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.
And obviously, some part of you is well-aware that this abuse is wrong and that you should end the relationship, or at least be happy it ended.
But for some reason, you can’t stop thinking about the narcissist. You’re second-guessing yourself, feeling remorse and regret combined with self-doubt that ending is or was the right thing to do.
The more you miss them, the worse you want to see them – and the more you’re sure that you were overreacting and that you weren’t really abused at all.
Absence makes the heart grow fonder, as they say, and you develop abuse amnesia – forgetting what the narcissist has done to you and beginning to believe that things really can get better this time.
What are the long-term effects of narcissistic abuse in a toxic relationship?
It’s hard to imagine that everything you thought was true about your relationship might have been a lie, and yet this is the very reality you might be dealing with if you’ve just recognized the narcissistic abuse in your life.
This is just one of many ways that narcissistic abuse in a toxic relationship can lead you to find yourself dealing with serious cognitive dissonance.
And don’t worry – you’re not alone here – in fact, you’re in good company. The effects of narcissistic abuse are all-encompassing – and something like this happens to nearly every narcissistic abuse survivor somewhere along the way.
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.
How can you deal with triggers and feeling dissociated during narcissistic abuse recovery?
Understanding trauma bonding is vital to understanding why it’s often so difficult to leave a narcissist, as well as why you can be triggered by seemingly innocuous things if you were previously involved with one. And the good news is that knowing more about it can help you better cope with your experience. Take the information below and use it to better understand your trauma bond and how to get past it.
Try This Reality Anchoring Technique
Reality anchoring is one of the most powerful NLP Anchoring Techniques you can use during your day-to-day life – anywhere and at any time.
Many studies have been conducted on the effectiveness of reality anchoring using different methods to evaluate it, and all of them have come up with similar results in terms of the effectiveness of the reality anchoring technique to reduce negative emotions, increase positive ones and enhance perceived well-being.
A reality anchor is a mechanism that allows you to connect your current situation with an unrelated but positive place in the past.
In other words, you may want to consider looking toward the future while making an emotional connection to some positive experiences from the past.
Doing so can increase your sense of well-being and happiness. It can also decrease any amount of sadness and increase your ability to cope.
This can be achieved by creating a trigger that links one part of your body with a pleasant memory.
For example, you may believe that smelling fresh flowers will reassure you that you were happy on a particular day in the past.
The reality anchor technique is used to encourage a person to be able to adjust their current emotions by finding the source of those emotions in an event in the past or future.
Why should you care if you’re trauma-bonded with the narcissist?
Understanding trauma bonding is vital to understanding why it’s often so difficult to leave a narcissist, as well as why you can be triggered by seemingly innocuous things if you were previously involved with one.
And the good news is that knowing more about it can help you better cope with your experience.
Take the information below and use it to better understand your trauma bond and how to get past it.
How does trauma bonding from narcissistic abuse actively affect your brain and state of mind?
The chemicals oxytocin, which encourages bonding, endogenous opioids – responsible for pleasure, pain, withdrawal, and 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.
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.
Use Mindfulness to Beat Brain Fog!
Mindfulness is a powerful way to beat brain fog. Learn to live mindfully by practicing the following.
There is no wrong way to do this – just do it and know that everyone has wandering thoughts.
Begin your mindfulness practice by focusing on your breath, it will help ground you for the session.
Some people find it useful to use a mantra to focus on – that is a word or phrase that you say aloud and/or chant. It can be ‘Om’, something like ‘Peace’ ‘Love’ ‘Calm’ or anything you want.
You can use an audio or video of guided meditation if that helps you stay focused.
When you find your mind wandering, and you will, simply return to observing your breath for a minute or so to get back into your practice. You might say aloud ‘thinking’ to label what occurred (your mind wandering to other things) without judging it as bad or good.
Observe – your thoughts, feelings, and sensations – this is the objective of mindfulness (though Buddhists would say there is no goal).
Release – any thoughts, feelings, or sensations without judgment – this is critical to get the benefits of mindfulness.
Label – your thoughts, feelings, and sensations, even the errant ones that occur when the mind wanders; this can be helpful in the ‘observing and letting go’ process.
