Mental illness is very different from physical illness in many ways. One of those ways is the fact most people don’t usually believe someone has a mental illness. If you have diabetes, people can see there’s a problem. They see you testing your glucose or giving yourself an insulin shot. If you have cancer, you have xrays, mri’s & maybe even a visible tumor that people can see. But if you have a mental illness, there isn’t such evidence.
If you have Bipolar disorder, you’re just “moody.”
If you have C-PTSD or PTSD, you’re “dwelling in the past, need to stop thinking about things, need to get over it or you can’t have it because you weren’t in the military.”
If you’re depressed or anxious, “you’re feeling sorry for yourself, stop being sad or anxious, need to get out more or take a pill & get over it.” “Everyone feels sad/anxious” is another common comment.
What people fail to realize is you can’t control the symptoms of mental illness any more than you can physical illness.
As someone who is not only suffering with mental illness but also frustrated with the lack of compassion & understanding many people have about it, you may do like many people, & try to explain & justify your illness. Chances are, this will only frustrate you further.
As someone with mental illness myself, I get it. You want people to understand & not judge. You don’t want to be invalidated either. After years of thinking any problem I had wasn’t important (thanks, Mom & Dad for the invalidation), I assumed my mental health wasn’t important either. It took a long time for me to accept that I have real problems, & being invalidated by subject changes & such stupid statements as “Just take a pill- you’ll be fine” make me feel as I did growing up, like I don’t count. Frankly, I’ve come too far to live with that feeling anymore. I’ve also realized if I continue to explain to certain people who say such invalidating things, it will leave me feeling even more frustrated & angry. They only dig their heels in deeper & become more committed to know nothing of the problem at hand. They don’t want to understand, so nothing I can say will make them understand. It’s not worth my time & energy trying to make them understand
If you are in this situation as well, Dear Reader, I would like to encourage you today. You don’t have to explain your mental illness to anyone. Some people are going to want to know about it, but some won’t. Those people are committed to not knowing or understanding, & it’s not your place to make them understand or know what you live with. You will know if someone is genuinely concerned for you & wants to know what you experience. They won’t try to tell you what to do to “get over” your mental illness. They will offer understanding & support, not judgment. They will offer to help you if they can. People like this are the only ones that deserve your time & any information you wish to share about your illness.
Something crossed my mind recently…
I thought about how I dealt with the abuse as it happened to me in my younger days. I didn’t deal with it. For one thing, I didn’t have the time. It was one crisis after another after another for years. I didn’t have time to deal with something before something else happened. For another thing, I grew up thinking I never had any real problems. It didn’t matter how much something hurt me. My pain was never validated, so I believed it was no big deal.
As a result, I went on with life as if nothing happened no matter what trauma I’d just endured. Like, when I was 19 & had my first nervous breakdown. I locked myself in my parents’ bathroom & was catatonic for roughly 5 hours. By the time I came out, I had about one hour to get to work. I was at work on time, & went through my day as if nothing happened, in spite of being tired & feeling very “off.” The prior year, my mother came to my job, screamed at me in the parking lot, humiliating me. When I went back inside, I took a few minutes to relax only because my supervisor told me to, then got back to work. In fact, after both situations, I ended up comforting my now ex husband because he said such situations were hard for him, rather than receiving comfort from him or anyone for that matter.
I used to think these things meant I was strong but I realized something today. I wasn’t strong- I was dysfunctional. True strength would have meant I faced these situations & took care of myself after. Instead, I told myself they were no big deal.
When you are abused by a narcissist, you get a very warped view of all sorts of things, including what true strength is. Pretending things don’t bother you when they do isn’t true strength. It’s merely setting yourself up for these things to manifest in bad ways at a later date.
I’m telling you this today, Dear Reader, because if you feel weak, like so many victims do, because you can’t seem to “get over” the abuse you endured, you need to realize you aren’t weak. Quite the contrary. It takes a lot of strength to face past abuse & trauma. It doesn’t take a lot of strength to ignore it.
It takes a lot of strength to live daily with PTSD or C-PTSD. It’s incredibly difficult living with constant memories of things you wish you could forget but can’t, managing symptoms, pulling yourself out of a panic attack, calming yourself after nightmares or coming back to reality after a flashback. Things things take a great deal of strength.
It also takes a great deal of strength to change, to try to live a healthy life instead of a dysfunctional one. Change can be scary since it’s going into foreign territory. The familiar is comfortable, even when it is painful, so many people find it easier to stay dysfunctional than to change.
Developing new & healthy boundaries is downright terrifying when you haven’t had them before, so setting & enforcing them also takes a tremendous amount of strength. When people who had weak or no boundaries first start to set them, they meet with a LOT of opposition. To press on even though everyone around you is calling you selfish or wondering what happened to that “nice” girl you used to be takes a lot of strength!
So you see, Dear Reader, just how strong you are? Give yourself some credit today. You are so stronger than you give yourself credit for!
Many people have heard of Seasonal Affective Disorder, or SAD. It’s commonly known because approximately 4-6% of people in the USA get depressed in the fall & winter months (according to Web MD’s site). According to the same article though, less than 10% of people with SAD have a reverse version of it, where they feel good in the fall & winter, sad in the summer. Maybe because relatively so few people have reverse SAD, not a lot is known about it.
Some say the increase in sunlight is responsible for the depression- maybe some are oversensitive to the sunlight. Others say it’s the heat that brings people down. Still others blame the change in schedule (particularly for parents) & financial burdens such as vacations, babysitters, etc. And yet others blame bad memories attached to the season, such as the death of a loved one, divorce becoming final or a traumatic event.
Personally, I think all of these may be possible, but it depends on each person with reverse SAD. Causes vary even more than the symptoms do.
Ever since I can remember, I’ve gotten depressed, irritable, angry & anxious in the summer. My energy levels go very far down, practically non existent. My appetite fluctuates, although usually I don’t want to eat. My normally messed up sleeping patterns get even worse. Being exposed to the intense summer sunlight makes these symptoms even worse. I just want to hide in a dark, cold room until October. As a child, my narcissistic mother thought it was funny. As I got older & was obviously depressed during summer vacation, my mother would ask what she could buy me to make me look less sad. *sigh* My sadness seemed to annoy her…just not enough to seek help for me.
As an adult, I’ve come to believe that my SAD stems from three problems: trauma in my very early life that I barely remember that happened during the summer, I dislike heat, intense sunlight & long days, & my mother has shamed me my entire life for preferring fall & winter over spring (her favorite season).
If you too live with reverse SAD, please know you aren’t alone! There are quite a few of us out there who live with this disorder. There isn’t something deeply wrong with you- you’re just a little different than most of the population. Different does NOT equal wrong. Also, there are ways to manage this disorder. You may have to try several to see what works for you.
When I first found out this was an actual disorder, I researched SAD to see how people handled being depressed in the winter. Some ideas sounded like they could help me, but some would only make things worse (like full spectrum light. My husband has the more common SAD, & full spectrum light bulbs help him but send my mood rocketing downhill). Below are some suggestions that may or may not help you. I would suggest trying various suggestions that sound appealing, & see what happens. If they don’t help, try others.
Yesterday, my husband & I received some sad news. A former coworker of my husband’s & a friend of ours died after a battle with cancer.
Giovanni was a sweet guy with a ready smile & a great sense of humor. Unfortunately we had mostly lost touch once my husband left that job about 14 years ago, but once I saw him on facebook a few years back, we connected & spoke periodically. Even simply chatting online, his wonderful personality always shone through. We spoke a few months ago about us getting together with him & his girlfriend, yet we never did. He was in & out of the hospital & undergoing chemo, plus my husband works some rather long hours sometimes & has pretty demanding elderly parents- we just never could find the right time. And now, it’s too late. This is one of many regrets I have.
The reason I’m writing this is to remind you, Dear Reader, & myself that life is fragile. It can end at a moment’s notice, & often, there’s no warning. So many people die with regrets- you don’t want to be one of them! Focus on spending time with those you love & who love you. Buy the pair of shoes you’ve had your eye on but refused to buy because they’re too expensive. Splurge on that milkshake you’ve had a craving for even if you’re watching your figure. Trade in your sensible mini van for that sexy truck you’ve had your eye on, if you can afford it. Take a painting course. Learn a new hobby. Do that thing that is outside of your comfort zone, but you’ve always wanted to try.
Life can be short, Dear Reader. I encourage you to make the most out of whatever time you have & have no regrets. You deserve it! xoxo
I have been asked quite a few times how long it takes to recover fully from narcissistic abuse. I believe it to be a lifelong battle, unfortunately. However, I don’t want to discourage you with that, because there is good news. Although it can be a lifelong battle, it does get easier!
You will stumble sometimes, but even so, you are constantly getting stronger as you heal. The more wisdom you gain about NPD & the effects of its abuse, the more strength it gives you. You finally realize it wasn’t your fault, & that you’re suffering the normal effects of abnormal treatment.
The dark times of depression come less frequently & don’t last as long when they come.
There are times you feel stuck, as if you are always going to be depressed, anxious, or feel like you’re going crazy. But, the longer you have been healing, the less frequently those times happen. They, like depression, won’t last as long on the rare occasions when they happen.
