Tag Archives: caregiver

Illness Changes Personality & Behavior

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!

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Filed under Caregiving, Christian Topics and Prayers, Mental Health, Miscellaneous

Narcissists & Life Altering Events

When your average person experiences something that could be drastically life altering or even life ending, they are shaken up badly by the entire experience.  Your average person may use the terrifying ordeal as a motivation to make positive changes in their life, such as working less hours or spending more time with their loved ones.  They look at life differently.   They become more appreciative of people & tell them how much they are appreciated.

This doesn’t happen with narcissists.

Narcissists think so differently than mentally healthy people, it makes sense that they also won’t respond in a normal way to such events.

A narcissist diagnosed with a deadly disease, for example, may complain a lot about it. They may feel sorry for themselves a great deal.  They will look for pity from others.

A narcissist who survived a potentially deadly accident or terrible health scare often fails to see that they were blessed to survive & have this second chance at life.  Instead, they may act like they are too good to have died in that way.

In an elderly narcissist who is getting more frail, the entitlement attitude becomes even more obvious than ever.  Elderly narcissists often expect their spouses & adult children to take care of them 24/7, even doing things that the narcissists are still able to do.  They use their failing health as an excuse to get out of doing things & a way to manipulate their families.  Some have been known to take too many or too few medications to make themselves sick in order to gain attention.

In situations like these, narcissists may feel similar fear & terror everyone would feel.  The difference is they don’t admit to these feelings.  Instead, their sense of entitlement & grandiosity comes into play.  They feel entitled to have their families, neighbors & doctors swarm around them to take good care of them.

And, if the narcissist in question recovers from a serious illness or survives a potentially deadly accident, don’t count on him or her changing.  Narcissists don’t process things like healthy people do, as I mentioned earlier in this post.  They won’t be inspired to make good, positive & healthy changes in their lives.  In fact, some narcissists seem disappointed that their health problem has improved since it means they no longer are able to be the center of attention.

Witnessing such behaviors can be shocking, even when you know quite a bit about Narcissistic Personality Disorder.  It’s impossible for a normal, functional person to grasp fully narcissistic behaviors.  They’re so drastically opposed to functional behaviors, it’s often impossible for a non-narcissist to wrap their mind around such things.  If you feel this way upon witnessing a narcissist act in their totally dysfunctional way after a crisis, you’re not alone!  My mother has had heart surgery twice in her life.  The first time she seemed to have changed, but it didn’t last long.  She was back to her overt narcissist ways in no time.  The second time, there wasn’t any change, not even for a day.  Witnessing both times was very difficult for me because it made no sense.  Then having my own brush with death in 2015, it became even more mind boggling.

While I often suggest trying to understand what makes narcissists tick as a way to help victims protect themselves from accepting the blame for the problems in the relationship & predicting what the narcissist will do, in this area, I say give up.  There’s no way to understand this bizarre behavior.  Chalk it up to one more extremely dysfunctional way of thinking on the narcissist’s part.

Lastly, if you experience some sort of health scare, bad medical diagnosis or close call of some sort, I don’t recommend telling the narcissist in your life if you can help it.  The vast amount of concern the narcissist has for herself won’t be showed to you. If the narcissist has experienced the same thing or knows someone who has, she WILL invalidate you.  They had it worse, you just need to suck it up or take a pill.  This sort of thing is why I never told my parents about my brush with death.  When in such a situation, you don’t need their toxicity.  You need compassion & gentleness, which are 2 things narcissists lack.

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My New Book Is Available!

I have just published my newest book entitled, “The Truth About Elderly Narcissists”.  It’s all about identifying their changing abusive behaviors, finding ways to cope with them while taking care of yourself, coping as a caregiver, as well as things to consider if you opt to go no contact.

 

This book is available in ebook & print formats on my website at:

 

http://www.CynthiaBaileyRug.com

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New Book Idea- Elderly Narcissists

Recently I was involved in a discussion about how little information there is available for those with elderly narcissistic parents, including caring for them.  It gave me an idea- write a book on the topic.

 

I have already started writing an outline & have some ideas.  But, I’d like to hear from you, Dear Reader.  I don’t want to miss anything on this topic.  If there is any topic you’d like explored or if you have stories to include, please let me know.  I won’t divulge your name to protect your privacy.  You can comment on this post or email me privately at CynthiaBaileyRug@aol.com

 

Thank you!  I look forward to hearing from you!  x0xo

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What Do You Owe Your Narcissistic Mother?