The more you do this, the easier it becomes.
There are active forms of mindfulness for those who can benefit from something more involved, ie. mindful movement and mindful walking.
Begin by setting aside 5 minutes to practice mindfulness the first week, then increase it to 10 minutes and continue to increase your time every week or so until you are practicing 20 minutes. If you can’t manage 20 minutes, do what works for you. Even 5 minutes each day (or twice a day) will help you.
Supplements That May Help With Your Healing
Did you know that there are certain supplements designed to help with healing your brain?
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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.
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 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
The QueenBeeing SPANily, Official – We consider this to be the best narcissistic abuse recovery support group on the web. Offers several subgroups and features a vigilant, compassionate admin team full of trained coaches and survivors, supporting more than 12k members. SPAN is an acronym created by Angie Atkinson that stands for Support for People Affected by Narcissistic abuse in toxic relationships.
Other Narcissistic Abuse Recovery Support Groups– We also have separate groups for each stage in your narcissistic abuse recovery, as well as some for those who have moved past recovery and are evolving into the next stage of their own life. Survivors have unique and individual needs, even when they’ve moved on – so we’re still here for you.
One-on-One Narcissistic Abuse Recovery Coaching – If you prefer to get more personalized support in your recovery, you might like to schedule a session with one of our coaches to plan and execute your own narcissistic abuse recovery plan.
Find a Narcissistic Abuse Recovery Therapist – If you’re looking for a therapist for narcissistic abuse recovery, either because you cannot afford coaching and want to use your health insurance or because you have additional issues you need to address that do not fall within the realm of coaching, you will want to find the right therapist for you – and as far as we’re concerned, that therapist must understand what you’ve been through. This page offers assistance to help you do exactly that.
To put it mildly, communicating with a narcissist can be incredibly frustrating, especially when it matters that they comprehend what you’re saying. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve felt exasperated when trying to have simple conversations with narcissists who have become agitated and who are actively gaslighting.
Using the Grey Rock Method Safely
So a while back, I wrote this post about the only way to effectively communicate with a narcissist, and in my experience, it’s the truth. In the post, I mentioned the Grey Rock Method, so I thought I’d offer a bit of background and explanation on where it came from. The Grey Rock Method is an ideal way to respond to a narcissist who is actively gaslighting you.
What is gaslighting?
Gaslighting is a pervasive and highly effective manipulation tactic used by most narcissists, a form of psychological abuse meant to manipulate you by psychological means into questioning your own sanity. It is pure brainwashing. In addition to toxic narcissists, many abusers and cult leaders use this tactic, not to mention dictators. They do it slowly and subtly – so it kind of sneaks up on you before you realize it’s happening.
This is where your abuser causes you to doubt your own memory, perception, and sanity. The term comes from the 1938 stage play Gaslight and its 1940 and 1944 film adaptations, in which a husband tries to convince his wife that she is insane by making small adjustments to their home and then convincing her that she is imagining the changes.
How do you recognize when a narcissist is gaslighting?
So, how do you know when to use the grey rock method? It’s going to be most effective when the narcissist is gaslighting you. They will be thicker than concrete walls, intentionally trying to misunderstand you and assume the worst of you, in every single word. You find yourself feeling hopeless like you’re unable to make your point – and if you’re like me, it’s especially frustrating because you probably have no problem communicating with literally everyone else in your life.
Gaslighting is abusive because it is used to subvert honest communication. The abuser doesn’t want to talk about whatever problem there is; they want to persuade you that you are mistaken about what’s happening. They want you to doubt your own perceptions, your own memory; they want you to feel confused and off-balance, so that the only reasonable response is to do whatever they say.
What is the “Grey Rock” Method?
The grey rock method is a form of emotional self-defense used to cope with people who attack your emotions. It is a powerful strategy to shut down any kind of narcissistic abuse, behavior, or attack by anyone, without violating your boundaries. It allows you to disengage from the narcissist and refrain from making him or her wrong. It’s all about appearing to be somewhat indifferent to narcissists’ behavior.