Your self-esteem soars. Sure, sometimes you may backslide into feeling like the worthless piece of garbage your narcissistic mother always said you were, but at least that isn’t how you constantly feel anymore. They’re merely fleeting moments. When you realize this dysfunctional thinking is happening, you remind yourself that isn’t true. Healthy self-esteem also stops the dysfunctional people-pleasing at your own expense ways many children of narcissistic parents possess.
You try to practice good self-care rituals- prayer, relaxing activities, participating in fun hobbies. Granted, sometimes you let your schedule get too busy, but the healthier you become, the quicker you are to realize this mistake & make the appropriate changes.
I want to encourage you today, Dear Reader, to change how you think about your recovery. While it may be a lifelong battle with no definite end, try to focus instead on the good that comes during your healing. Focus on each baby step, every bit of progress you make. Your narcissistic mother tried to destroy you, but she didn’t! You are like a phoenix rising from the ashes. Little by little, you are getting healthier & happier. Maybe right now you aren’t where you want to be, & feel like you have a long way to go. How about instead focusing on how far you have come? You are no longer that wounded, dysfunctional little child, but instead are a grown woman who is getting stronger & healthier each day!
Recently I was talking with a friend of mine on Facebook. He’s a former soldier with PTSD. I saw just how hard he can be on himself for not perfectly managing his symptoms, & it broke my heart.
On July 4th, he went with his wife & kids to see fireworks. Like many vets, this isn’t an easy thing for him. This year though, he got through just fine with some help from his family. He was proud of himself, as he should have been. The next day he was due to go to the beach with his family but had such bad panic attacks, he couldn’t go. He said some pretty bad things about himself for not having control over the panic. He said he felt he should be able to conquer this, but he couldn’t, & was extremely hard on himself over it.
I realized I do the exact same thing when my symptoms flare up sometimes. I try not to, but there are still some times when I tell myself I’m worthless, stupid & a host of other things. I think a lot of us with C-PTSD or PTSD do this exact same thing. That doesn’t make it right though!
C-PTSD & PTSD are actual brain injuries & the symptoms are not caused by faulty thinking or beliefs like many people think. The symptoms come about because the trauma(s) a person has endured is so bad, it caused physical changes to some parts of the brain. Expecting to be able to control the symptoms perfectly is just not wise. It’s like trying to control the symptoms of a sprained ankle. Not going to happen! How can you expect to control physical injuries? It’s impossible!
If you have C-PTSD or PTSD, then you know you have good & bad days. Good days are like my friend’s fireworks experience this July 4th. When you can manage your symptoms well, it’s a very good day & you can feel on top of the world. Bad days are the polar opposite, & you often feel like the most worthless human being alive. Unfortunately though, both good & bad days happen. It’s only natural.
When the bad days happen, I really think it is best to avoid beating yourself up over them. No good can come of it! Beating yourself up only makes you feel worse about yourself. It also can make the anxiety worse. It makes you feel even more depressed.
Instead of beating yourself up, then why not accept the fact that days like this happen? You obviously can’t control them, so it’s not like they’re your fault. Accept that they happen,& do the best you can do to manage the symptoms as they arise. Sometimes your best may not be very good, & that’s ok too. It’s just part of having such an awful disorder. Also remember, this disorder doesn’t define you- it is simply a sickness. You are NOT your disorder!
You can’t experience trauma without changing. It’s only natural that when you experience something life altering or even life threatening that you change.
I’ve had 5 nervous breakdowns to date, & after each one, something about me changed. After the first & second ones, I got even better at stuffing my feelings. No one cared what happened, so I took that to mean I needed to not bother anyone with my ‘trivial’ problems. (You can tell I was surrounded by narcissists at the time & not a Christian..) After the others, I realized that even if no one cared but God & I, I cared, & needed to take better care of my mental health.
After coming close to death with carbon monoxide poisoning in February, I gained a new strength. Although I still have problems with anxiety, I refuse to sweat the small stuff as much as I once did. I now get angry quickly & set boundaries immediately if someone mistreats me rather than trying to be understanding. Oddly, even my eating habits are different.
When these changes first happened after my first two nervous breakdowns, I ignored them. Then I began to realize that they are happening for a reason. God is using negative circumstances to get my attention. I started asking Him to show me what I need to learn, & those prayers were answered. The information has been very valuable. I’ve learned I like the new me.
If you’re reading this post, it is safe to assume you too have experienced trauma, most likely narcissistic abuse, since that is what I write about most often. As you are healing from it, you’ll realize that you have changed. You may feel differently or think differently. That is perfectly fine! Don’t worry about it or beat yourself up over it. Why not just get to know the new you? Take the time to really pay attention to how you feel or think. Get to know the new you as if you were meeting a new friend.
The changes happened in you for a reason, & chances are, because they needed to happen. While I don’t believe God makes bad things happen, I do believe He will use them for our benefit. If you are unsure of what good has come from the trauma you’ve experienced, just ask God to show you. He will help you..
I have read in some places recently that it isn’t necessary to understand what is behind an abusive person’s actions. All that matters is he or she abused you. This hasn’t really sat right with me.
I’m certainly not saying you have to excuse your abuser’s horrible actions away, because there is no excuse to abuse. I’m also not saying you need to really, truly understand exactly what made the person act as they did (especially in cases of being abused by a narcissist- who can really truly understand why they do what they do?!). However, if you understand a little about the abusive person in your life, it can benefit you greatly, because you can truly grasp that the abuse was not your fault.
So many victims of abuse tend to blame themselves. How many children of narcissistic parents grew up hearing that it was their fault their parents acted the way they did, & still believed that nonsense well into adulthood? I certainly did. My narcissistic mother blamed me for making her act as she did. If I wouldn’t have been so bad, she wouldn’t have had to use “tough love” (what she called her abuse) on me. I believed I was a bad person for most of my life as a result, & if I could have been better as a child, my mother wouldn’t have abused me.
Learning about Narcissistic Personality Disorder has helped me more than I can say. I finally have an answer to why my mother treated me as she did, & the answer isn’t that I was a bad kid! The answer is that she learned early in life that acting in this incredibly dysfunctional way got her whatever she wanted- attention, control, or the freedom to do anything she wanted. That has absolutely nothing to do with me! She wouldn’t have been kinder or loving to me if I had been a better daughter! No matter how I acted, my mother would have treated me exactly the same way- abusively.
I have known about NPD for I think four years now, & in that time, I have learned a great deal. Even so, I still read any information I can find on it. Why? For one thing, NPD seems to be a bottomless pit. Just when I think there can’t be anything left to learn, something else shows up. For another thing, reading about it often is a very good reminder that what happened to me isn’t my fault. In spite of the wealth of knowledge I have on this topic, I still battle wondering what I could have done differently, or did I do something to make my mother abuse me. Granted, those times are very few & far between now, but every now & then, they still happen & have to be dealt with.
Many people I have spoken to who have been through narcissistic abuse read constantly about NPD & surviving narcissistic abuse. Like me, they have been told they are too focused on NPD or being too negative. I disagree- reading about NPD is extremely beneficial to its victims! That being said though, as I have written about many times, it is equally vital to take breaks where you refuse to think about NPD or the abuse you endured. The negativity & evilness of NPD can depress you greatly, so breaks are of the utmost importance.
Sometimes I feel like all I am is a narcissistic abuse survivor. Writing about this topic is not for the faint of heart, & certainly not what I expected to be doing as an author. But, I feel this is what God wants, so I’m obeying gladly.
Even so, there are still some times that I feel like that’s all I am.
When I got carbon monoxide poisoning last February, I came pretty close to death. It caused me to do a great deal of soul searching. Among other things, I thought about this & realized I pretty much had become just someone who survived narcissistic abuse. Frankly, it was depressing. Surviving a narcissist with your sanity in tact is certainly something to be proud of, but even so.. what about other things? I’d lost some things I once enjoyed- for some reason, knitting & crocheting became uninteresting to me instead of hobbies I once loved. Thanks to the C-PTSD, reading has become hard for me as my brain feels overwhelmed if I look at the pages in a book too long. I felt empty.
I often write about the value of taking breaks from your healing & learning about narcissism. You simply can’t focus on such deep, heavy topics constantly & maintain any joy. I think it is equally valuable to take time to get to know yourself though. Truly get to know the person God has made you to be.
I have focused on this quite a bit since February. It’s turning into a very good thing. Getting to know me has helped me to be more comfortable in my own skin. I’ve begun to take better care of myself with less guilt. It has helped tremendously in reducing my anxiety levels as well. I realized this recently at the doctor’s office. A nurse suggested Weight Watchers for me. Weight has been an issue for me my whole life. My mother has always criticized my weight, even when I was thin. So much so, I had eating disorders starting at age 10. Now, I’m about 20 lbs overweight, & some people in the medical field act like I’m more like 700 lbs. overweight. This nurse was one of them. That situation used to trigger a lot of anxiety & shame in me but this time I felt fine. I told her no & ended that conversation.
The best part of getting to know myself is my relationship with God has become much more comfortable & open. There always was some shame in me asking for things I needed. So much so, I’ve always prayed more for others than myself. That is balancing out more all the time.
I have learned that I am not only someone who has been through narcissistic abuse, but also am a child of God, a wife, a mother to some super amazing furkids & a person who is gaining some diverse interests. I have been forcing myself to step outside my comfort zone & explore things, which has led to learning some new interests.
