Social Anxiety Disorder and Toxic Relationships: Narcissistic Abuse Recovery

Social Anxiety Disorder and Toxic Relationships: Narcissistic Abuse Recovery

If you’ve ever been in a toxic relationship with a narcissist, you might have found yourself avoiding social situations and feeling a lot of anxiety when you’re forced to go out into the world. And if you consider yourself an empath, this could be magnified by your ability to sort of “feel” everyone around you. I know that’s been the case for me in the past. Whether you could be diagnosed with social anxiety disorder (SAD) or you just struggle with social situations, it could be a result of your toxic relationship.

This can be an ongoing issue for many people, even after narcissistic abuse recovery. For example, while I have recovered from my own narcissistic abuse, I sometimes still struggle with a little social anxiety. But there are things you can do to deal with it, and I’ll be covering some of those here at QueenBeeing over the next few weeks.

What is social anxiety disorder (SAD)?

Also called “social phobia,” social anxiety disorder is a mental health condition that causes you to have an extreme, unrelenting fear of being watched and especially judged by people, including not only strangers but also people you know. This crippling fear can affect your ability to function in the world – whether at work, school, or any of your other daily activities. Many sufferers of SAD report that it is difficult for them to make and keep friends.

What does SAD have to do with narcissistic abuse recovery?

Narcissistic abuse in toxic relationships can cause you to feel overwhelmed and isolated on their own, but they also cause what psychologists call a “toxic internal environment” that can lead to stress, depression, anxiety, and a wide variety of other physical health problems. Social anxiety can be a side-effect of complex post-traumatic stress disorder (C-PTSD) as well – and many survivors of narcissistic abuse suffer from C-PTSD.

Don’t underestimate the effect of a toxic relationship on your health.

Consider this: a 12.2-year study that launched in 1985 and followed more than 10,000 people found that people who reported being in unhealthy or negative relationships were far more likely to develop heart problems, including a fatal heart attack or cardiac event, than study participants who had healthier, less negative relationships.

And on a more practical level, since narcissists are so likely to isolate and control us in these relationships, we become hypervigilant of their moods and behaviors and this can leave us not only exhausted emotionally but also unwilling or unable to deal with other people during the relationship. This could be because we are too overwhelmed by the narcissist’s need for attention and supply or because we grow tired of trying to behave “correctly” in public (so that the narcissist doesn’t further abuse us when we get home). It could also be for a number of other reasons (or a combination of reasons).

What are the symptoms of social anxiety disorder (SAD)?

According to NIMH, the symptoms of social anxiety disorder include:

  • Blush, sweat, tremble, feel a rapid heart rate, or feel their “mind going blank”
  • Feel nauseous or sick to their stomach
  • Show a rigid body posture, make little eye contact, or speak with an overly soft voice
  • Find it scary and difficult to be with other people, especially those they don’t already know, and have a hard time talking to them even though they wish they could
  • Be very self-conscious in front of other people and feel embarrassed and awkward
  • Be very afraid that other people will judge them
  • Stay away from places where there are other people

What does social anxiety disorder (SAD) feel like?

One of the worst aspects of suffering from Social Anxiety Disorder is the feeling that you are entirely isolated and alone in the world – even (and sometimes especially) if you’re in a room full of people. It can feel as if you are cut off from the world and your inner self. Worse, it feels like you have no control over the bad feelings and that you’re trapped forever in feeling anxious and alone.

It may be helpful to hear that even if you’re feeling alone, there are some symptoms that therapists have noted are the hallmarks of SAD and just about everyone suffers from them.

  1. The feeling that no one understands you.

When you’re in the grip of social anxiety, it feels like you are cut off from everyone and that no one can understand what it feels like inside your head, not even your therapist or your best friend.

  1. You’re trapped forever in anxiety

SAD transcends time and space. It feels as though you’re stuck in a cycle of perpetual anxiety, even though part of you knows that SAD doesn’t define you and that no matter how severe your current flare-up is, it will pass. Anxiety tells you that you are stuck and can’t move out of the trap you’re in, even if your rational mind understands it’s not like that.