How do you use the “Grey Rock” Method?
When someone is acting out of emotion, trying to manipulate you, they are not being rational. So your goal is not to think of a clever response – it’s to avoid being pulled into responding emotionally yourself. To do that, it helps to remember that most of our communication happens non-verbally. So respond non-verbally.
In other words, do your best to avoid feeling sorry for them if they’re feeling sorry for themselves, don’t get mad at them if they’re mad at you, don’t take it personally if they’re taking it personally.
The best way to deal with an emotionally manipulative person is not to react emotionally yourself at all — which is what the grey rock method aims to make easy for you. Think of it as practice in learning not to care about things that don’t matter.
When you’re using the grey rock method, you’re supposed to act boring and don’t react to the narcissist’s attempts to engage you in drama. Essentially, you don’t give them any of your energy or emotion; you literally act like you’re as boring as a grey rock. This helps you to become less attractive to manipulative people such as narcissists.
While the grey rock method will not fix the situation in the long term, it can help you regain some control and keep things calm when you do need to deal with a narcissist. The grey rock method is highly effective but also infuriating for narcissists to experience.
In part, Skylar says the grey rock method is, “primarily a way of encouraging a narcissist, psychopath, stalker or another emotionally unbalanced person, to lose interest in you.”
How does the Grey Rock Method differ from the No-Contact rule?
Skylar says that the difference is “you don’t blatantly try to avoid contact with the disordered individual.”
Instead, she advises, “you allow contact but only give boring, monotonous responses so that the mentally unwell person must go elsewhere to get their need for drama gratified.”
Skylar adds: “One might say that Grey Rock is a way of breaking up with a psychopath by using the old, ‘It’s not you, it’s me’ excuse, except that you act it out instead of saying it and the psychopath comes to that conclusion on his own.”
Why does the Grey Rock Method work?
According to Skylar: “There are gray rocks and pebbles everywhere you go, but you never notice them. None of them attract your attention. You don’t remember any specific rock you saw today because they blend with the scenery. That is the type of boring that you want to channel when you are dealing with a psychopath. Your boring persona will camouflage you and the psychopath won’t even notice you were there. This method strikes at the heart of the psychopath’s motivation: to avoid boredom.”
What are the most important components of successfully using the Grey Rock Method?
Rule number one when it comes to practicing the Grey Rock Method is to never tell the narcissist you’re doing so. If you do, he’ll definitely figure out a way to use it against you.
Never ask questions of the narcissist and don’t offer any “committal” responses – just say things like “hmm” or “mhmm” – keep it casual.
If possible, discuss only “safe” topics, such as the news, social media – fashion, cooking, etc. Nothing that would be personal – even if the narcissist begs you for it. Drama-free is the way to be!
Try to be distracted during the conversation so that you don’t have to directly look the narcissist in the eye the whole time. Make it something simple like doodling in a notebook or checking your text messages, or something more complicated such as knitting a scarf or working on a document for work. If you focus a bit more on your activity, you won’t be as directly affected by the narcissist’s attempts to manipulate you during the conversation.
Most importantly during this practice, keep your head in the game and don’t allow the narcissist to get inside your head. Narcissists are expert “guilt-trippers” and have no qualms about making you “feel bad” so that you’ll try to justify or defend your intentions – don’t fall into the trap.
What else should I consider before I try the Grey Rock Method?
One important thing to know about the Grey Rock Method is that there is a level at which it can become unsafe for you psychologically – and that’s when you begin to experience symptoms of dissociation.
A lot of people don’t realize that these two are connected, but here’s what happens.
When you learn to use this method and you find out how effective it can be when it comes to dealing with your narcissist, you may find that it is a great way to deal with EVERYTHING that is an issue in your life.
The problem with this is that you begin to truly stop caring – and your ability to feel your own emotions diminishes. This is a major issue because you don’t just stop feeling pain and anxiety – you stop feeling the good stuff too.
Now it’s your turn – have you ever used the Grey Rock Method? How did it work for you, and what tips would you offer for someone who’s trying it for the first time? Share your thoughts and experiences in the comments.
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