Dear Reader, please do as I have done, & start to get to know yourself too. You are a wonderful person, & you should appreciate that about yourself. You are so much more than you were told you were. Find out who you really are. Get to know the new you & embrace that person!
So many people say you’re just wallowing in your past if you talk about being abused. I am sure some people are wallowing- it is a very hard thing to move past, being abused, especially if your abuser was a narcissist.
However, I do not believe that this describes the majority of people who have survived abuse. Judging from not only myself but many people I have met, we have a much different reason for discussing the abuse we have been through.
Talking about painful experiences brings them into the open, where they can be analyzed & even become learning experiences. Talking about them brings healing.
When I was growing up, I was never allowed to discuss or question the abuse I was going through. I was supposed to tolerate it quietly & change into whatever my mother wanted me to be at that moment. Now though, as a woman in mid life, that does not work for me. I have been through too much. Talking about it breaks the hold over me being abused once had.
Looking into the past helps you to set yourself free from the abuse that has been done to you. It allows you to question things that you could not question at the time they were happening. It allows you to confront the lies you were told, & discover the truth. It also allows you to grieve for the horrible things done to you over which you had no control. (Grieving is necessary if you want to move on.)
Looking back at the good things helps you as well. Remembering good times helps to brighten your day. Lately, I often think of the fun times I spent as a child with my great-grandmother. They always make me smile, as she was a lovely woman. Remembering good times also can help you to understand why you are the way you are. You get to know yourself when you pay attention to those things that make you happy or sad, or the things you like or don’t like.
Once you deal with things in your past, you have less desire to look backward towards the bad things. The bad memories also won’t interrupt your thoughts as often. Good memories will occur more often than the bad. Making peace with your past helps you tremendously in the present.
Many people are quick to judge anyone who either is suicidal, has attempted it or has followed through on committing suicide. It’s such a shame people can be so heartless!
Many people who have survived narcissistic abuse live with depression, & as a result are suicidal. In fact, many also have developed C-PTSD or PTSD as a result of the abuse, & depression & suicidal ideation are symptoms of both dreadful disorders. The judgmental attitudes of others make this awful situation even more painful. People readily accuse suicidal people of being selfish, weak, wanting to take the easy way out or seeking attention. Others say it’s a sin that God won’t forgive, so if they do it, they’ll go to Hell.
This is horrible & it shouldn’t be, but sadly not a lot of people have much compassion or are able to see things from another’s perspective. Feeling suicidal isn’t exactly the walk in the park many people think it is. It’s a dismal, depressing place where you believe the only means of escape is death. It doesn’t sound like a bad choice- your pain will be over, you’ll have no more misery of this life & it’s not like anyone would care if you’re gone anyway. (At least that is how you feel. That doesn’t mean it’s the truth however!)
If you or someone you know is feeling suicidal, the last thing that person needs is to be lectured or judged. The person instead needs a great deal of compassion, empathy & love. They need to know that their presence makes a difference, & they would be greatly missed if they died. They also need to know that you are willing to help them through this dark patch. Make sure this person knows that you love her, are willing to pray with & for her, listen to her without judgment & are willing to do whatever you can do to help.
If you are the one who is suicidal, please know that you are here on this Earth at this time for a reason. If you don’t know what that purpose is, ask God to show you. Also follow your passion- that is where your calling(s) lie. Although it probably doesn’t feel like it at this time, there are people who love you & would be devastated if you were no longer around. You make a difference to many people. Please remember that losing you would hurt them terribly, & you don’t want to do that.
There is a way out. God. Pour your heart out to Him- He loves you & wants to help you. Let Him pour His love out on you & comfort you. Spend time alone in His presence sharing your most intimate feelings- He will help you come out of that dark place! Remember Psalm 23:4 “Yes, though I walk through the [deep, sunless] valley of the shadow of death, I will fear or dread no evil, for You are with me; Your rod [to protect] and Your staff [to guide], they comfort me.” (AMP) God is with you, even in this dark place, taking care of you! I know this may sound trite to you, but please believe me- it is very true. I’ve been suicidal many, many times in my life, so I have plenty of experience on this subject. God has been the only thing that has helped me during the darkest of times. If He helped me, He will help you too. All you need to do is ask..
Abandonment comes in many forms. It can come about for the newborn baby left in a dumpster, a child whose parents suddenly die in a car wreck, divorce, or death of a loved one. There is a form of abandonment that many people seldom discuss- when close friends & relatives leave you.
This type of abandonment is common after divorce, especially if you are the one who initiated it. I lost all but one friend after mine. No one saw him as the manipulative narcissist he was, so they rallied to his side, abandoning me. Abandonment also happens after surviving the death of someone you love. After her daughter died, a good friend of mine said it seemed like once the funeral was done, people thought she should be over losing her daughter, as if the funeral being over meant her grief should be over. Abandonment also can happen after experiencing a traumatic event, as some people think you should “be over it by now.”
It’s also very common for children of narcissistic parents to be abandoned repeatedly in their lives.
First, we’re abandoned in the sense of not having a real mother (&/or father). Just because a narcissist has conceived & birthed a child doesn’t make that person a parent by any means. We also may be abandoned by the other parent, usually a covert narcissist, who throws us under the bus to the overtly narcissistic parent to cover their own butts during an argument, & who fails to protect us. We’re also abandoned by anyone who sees the abuse yet fails to do anything to help us: teachers, counselors, relatives, friends or their parents. As we grow up, we tend to attract narcissists & other abusive people into our lives, who will drop us in an instant once we’ve outlived our usefulness to them. They also are often skilled at turning others against us too, so we not only lose that person, but friends as well at the same time. Then eventually we learn about narcissism & the damage it causes, & we begin to talk about it. That is when our closest friends & relatives often claim we just want attention, need to get over it, So & So had it much worse, your narcissist wasn’t so bad or seemed like a good person to them, & more before abandoning us for being too negative, living in the past, etc.
Does any of this sound familiar to you? I’m guessing it sounds all too familiar.
Constant abandonment like this cuts a person to the core. It also can lead to many problems- low self-esteem, depression, anger, self-destructive habits such as addictions, & even losing your self-identity.
So how do you deal with this pain? You grieve your losses much like you grieve when someone you love dies.
Some people say there are five stages in grief, others say seven. I tend to believe more in seven..
***sometimes when grieving, you may bounce back & forth between steps a few times. This is normal***
While going through the stages of grief is never a fun process, it is a necessary one when it comes to big losses, & being abandoned, especially repeatedly, is a big loss.
While experiencing each stage, it is important to talk things out. I encourage you to pray a lot. Tell God everything you feel, & listen for any wisdom He wants to share with you. Also, if you’re like me & it helps you to see things in writing, then journal. Sometimes seeing things in black & white brings a clarity that simply talking about them doesn’t.
Always be patient, non-judgmental & gentle with yourself while experiencing the grief process. You need such things in your life during this time, & especially from yourself.
Exercise wisdom in who you share your experiences with. Many people don’t understand grief in any form, & others don’t wish to hear such “negativity”. Don’t discuss your journey with people like that- instead only share with people who are non-judgmental, compassionate & who love you unconditionally.
I know this is not an easy time for you, but you can get through this, & you will be a stronger person too. Also, you’re not alone! Many people have experienced this same pain you have, including me. If you would like to meet others, feel free to check out my facebook group & my forum, links to both are on my website at: www.CynthiaBaileyRug.com
Lately, I’ve been having a hard time writing. Even these brief blog entries are an issue most days. It kinda stinks, because I love writing so much. Having C-PTSD contributes to my difficulties with focus sometimes, but it isn’t always why I have trouble focusing.
I’ve been feeling very burned out lately, & I realized why. Focusing on one’s healing & mental & emotional health is a very good thing. It enables you to work through issues, to forgive, to heal. However, it really is possible to focus too much on such things. The mind needs breaks from hard work, just as the body does, & focusing on healing is certainly hard work! The mind also needs a break from negative things as well. (Please know that I’m not saying be positive about the truly negative things in life, as that isn’t healthy either.) If you too have C-PTSD I believe these breaks become even more important to your mental health.
When you grew up with a narcissistic mother, it can be hard to be a balanced adult. Early on, once you first realize that your mother is abusive, you’re angry. Very angry. All this time you thought what she did to you was your fault, & you finally learned she lied- it wasn’t you, it was her. That is a tough pill to swallow! Then you learn more & more about narcissism, & so many things finally make sense, things about you & about your mother. It’s very easy to become consumed & focus constantly on your mother’s abuse, on NPD, on the problems you have as an adult that stem from that abuse & more. However, this is not healthy to do at all! Like I said, the mind needs breaks sometimes, & it needs balance.
How do you achieve balance? You make a conscience effort to do these things. I know it can be hard, especially with the obsessive thoughts that often happen with C-PTSD, but it can be done! Force yourself to focus on something fun. Watch a movie. Play with your kids, furry or human. Go for a walk in the woods. Visit a local park. Go for a drive. Buy a coloring book & crayons. There are many things you can do to bring a little joy into your life & those things needn’t be expensive or require a lot of planning. Be creative, & I’m sure you’ll come up with some fun things to do.
