When a person faces serious health problems, they change & not only physically. Their personalities change, too. That is normal. Sometimes the personality changes can be very bad.
A dear friend of mine lost her husband some time ago after caring for him for several years. Not long before he died, she told me some very disturbing things about his behavior. This once good, kind, loving man was suddenly exhibiting many narcissistic traits. In particular, he didn’t want his wife to be with other people, including their children. It was bizarre since narcissism doesn’t suddenly show up, like when you catch a cold. The more we talked about things, the more I thought of something…
After I survived Carbon Monoxide Poisoning, the hospital gave me no information & even said my elevated carbon monoxide levels “weren’t so bad.” They also said I had no brain injury in spite of showing many signs of a concussion from hitting my head when I passed out. The hospital said I could return to work two days later, but by that time, I still felt just as miserable as I did when I left the hospital. I was lost, so I started researching my condition. I also joined a traumatic brain injury group on Facebook. I noticed immediately most people in the group showed a LOT of narcissistic tendencies & were very insecure. I left the group quickly, but I realized something. I was starting to behave much as they were! I wanted my husband to be with me non stop & was very annoyed he wasn’t. I knew he had demanding, elderly parents with health problems, plus a full time job which all left him exhausted much of the time, but even so, I was annoyed he didn’t spend more time with me. Realizing how selfish I was behaving was a real wakeup call!
I told my friend about my experiences plus what I witnessed in that group & in time, we realized what happened with her husband was much like what happened to me.
The reason I’m sharing this is so many people are affected by serious health concerns either in themselves or in those they love. Whether you are the person with the condition or someone you love is, it’s vital to understand that serious health problems can change someone’s personality drastically. The condition doesn’t even need to be something that affects one’s brain directly like Alzheimer’s, stroke or traumatic brain injury for this to happen.
When you become seriously sick or injured, you become scared. Even if you’re getting the best of care & have a great prognosis, health problems are terrifying.
Add in that you can’t do things you once took for granted & are forced to rely on other people for help. That too can make you feel afraid, especially for the person who has always been self reliant, & is a serious blow to the self esteem.
Having to rely on other people also can make you feel like a burden, which unsurprisingly is terrible for one’s self esteem.
Feeling like a burden can make you feel that you need to put your best face forward & not show others just how miserable you feel or how much you’re struggling. There is a very difficult balance in this situation. If you act as if your symptoms aren’t as bad as they are, or not happening at all, people often think you’re faking the health crisis. But, if you are honest about it, people often think you’re exaggerating your symptoms, feeling sorry for yourself or looking for attention.
Feeling insecure & afraid naturally change a person. Many people get angry. Many others talk about their illness non stop in an effort to educate people, which often alienates them because people get tired of hearing about this topic. Most people though seem to become insecure, some even to the point of displaying narcissistic tendencies.
If you are the person who is ill & behaving this way, please work on healing! You are only hurting yourself & those around you! I know it’s hard but you can change! Watch your behavior, & change it accordingly. Apologize when you mistreat someone or have unfair expectations on them. Stop expecting people to meet your needs & focus on God to do that.
If you are the person in a relationship with someone who is behaving this way, remember, you can’t change their behavior. They have to change themselves. But, you aren’t helpless. You need to have good boundaries in place & enforce them. Talk to this person & explains that their behavior hurts you. Non-narcissistic people will respond to that! I know it seems hard to believe if you’ve dealt with a narcissist, but it’s true. Remind yourself that their behavior isn’t personal. It’s their illness making them act this way rather than something you are doing wrong.
Whichever position you are in, remember to stay close to God. Nurture that relationship. That is what will help you more than anything else!