So many adult children of narcissistic parents struggle when their parents become elderly or ill.  They feel that because these people birthed & raised them, that they owe their parents everything at any personal cost, & the narcissistic parents feed that false belief.

 

The truth is, Dear Reader, you only owe your parents one thing- to honor them.  Exodus 20:12 says, “Honour thy father and thy mother: that thy days may be long upon the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee.” (KJV)  Many people upon reading that verse think that means they have to blindly obey their parents, no matter their age, no matter how their parents treat them.  That is simply not true however!!

 

You must understand what honor truly means.  According to the Merriam Webster’s website, honor in this setting means, ” a showing of usually merited respect : recognition <pay honor to our founder>”  Basically, you treat someone with courtesy & respect when you honor them.  You don’t cuss them out when you get angry, you don’t manipulate them, you don’t abuse them in any way, you don’t lie to them.

 

There is also this little gem in Acts 5:29: “Then Peter and the other apostles answered and said, We ought to obey God rather than men.”  (KJV)  In other words, obey God before you obey your parents.  If you’re like most of my readers, this Scripture provokes a great deal of anxiety in you.  You know when your parents want you to do something for them, they demand it be done in a prompt matter, no excuses!  Not doing their bidding means you’ll have to pay & pay dearly.  Disobeying them can be a daunting prospect to say the least.  However, as a Christian, it is also good for you to follow it in spite of your fears.  God never gives bad advice!  Obeying Him will be more rewarding than disobeying them will hurt you.  I’ve had to do this myself.  Yes, it can be very scary, but clinging to the fact that God is good, loves me & wants the best for me helped me to obey him.  Also, once you do it, it gets easier the next time, then the next time, & so on.

 

Keeping these two points in mind, along with prayer, can help you to decide what you owe your narcissistic, ailing parents.  Do not allow anyone to tell you what to do.  No one but you is living your life.  You are the only one who can decide what you are & are not able to do regarding your narcissistic parents, preferably with the help of God.

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A Helpful Tool For Responding In Difficult Situations

Much information I’ve read about Alzheimer’s stresses the importance of treating the patient with respect.  They are more frustrated than you because they can’t remember things or function like they once did, & your lack of respect will upset them even more.  One article gave a very valuable tip for the caregivers that is also extremely useful for dealing with difficult people in general.  Although I have mentioned it before, I want to stress it again because I believe it is extremely valuable.

Rather than reacting out of emotion, take a moment to take a deep breath, think, then respond instead.

Reacting is done without thinking while responding requires thought.  Reacting causes stress & disagreements, where responding can avoid them.  No matter how functional or dysfunctional your relationship, or whether or not the other person has an awful illness like Alzheimer’s, responding is always better than reacting.

As I’ve mentioned, my father was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease in July of last year.  Also as I’ve mentioned before, Alzheimer’s & dementia exacerbate narcissism in a person with Narcissistic Personality Disorder.  Dealing with him has become very difficult sometimes even though the disease hasn’t progressed too badly yet.  I have found the pause to take a deep breath tactic very useful for dealing with him.  As an added bonus, I learned it’s also useful in dealing with my narcissistic mother.

Deep breathing is relaxing, plus the pause gives you a moment to calm down your anger.  Both really help in dealing with narcissists!

This technique also helps me to deal with the frustration of flaring symptoms that accompany C-PTSD like having trouble finding the right words.  The brief pause often means the word comes to me when it wouldn’t during moments of frustration.  It also can help to trigger remembering something that was lost a moment before.

It also helps my marriage.  Thanks to the C-PTSD & a brain injury, I can be very moody & irritable.  Unfortunately there are times I have snapped at my husband for no reason, but I have found this technique helps to cut back on those times a lot.  If we’re talking while I am irritable, I stop & take a deep breath.  It helps me to have more control, & not snap at my poor husband.

No matter the status of your relationships or your mental health, I hope you will consider what I have said & begin to employ this technique.  It really can be helpful in even the most challenging of relationships!

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Filed under Abuse and the Healing Journey, Caregiving, Christian Topics and Prayers, Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, Mental Health

Some Thoughts About Going No Contact With Narcissistic Parents

I’ve been thinking a lot these last couple of weeks.

