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.
How do you get over the feelings of low self-worth after narcissistic abuse? Do you have coping tips for the feelings of overwhelm from PTSD? Leave a comment to share what works for you, it may help someone else!
“Always be a first-rate version of yourself, instead of a second-rate version of somebody else.” ~Judy Garland
You might already know that I’m both a certified life coach and a survivor of narcissistic abuse – and if you do, you know that’s why I do the work that I do – because I want to help people get through, survive and thrive similar situations.
I keep doing this because so often, readers tell me that I have helped them to make their life better – and that’s exactly what I set out to do.
Regardless of what you’re going through now or of what you’ve been through before, I stand by my statement that change begins in your head–you must believe that it is possible (and that you can and will achieve your goals) in order to create the changes you desire in your life.
Tip: Make your life feel better immediately. You can start by making positive changes in your environment. And, while the success of this endeavor certainly depends on your perception of your ability to complete this task–the fact is, one cannot effect environmental change without a little elbow grease (or, at the very least, the ability to call for help, and enough money to pay someone else to do it for you.)
What is inspired action and how do you know if you’ve got it?
Inspired action, while it may be hard work, shouldn’t make you feel bad.
Dr. Joe Vitale, one of the experts who worked with Rhonda Byrne in writing The Secret, said it best when he addressed this very issue in his own blog. Following is an enlightening excerpt from Dr. Vitale’s post.
“Many fans of the law of attraction think you don’t take any action. You simply sit like a good magnet and wait for your vibes to slide the thing you want over to your chair.
I believe that you usually if not always have to take action of some sort, but that your action isn’t effort if it comes from your heart. That’s the key difference.
People run marathons, lift weights, climb mountains, write books, travel on horseback, jump out of planes, make hundreds of sales calls a day, and much more. It’s all action.
But if they do it because they want to do it, because it bubbles out of their passion to do it, then it’s not effort. Again, the law of attraction doesn’t mean you don’t do anything; it means what you do is effort-free.
For example, I write an astonishing amount of books, articles and blog posts. If you didn’t like writing, you’d think what I’m doing is gruelling. But I love what I do. So my action isn’t effort. It’s simply right action for me. If you think running up a mountain is insane, you won’t take that action because if you did, it would require enormous effort.
When you practice what you learn from the movie The Secret, things do begin to come to you without much effort or action on your part. But that doesn’t mean you won’t have anything to do.
I was able to attract a new car — namely Francine — by knowing what I wanted and then taking action when prompted from the inside to drive over to San Antonio one day.
To me, the law of attraction works to make life easier, but not because you don’t take action, but because the action you take is natural for you.
Dissociation on a metaphorical level looks a lot like being a passenger in a car rather than the driver. Like, you’re seeing all of the turns and the journey, but you’re just along for the ride. The ride is happening TO you rather than you choosing the route.
What is dissociation?
In the most basic sense, dissociation is a disconnection from your physical surroundings. It’s when you feel like you’re sort of watching the world from somewhere deep inside your head, or above it, or somehow disconnected from it. Like you’re “not really there” or like you’re watching life through a movie.
It feels like you’re “not really real” or like you’re watching your life through some kind of fog. Some people describe it as feeling sort of like a robot or having no emotions or connection whatsoever to the people around them.
What was once familiar now seems somehow unfamiliar, and this includes people, places, and things.
A Clinical Definition of Dissociation
A more clinical definition, according to the International Society of the Study of Trauma and Dissociation (ISST-D), says that dissociation is “the disconnection or lack of connection between things usually associated with each other,” and that in its most severe forms, those who suffer from it report that the “disconnection occurs in the usually integrated functions of consciousness, memory, identity, or perception.”
So, for example, a person who suffers from dissociation may experience something that most people would be extremely upset and affected by, and they may have no feelings about it.
Though it may initially seem harmless, your ability to “tune out” the world, and though some people may almost find your “spaciness” rather adorable, the truth is that there are plenty of less than desirable consequences that come along with dissociation.
There are five pretty common symptoms of dissociation that can significantly affect your life, and there’s one that is less common but potentially more devastating in some ways.
