lines,” we’re wrong.

We take the messages that we hear from others about ourselves every day of our lives, and we internalize them–to such an extent that we find ourselves dependent on the approval of others for our own self-worth.

Should We Just Stop Caring?

Of course, this is a two-sided coin. While we certainly need to learn to follow our hearts and our own intuition toward inspired action and to make our own life choices, there are times we need to follow the rules. For example, to be productive members of society, we need to follow certain societal norms–at the very least, we have to follow the laws of the land.

And, the fact of the matter is, most of us aren’t able to just “turn off” caring about what others, especially those we care about, think about us and our choices. We don’t want to become cold and immune to the emotions of others, but we want to be happy. To be happy, we must make our own choices, follow our own divine inspiration for what we want our lives to be. At the end of the day, we’re the ones who must live with the decisions we make.

So where does this leave us? Are we doomed to an eternal internal struggle? How do we start taking charge of our own lives and stop letting the judgments and opinions of others dictate our choices? What do you think?

Next Up: How to Stop Caring What People Think (Without Looking Like a Huge Jerk)


Get help with narcissistic abuse recovery, right now.

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