As many of you know, I’ve spent a great deal of time with my parents trying to help them out while my father has had some pretty serious problems.  Not trying to brag,  but I’ve helped them a lot.  Their friends & family aren’t nearby, so I’ve been their primary help.  It’s caused me to think a lot..

Before this happened,  I was seriously considering severing ties with my mother.   I was fed up with her nastiness.  I’d prayed & God said that decision was up to me.  Now, I’m glad I decided to hang in there.

It hasn’t been easy doing this.  My mother has plenty of nasty moments & when she’s being nicer, it’s only because I’ve done something for her.  It’s also been hard stepping out of my comfort zone, which makes the C-PTSD flare up.  So badly in fact that I’ve lost 8 pounds in these past 2 weeks.  But, good has come from this too…

I’ve realized that although my mother’s niceness often only comes after me blessing her,  so long as I remember that, I can enjoy those positive times.  We have had some nice conversations lately & some  laughs.  And, although the nasty moments return,  I’m expecting them, so they aren’t devastating.  I’ve truly learned to enjoy the good times whenever they come.

I’ve also learned that I really  enjoy care giving. Being raised by a narcissistic mother, I learned early how to help & how to anticipate needs, which works well for being a caregiver.  For once, I enjoy doing for my parents without expecting anything in return.

There is a peace & joy that comes from helping others, including those who have hurt you.  Blessing your enemy (or abusers) as God mentioned in the Bible isn’t just for their benefit.  It’s for yours too.  It can be hard to do, but it’s well worth it!

Also, I’ve seen God bless me tremendously recently.   My parents’ narcissistic ways decreased a lot.  Those are miracles in my opinion, whether they’re temporary or permanent!  Also, I’ve been blessed financially when I wasn’t expecting it.  I’ve received a great deal of love, support & prayers from friends & fans which means more to me than I can say.  And, I’ve felt God giving me the strength I need as I need it when the C-PTSD flares up or I feel weak or unable to cope.

I’m glad I haven’t gone no contact at this time.   It hasn’t been easy lately but helping them has been an incredible education for me, & even a blessing.

If you’re considering going no contact, please think about what I’ve written.   I’m not trying to change your mind if you believe in your heart it’s what you need to do.  You know best of course, & often it’s the only choice.  There’s no shame in that.  But, just be absolutely certain that no contact is the right decision & at the right time for you before cutting ties.

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Filed under Abuse and the Healing Journey, Caregiving, Christian Topics and Prayers, Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, Mental Health, Narcissism

Another Interesting Dream To Share

Good morning, Dear Readers!
I had another very interesting dream the other night, & I thought I’d share it with you.
I dreamed that I was staying alone at a very nice hotel.  Not the most expensive, fanciest hotel, but very pretty & nicely appointed.  I walked through the lobby admiring how pretty it was.  Although I was well aware of the usual feelings of agoraphobia, I was able to manage them, & did it quite well.  I was rather comfortable in this scenario, although a bit nervous.  I had peace about being there.
I was confused when I woke up.  I’m not a fan of staying in hotels.  Never have been.  I prefer my own bed.  So, I went to my favorite dream interpretation site, www.dreammoods.com, & looked up what hotels mean.  This is what the site had to say…
Hotel 
To see a hotel in your dream signifies a new state of mind or a shift in personal identity. You are undergoing some sort of transition and need to move away from your old habits and old way of thinking. You need to temporarily escape from your daily life.
Immediately, I knew what this meant.
Lately, I’ve been going through changes what with helping out my parents.  I haven’t handled it as well as I wish I had because a part of me still feels like their “child” instead of their “daughter.”  I need to remember that I am no longer a child, & do not need to respond to my mother’s games like one or accept being treated like one.  I have every right to step up & set & enforce my boundaries even more now that I am spending more time with my mother.  Helping her is affecting me, & that is not acceptable!  
I thought this may benefit you as much as it has me, Dear Reader.  You too are no longer a child, under your parents’ authority.  It can be difficult to switch your mind set in that way, but it is necessary, especially with a narcissistic parent who treats you as if you are still a child.  Really though, unless you are under 18, the law considers you an adult.  Chances are if you’re reading this, you have your own job, family, home… you are an adult!  You need to act as such & expect to be treated as such.  Most of my fans are in their 30’s & 40’s.  I’m 43.  We’re all grown ups!!  It’s only reasonable to remember that & act accordingly!
Also, this dream showed me that the idea I had of taking Tuesdays off is a good one- it gives me one day a week to myself to relax & recover from the rigors of helping my folks.  There is absolutely nothing wrong with taking some down time.  Everyone needs to take care of themselves mentally & physically.  I know, most narcissistic mothers have told their children repeatedly how lazy & useless they are, so that is deeply ingrained in us.  If you believe it, ask God to show you the truth.  What He has to say will be very interesting.  For example, He has shown me I’m not lazy- I believe in working smarter not harder.  Basically, this is how cats are.  Some people think cats are lazy, but the truth is they are mighty hunters.  They need to conserve as much energy as possible so they have plenty to expel when they hunt, which is why they sleep so much.  While I obviously am no hunter, I prefer to save my energy for the tasks that are most important to me, as hunting is to cats. 
I hope this has helped you, Dear Reader, as it has helped me.  ❤