Spend time in God’s presence. Spending time in nature, admiring the beautiful creations He has made is not only good for drawing you closer to the Father, but it’s also very restorative to the soul. Many people are affected by the weather such as in cases of those with Seasonal Affective Disorder. If that describes you, I would suggest holding off on the nature time until the weather has a more positive effect on your mood. Fall is my favorite time to do this, so if you catch me wandering around during the summertime instead when the heat & bright sunlight depress me, something is very wrong with me! lol
Another thing I have found that helps me is to collect some things that you enjoyed as a child. I’m a child of the 70’s-80’s, & I think we had some pretty cool toys! I have Spirograph, Magic 8 Ball & Lite Brite apps on my tablet. I have an atari with quite a few games. I have a few stuffed animals, my old Merlin handheld game, Rubix cube, Snake & Bowlatronic. I just saw a hot pink Tonka jeep that I had (& loved!) as a child on ebay, & am considering ordering it. I also ordered a set of the Crystalite animals- I collected them in first grade. I’ve also purchased a few board games over the years that my husband & I both remember from our childhoods & we enjoy playing. Although my childhood was less than stellar, some of my fun old toys do make me smile to this day. Having them helps me to remember some positive memories for a change, & it feels good.
Also a nostalgic thing I enjoy is collecting old pictures. There are a couple of facebook groups I belong to- one is for the area where I grew up & the other is for the area where my family is from in Virginia. Both are history groups, & share many old pictures of both areas. I save the more interesting pictures of places I enjoyed growing up. It’s so much fun looking back over the pictures of how those towns were when I was a kid. It does make me a bit sad how much they’ve changed, but even so, it’s fun remembering how things used to be.
Music is another wonderful way to break away & feel good. I still love the music I grew up with, & listen to it often. Some songs take me back to a happy place. Journey always reminds me of going to dinner with my wonderful paternal grandparents at a tiny local Italian place when I was a kid. My grandmom gave me change for the jukebox- something my mother always refused to do. “Who’s Cryin’ Now” was one of the Journey songs played, so yes, their music takes me back to a fun evening. Listening to good music that transports you back to a happy time can be very good for your mood & very relaxing.
Pamper yourself. Also hard to do when you grew up with a narcissistic mother who undoubtedly told you how selfish you were for showing yourself any kindness, but remember- narcissists project their flaws onto other people so they can then get angry about those flaws. Your mother was wrong- you aren’t selfish! Doing nice, pampering gestures for yourself aren’t selfish either- they are healthy, & they show you that you care about yourself. Nothing wrong with that!
I think distractions like these are also very helpful because they empower you. If you think about what you’ve gone through constantly, it’s as if your mother still has power over you. She’s still controlling you, by being in your thoughts so much. If you purposely kick her out of your mind sometimes, you are taking back control of your life, & your thoughts.
Also, distracting yourself sometimes is good for your anxiety & depression levels. The more you focus on the abuse you endured, the more anxious & depressed it can make you. Focus on healing- get angry, cry, do what you have to do- but take at least the same amount of time to relax & have some fun! It’s good for you!
Recently, I wrote this post about being angry at all of the things I feel have been stolen from me due to having C-PTSD. The anger that was simmering kicked back into overdrive briefly on Tuesday night.
I had to speak with my mother that evening. I ended up pretty angry with her by the time I hung up. Shortly after I got the wonderful call from my vet that I mentioned in this post. In spite of the incredibly good news, I was angry. Although my mother didn’t do it on purpose, I felt like, as usual, she’s interfering in my life & stealing my joy- making me angry at a time when I should’ve been completely happy. I felt in my heart I needed to make a decision at that time..Either continue to be angry or to thank God for & enjoy the wonderful news I had just gotten. I decided to focus on the good news for the night, & deal with my anger at my mother later on. Oddly, this turned out to be a good thing for me in a way..
I feel like I took back some of my power!
I think by being able basically to put my mother aside for a while was helpful for me. It showed me that my mother & her narcissistic ways haven’t stolen everything for me, as it so often feels like. She isn’t in control anymore, & I am more powerful than I feel. Instead of being angry with her & failing to enjoy the miraculous news I’d just received, I was able to refocus my mind onto the good. I had an entire evening of basking in joy, then dealt with the anger the following day.
Have you ever tried anything like this?
In all honesty, I can’t say I’m sure this type of thing is a good thing to do on a regular basis, but doing it once was a good experience for me. It may be for you too. I would encourage you to ask God about it, if you’re in a similar situation. It may help you as well. But, if God advises you against it, please listen to Him & don’t try it!
Yesterday was an eventful day. One of my cats, Pretty Boy, needed his annual checkup, which was late. A little background: Pretty Boy was diagnosed with diabetes since 2011, a condition called Somongyi where his body responds oddly to glucose in 2012, & then with a liver carcinoma in 2013. That is when the vet said he may not be around much longer, & chances are his glucose wouldn’t be regulated ever again. In spite of it all, he’s been doing GREAT! Mostly his glucose has been regulated, & he’s obviously feeling good. However, I was still nervous (as always) about his checkup. Turned out the vet said he is doing extremely well, I’m happy to say. Two vets saw him, one who specializes in diabetes, & she told me she thinks he’s starting to go into diabetic remission!! It’s very unusual- cats often go into diabetic remission, but usually within about the first 3 months after their diagnosis. The longer they have diabetes, the lower the chances of remission are. Leave it to my little guy to be unique.. lol It’s truly an answer to prayer! I’m so excited!
This all got me to thinking last night how much I have to thank God for.
Lately, the C-PTSD has been especially bad, leaving me extremely depressed, tired, anxious, having a hard time concentrating & really unable & unwilling to be around people. It’s been hard to think of anything to be thankful for, but this vet visit was the kick in the butt I needed to change my attitude. OK, I’m still having some trouble feeling grateful, but I am doing better at it today. I’m grateful my special little kitty is much healthier than anyone could’ve expected. I’m grateful too that he’s such a sweet baby- he knows every emotion I have, & if I’m upset, he is right there, offering lots of love to try to make it all better. I’m grateful for another one of my cats, Punkin, who also has PTSD & how we can help each other when symptoms flare up. I’m grateful God has blessed me with the many wonderful cats I have & had in my life. I’m grateful that even during the worst of times with C-PTSD, God still cares & helps me to get through it all. I’m grateful I survived all of the traumas that caused the C-PTSD, & still have a pretty decent attitude about life most days. I’m grateful I have people in my life who care about me. I’m even grateful for the classic car I drive, because it was once my grandfather’s car (my favorite car he ever had) & God found a miraculous way to send it back into my life after not even seeing it in 26 years. (I wrote that story in ebook form- it’s a fascinating story even if you aren’t a classic car fan like me. Here’s the link: http://www.lulu.com/shop/cynthia-bailey-rug/my-life-the-story-of-a-1969-plymouth/ebook/product-18462742.html )
As a result of thinking about these things & more that I am grateful to God for, for the first time in a couple of weeks, I feel the C-PTSD starting to improve some. I’m not expecting grateful thoughts to make all of the symptoms magically disappear of course- that would be very naive- but, I have noticed a grateful attitude does help to reduce the severity of C-PTSD symptoms. I think because it makes me feel closer to God as well as more appreciative of the good things He has blessed me with. Thinking about such things also increases my faith in God. Really focusing on the blessings He gives you can’t help but to increase your faith!
I know sometimes when symptoms are raging, it feels like there is absolutely nothing to be thankful for. I’ve felt that way many times myself. However, if you can try to think of the good in your life, or ask God to show you the ways He’s blessed you, it may help to reduce your symptoms. Even if it only helps a little bit, isn’t it worth it?
Something is happening that I assume is a natural part of C-PTSD, but I haven’t read or heard anything about it: anger, & lots of it. I’ve read that often people with PTSD or C-PTSD can have a short fuse, getting angry at silly little things, but that is all I read. So, I had to start praying..
For the first time, I’m getting very angry when people are deliberately hurtful, mean or even abusive towards me. I realize for the first time that I don’t deserve such poor treatment. In a way, this is pretty darned cool!! God showed me it means my self-esteem is at a good place instead of in the toilet where it’s been most of my life. In another way, it’s rather scary since it’s new territory… I’m not used to feeling anger, because I learned early in life I wasn’t allowed to feel it. If I expressed any anger, my mother said I had that “awful Bailey temper.” I carried that dysfunctional habit of not expressing anger into adulthood.
In addition to that, I’m getting very angry at the things that I feel C-PTSD has stolen from me. This morning, this anger was triggered because of my hair. Yes, sounds crazy, I know.. I was brushing my hair this morning & realizing so much is broken off & my hair is extremely dry. It looks awful, which upsets me as I’ve always had healthy, nice hair. Researching this online, long story short, I learned that anxiety & depression are most likely the cause for me. *sigh* Great. Then a little while later, I decided I was going to work on the new carburetor that is going on my car. As I skimmed over the directions, they didn’t seem too difficult- I thought I could do what I needed to do. Nope. Trying to follow the directions, I was easily confused. Although I did eventually remember that I’ve done this before (admittedly, 20+ years ago..), trying to actually do what the directions said to do absolutely baffled me. I also couldn’t remember details of how I’d done this. it was just the icing on the cake for me. Made me so angry that I have to rely on my husband do to this simple task for me! I miss my independence so much! I then thought about so many other things that C-PTSD has stolen from me, like my coping skills. i was once very strong, but now any little thing can frazzle me. Writing has become very hard for me, because my focus absolutely stinks. Reading, which was always my favorite pass time, is now a burden because my brain gets easily overwhelmed when I look at the pages in a book. I can’t tell you the last time I had a restful night’s sleep that wasn’t interrupted by nightmares or waking up with anxiety attacks, & yes, this happens even with sleeping pills. I’m sick of the constant anxiety, depression, forgetfulness & mood swings too. We won’t even discuss how many perfectly fine days have been ruined by flashbacks out of the blue..
