You are still reeling from your experiences during narcissistic abuse in a toxic relationship.
And who could blame you?
After all, you’ve lost your sense of who you are and of what reality is all about. It’s not that you’ve lost your intelligence or your personality – it’s just that it feels kind of disjointed or disconnected from the person you are today.
Something you may not remember right now is that MOST people you meet actually really enjoy your company.
They like you as a person, and they value your contributions. You’re great at conversation and even better at making people feel worthy and seen.
That is what the narcissist has hidden from you, and it’s why you’re feeling so foggy and lost, at least in part.
Understanding Brain Fog and C-PTSD in Narcissistic Abuse Recovery
Brain fog is common for survivors of circumstances when a loved one- especially a parent-was dealing with untreated mental illness.
How can your brain feel so foggy after a relationship with a toxic person? Brain fog is a difficult and confusing experience to live through, and it is one that is poorly understood by most people.
Brain Fog is, to put it simply, the feeling of dissociation or disconnectedness often experienced during and after narcissistic abuse. It’s a symptom of C-PTSD. It is what’s happening when you’re feeling lost, like you’re not really there, or like you’re watching your life through a screen or a bubble. You might also feel stuck and unable to function like you normally would.
How can you tell you’re dealing with brain fog?
Brain fog presents itself in different ways for different people. Some feel just stuck and unable to function.
Others feel like they’re watching their lives through a movie screen or like they’re in some kind of bubble that makes them feel like they’re not really here, or like they’re separated from everyone else.
What are the effects of brain fog after narcissistic abuse?
Along with the brain fog effects listed here, there are many other issues and concerns for those of us who have or have had struggles with brain fog.
But ultimately, when you realize that you have been gaslighted for many years and wonder why your health problems are getting worse, or why you are experiencing brain fog, that is because of the trauma from the abuse. (If you think you’re being gaslighted but you’re not sure, take this free gaslighting self-assessment).
Childhood trauma and toxic families lead to C-PTSD.
There is hope… even if you have severe brain fog and other illnesses related to the disorder. (If you think you’ve got C-PTSD, take this free C-PTSD self-assessment and find out).
The brain fog that many of us experience after a narcissistic relationship is one of the many symptoms of CPTSD. Brain fog is an impairment in a person’s ability to process information, think clearly, and make good decisions.
You may feel like you’re in a mental fog or daze most days or have difficulty remembering what you were just thinking about. This can go hand-in-hand with the memory problems experienced with PTSD, especially if the abuse you experienced was not physical but psychological.
Want to learn more about brain fog and narcissistic abuse recovery?
*Disclaimer – Please note: First and foremost, If you think you may be experiencing these symptoms, you should see a doctor. The last thing anyone wants is to end up misdiagnosed and treated for something that’s not impacting their health. ALWAYS be sure to check in with a doctor first, do your research, and talk to other people before making any decisions about your treatment options.
Have you ever felt kind of cloudy and sort of like your brain just wasn’t functioning as well as usual? Or like you’re not really “here,” maybe like you’re sort of in a bubble or watching your life happen, like a movie? Like you’re a spectator rather than a participant?
If so, you might be dealing with brain fog. And, if you’ve survived toxic relationships, the chances that you’ve dealt with it are pretty high. In fact, one complaint I hear from many of my clients is that they struggle with “brain fog.” Many people develop C-PTSD as a result of toxic relationships with narcissists – and brain fog is one of several common symptoms.
Today, we’re talking about why you have brain fog and some surprising tools and techniques you can use to clear it up quickly and painlessly – all with the use of your smartphone.
Brain fog or mental fog is a common issue for people who have survived toxic relationships with narcissists. Brain fog is officially defined as a clouding of your consciousness – or in layman’s terms, we could define it as not being able to think clearly or not being able to do simple tasks. It can also affect memory or the ability to work. The term is even used among physicians and psychiatrists to indicate that there’s an abnormality in the regulation of someone’s overall level of consciousness that is mild and less severe than a delirium.
Many survivors describe a subjective sensation of mental clouding described as feeling sort of foggy, or like they’re watching their lives happen from a distance.
Some of the conditions your doctor might check for include nutritional deficiency, bacterial overgrowth from eating too much sugar, thyroid conditions, sleep disorders, and even depression. Doctors say other causes may include overeating, not getting enough exercise or sleep or a poor diet in general.
How do you get rid of brain fog?
