Survivor Stories Consortium

A forum user casually prefaced her post with the words “the autoimmune disorder I came down with since my relationship with my narcissist”.  She was considering going back, and mentions his love-bombing is a series of “poor me” texts. He is so lonely. He wants someone to love him. He needs someone to hold him. He wishes she could just accept him. Him, him, him!

This so closely mirrors my own experience. After I left, my ex-narcissist also felt sorry. For himself.  (Not for the great harm he had inflicted). All of the empath alarms went off in my head and got me thinking about how profoundly important her words were. While we are in the throes of narcissistic abuse, we sense our sanity slipping away, but we become so consumed with the relationship that we may not be aware of what’s happening to our bodies.

My narcissist was hazardous to my health

I was always high energy and a reasonably healthy person. I was a former fitness instructor, I homeschooled a houseful of kids and had an intellectually stimulating career. A few months into my six-year stint with a narcissist, in addition to deep depression, anxiety and panic attacks, I developed chronic migraines, severe muscle spasms, and some alarming digestive issues. I went on meds and holistic remedies to treat each condition and changed my diet every couple of months, blaming the latest popular food allergy for my malaise. What I failed to notice was my that my energy levels were waning and I was having increasing joint pain and inflammation, edema, and was operating in a brain fog. I thought I was just tired from sleepless nights spent fighting and crying, and that I was feeling sluggish from anti-anxiety meds, and sore from spending so many nights sleeping on the couch.

When I finally accepted that I was going to have to leave, I focussed only on coping with day-to-day survival and my escape plan. I didn’t worry so much about the health issues. I knew the end was in sight once I got the resources to leave and I assumed once there was no narcissist, there would be no narcissist-related illnesses. I was wrong about that.

When I first left, I felt great physically. I could finally breathe and was energized; I wanted to get out of bed in the mornings and was ready to start my new life.

But after about 8 months, random health symptoms started showing up. The first thing I noticed was a mild cold that seemed to linger, followed by a bout of fatigue and the return of brain fog. It lasted about two months then seemed to lift, but my energy levels never quite returned to normal. Then my finger joints swelled up by two ring sizes and I started seeing odd rashes and swelling in my legs. This now appears in “flare-ups”. I’ve been tested for Lupus, RA, and Lyme diseases, which were all finally ruled out, and I still don’t have a clear answer as to why I have positive ANA results and feel so exhausted.

My current energy levels are still low. Driving back and forth to my (sedentary) part-time job is draining, I rarely have the have the motivation to leave my house if it involves driving. This just isn’t me. At least it wasn’t me pre-narc.

This isn’t a woe-is-me post. I’m well past living in victim mode and I know others have suffered so much more at the hands of narcissists. My pain level is manageable and other than feeling sluggish and out of shape, I’m much better off than when I was married to a narcissist. But it has definitely affected the quality of my life and touches my relationships, my moods and my level of career ambition.

The disease that really isn’t

Most of those of us in the narcissistic abuse recovery world have heard about adrenal fatigue. But adrenal fatigue itself is not considered a “real disease” by the medical community. I do not recommend self-diagnosing, but if you are experiencing any combination of the symptoms I mentioned and you are involved with a narcissist, I do recommend reading up on C-PTSD, childhood trauma, sustained periods of stress, “fight or flight” response, and Narcissist Victim Syndrome and the effects they have on the body. The effects of this toxic stress can compromise your immune functioning to the point where you are susceptible to getting multiple other diseases that manifest with some of the symptoms mentioned.

How did I miss it?

The love-bombing narc the forum member described was concerned only for “poor me”. And apparently, so was she. When we’re in a relationship with a narcissist, that’s our main concern too. The “poor narcissist”. Everything is about the narcissist, and their demands suck us into a vortex of codependent hyper-focus on them. We become numb to our own needs.

My life revolved around managing my relationship. I lived in a volatile emotional minefield, never knowing when I was going to trigger his rage. I felt my emotional health slipping away, but I missed the signs of my deteriorating physical health. My sanity started returning when I left, but I’m not so sure my body is going to make the same comeback.

So please, take care of YOU. Don’t take your health for granted. Pay attention to your body. Don’t assume that someday, when you leave your abuser, your chronic stress-related health issues will magically disappear. The longer you stay in the abuse cycle, the more damage your brain, body and nervous system will sustain. If you can’t leave, look into some stress management tools and get some support to mitigate the effects.

The decision to stay or leave is a deeply personal matter of the heart and other practical factors. But I do wonder, would my health be better if I had left sooner?

@Coach Amy @Narcstalgia

Copyright January 31, 2018

All Rights Reserved

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