Depersonalization: the sense of being outside of or disconnected from your body – feeling like you’re not in your body. You might even feel like you don’t recognize yourself in the mirror. You feel detached from yourself.
Derealization: when the world feels “fake” or contrived. People who are affected by derealization often describe this symptom as a “fog” or like they see the world from “far away” or through a veil. Some say it’s like watching a movie rather than actually participating in life.
Dissociative amnesia: a particular type of amnesia that is specific to people with dissociation that blocks out personal details, such as incidents of abuse and manipulation, blocks of time – from minutes to years – and more. Often, people say that they just forget what they’re talking about – but it’s not just your standard forgetfulness – it’s a significant issue that may even become embarrassing at times.
Identity confusion: a condition in which you experience seriously conflicted feelings within yourself; for example, you might find that you’re doing things that aren’t like you – such as driving recklessly or doing drugs; and while part of you find this behavior thrilling, the other part of you is disgusted by it.
Identity alteration: a shocking condition in which parts of you are very defined and separate from other parts – this is similar to a condition that used to be called multiple personality disorder. It’s far less common but does occasionally manifest in victims of narcissistic abuse.
When it comes to dissociation due to narcissistic abuse in your relationship, it’s a whole other ball of wax. The thing is that learning to dissociate can be something that begins as a survival technique for someone who has experienced the soul-crushing emotional abuse of a narcissist.
The ability to “dissociate” can actually sort of save you – it’s really a coping mechanism.
What happens is that you begin to feel so overcome by fear, anger, or any other emotion that doesn’t make sense to you, and you probably find yourself doing things that you wouldn’t normally choose to do on your own.
For example, you may cut off your best friend, or you might stop calling your mother or Aunt Sally, even though you’ve talked to them both every day of your life up to now.
When all of this becomes too much for your rational mind to handle and you’ve become isolated, or at least emotionally isolated in that you don’t talk to anyone about your problems, you have to figure out a way to deal.
And, a lot of times, you have to decide NOT to wish you were dead – and the only way to do THAT is to simply stop feeling the things that hurt you so deeply. You might begin by rationalizing it in your head (he doesn’t really mean it, or he will apologize later, so I can just get through this and help him with his anger or self-esteem or whatever is bothering him, according to your perception).
When that doesn’t work, you give up and you stop feeling anything at all. At first, this is a freeing feeling, but eventually, it sucks not only the pain from your life but also the joy – and that’s when you’ve dissociated. When you feel literally almost nothing.
Why should you get help with dissociation?
Doesn’t it just make life easier in some ways?
It might seem like that at first. Some people even say that the best way to avoid being hurt emotionally is to avoid feeling anything at all. But the problem is a little thing psychologists call “affect dysregulation,” which is defined as the inability to tolerate and manage intense emotional experiences.
This happens because we lose the inability to soothe ourselves for whatever reason – or we were never given the opportunity to learn how.
This can cause us to have terrible mood swings, lack of emotion, and on some occasions, the sudden reliving of painful memories. It’s like when a veteran with PTSD has a war flashback, except it’s the reliving of tragic events we’ve personally experienced, such as the verbal and emotional abuse of a narcissist in a relationship.
You should get help because dissociation can absolutely ruin your life – it can cause you to become someone you’re truly not. And what you deserve is the ability to discover (or re-discover) who you truly are – not to be a basket-case shell of your true self.
Why do we dissociate when it’s so unhealthy for us?
As I said, dissociation is a direct result of the subconscious mind’s attempt to protect us from the intense and painful emotions we can’t handle. It’s our mind’s last-ditch attempt to preserve our sanity – and it initially happens when all of our other methods of protection are exhausted. We sort of “artificially” adapt our personalities to manage our fear, anger, and other intense emotions. In this way, we control them and temporarily save ourselves.
How do I start to heal from dissociation and feel things again?
If you’re self-treating, you’re going to have to work really hard. Most psychologists will tell you to get professional help. Though I am a certified life coach who has herself experienced and overcome narcissistic abuse, I am not a mental or physical health professional, so before you try anything I suggest, you need to consult with your healthcare professional.