How do you sort of “clear up the fog” so you can function normally again? Start here. I’m going to share seven powerful tips with you today -things that have actually worked for me as well as for my clients.
1. Sharpen your memory by doing some fun brain training – Research suggests that certain kinds of video games and apps can actually help to clear up brain fog – to sharpen your memory and reduce certain risks. According to one 2017 research paper, brain training games can boost your memory and could reduce the risk of dementia in your future. And a Cambridge University study found that video games helped to improve the brain function of people with early memory problems.
You know how much I love research, right? This information led me to want to test out this theory. So when the good people at CodyCross reached out to me and asked me to check out their game, I did – and boy, am I glad I tried it!
So, I have to be honest. At first, I wasn’t really too convinced this would work for me. After all, I am most definitely NOT a gamer. Still, I wanted to test out the theory, so I downloaded CodyCross and gave it a shot. And I have to tell you, I was pleasantly surprised. Not only did I kind of dig the music and sound effects as they were strangely satisfying, but I loved playing the game. It is simple and fun and gives you an interesting sense of accomplishment.
I found CodyCross both exciting and mentally stimulating – and somehow, still very relaxing. And y’all know the “free” price tag didn’t hurt my feelings one bit. Even better, if English isn’t your first language, you’ll be happy to know that the game is available in 9 different languages. It really is a way to get your brain exercise and it’ll work for any age.
It seems to be keeping my own memory sharper, and I’ve only been playing for a few weeks. The first time I played, I think I played for about 45 minutes straight. I got halfway through the second level and only stopped playing at that moment because I had an appointment!
One quick note: like I told you, this video is sponsored by the company that made the game. But my opinion is my own and in fact, part of what I promise the company is that I would only share my honest opinions with you, so that is exactly what I’m doing here. Anyhoo, that game is super fun (and I can’t lie, maybe a tiny bit addictive). All I’m saying is, if you haven’t tried it yet, you gotta try it now.
As I said, be sure to click my link to get your app. When you do that, you will be clicking an affiliate app so that I get credit for the installation.
Mindfulness – Simply going outside and breathing fresh air can help, but mindfulness is all about bringing yourself into your body and into the moment. Coping mechanisms such as meditation, deep breathing can help you not only reduce stress but also clear brain fog. Find ways to practice mindfulness at home and at work.
Do something to change your environment and/or to sort of bring yourself into the moment and into your body. It helps. A lot more than you think. You could use a mindfulness app for this one too, but for me, I keep a playlist of happy music on my Google music app that helps me sort of shake up my head a little and get back into a healthy groove.
Getting more/better sleep – Get enough sleep. Sleep is also important to alleviate brain fog. When you don’t get enough sleep, you may feel like you’re walking through a fog during the day. You’ll have trouble concentrating and thinking. You’ll miss things and doze off. Experts recommend seven to nine hours of sleep each night for adults. However, you may need more or slightly less depending on your body and history. Personally, I recently upgraded my pillow and bought a weighted blanket. Not only does the blanket feel amazing and reduce anxiety, but it keeps you from feeling overheated in the night. And I’ve been using an alarm clock app that “listens” to me sleep and wakes me up at the best time in my sleep cycle. This reduces drowsiness and helps me wake up feeling more clear-headed. I’ve also been listening to meditations while I sleep. Very helpful.
Exercise – You don’t have to go crazy, but any sort of exercise that gets your heart pumping can help. Get a Fitbit like mine or any exercise tracker if you want to make sure you’re getting enough movement in – even one of the free apps offered on your smartphone that counts steps will work if you keep your phone with you all the time. Even just walking around the block or dancing with your kids while you tidy up the house can help. And hey, if you’ve got a treadmill, you can get in a couple rounds of CodyCross while getting in your steps!
Meditation app – Meditation has proven mental and physical health benefits. It lowers your heart rate and stress levels – but most importantly for today, it can help get rid of brain fog. There are tons of free meditation apps out there. One that I’ve tried and find simple and enjoyable is called Headspace.
Eating better – Focus on nutrition. A poor diet can adversely affect the way your brain functions. Eating a high-fat diet or a lot of refined sugars and carbohydrates can make brain fog worse. Take a close look at your diet. Try to eliminate sugar, unhealthy fats, alcohol, and caffeine. Focus on eating more produce and a variety of healthy foods. Eliminate artificial sweeteners because they can cause headaches and other issues. Eat healthier and more natural foods in general. There are tons of apps out there that can help with eating better. I like one called LifeSum, and you can also look at Weight Watchers, SparkPeople and a number of others.
