Before I start, I will say that if you are suffering any kind of physical symptoms, or think you might be suffering with any of the things mentioned in this post, always be sure to see your doctor. I’m not a medical practitioner and I’m not qualified to give any kind of medical advice. I am however, a certified Clinical NLP Hypnotherapist with experience helping people recover from trauma and abuse, and these days I focus exclusively on helping men and women to heal from narcissistic abuse.
So unfortunately, the answer is yes. Any kind of stress, even in an average relationship, can have extremely severe consequences for your health.
Here’s an example of what a woman who recently joined my Facebook support group said:
“I got to the point of a nervous breakdown, ended up in hospital from concussion I caused myself for feeling I deserved to be punished. I actually fled to Oz to get away. I'm doing better but still recognise how fragile my body is.”
Initially, some examples of what you might feel when you are in a relationship with a narcissist could be:
- Confusion (Cognitive Dissonance)
- Extreme disappointment
This emotional toll can also result in behavioural and physical side effects. You may experience:
- difficulty concentrating (dissociation)
- various aches and pains
- Feeling worthless / useless, and hopeless
- Feeling isolated and as if nobody can understand you
Anxiety related symptoms such as
- racing heartbeat
- muscle tension
- Headaches, dizziness, difficulty breathing, chest pains…
So sustained abuse over time will lead to C-PTSD and examples are:
- angry outbursts when away from your abuser
- inability to control your emotions – crying a lot or unexpectedly
- being easily startled
- constant negative, fearful thoughts
- Inability to trust anyone
- insomnia & nightmares
- reliving the trauma (flashbacks) and experiencing physical symptoms such as those you get with any anxiety or panic attack
- Inability to speak or function
- Persistent desire to return to your abuser if you've left (Trauma Bonding).
And in extreme cases, if left untreated, C-PTSD - can result in suicide, self-harming, or self-medicating with drugs or alcohol to cope, which often leads to further problems with addiction.
In another post by Harvard Health Publishing School -, Robert H Schmerling, MD, talks about stress:
What is Stress?
"A common definition of “stress” is any experience that causes tension, whether physical, psychological, or emotional, especially if it sets off the "fight or flight" response during which the adrenal gland releases adrenaline, leading to rapid pulse and breathing, and increased blood pressure). This serves us well if chased by a lion. But it’s theorized that persistent stress (such as worry about finances, mental or physical health, or interpersonal relationships) could lead to chronic disease such as high blood pressure or autoimmune disease."
You can read the full article here: (https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/autoimmune-disease-and-stress-is-there-a-link-2018071114230)
Now all these symptoms of trauma persist even AFTER you’ve left the relationship. They can and will persist until you get help to deal with them. If you’re suffering long term with Narcissistic Abuse, and get no help, you bottle up your emotions and they fester… and fester… and things get worse and worse for you, psychologically and physically.
And this is what can and very often does lead to much more serious illness because when you are living in a constant state of hyper-arousal – and not the good kind - I’m talking about walking on eggshells, not knowing from one minute to the next how what your narc is going to say or do… and there’s a constant stream of adrenaline flowing through your veins.
You know the fight, flight or freeze story right… you’re damned with a narc whichever of these options you choose on any given day of the week. You can’t second guess what they want you to do or say, because whatever you do or say, it’ll be wrong and they’ll denigrate you for it.
Your nerves are constantly on edge, your body is not functioning the way it’s meant to, you’re constantly living on a knife-edge, and your body starts to break down due to the prolonged stress overload. This type of stress is what can and does lead to cancer, heart attacks, hypertension, and a host of autoimmune diseases.
For a full list of autoimmune diseases, you can check this link here: https://www.aarda.org/diseaselist/
And I reiterate – these symptoms do NOT just go away once you get out of the relationship for two reasons:
One is because the body has learned to live in this constant state of stress, almost as if it’s become normal for you, but it’s not.
The constant barrage of verbal abuse changes the neural pathways in your brain – completely distorting what you once held to be true about yourself, OR… in the case of childhood narc abuse, or sexual abuse, subconsciously reinforcing the deeply held beliefs you have about your true value and worth. It’s a chemical and emotional cocktail that’s devastating to your emotional and physical health.
I came across this documentary and highly recommend you watch it. Whilst Marilyn Von Derber is talking about childhood sexual abuse, the effects of any kind of long-term emotional abuse can be just as severe.
Some of the things she said that really stood out for me were:
‘You live a lifetime of isolation…”
“You don’t have relationships with anyone... only with my father… that’s like a sugar pill laced with arsenic…“
“I married into a situation that was abusive… we choose because we feel unlovable… we have to marry into relationships where we’re not treated well because we don’t believe we deserve to be treated well."
