Stumbled upon an eye opening read this morning… Long-Term Narcissistic Abuse Can Cause Brain Damage by Kim Saaed . In this article, Kim discusses the actual impacts to the brain that are caused by a continued state of high cortisol and constantly living in the fear and anxiety caused by narcissistic abuse.
While it still makes me feel crummy to read that there are actually physical changes that happened to my brain as a result of what I lived through, it was also nice to see that there has been a proven link between using EMDR as a form of therapy and seeing some of those effects reversed. I cannot speak highly enough about EMDR therapy… it was a game-changer for me and I would recommend it to anyone who has trauma to process.
What is also interesting and this article does not touch on at all are the possible effects to the brain from physical abuse that many times also accompanies narcissistic abuse. I’m unsure if I ever actually had a concussion from any of the physical ways that The Narcissist abused me but I certainly experienced my fair share of having my head slammed into things, being slapped and hit in the head, and being choked. I imagine that there are some side effects of all of those things to my brain as well.
The timing of this article is interesting because I have been wondering lately if I have more side effects of the abuse and trauma than I have even realized. This has caught me a bit off guard at 2 years out of the relationship with The Narcissist. I feel like in general my memory is much worse these days than I can ever remember it being before I met The Narcissist. I am particularly bad with remembering names, or retaining new words/abbreviations on the job. I find myself trying to communicate things and missing a word I need here or there pretty often. I also feel like I struggle more with emotional highs and lows now than I ever did before. When something goes wrong… a fight with a close friend or a frustrating experience at work… I feel the effects much more deeply than I think I would have beforehand. Everything feels a little bit more intense than I can remember it being before.
I’ve also found that being in a serious relationship for the first time since the divorce from The Narcissist has been eye-opening in terms of some of the emotional stuff that I still have to work through. For instance, I pretty much immediately jump into fight or flight mode at any sign of conflict or confrontation… and my preferred option is flight… every single time. I mean leave a room, leave the car, leave a restaurant…. leave. I feel safe and secure in my aloneness when I’m facing icky feelings or uncomfortableness and am not the best at actually talking through those feelings and emotions with my person. I also struggle with some anxiety in my current relationship that is definitely a result of the past. If I don’t hear from my person for a few hours I find myself wondering and worrying if they are mad at me, if they are not talking to me, if they are intentionally avoiding me… and I can quickly spiral myself into a crazy train of thought if I am not thinking logically about it all. It definitely takes a bit more work than I realized it would to handle the emotional things that still pop up from time to time.
So while I would love to say that it is all rainbows and sparkles over here… I’m still putting in some solid work to make sure that the leftover ick from The Narcissist isn’t ruining my current life. I hope like with the other things, these effects will also continue to fade over time.