I realize I sound like I’m wallowing in self-pity, which is what so many ignorant people think C-PTSD is, but yanno something? I think it’s OK to have these moments of self-compassion sometimes, & even be angry about it. It’s NOT fair to be abused, let alone so badly & so frequently as to develop C-PTSD. It’s WRONG! And, it’s so maddening when you’re suffering through every single day while your abuser goes on with his or her life without a care about what they did to you. I know, God says vengeance is His, & I respect that by not trying to get revenge on anyone. That being said.. sometimes it’d be nice to see that person suffer a little, yanno?!? Not nice, not a good Christian attitude either, but I think it’s just normal to feel that way once in a while (& then ask God to forgive me later..). It’s also maddening when you are trying your absolute best just to survive, & someone comes along telling you to stop looking so depressed, shake it off, let it go, just think happy thoughts.. seriously, don’t you want to slap those people hard sometimes?? lol I actually chewed out my husband recently for telling me to do my best. He’d said it many times, & I felt like doing my best was never good enough for him. One day, i got angry & told him “the fact I’m out of bed today & I haven’t put a gun to my head should tell you I *am* doing my best!” He was shocked, but it finally clicked for him that even if it doesn’t look like it, I really am trying!
Does this describe you too? Do you have times like I’m having today where you are just hot mad at having C-PTSD? If so, doesn’t logic dictate this as normal behavior sometimes? C-PTSD is such a frustrating, depressing disorder! God reminded me of that, & understands my anger & frustration, just as He does yours. Please, don’t berate yourself for how you feel! Feelings can’t be helped- they just happen. It’s what you do with those feelings that matter.
How can you cope when these days happen? To start with, get those feelings out! Once I’m done writing this entry, I’m going to write in my journal or pray. Getting all the anger out I can in a safe manner. Writing is an awesome way to get out your anger & hurt if you don’t feel like praying. Or, you could beat up a pillow- that helps too. Talk to something as if it’s the person you’re angry with, maybe an empty chair in front of you.
Music can help too. Right now, I’m listening to 1980’s hair bands & heavy metal- some of my favorite music ever. What is your favorite genre of music? Well, crank it up!! Doesn’t matter if it’s heavy metal or classical- whatever makes you feel good! In fact, go for a drive with your music blaring if you can- it’s fun & therapeutic!
Be gentle & understanding with yourself. If you’re feeling angry, there is a reason for it! Don’t tell yourself to just get over it, stop feeling that way or even that you need to forgive the person who hurt you. Accept the fact it’s really OK to be angry sometimes! The Bible says in Ephesians 4:26-27 “Go ahead and be angry. You do well to be angry- but don’t use your anger as fuel for revenge. And don’t stay angry. Don’t go to bed angry. Don’t give the Devil that kind of foothold in your life.” (MSG) See? Even God says it’s OK to get angry sometimes! Just don’t do anything bad with that anger, such as get revenge.
As I’ve mentioned before, I’ve been having some really rough C-PTSD times lately. The last few days, it’s been a lot better, thankfully. Going through the rough times lately have gotten me to thinking. I realized I’ve changed a lot since May, 2012 when the C-PTSD became full blown, but I hadn’t really thought about it until a few days ago when I realized I’ve been berating myself rather than accepting myself or trying to discover who I am post-trauma.
There are plenty of books & online counselors on the topic of discovering your post trauma identity. Obviously there is a need for such knowledge- trauma certainly changes you, like it or not. I haven’t ready any of those books yet or spoken to a counselor, so I’m just starting to learn about & pray about this topic. I hope & pray these things I’ve learned so far will help you as they are starting to help me..
I’m seeing that I need to learn to accept the fact I have C-PTSD, & its ugly symptoms without judgment. I keep beating myself up about being so “weak” as to have C-PTSD. You see, I’ve always been very strong. In fact, when I had my first nervous breakdown at age 19, I went to work the next day. I was catatonic for 5 hours that night, had no sleep at all, yet went into work the next morning as if nothing happened. I survived awful abuse, then went on to school, & no one had any idea what had just happened to me. It seemed like nothing could affect me for long, until C-PTSD came along. Now? Let my kitchen sink clog up or me have any small change in my routine, & I’m in a state of panic. It’s beyond frustrating! I’m trying to remember some things. First, C-PTSD isn’t a sign of weakness- it’s a sign of having survived some pretty terrible traumas. Second, C-PTSD is a terrible, life-changing, even potentially life threatening disorder. It’s not something one can control, so its symptoms are going to rear their ugly heads, including the lack of ability to cope well with about anything, crying at the drop of a hat, anxiety attacks, etc. Third, I wouldn’t judge anyone else with C-PTSD. In fact, I have friends with it, & have not once thought they were weak, stupid, useless, etc., so I need to extend that same kindness to myself. Fourth, I need to take better care of myself when the symptoms flare up. It’s ok to take a day off to relax after a particularly nasty flashback, for example. And, I also need to be more aware of what makes my symptoms worse, what triggers I have, & be more understanding of myself regarding them. They’re a normal part of this disorder, & nothing to be ashamed of.
I need to accept the fact that trauma changes a person’s brain, especially repeated, ongoing trauma like I have experienced. Like it or not, it’s a fact. Basically, PTSD & C-PTSD are brain injuries. Brain injuries can make drastic changes in a person! I’ve become very forgetful, very emotional, moody & a lot of times I have trouble finding the right words I need. All are symptoms of C-PTSD & nothing to be ashamed of.
I need to accept changes that have happened to me since C-PTSD. I don’t laugh as easily as I once did. I still have a sense of humor, but I’m a lot more serious than I used to be. I’ve always been an avid bookworm, but now, reading a book overwhelms my brain very easily, which made me lose interest in reading. Reading on my tablet is easier, but I still can feel overwhelmed sometimes. I’ve lost most interest in my favorite hobbies- knitting & crocheting. Writing has become very difficult on most days for me. I don’t know it these things will ever come back. Hopefully they will, or maybe even be replaced by other interesting things that I can enjoy just as much.
I also need to accept the fact I need to ask God for help with the simple things much more often than I used to. Thankfully, God doesn’t mind helping, & in fact, wants to help. However, I still feel weird about asking Him to help me remember to do something or help in accomplishing something simple because I’ve forgotten how to do it. Thank God He is patient & understanding! He has not once made me feel as if I need to do something on my own or not bother Him with my silly requests.
I’m certain there is much more to add to this list, but so far this is what God’s been showing me about handling my post-trauma identity. I hope it helps you as well! xoxo
It’s been almost three years since almost all of the symptoms of Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder manifested in my life, but I’m still learning about them & how to manage them. It’s a daily battle.
This past week has been a rough one. I’m not sure why, but the C-PTSD has been flaring up really badly. Nothing happened to trigger it, although I did have a flashback a few days into this flare. I haven’t discussed what’s happening much with anyone, not even my husband. For one thing, when it flares up, I need to get a grasp on what is happening. My thinking changes so much, & sometimes it takes a lot for me to recognize it’s the disorder, not me thinking that. For example, I’ve been ashamed of this flare up. I’ve been feeling weak & angry at myself for being so weak. Normally, I accept C-PTSD as the reaction to some very bad things that I’ve been through, but flare ups change that in me.
This morning, I was in an especially foul mood, & my husband & I talked about it. I finally opened up to some of what has been going on with me this week He suggested that since I’ve promised to keep my blog real, that I write about it, & hopefully someone who reads this will benefit from it.
Reading about the symptoms of C-PTSD on clinical sounding websites & living them are two very different things. Reading about them, they sound bad enough, but living them? Yikes. And, you rarely see detailed descriptions of the more odd symptoms. I thought I’d share some of the symptoms you don’t read much (if anything) about that I’ve experienced this week, so if you too experience them, you’ll know you aren’t crazy!
Lately, I’ve had more nightmares than usual. Not even nightmares about traumatic events I’ve been through- nightmares about stupid things, such as an empty school bus parked beside my car catching fire. I knew I couldn’t move my car for some reason, & was afraid it was going to burn with the bus. Make any sense to you? Yea, me neither.. lol One night, I woke up every 15-30 minutes all night long, mostly from nightmares, most of which I didn’t even remember, but I woke up panicky. The few I did remember though had absolutely nothing to do with the traumas I’ve experienced. When I first read about C-PTSD, I assumed when it said nightmares happen, it was nightmares about the traumas. Not necessarily.. I have them too sometimes, but usually not. The nightmares are usually odd but disturbing.
My thinking has been extremely negative. I try to be positive yet realistic, but this week, that hasn’t happened. I’ve been beating myself up about anything & everything possible. I’m weak, stupid, cowardly, useless, ugly, nothing but a burden to my husband.. you get the idea. Growing up with a narcissistic mother, I used to do that all the time, but over the last probably 10-15 years or so, had gotten much better about not doing that. When the C-PTSD flares up, though, that old habit comes back with a vengeance.