  1. You feel like a fish out of water.

Chronic anxiety feeds on negative messages that tell you over and over that you don’t belong, you don’t fit in, that there’s something wrong with you. The deeper you get into this negative mindset, the more isolated and alienated you feel, and you withdraw from friends and family. A vicious cycle sets in to keep you apart and deepen the feeling of alienation.

  1. A negative mindset takes over

When you’re suffering from anxiety, you tend to look at the world through very gray-colored glasses. Your brain’s default setting becomes irrational and negative. You can misinterpret things people say or do, even kindly-meant advice from your therapist or counselor.

That can spill over into feeling like a failure.  You can fall into a spiral of self-criticism and self-loathing, raking over perceived mistakes and failures from the past.

  1. Overwhelming self-consciousness

Social anxiety can make you feel as though you have a layer of psychological skin missing. You feel self-conscious like everyone is looking at you and judging you. You worry over every little detail of your behavior, your clothes, what you say and what you do.

The self-loathing and stress that comes with chronic social anxiety can make it virtually impossible to live in the moment and get on with enjoying life.

Note: Because this issue is so prevalent for narcissistic abuse survivors, I’m working on a new course on the subject over at Life Makeover Academy. I’m currently searching for people to beta-test the course. While it’s normally a $99 course, I’m offering it to people who are willing to beta-test it for half-price. If you are interested in testing the course and sharing your thoughts with me, you can click here to get lifetime access to the course (and all future updates/additional material) for just $49. Please note: the beta testing period will close at the end of July, when the course will be ready to roll out at full price, so get in there now if you are interested. 

You might also enjoy this video I made on the topic.

Dealing with Fibromyalgia Pain?

Dealing with Fibromyalgia Pain?

On a scale of one to ten, fibromyalgia pain can swing from the low end to the high end of the chart. The pain is always changing in duration and strength. It can be light in the morning and excruciating by evening.

You might have pain free days and the turn around and have several days of pain in a row. People who have this condition have something that’s been labeled as ‘trigger points.’

These points are places on the body that cause pain when touched. In gathering information about this condition, those in the medical field discovered that most patients complained of pain in common areas: in the neck (both front and back), in the fold of the elbow, just below the knee, in the lower back and just above the top of the thigh. These common trigger points are instrumental in getting a diagnosis of fibromyalgia.

There are some things that can make fibromyalgia pain increase in intensity and those things are insomnia or not getting enough sleep, mood changes, illness, stress and a lack of exercise to name a few.

Maintaining a time every day to unwind and sleep when your body needs it is essential to keeping the often overwhelming fatigue on the low end of the pain chart. When you get more fatigued than usual with fibromyalgia, it can make the pain get worse.

This fatigue is not an ordinary feeling of tiredness you get from overexertion but rather a deep state of not being able to rest the body. Eventually, this fatigue can greatly affect your health if it’s not managed.

The treatment for your condition should treat you as a whole and not just focus on the times when your condition is worse. You will not find a cure for your condition in any treatment option known but you can effectively manage the pain so that you can continue to lead your life with modifications.

Medication can help to take the edge of the pain when it reaches the point it become unbearable and getting massages from those trained in understanding conditions like arthritis can give you some relief from the joint and muscle pain.

Accept that you have a condition that will at times limit your ability to handle things.
On the days when the fibromyalgia pain is worse, don’t be ashamed to ask for someone to help you do the tasks around the house that you would ordinarily do.

Save the things that don’t tax your strength for the days when the flare-ups are at their worst. You won’t be able to predict the days when your symptoms will deplete your energy but you can plan ahead so that the impact of those days aren’t as hard to deal with.

What are the symptoms of fibromyalgia?

What are the symptoms of fibromyalgia?

Learn to Recognize Fibromyalgia Symptoms

Fibromyalgia symptoms will often show up as common aches or pains. You might even blow off the symptoms not realizing how ill this condition can make someone feel. Because the condition is not yet fully understood, your family doctor can easily overlook the warning signs.