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Continued Adventures In Caregiving

Good afternoon, Dear Readers!

Sunday was only my second day helping my parents, but it was a really rough one both mentally & physically. So rough in fact, I realized that I can’t keep doing this. I can offer some help, sure, but on a very limited basis. Mentally I’m not very strong anymore. Then physically, I have bad knees so a lot of things are just too painful for me to do. I’ve been doing my parents’ laundry, as my father is now unstable on his feet after his stroke, & my mother claims her back pain is too bad to go up & down those steps. She has been wanting to have the washer & dryer moved upstairs from the basement, but has been dragging her feet on the issue. The next time I see my parents on this coming Sunday, I am going to tell her it needs to be done soon, & if not, then I will arrange to have help come into their home that they can pay for.

In order to discuss this topic with my narcissistic mother, I was given some very valuable advice. Something I hadn’t thought of. Make it all about her. If I told my mother I wasn’t able to do certain things because of my knee pain, she wouldn’t care. But, if I tell her that my knees make me unable to do things, which could cause her problems, she’ll be more interested. And, this winter is supposed to be a bad one with a lot of snow here in MD. I live on a major highway, which means I get plowed in. The highway may be clear, but there is a wall of solidly packed snow created by snowplows at the end of my driveway that means I can’t get out quickly or easily. This would affect her! I’ll just leave out the part that it’s frustrating when I get plowed in. This seems like a very good way to handle discussing things of this nature with any narcissist, I think. Every child of a narcissistic parent knows their parent doesn’t care about them unless what happens affects them somehow.

I have begun researching getting some help to be prepared. I looked into their insurance to see if they have long term care coverage, which they don’t. Long term care coverage is a wonderful thing- it pays for health care workers or nurse to come into their home & help them out in various ways.

Since that didn’t work out, I then found this link which directed me to my local caregiver support network in my county.

http://www.aoa.gov/AoARoot/AoA_Programs/OAA/How_To_Find/Agencies/Find_Agencies.aspx?sc=–&cc=&#8211;

This has been a very helpful place for me to start. They told me an evaluation would need to be done (free) by a social worker before help can be hired, & provided me that phone number. They also gave me references to local home health care workers (they’re the people who do chores, laundry, & such), a directory of various services available in this state for seniors, info on a caregiver support group & much more. I learned that certain injuries or illnesses may be entitled to specific benefits. For example, my father has a traumatic brain injury, & there are special services available for him.

Here is another link with some good information as well:

http://www.ncoa.org/get-involved/i-am-older-adult-caregiver.html

My father also gave me a paper with some information on it that he got from his last hospital stay, too. Apparently many medical records can be available online & this paper had all the information I needed to access it. This is very handy as I can read exactly what the doctors have said & how they are treating him.

As for myself, I’m realizing that I need to take a day off each week to recover physically & mentally. Tuesdays work well for this for me, so I now plan to goof off each Tuesday. It gives me something to look forward to.

I hope this information helps any other caregivers who may be reading this. ❤

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The Elderly Psychopathic/Narcissistic Parent: The Motive For Caregiving and/or Continued Involvement

Very good & informative article about caring for a narcissistic parent

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Caregiving And Narcissistic Parents

Good evening, Dear Readers!

My father recently had a mild stroke, which in addition to other health problems, has made him much more frail than he was.  My mother has some health problems as well, so they need some help.  This is where I come into the picture.