I feel like I’ve remembered every single time someone has told me something invalidating about having C-PTSD & it hurts. I’ve thought of so many times when people have told me to “get over it,” “stop using C-PTSD to get pity/attention,” “stop living in the past”, “stop being so negative- you need to be more positive.” or even simply showed they don’t care when the symptoms are bothering me. Why these stupid comments pop into my mind, I have no idea..
My thinking has been very sluggish. I haven’t caught on to hubby’s jokes, which is very abnormal for me since we share the same warped sense of humor. Following a simple TV show or movie has been rather difficult too. And, I encountered a narcissist, yet failed to recognize the signs I normally wouldn’t have missed. Once they were pointed out to me is when I caught on. UGH!
I’ve been getting very angry very easily. It seems like anything & everything pushes my buttons. While trying to put fresh sheets on my bed this morning, I got mad at one of my cats for getting in my way. WHY?! She does this every single time I change sheets. It’s nothing new. But for some reason this morning, this made me so angry. I didn’t scold her, since this is a normal part of her routine, but I really wanted to for a minute there.
I’ve been extremely depressed. I’ve always battled depression, & for years, I was fortunate enough to find ways to keep it under control. I even wrote a book about that, called, “Baptism Of Joy.” My first book! Then when the C-PTSD kicked in in May, 2012, that changed. While I’m not depressed all of the time, I once again spend quite a bit of time depressed, & this time, the usual things that once helped me to feel better don’t work nearly so often.
I’ve also been extremely anxious & unable to pinpoint why exactly. Above & beyond the normal anxiety & hyper-vigilance that come with C-PTSD, I mean. I’ve woken up having panic attacks several times lately. Not a nice way to wake up!
I’ve wondered if I’m going crazy. Definitely not a nice way to feel, especially since I spent so much time feeling this way when I was growing up with my mother who often told me “you need help” (implying I was in need of psychological help, yet she wouldn’t take me to a therapist) & with an ex-husband who was very good at gaslighting.
I’m dissociating a lot more than normal. I feel so spacey most of the time. This also means I have very little focus. Writing in this blog has been a very big challenge this week! Honestly, when I’ve written my entries, I’ve been very unsure about how they sounded, then published them, just praying they made sense.
To try to manage these symptoms,I’ve been spending time listening to music I love, which means many songs I grew up with in the 70’s-80’s, some country & some classic & hard rock. I’ve also been spending time with God, not even necessarily praying- just sitting in His presence. It’s very restorative & grounding.
C-PTSD is an absolutely evil, devastating disorder. If you live with it too, I understand what you’re going through! You may or may not have the odd symptoms I’ve been experiencing this week (I pray you don’t!), but if you do, please know you’re not alone, nor are you crazy! In spite of how it feels, you are a normal person who had a normal reaction to an abnormal amount of trauma! That is what C-PTSD is- a normal response to an abnormal amount of trauma. It isn’t a sign of weakness, low intelligence, flaws in one’s character, or poor thinking such as living in the past or being negative.
Yesterday was a very hard day for me. I had an especially nasty flashback. Not long after, my mother called. I shouldn’t have answered the phone, but I did anyway. Why is beyond me..this ended up with me feeling awful for the rest of the day, & waking up about every 15-30 minutes all night long. Sometimes from nightmares, sometimes from anxiety attacks, other times from hot or cold flashes.
This morning I woke up very depressed & very exhausted. Unfortunately, when I’m this tired, I think bad thoughts. I ended up feeling so weak. I was angry at myself for not being stronger, & for having C-PTSD. Thankfully, my bad thoughts didn’t get too bad before I got online & read this article….
It gives a very interesting perspective. A perspective I’d never heard of before, suggesting that depressive illness (& those of us with PTSD or C-PTSD know depression all too well) is a sign of strength rather than weakness. Reading the article made perfect sense to me. It says that people who are strong, responsible, diligent, etc. tend to deal with depression more than those who are weak, irresponsible or lazy. The reason being, the responsible types get more stressed- they keep pushing & pushing themselves while their irresponsible counterparts give up. The article explains it much like a blown fuse. Responsible types push & push themselves, basically like pushing 18 amps through a 13 amp fuse.
Interesting perspective, no?
Please read the above article- I believe it will encourage you as it has me.
Tomorrow, Christmas eve, would’ve been my 24th wedding anniversary, if I had stayed married to my ex husband.
The day always brings some conflicting feelings. Mostly, I am grateful I was able to get away from him, as he was a narcissist who treated me much like my narcissistic mother used to treat me. I can’t imagine how bad things would’ve been for me if I had stayed with him. Chances are good that I would have killed myself if we had stayed together. I was that depressed with him.
It also makes me sad though, when I think of how damaged I was back then. I knew marrying him was a mistake, which is why I had broken up with him a few months prior. Yet I still allowed him to talk me into marrying him anyway. I married him instead of continuing to date someone who I really enjoyed being with, because I believed my ex when he made me feel guilty for leaving him, & like I owed it to him to marry him for hurting him so badly.
It’s amazing the things that a child of a narcissist will do, isn’t it?
I’m sharing this embarrassing bit of information about myself with you today for a reason. I’m sure you too have things in your past that you regret. Bad choices made out of dysfunction, pain or even desperation to be loved. I want you to know that you’re not alone! You have nothing to be ashamed of! Mistakes like mine are a normal part of being raised by a narcissistic mother. You grow up so dysfunctional because all of your growing up years, you were told you were a horrible, stupid, ugly, selfish, etc. etc. person. You were blamed for things that weren’t your fault, & made to be responsible for things no child should be responsible for, such as her mother’s emotions. Things like this cause a tremendous amount of damage that permeates your innermost being well into adulthood. It is completely normal!
Please don’t do like I did for many years. I beat myself up for being so stupid & marrying someone I didn’t love, for falling for all of his manipulations, for being so starved for love that I believed him when he said he loved me, for ignoring my instincts that told me to stay far from him & for passing up a good man for a narcissistic one. I asked myself so many times how I could be so stupid, basically continuing the beating up of my self-esteem that both my mother & ex-husband started. It was wrong & cruel, & I showed myself no understanding or compassion. Don’t make that same mistake! You deserve so much better than that!
While yes, you have made mistakes & done dumb things, everyone has! No one is immune from making mistakes in their life, especially someone raised by a narcissistic mother. Show yourself some compassion & realize that you have been through some damaging things- it’s only natural you have made mistakes.
Also remember, God loves you & forgives you. If He forgives you, how can you not forgive yourself?
Be gentle & understanding with yourself, Dear Reader. You deserve it. xoxo
Good morning, Dear Readers!
Again, thank you so much to every one of you who has prayed for me & shown me concern these past 10 days. My father is now home to recover after a caifoplasty (I think it was called?) yesterday to repair a compression fracture on his spine. I took him home last night & he was moving much better already. 🙂
These past 10 days have been brutal. My father went into the hospital with this terrible back pain at 3 a.m. on Tuesday the 9th, then quickly had a bad reaction to the morphine & was delirious for several days. They weren’t sure at first if it was pain, meds or what making him delirious, but thankfully figured out it was the morphine. No more morphine for him! EVER! I warned him never again- I’m not happy with him calling me Mom! lol
Those of you with a narcissistic mother can imagine the “fun” this has been. As if the drama with my father’s health wasn’t enough, she managed to turn everything around on her. Even yesterday, the day he had an operation on his spine, my mother still turned everything around on her. Amazing!! Absolutely amazing!! & not in a good way! By the time I got home, much later than expected mind you, I was in tears of anger & frustration. Not to mention anxiety because I spent the entire day at the hospital- not good for the agoraphobia. My husband, bless his heart, listened to me tell all of the day’s awful events. He also said, “I have seen the light! I really get it now about your mother! I am so sorry!!” Thank God!! I can’t put into words how grateful I am for that. My husband is accustomed to his own narcissistic parents, & due to his upbringing, always tried to make excuses for or defend my mother. I think that is a thing of the past now. God is truly good- I never expected that to happen!
After I took my father home, I had to leave fast. One of my cats has diabetes & a couple of other health issues, & I’ve found testing his glucose & giving him an insulin injection when needed at about 5 p.m. works well for us, usually keeping his glucose levels pretty stable. By the time I got my father home, it was already 7:30! I told my parents I need to go- Pretty Boy is late for his insulin. My mother kept dragging her feet, pretending she didn’t hear me or coming up with reasons I needed to stay. I ended up pretty much walking out on her. *sigh* She didn’t care that my boy needed help, my husband wasn’t home yet from work & couldn’t take care of him- I had to go. It was maddening!!
The icing on the cake was when I was walking out the door. My mother gave me a hug & said “I love you. You’re doing such a good job!” Maybe with a normal, non-narcissistic parent, this would be a nice thing to say. However… with a narcissistic parent, this made me very angry. The only time my mother tells me she loves me, is proud of me or other such positive things is when I’m doing what she wants me to do, as she wants me to do it. I could count on one hand how many times my mother has said those type of things to me in the last 25 years. Maybe even 30 years.
