Brain Fog from Toxic Relationships: The Science and Ways You Can Help Yourself

Brain Fog from Toxic Relationships: The Science and Ways You Can Help Yourself

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.

It’s a common problem, yet one that many don’t talk about…much less understand. It’s called brain fog. This video offers a comprehensive look into narcissistic abuse and its effects on your brain – and more. 

What is brain fog?

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.

Brain fog, depression, and anxiety are just a few of the mental health issues associated with C-PTSD. These symptoms are caused by childhood trauma, abuse, and neglect. Learn more about 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?

Go watch this video, which offers a comprehensive look into narcissistic abuse and its effects on your brain – and more.  Or, look at any of the rest of my videos or check out the blog here to read more about recovering from a toxic relationship with a narcissist and to get self-help tips for recovering from C-PTSD and brain fog.

Start Getting Help with Narcissistic Abuse Recovery Today

*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.

Think Like a Scientist, Reduce Your Narcissistic Abuse Recovery Timeline

Think Like a Scientist, Reduce Your Narcissistic Abuse Recovery Timeline

“To be rendered powerless doesn’t destroy your humanity. Your resilience is your humanity. The only people who lose their humanity are those who believe they have the right to render another human being powerless. They are the weak. To yield and not break, that is incredible strength.”
~​Hannah Gadsby

See video on YouTube.

Have you lost yourself during an abusive, toxic relationship with a narcissist?

Going through a toxic relationship with a narcissist can tear you apart and make you feel so beaten down that it feels impossible to recover. At a minimum, you are left feeling devastated, frustrated, headachy, jittery, drained, straight-up exhausted…the list goes on. The pain can seem so bad that you feel cursed. And who could blame you?

It’s awful how someone you loved so deeply could walk away from you without so much as a backward glance. And as they rush around scooping up everything they own maybe including the clothes off your back, it’s almost like they are abusing you all over again! But it doesn’t have to be this way. There are techniques, tactics, coping mechanisms that allow you to feel in control again and to help you reclaim your life after narcissistic abuse.

What is narcissistic abuse? 

Narcissistic abuse is a pervasive, covert type of abuse that involves the exploitation and 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.

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

Not all abuse involves narcissists, but in a large percentage of abuse cases, a narcissist is involved. Narcissists of the toxic nature are those who have little to no empathy for the people around them and who act from that perspective. That is: they don’t care how you or anyone else feels, and you can tell because of the way they treat the people around them. Narcissistic abuse involves subtle manipulation, pervasive control tactics, gaslighting, and emotional and psychological abuse.  Many narcissistic abusers might be diagnosed with 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.

How do you recover from narcissistic abuse?

Once you’ve figured it all out, you’re in shock and disbelief for a while before anything else. The heartbreak will either feel immediately unbearable or, if you’re like I was, you might go into some sort of suspended state of animation – going through the motions of life, feeling numb and not present. That is, of course, until you start learning about the mind games and manipulation the narcissist used to control you.

That’s about the time you’ll want to know how to recognize the narcissist’s abusive personal attacks, and how to defend yourself.

The Narcissistic Abuse Recovery Process, Explained

You finally understand that these were textbook narcissistic abuse methods! You also learn how to recover from a narcissist because whether or not it’s a conscious and intentional choice or a cluster B personality disorder causing trouble in your life and your relationship, the narcissist is focused on hurting you.

First, take the time to mourn the relationship.

I’ve always felt that the best way to get through narcissistic abuse recovery begins with some time for a mourning period, with an end date in mind. Depending on the length and nature of your relationship, you may need a few days, a few weeks, or even a few months. If possible, take a little time off work to “launch” your period of mourning, and then maybe a few days at the end of your chosen mourning period.

Then, think like a scientist: research and notice the patterns.

I’ve often mentioned that you need to look at a situation logically before you can understand the emotions that go along with it. What I mean is that to really push through the most painful parts, you can sort of look at the details like a scientist. Think about the psychology of the narcissist, just a bit. Look at and notice the pattern in their behavior, and d some research. You’ll find that what they’re doing might look a lot like a playbook. And then you’re going to want to look at yourself and your own psychology in the same way. Figure out what led you to be vulnerable to the narcissist in your life and notice the patterns that allowed you to stick around as long as you did. Chances are that it might have begun in childhood.

Next, identify and name the narcissist’s behaviors.

For me, being able to identify and name the narcissist’s manipulation tactics sort of took the sting out of the situation a bit, on some level. When I was able to understand the psychology of a  toxic relationship, and to sort of look at it “like a scientist” – logically, as opposed to emotionally – I could connect my emotions to the facts.