  • Having muscle pain is a sign you could have this medical condition but because muscle pain is a common complaint, most people never seek treatment and when they do, it’s often mislabeled as a sprain or other muscle injury.
  • Fatigue is often another overlooked sign that someone is struggling with fibromyalgia. Being tired is common and is nothing to be concerned about. Fatigue is different from tiredness in that it’s a complete weariness, exhaustion that is not replenished by resting.
  • Whenever you feel tired and go to sleep for the night or take a nap during the day yet you wake still feeling the same deep tiredness, that’s a clue there’s something going on in the body that needs to be checked out.
  • There are more serious fibromyalgia symptoms you need to be familiar with. If you sit or remain prone for a while only to find you have difficulty getting your muscles and joints to work when you try to move, that’s a sign that needs to be brought to the attention of your doctor. Too often stiff muscles and joints are passed off as a sign of getting older. Any limit in mobility should be evaluated.
  • Sometimes you might discover that your sense of concentration isn’t as sharp and that you can’t remember things as easily. Having unexplained pain in your body can be a sign of this condition as can a change in bowel habits.
  • Experiencing bouts of extreme dizziness – from feeling slightly off-balance to thinking the room is spinning is also a symptom. All these are part of the signals your body gives out trying to get your attention to let you know that something is wrong in the body.
  • If any part of your body loses sensation or you get a “pins and needles” feeling in your hands or feet not caused by them ‘going to sleep’ because you’ve been sitting the wrong way, then you should make an appointment with your doctor for a full examination. Because the fibromyalgia symptoms can range from mild to severe and can change depending on the time of day, you might not be aware that something is wrong.

Unfortunately, this condition doesn’t simply clear up on its own and if you don’t get the medical treatment to deal with fibromyalgia, it can significantly impact your health and affect the quality of your lifestyle.

The Fibromyalgia Diet Can Alleviate Symptoms

The Fibromyalgia Diet Can Alleviate Symptoms

You can use a fibromyalgia diet to help control the symptoms associated with this condition better. Scientists have known for years that eating certain types of foods can work with the body to bring a sense of well being.

However, eating some foods, even foods thought of as healthy can actually aggravate some medical issues. What you have to understand about this complex condition is that it affects the people who have it in an individual way.

That means that the diet that works for one person who suffers with the fibromyalgia may not work for the next person. Each diet needs to be individually tailored. Some foods are okay for some people with fibromyalgia, but the same food can bother others with the condition.

Gluten is one such product. Gluten is a protein that can be found in many types of foods. Many of those diagnosed with fibromyalgia also have an intolerance for gluten. Some patients can tolerate products containing gluten so just because you’re told that a particular food is bad for fibromyalgia doesn’t mean it’s bad for you to consume.

Like people who can eat a normal diet, those on a fibromyalgia diet need to make sure they get enough of the stuff that’s good for them such as vitamin B12 and magnesium. There has been some evidence that MSG in food products can make the symptoms of fibromyalgia much worse because of the way it affects certain areas of the body.

Another product you may want to avoid is food or beverages that contain caffeine. Since caffeine is a stimulant, it can give anyone a quick pick up but the long-range effects are not good for those with this type of chronic condition.

Carbonated beverages, especially the ones that have artificial sweeteners have been said to have an effect on the energy level of those who have fibromyalgia. Foods that deplete or lower your energy levels should be avoided.

Junk food can wreak havoc on your system and make it more of an uphill battle in your fight for good health. Processed foods are also not the best meal choice for anyone who suffers from a chronic illness.

Since there really is no one size fits all diet for those with this syndrome, you might find It helpful to keep a food journal and write down any adverse reactions to the meals you eat. If one particular meal makes you feel more lethargic then you’ll be able to know which foods you would want to eliminate from your diet.

So what can you eat? There are some doctors who will prescribe a diet consisting only of vegetables and there are studies showing that a vegetarian diet can have other health benefits as well.

Still others in the medical profession believe sticking with a normal healthy diet works just as well for patients with fibromyalgia. A fibromyalgia diet should follow the guidelines recommended for healthy eating and include foods such as lean meats, plenty of fresh vegetables, and fruits.

What Is the Best Fibromyalgia Treatment?

What Is the Best Fibromyalgia Treatment?