It was just so maddening!! The only time I’m worthy of any praise, even just a small amount, is when I’m doing her will?! Really?! Never mind I’ve run a non-profit organization designed to help people with depressive disorders. Never mind my writing helps other people often (I know- I get the emails to prove it!). Never mind I’ve rescued over 25 cats since 1990 & 3 dogs who were in horrible situations. (I’m not trying to brag on myself with this information, by the way!!) None of that matters to my mother. All that matters to her is what I do for her. ARGH!!!! It’s not that I’m after her approval- I’ve accepted that I’ll never have it. Even so, the reminders of this fact still hurt. Reminders like this show me, yet again, that I’m not even human to her. That I am simply a tool to be used when needed, according to my mother. I don’t matter to her, nor do my needs, wants, feelings or even my furkids as she showed me so clearly last night. It hurts!!
I guess my point of sharing all of this (aside from venting) is to let you know, Dear Readers, I really do understand. I understand your frustration with your narcissistic mother. I understand your pain & hurt. I understand how aggravating it is when others don’t get it. Having a narcissistic mother is truly a lonely road!
I really hope my experiences can help you somehow to cope with your own narcissistic mother. If nothing else, I hope you realize that you truly are not alone, in spite of how it feels. I love you & am praying for you! xoxo
I have a folder of various songs on my mp3 player that are very special to me. When I lost several of my cats over the years, shortly after their death, I’d hear a song or a song would go through my head out of the blue, & God would speak to my heart, telling me that the kitty who just passed on wanted me to know that this song reminded him/her of me. I turned these songs on the mp3 player while finishing some housework..
The song “You Were Loved” by Wynonna came on- that was my Magic’s song, my first kitty & a very special dark sable/black guy who was in my life for over 16 years. Grief overwhelmed me. Physically I could barely stand & the sobbing hit hard. In this pain, I cried out to God, telling Him I miss my Magic so much. I clearly heard Him ask me what else do I miss? A laundry list of things that are currently a problem in my life came out. I miss having a mother- I’d love to have a normal, non-narcissistic mother who won’t hurt me purposely for her own amusement or to preserve her own image. I miss not having financial problems- not saying I want a brand new car or whatever, just want the bills current or paid ahead & be able to do some things. I want to no longer be constantly hurt or affected by or blamed for things other people do.
A lot of anger came to the surface too. I’m angry at the people who have abused me yet never took responsibility for it or showed any remorse. November 28th, it’ll be 24 years since my mother threw me into a wall & messed up my back. In those 24 years, not once has she accepted responsibility for it, but instead told anyone who would listen I faked the injury to get out of working because I was lazy. My mother is hardly the only abuser who hasn’t taken any responsibility, either, & that frankly just pisses me off!
Some of the anger that came up is because there are so many things in my life I can’t make sense of. I thought about my ex boyfriend for example. Last January, I learned not only was he gay (might have been nice to know that before we became a couple!), but he murdered his boyfriend, then himself. I shared a life with this man- how did I not realize he had such serious problems?! I know I was young, but still, what the heck?!
Then the anger turned to sadness, & I started crying pretty hard… it didn’t want to stop for a long time as years of anger & pain came out & God comforted me. Thankfully! I hadn’t cried like that in a long time, & apparently I really needed to do so.
This experience reminded me of something I had long since forgotten about. When I was a little girl, I think God gave me a survival skill that I never appreciated. One night a week after I went to bed, I would make myself cry for a while. I would think of anything sad that would make me cry, then just cry for however long felt right, & go to sleep after that. This was my own time & no one interfered with it, as my parents assumed I was asleep. Growing up with an engulfing narcissistic mother was very, very hard. I was very anxious & depressed, even as a little girl (not that anyone noticed, because I was good even then at hiding my feelings). Those nights when I cried were good for me- I was able to get out the sadness, anger & anxiety I felt & go on with more peace the next morning.
As a grown up living with C-PTSD which includes nasty periods of depression plus all the stress I’m facing lately, I think it is time to implement a grown up version of this ritual I had. Today showed me the need for periodic emotional purging.
i am going to spend more time with God, even if it’s while running the vacuum cleaner, & ask Him to help me, to help me purge of whatever anger, hurt, etc. is inside that needs to come out. Then ask Him to heal me & help me to cry or do whatever I need to to get things out. (Like most adult children of a narcissistic mother, I have trouble often with expressing emotions).
The reason I’m sharing this with you, Dear Reader, is because I think this may help you as well. So many people, especially adult children of narcissists, aren’t good at getting out their emotions. Look at all of the health problems today- high blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease, kidney disease, immune system problems.. so many of these are from holding in emotions & stress. Feel your feelings. Process them rather than stuffing them down deep inside! It’s good for you! Talk to God about them, too- He not only will comfort you, but help you to deal with them & heal your broken heart as well!
If you missed it, yesterday I posted about my narcissistic mother’s betrayal. She currently is feigning great concern for my husband’s mother being ill, in spite of knowing the massive amount of abuse the woman has put me through. And, she is flaunting it in my face- when we saw my parents Saturday, my mother kept bringing up his mother’s health,displaying deep concern for her. The only reason she is doing this is to cause me pain, & it is working. Those of you who also have a narcissistic mother know that if I had said anything to her Saturday, she would have portrayed herself the innocent victim of her evil daughter. The worst part is nothing would improve, but most likely it would only get worse.
Since Saturday, I have not been happy at all. I am deeply hurt,& crying easier than usual (normally I cry easily anyway, but this is over the top even for me). The C-PTSD has been flaring up- my head is swimming, anxiety levels are terrible & I had nightmares all night long last night. I can’t remember many details other than being abandoned in them, which tells me my brain is still trying to process what my mother is doing to me.
I also realized this morning that I am grieving. There are five stages of grief..
These stages of grief not only happen when someone you love dies, but they can happen in other areas of life as well. I believe they also can happen during especially painful times, such as what I’m experiencing. When someone goes above & beyond to hurt you, that is horribly painful, but when it is your own mother- the one person who is supposed to love you no matter what- the pain is magnified by 1,000.
So this is why I am grieving right now. When my mother first began her “concern” for my mother in-law, I wasn’t surprised. She has been sending her Christmas cards ever since the first Christmas after I told my parents how bad my mother in-law treated me. However, the constant mentioning her, the “I’m praying she gets better soon”, & then the cookies & card for her were over the top, even by my mother’s standards. It was almost impossible for me to believe she had gone this far at first (stage 1). Once it started sinking in shortly after leaving my parents’ home Saturday, I got angry (stage 2) & stayed angry all during yesterday. By last night, I actually began to wonder if I had done something wrong, something to deserve this from my mother or something that made her behave this way (stage 3). That didn’t last long as anger & then depression (stage 4) kicked in.
Once I thought about this, I realized that I go through this often when my mother pulls some of her antics. Honestly, most of them I am so used to that I only get angry or disgusted that we are going through it again. Even so, sometimes, she surprises me & pulls something so especially painful, it catches me off guard. This is one of those times.
I believe grieving like this to be common, & not only for me, but for all children of a narcissistic parent. if you share similar feelings to mine after dealing with your narcissistic mother, then please be aware of two things:
First, you are not crazy! You are not wrong, nor are you at fault for feeling this way. You are perfectly normal! You are grieving something very painful, & need to be compassionate & gentle with yourself until you have come to terms with the incident. Take care of yourself- pamper yourself, & do things that make you feel good. If you made a comfort box or bag, get it out & enjoy the special items you put inside.
And second, know you are not alone! It isn’t “just you”. Just because your narcissistic mother says nobody else is as bad/crazy/stupid/etc. as you means it is true. She is lying to justify her abuse. Ignore her! She is the one with the problem. There are others like you who understand your pain & will validate you! I am only one of them.
Good morning, Dear Readers!
Well, it isn’t really a good morning for me. I really do want to keep my posts as encouraging & as positive as I can, but I also promised you readers that I would also be real. That means some posts won’t be all happy & positive. This post is going to be one of those. In fact, I was going to write it only in my journal, but I felt I should write it in here. Maybe someone needs to read this today. It’ll probably be pretty long, longer than normal at least, so get yourself comfortable if you want to read this.. lol
The last few days have been really rough, & the C-PTSD is flaring up badly as of yesterday. My head is simply swimming. To start with, our little American Eskimo dog, Dixie, has been sick. Thankfully, she is well on her way to recovery now, but not recognizing her symptoms at first terrified me. My pets are like my children, so when they are sick, I get extremely concerned. Then my husband’s mother went into the hospital a couple of days ago. I’m not sure she didn’t put herself there for attention, to be completely honest about it. It wouldn’t be the first time she’s done that. I think it was last year just before Christmas my husband told me she said that she quit taking her meds for a few days prior to going into the hospital. Yep, I love narcissists.. NOT. *sigh*
And, as the icing on this crappy cake, my husband & I saw my parents yesterday.