Speaking of eating healthier, that means something different for a lot of people – those who struggle with various food allergies. So, to be safe, you might also look into the possibilities of food allergies and sensitivities. Some food allergies and sensitivities can also cause brain fog. For example, celiac disease is often associated with brain fog. If you have celiac disease, your body can’t digest gluten found in wheat, barley, or rye. You can also have brain fog with lactose intolerances. Talk to your doctor about any possible food intolerances and sensitivities. They may be affecting you in multiple ways.
Bottom line: while it feels overwhelming and almost paralyzing, brain fog can be resolved, and it doesn’t have to control your life.
When you’re going through narcissistic abuse recovery, you might hate to admit it, but sometimes you really feel like you’re just phoning it in. Going through the motions. There are days (and sometimes, weeks) where you just do the bare minimum that you can to just get by. It’s almost like you’re avoiding life. And it doesn’t feel like you’re doing it on purpose; it feels like you’re not controlling it. Sound familiar? You might be dealing with brain fog.
What is Brain Fog?
Brain fog is the feeling of dissociation or disconnectedness that is very often experienced during and after narcissistic abuse. It can also be a symptom of C-PTSD (complex post-traumatic stress disorder), which is commonly seen in people who have experienced traumatic, abusive relationships with narcissists and other toxic people. If you have dealt with brain fog, you will have struggled with feeling lost, like you’re not really there, or like you’re watching your life through a screen or a bubble.
What Are the Symptoms of Brain Fog?
How can you tell if you’re struggling with brain fog, anyway? You start by checking in with your doctor to ensure that there’s no medical reason for your struggle, of course, but once you’ve done that, watch for the following symptoms to find out if you’re dealing with what we call “brain fog.”
You feel like you can’t get up and do what you need (and sometimes even want) to do. It’s like some kind of weird ALMOST involuntary paralysis. Like, if there was a fire, you would get up and go. But if you need a drink of water or to go to the bathroom? You’ll wait as long as possible before you move.
You rarely find yourself feeling alive, excited or truly happy.
Colors don’t seem as bright as they used to, and food doesn’t taste as good.
You feel unhealthy, physically, mentally, and otherwise when you’re dealing with brain fog as a result of narcissistic abuse. When it comes to your narcissist, you feel alternately invisible and smothered. You feel stuck. Paralyzed.
You open 17 tabs in your browser and plan to read and watch the best tips out there. It’s not like you haven’t read all the articles and watched literally like every video out there on getting…well, unstuck already – but part of you hopes that something will jump out and smack you in the face with some amazing insight that will change everything.
You already know all about mindfulness and logically you get it. You have even tried it in the past, and you know it helps. But something is different this time. You know all that stuff, but you can’t even bring yourself to do any of it. You KNOW it will help, because it has helped in the past. But you still find yourself not moving.
Inside Your Own Brain (Fog)
In your head, you try to psych yourself up so you can just gain a little momentum and start moving. You remind yourself that “a body in motion stays in motion,” and you plan little baby steps that you know will work to kickstart your energy again. You think, “I’m going to just get up and go walk around the block, and that will help me stop feeling this way,” or “Maybe if I drink more water,” or “I need to eat better/sleep more/whatever,” but when it’s time to take action, you almost feel as if it’s physically impossible to do so.
And the cycle continues. Before you know it, you’ve pretty much shut down contact with the entire outside world, and you don’t care. You just hope no one knocks on the door or calls. And if they do, you do your best to avoid answering either.
You have stopped living. Now, you just sort of exist. And while one part of you is screaming at you to get up and get moving again, this other (seemingly more powerful) part sits on your chest and feels like the weight of the world.
You understand how the law of attraction works. And you are well aware of that fact that when you are focused on the fact that you cannot function properly, you will not function properly.
Despite the fact that they can’t quite put their finger on it, doctors and researchers may tell you that you have chronic fatigue syndrome or major depressive disorder or even adrenal fatigue. In other words, they don’t really always know the answers.
Alternative health gurus will suggest that you aren’t eating well (and they may be partially correct) or that you need to detox your body (also maybe partially correct, but again, not a solution that will get to the core issue).
Still, many studies link narcissistic abuse to these exact symptoms you’re having. At one point, they discussed adding a new diagnosis to the DSM – narcissistic abuse syndrome. But there’s no pill you can take that will fully resolve this issue, at least not at the core.