Then, connect your past to your present.

Find the connection between your past trauma to your present circumstances. That was a big part of stopping the pain and the addiction to the narcissist for me, and I’ve found that my clients usually find it most effective to follow a similar path along their healing journies. It also helped me to learn everything I could about my own psychology (and about codependency, C-PTSD, and the related side-effects) and then to uncover and understand exactly which parts of my life were among the most traumatic and life-changing. Then, I needed to understand exactly how those events and circumstances might have led to my current understanding of both myself and my life. This helped me to work on understanding and learning how to have healthier self-esteem and to recognize that I deserve at least basic respect and that I could choose to set boundaries that make me feel comfortable and safe.

How do you get over the narcissist with the least amount of emotional pain?

When you step back and take a look at all of the things you need to do for narcissistic abuse recovery, it can be distressing to think about how long it will take. However, recovering from narcissistic abuse is not impossible! I believe that with the right mindset and the right tools, you can speed up your recovery time.

What’s the most important thing that you have to do AFTER your break up with the narcissist? There is no instant, painless quick-fix for narcissistic abuse. There is no magical undo button that will erase the effects of psychological manipulation and abuse, nor there is such a thing as an “easy way out” or a fast recovery time.

One of the (many) downfalls of relationships with narcissists is that they keep us hooked with intermittent reinforcement, which, combined with long-game gaslighting and manipulation of our realities, makes it extremely difficult to realize the severity of a situation and deny a painful reality.

Even though there is no magic pill to relieve ourselves of the after-effects of narcissistic abuse, and even though we can’t just snap our fingers and get recovery over with right away, it doesn’t mean we can’t make things better in the process.

The narcissist has hurt you deeply, carved out huge chunks of your soul, and left you absolutely spinning. You don’t even know who you are anymore. You want to scream out loud “Why ME?!”  You start to feel like you’re cursed. The pain is unbelievable, excruciating…and it lasts for months upon months. It’s like having shards of glass in your heart…

The only thing standing between you and the healthier, happier future you desire is the narcissist. So where do you begin?

Well, let’s get started by establishing where you are today, and then we can begin to figure out exactly what it will take for you to move forward. Take this test to find out where you are in the narcissistic abuse recovery process. 

Narcissistic abuse is a difficult thing to endure, but you’re not cursed. You’re a strong survivor and it won’t be long before the best parts of yourself emerge from the fog of manipulation and control. The pain will lessen with time…even if it feels like it will never end. But don’t give up – the journey to feeling whole again is more than worth the effort, I promise you. You can get help from a therapist or a coach, or you can join one of many online support groups for narcissistic abuse recovery.

Question of the Day: What have been your biggest hurdles in narcissistic abuse recovery, and how did you overcome them? Or, if you’re currently struggling, what’s slowing you down? Let me know – maybe I can help! Share your thoughts, share your ideas and your experiences in the comments section below this video, and let’s talk about it. 

Start Getting Help with Narcissistic Abuse Recovery Today

Online help is readily available for survivors of narcissistic abuse. Here are some options to begin healing from narcissistic abuse right away.

Why do narcissists follow identical relationship patterns?

Why do narcissists follow identical relationship patterns?

Why are narcissists so difficult to deal with? Why are they so mean to the people they claim to love and so nice to everyone else? What causes narcissists to be the way they are? Why are they like that?

We all know that narcissistic abusers follow certain relationship patterns: they first idealize you – put you up on a pedestal and seem like your soulmate (this is also called love bombing).

Next, they put you through the hell of the devalue and then the discard phase – and often these cycles are repeated for years. But how is it that these patterns are used by most narcissists in varying but identifiable iterations?

Is toxic narcissism caused by environmental factors, or is there a genetic component involved – or could there be more than one factor in play?

Narcissistic Relationship Cycle: Caused by Nurture or Nature?

Watch this video to learn more about why narcissists are like that

Why do narcissists follow identical relationship patterns?

YouTuber Mary Cutrone asked:

I’ve learned so much about the narcissist abuse tactics, but still have one question. How do they follow the same pattern? They don’t go to “narcissist school” … but follow the love bombing to the final discard like it’s a formula. What’s up?

Narcissist Relationship Patterns (You MUST Know!) Identifying Narcissism and Codependency in a Toxic Relationship 

Helpful videos for identifying narcissism and codependency in a toxic relationship:

Useful Articles for Survivors of Narcissistic Abuse

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