Being my parents’ only child, I think it’s only right for me to help them.  Plus, I’m good at caregiving.  I think most children of narcissistic parents are- we learned early in life how to read people & detect their needs.  I’ve promised them part of the day each Sunday for this. This already makes me nervous, since both are narcissistic.  I was a caregiver for my mother’s narcissistic mother for about a year, & it was miserable!  I’m hoping & praying my parents aren’t as bad as my grandmother was.

So far, it’s been more difficult, but in different ways.

My folks are lonely, & want company as much as they want help.  They’re frustrated with losing some independence.  And, the new issues haven’t fixed the dysfunction in their marriage- they still fuss at each other & play head games.

I feel sorry for them.

In the time I spent caring for my narcissistic grandmother, this never happened.  I didn’t think it would happen with my parents.  Imagine my surprise.

This has made me have to work hard on keeping my focus on God’s will for this situation & my boundaries.

These may be my parents, but they also are dangerous to my mental health.  The C-PTSD flares up in their presence, especially the anxiety.  I also realized how quickly I slip into old, dysfunctional, unhealthy mindsets around them.  This taught me how I need to keep focused on God & what is true.  I will frequently ask God to remind me of what He says about me & what is true.

My plan to help them & keep my mental health is to pray even more than usual.  I’ll be praying prior to visiting them.  And, asking God to help me have discernment when needed, & to remember His truth about me, so any criticisms don’t hurt me.

I also realize I’ll need to get better at having a self care routine, & remembering to take things one day at a time.  Maybe one hour at a time on bad days…another thing to ask God to help me with.

I’ll be sharing some about my new “adventure” in this blog.  I pray it’ll help you if you too are the child of a narcissistic parent.  ❤

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November 14, 2013

Bishop T.D. Jakes was preaching on television this morning, & I learned a term that was interesting to me- Compassion Exhaustion.  He used the example of a married couple who has experienced a devastating event, then once it was over, divorced.  He was discussing how we can  swim through 500′ of water, then be afraid we’ll drown in the 2′ of water near shore because we are tired from swimming through that 500′ of water.  This example made sense to me.  I have felt that way for the last few years.  I have experienced traumatic event after traumatic event in my life, yet nowadays when something not so traumatic happens, I feel overwhelmed.  

When you have spent much of your life caring for others in some way, you easily can reach that point.  Caring for the needs of others, either physical or emotional, is a lot of work!  Doing it for an extended period of time will exhaust you.  Maybe not always physically, but always emotionally.  

Growing up with the parents I have, I learned early on that I was to take care of their emotions.  When my parents argued, I was often brought into it.  I remember when I was quite young, maybe 5 or so, my parents arguing in the living room where I was.  My mother grabbed me, & took me into my room, slamming the door behind us.  She sat on my bed holding me & crying.  I knew I was supposed to make her feel better.  Not that she said those words, but that was what I somehow knew she wanted.  This type of thing happened over & over during my life- my mother would become upset & cry on my shoulder.  My father, too.  To this day, they still come to me with problems, even about their marriage.   (this is called Emotional Incest, by the way- it’s a form of emotional abuse)

As a result. at my current age of 42, I have about no patience  with either of my parents.  I am no longer a good listener where they are concerned- instead, I get angry or I change the subject.  When they ignore my protests, & continue to talk, I end up exhausted, anxious, very depressed, & often unable to sleep much that night.  Unfortunately, this also leaves me easily frustrated with my husband or friends who want to talk to me about their problems.  While I may not get angry with them or change the subject, I still end up exhausted, anxious, etc.

Does this sound like you too?  I think it describes many children of abusive parents, in particular of narcissistic parents.

I have a few ways I can think of to combat this problem of Compassion Exhaustion.  If you have this problem as well, maybe you can add to the list.  If so, feel free to share your ideas in the comments section!  I for one would love to hear your thoughts.   🙂

Here are some ways I battle Compassion Exhaustion:

  • Pray.  Talking to God is very, VERY helpful!
  • Take breaks as needed.  From people or activities.  
  • Participate in hobbies.  I like to knit & crochet- they soothe me.  Reading transports me into the story, where I can forget my troubles for a while.  
  • Spend time in nature.  Nature is very restorative.  It feels so good to me to spend time outside on a brisk autumn day, looking at the beautifully colored leaves, feeling the cool breeze blow through my hair..
  • Watch fun movies.
  • Listen to music.

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