How do you deal with brain fog?
So what are we supposed to do? How can we manage this stuff ourselves? And really, why do we do this to ourselves, even when we know better?
We know that if you change your thoughts, you can change your life. We can understand this logically. But when we’re feeling sad and stuck and flat-out paralyzed, we cannot seem to budge our minds. Why is this such a difficult concept when we need it the most? What is the answer?
Sadly, there’s no magic bullet, but there is one way you can shake yourself up and gain a little momentum so you can get yourself back on track.
You have to start small because at this point, anything that’s more than a tiny bit of effort will seem to be too involved. The honest-to-God truth is that you have to just do SOMETHING. Doing even one thing will help.
And you have to give yourself permission to do that; to do just one thing and then to stop again. Once you’ve done the one thing, if you do stop, then wait an hour, or a day, and do one more thing. Keep doing this, every hour or day or week – however it feels best to you.
Here are some ideas for things to try. I know it might feel hard right now, but pick one and do it. Any single one. Then, comment on the YouTube video and tell me what you did (or plan to do).
Go Outside. I am not saying you have to go out for the evening, to the store or even to leave your front porch – but go outside and breathe in some fresh air. Let your skin be exposed to it and open your eyes wide, taking in the environment. Notice the grass and trees, or the cars and the people. Spend five or ten minutes out there, and be sure to take deep, cleansing breaths while you do.
Create Something. Creating stuff can stir up your energy in surprising ways. Just start doing something, anything at all that forces you to get a little bit creative. Pour your anxiety, stress or “nothingness” into it. Ideas: Write in your journal. Draw something. Doodle on paper. Record a song. Design something. Sew or sculpt. Cook something or redecorate a room in your house.
Clean Something. If there is something in your space that makes you feel overwhelmed and icky, clean it up. If it’s your WHOLE house that feels overwhelmingly messy (which does happen when you’re dealing with CPTSD and dissociation as a result of narcissistic abuse), then pick ONE thing and clean it up. Maybe a messy table, for example, or a corner where you tend to toss stuff.
Drink Water. A lot of times, we feel exhausted because we are dehydrated. This has a lot to do with our aches and pains in some cases. Make sure you’re fully hydrated. Experts say 64 ounces of water each day is enough.
Listen to Something. Listening to your favorite positive, upbeat songs can really empower you to get moving. Even if it means you just sit on the couch and listen at first, force yourself to stop watching TV and listen to at least ONE good song. Something powerful. Check out my favorites at QueenBeeing.com/Playlist.
Pattern-Interrupt Something. Next time you notice yourself stressing or worrying about anything, notice it. Then realize that you are in a sort of pattern, which leads to your brain creating and reinforcing certain connections that lead to habitually negative thinking. But good news: you can change the way you think (and thereby sort of reroute those neural connections) by simply changing the way you think. Use simple pattern interrupts when you feel like you’re stuck in a negative “loop.” For example, brush your teeth, wash your face, stand up, move into a different part of the house. Do something to change your environment and/or to sort of bring yourself into the moment and into your body. It helps. A lot more than you think.
Stop Obsessing About Something. If you’re anything like me, you get to the point where you begin to obsess about the fact that you’re paralyzed. This only keeps us stuck! So start telling yourself a new story. Maybe to stop obsessing about being paralyzed, you can practice intentional vibration management. I (think) I invented this term and what I mean by it is to start being your own thought police. So, pay attention to your thoughts and when you catch yourself obsessing about being paralyzed, change your mind and focus instead on something you DO want, or something at the very least that you have some direct control over.
Stop Trying So Hard. It’s so easy for us to get stuck because we know we’re not supposed to stop. But the idea that we’re failing seems to really drive us to keep going – even if we’re just “going” by beating ourselves up for NOT going. So maybe you really do just need to take a day or two off from life. Do it, and then get moving again.
Give Yourself Some Care and Compassion. Yes, I mean take care of yourself. When we neglect our own needs, we cannot keep moving in any positive direction. It’s just like on the airplane when the stewardess tells you to put your own oxygen mask on before you help anyone else. When you’re not providing for your basic human needs, you cannot help anyone else. So take care of yourself – body, mind and spirit.
Trigger-Proof Yourself. If you’re triggered into panic or despair by sad songs, movies and news stories, go on a negativity diet for awhile. Only watch, read or consume content that is positive in nature. This can really quickly improve your odds of finding your proverbial mojo again.