The fibromyalgia treatment your doctor prescribes for you will depend on how severe the condition shows itself in your life. Some cases are mild and are treated simply with over the counter pain medication. In other cases, prescription medication must be taken in order to cause the pain from the muscle or joint aches to be brought to a manageable level or subdued to some degree.

Treatment can also include antidepressants, not because doctors think it’s all in your head, but because this class of drugs can help to relax the body and lessen the anxiety living with a chronic condition can bring on.

Dealing with an incurable medical problem can lead to long term anxiety problems due to mood swings. Physical pain and discomfort can bring on a variety of emotions and when mood swings go to the extreme, depression can then set in.

It’s understandable that an antidepressant can help to stabilize those emotions while you and your doctor plan together the best way to bring your fibromyalgia under the control you can achieve.

Sometimes drugs that are used to treat epilepsy in people are also used in fibromyalgia treatment. Certain medications can block the signals that allow pain to be felt. Anti-seizure drugs can help you deal with the pain of the condition.

Your doctor might suggest you also seek the help of a trained counseling who knows how to give you the emotional and mental tools you’ll need to handle having a chronic condition.

No matter how old you are, having an ongoing medical problem can create or exacerbate the stress in your life and knowing ahead of time how to deal with what you’re going through can lessen this stress.

You may also choose to add a rheumatologist to your care circle. Arthritis is a common complaint when a patient is dealing with fibromyalgia but with the right kind of help on your side, the condition might slow you down but it won’t keep you from experiencing a happy, fulfilling life.

Some people who experience flare ups with their fibromyalgia and want a more natural approach choose to use the services of an acupuncturist. Regardless of which route you choose to take, you will need experts who know how this condition affects the body physically, mentally, emotionally and even spiritually so that you can receive the care you need.

Some patients choose a fibromyalgia treatment plan that includes using a more natural approach to manage their health. The more natural approach would include an exercise plan, getting plenty of rest, a healthy diet and eliminating as much stress as possible since stress can cause your symptoms to worsen.

What to Do If You’ve Been Given a Fibromyalgia Diagnosis

What to Do If You’ve Been Given a Fibromyalgia Diagnosis

A fibromyalgia diagnosis might be a scary medical term for you to hear especially if you don’t know what it is and don’t know anyone who has the condition. The first step to do is to relax. Take a deep breath and know that you are not alone. There are others who successfully deal with this condition and there are many support groups available both online and off that can help you learn about your condition.

Decide right away that you’re going to become an expert about the condition. After all, it’s your body and you’re the best one in charge to fight back and keep yourself as healthy as you possibly can.

Your first step should be to assemble the best medical or holistic care for your condition. You may need to be seen by more than one professional. Some patients routinely see a chiropractor, their physician, and a doctor who specializes in rheumatoid care.

Usually these are doctors proficient in internal medicine. Because the medical profession is still learning about how fibromyalgia affects the body, if you have a doctor who simply wants to medicate you without trying to find the best treatment for you, then consider finding a new doctor. You need one who stays up to date on the latest treatment information about the condition.

You may need to educate your family on what a fibromyalgia diagnosis means to them. It may require some lifestyle changes for you in order to keep your health on an even keel. You may have to rest more frequently, do less around the house or even find a career that’s not as taxing to you physically.

A dietician may be beneficial to you as you learn what you need to add (or subtract) from your eating habits. Some patients have seen improvement in learning how to manage their level of pain by going to physical therapy.

Talk to your doctor to determine if finding a physical therapist would aid in handling your fibromyalgia. Because of the pain linked with this condition, many patients want to resist any type of exercise but keeping a healthy body weight will help to keep more stress from being added to your muscles and joints.

Being given a fibromyalgia diagnosis means that in order to learn how to handle the demands on your body you’re going to have to make some changes. Listen to your body and learn what makes the condition worse for you and what seems to make the strain or pain not as severe.

Your body needs more sleep so make sure that you get the rest that you need in order to function. Since some people with fibromyalgia have to deal with insomnia and a lack of sleep can worsen symptoms, seek a doctor’s help right away if you start having bouts of sleeplessness.

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