She was absolutely spot on in that, and it took her years and years of therapy to heal and she’s worked tirelessly her whole adult life to raise awareness of the devastating effects of childhood sexual and emotional abuse. Her father was a very controlling man - very probably a narcissist, and everyone in his family had to bend to his will.
So what can you do to help yourself get over the horrendous pain of Narcissistic Abuse?
Obviously as I mentioned in the beginning, always seek medical help to determine what is going on and follow your physician's guidance. Understanding the physical side of what's happening for you is important, but it's even more important to learn about the emotional impact and how the two are connected.
Here are 5 quick but very important things you can do to start your journey to healing from Narcissistic Abuse.
- Learn - Knowledge is Power:
Learn all you can about the emotional effects of psychological abuse and understand that allowing yourself to continue allowing the abuse is no longer acceptable and is ruining, or badly affecting, your health. Make a decision to get the help and support you need to get out of the situation and start recovering.
- Take care of yourself:
Self-love and self-sare might sound a bit airy-fairy to you, but neglecting these vital components is a huge mistake. Getting plenty of rest and having a healthy regime of diet and exercise… it sounds simple but what happens very often when you’re in an abusive relationship is that you start neglecting yourself in every other area of your life. Effectively, you become your own second abuser. Get exercise, get out and about and walk in nature if you can. TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF. You are already being abused enough by the Narcissist in your life… you don’t need to be abusing yourself too.
This is easy to do and costs nothing. Simpy quieting your mind and focusing on your breathing several times a day for a few minutes can calm you down. Sit somewhere quiet, where you won't be disturbed, and tune into your body. Focus on your breath. Breath in for the count of 4, hold for 4, and breath out for 4. Do this several times in a row. Feel the breath travelling in, and out, and concentrate on nothing else. When thoughts come up, just notice them, then dismiss them as you return your focus to your breath. This simple exercise gives your brain a much-needed break from the constant barrage of painful, negative thoughts. Do this as often as you need to every day. The effects will be noticeable as you start to gain more control over your thoughts.
- Be optimistic:
Envisage a bright future for yourself. I know this can be extremely difficult if you are knee-deep in a relationship with a narcissist. But put it all to the side and envisage a happy narc-free future for yourself. If you’re still in the relationship, start thinking about a way out, and find it… but if you can’t get out, then this is even more
important for you. Find a way to bring inner harmony and peace in your mind.
- Get support
I’m probably repeating myself on this one but I can’t emphasise enough how important it is for you to get support from family, friends if possible, or an online support group. You need to know that you are not alone, that thousands of others have gone through this and that you can get help and you can get out. Don’t feel ashamed, because this was not your fault.
6.Get a therapist:
Some people do manage to heal without help, but many just can't. So consider getting a therapist, but make sure it’s someone who knows their way around NPD and abuse. If you’d like to connect with me, I’d love to hear from you. I’m helping people every day to heal from Narcissistic Abuse. I can help you, but you have to take that first step.
Don't believe that you can't get out of the relationship, that you can't get over the pain, because you can. I work with women to help them overcome the abuse and it works.
I use a very powerful form of therapy that includes a lot of NLP, or Neuro-Linguistic Programming. Neuro refers to your neurology - your brain, Linguistic refers to language patterns and how you use it, and programming refers to how that neural language functions.
I studied NLP & Eriksonian Hypnosis for a year at St Anne's Hospital in London, under the direct supervision of Steven Brooks, who is the founder of the British Hypnosis Research and Training School. I graduated with a Diploma in 1993 and I then went on to do a degree in Psychology.
I chose NLP because the results I saw people getting in just a couple of sessions just blew me away. I'd grown up with the idea that if you had emotional issues you'd need to spend years in psychotherapy or psychoanalysis to heal. But here I was seeing evidence right before my eyes that this simply wasn't true. NLP was curing people of PTSD, fears, phobias, obsessive compulsive disorders and so on, in a matter of a few sessions. I believe in the philosophy that it does NOT take years to heal, and my new book goes into why that it is more detail. You can check that out here if you’d like to know how! Narcissistic Abuse Healing: The No-B.S. Guide to Healing in Weeks, Not Years
It's by far the most effective form of therapy for rapid and lasting personal change I've ever come across, and I've studied a lot of other models of therapy - but nothing comes close to NLP in my humble opinion! If you’re struggling to overcome the trauma of narcissistic abuse, maybe I can help you to heal – fast. Click here to book an appointment with me.