Recently, my parents bought a new chair. Once it was delivered, my mother decided she didn’t like it, & wanted to exchange it for another one. She called to ask if my husband would mind picking it up with his truck, as she didn’t want to pay another $80 delivery charge. He said he’d be fine with doing it Saturday (yesterday). So Friday, I said I should call her to be sure of what time to meet my parents at the furniture store. He volunteered to make the call instead, which was fine with me at the time. Now, I’m not happy he did this at all & that will not be happening again as I have learned a painful lesson. Although I have told him many times, do NOT say anything about our furkids or his parents to my parents other than everyone is “fine”, he told my mother Dixie was sick & probably needed to see the vet in the morning, & also that his mother was in the hospital so we couldn’t make it a long visit. If my mother hears anything other than FINE about any of them, I will end up very angry with either her nasty comments about my furkids, or fake concern over my in-laws. The fake concern hurts me very badly, because she knows perfectly well I haven’t spoken to my in-laws since 2002 because of how cruelly my narcissistic mother in-law has treated me. And a side note here- I asked God once why my mother does this. He showed me that my mother thinks my in-laws have a perfect life- been married 60+ years, financially comfortable, nice home in a nice area, their children, grandchildren & great-grandchildren visit them often. She fails to see the mountains of dysfunction in their family, only what looks good on the outside. My mother, being a narcissist & naturally overly concerned with appearances, wants to impress them. By me refusing to tolerate my mother in-law’s abusive ways, I’ve embarrassed my mother. In return, she wants to hurt me as much as possible by showing concern for them, as well as showing them even though I’m a “terrible person,” at least she isn’t bad like me. She is good enough to care about them even if I don’t. This is also why she has sent them Christmas cards since I first told her how cruel the mother in-law is. Amazing what goes on in the mind of a narcissist..
Back to the original topic..
The visit started at the furniture store. My mother sat in the car, & my father approached us in hubby’s truck. He handed hubby a booklet about county services for seniors I’d given my parents a couple of months ago. He said it was because hubby’s parents probably needed it. Really? Hubby told my father no, they’re fine- my parents need it. My father said my mother thought they needed it more, so they should have it. Hubby grabbed the booklet & spoke to my mother, telling her SHE needs this, his parents are taken care of. I heard snippets of their conversation- she kept changing the subject, showing concern for his mother being in the hospital. ARGH! So while this happened, my father & I walked into the customer service area & gave them the receipt. We waited a few minutes for him to bring the chair outside for us, & chatted. Finally we were loaded up & ready to go. I moved the truck over to beside my mother’s car to get it out of the way. My mother said hi to me, I ignored her & waited for hubby.
At my parents’ house, my mother asked me how Dixie was. i said fine. She said “Oh? Your dad said she was really sick.” I said nothing further. (I feel somewhat bad about that, because knowing her, she’ll jump on my father for lying to her even though he wasn’t lying. But, not trying to be vengeful here, he has no problems throwing me under the bus with my mother. Why should I feel bad that I inadvertently did the same to him once, yanno?) So she then talked to hubby about his mother. I continued ignoring her, but was stewing inside. How dare she?! Plus i was also angry hubby told her about Dixie when I have said many times mention NOTHING about her or the cats to my mother.
My husband, father & I assembled the chair. While working on it, my mother brought out a plate of cookies & demanded we all eat one. I refused. All my life, my mother has insulted what I eat, how much I do or don’t eat, demanded I eat what she wants when she wants me to & ridiculed me for being fat no matter how little I may weigh. When she tells me to eat something now, I refuse in order to set a boundary. Plus, the emotional flashbacks I get make me feel like I did at around 10 years old when her abuse regarding food was so bad that I became anorexic then later bulimic: terrified of her anger if I didn’t do as was told or take her criticisms with a smile, angry, like I am too hideous & disgusting to live. This feels HORRIBLE & it makes me angry that at 43 years old, I quickly can revert to feeling like I did as a child.
Finally, the chair was done, & we were ready to leave. As I said goodbye to my father, my mother spoke to my husband about his parents again, feigning such great concern for their well-being. I could feel the anger inside me bubbling by this point. Then, as I moved to say goodbye to her before my head exploded, she said “Wait a minute.” My mother went into another room & came back with a plate of cookies & a get well card for my mother in-law!! She handed them to hubby. I was in shock at this point. She then hugged us both & told me she loved me as we left. I practically ran to the truck. I also realized when she has been especially cruel to me recently, she always says she loves me. No other times. In fact, I could probably count on one hand how many times she has said that in the last 30 years until this behavior began recently.
I cannot put into words how hurt I am by this whole episode. I know my mother is extremely angry with me because I set boundaries with her early last month. (See this blog entry) I’ve been expecting a narcissistic rage because of that as I mentioned in that post, which meant I was expecting her to say excessively cruel, hurtful things to me in a public place. But this betrayal & flaunting it? And to top it off, my husband basically handed her the weapon on a silver platter & doesn’t understand why I’m upset?
I am just depressed, hurt & angry today. I feel so alone in this situation, & am so tired of feeling that way. I can’t talk to my husband about it since he doesn’t really understand. I can’t talk to my father- he’s got his own concerns with how cruel she is to him, & those concerns are very valid. He also won’t speak on my behalf to my mother. I also feel like I don’t matter. Again. I am so tired of this feeling! My mother made me feel this way growing up. Being a typical malignant narcissist, I was only there to be an extension of her, meet her needs & please her. I wasn’t to “bother” her with having needs or feelings. Growing up, things haven’t really improved with her in that area. My husband’s invalidating “I wouldn’t give it any credence” comment about my mother’s actions yesterday have made me feel the same “I don’t matter” feeling. I’m so tired of it!!!
I’m also incredibly frustrated. Something must be done with my mother, but I am too frazzled at this moment to figure out what. If I speak up about her “Caring” about my mother in-law, it’ll feed her- she will be sure to show more concern for her just because she knows exactly how much it hurts me. If I remain quiet, she will show more concern to be sure she is getting to me. Damned if I do, damned if I don’t… So, I need to pray about how to handle this after I feel better.
Right now, I’m wallowing in the self-pity place. I know this all too well, & I don’t like it at all. But, I have learned some things since I’ve been here so many times in my life: this place is necessary, & it doesn’t last forever.
So many people will tell you things like “pick yourself up by your bootstraps” but sometimes you need to wallow for a bit, to feel sorry for yourself because you have been through something very painful. I think of it as feeling compassion for yourself. If someone told me what I just told you, my heart would break for them. I would want to tell them everything will be fine & somehow make it better if I could. So why not have that same compassion for myself?
I also think that the self-pity times allow us to process painful things, & we need to process painful things! Sweeping things under the rug or ignoring the pain they cause do no good at all! In fact, ignoring things can cause a great deal of harm. I never really dealt with the abuse I endured until I was around 30 years old. By the time I was 41, I developed full blown C-PTSD after living with many of the symptoms my whole life. I wonder if I had been able to deal with things earlier, if I would have C-PTSD now. Not dealing with things also can cause physical problems such as arthritis, heart problems, ulcers, high blood pressure, & much more.
If you made it this far, God bless you! Thank you for listening to me rant & rave. I hope somehow you were able to glean something helpful from this post.
I’m revising this post only slightly…..
I saw yesterday that the card my mother gave my husband for his mother wasn’t in a sealed envelope- the flap was just pushed in. Seemed odd to me, but I figured that meant my mother wanted me to read it. Knowing her, that just made sense in her dysfunctional little world. So, I finally gave in a few minutes ago. This is the card- nothing has been altered at all. This shows just how hell bent my mother is to hurt me- she is sending a nicer card to someone she can’t stand than she has ever sent to me. I honestly don’t even know if she’s ever given me a get well card…
Good morning, Dear Readers!
I have decided on my next book’s topic. What it’s like to recover from narcissistic abuse. The weird things you may not accociate with it such as odd nightmares as well as details about living with C-PTSD, low self-esteem, constant self doubt & anything else I can think of to add to the book.
If there is any topic you’d like added to this book, please feel free to suggest it. I’m open to suggestions! You can either email me at CynthiaBaileyRug@aol.com, or you can contact me via this form:
Good afternoon, Dear Readers!
A little while ago, I read about Brittany Maynard, the termanilly ill young woman who chose assisted suicide. Something popped into my mind..
It is amazing that people are calling her brave & strong & other such positive things, yet if someone who lives with depression, PTSD/C-PTSD or another mental illness commits suicide, they are labeled such terrible things as selfish or cowardly. I don’t understand what the difference is.
First off, I just want to say that I am not passing any judgement on Ms. Maynard. Honestly, I can’t say I wouldn’t have done the same in her situation. No one knows what they would do unless in the situation. What I am saying is what makes people call her brave for opting to end her life rather than face the pain & suffering of a horrible disease, yet label someone who is depressed enough to want to end their suffering through suicide is a selfish coward? Neither person wants to suffer any longer. Both are tired of the pain.
It just breaks my heart, the lack of empathy & compassion in the world. They also seem to be very selective on the rare occasion they do show up. In fact, there is a line in the movie, “John Q” that comes to my mind often. If you don’t know the movie, it is a great one! Denzel Washington plays the father of a young boy in need of a heart transplant. He & his wife don’t have proper insurance to cover the procedure, & he holds several people hostage in the hospital out of desperation. The police are called in to try to talk him into releasing the hostages safely. The negotiator, played by Robert Duvall, tells him, “Do you think these people (the crowd & tv crews) really care? You’re just the cause of the moment!” That statement is so true! People are so fickle! They may support a cause passionately, but as soon as something else comes up, the first cause will be abandoned.
Anyway, back to the original topic. Choosing to end one’s life isn’t selfish or cowardly. it simply means someone is tired of pain & wants to avoid further suffering. It also doesn’t mean that person is weak. Any person can only handle so much suffering before wanting an end to it. I urge you to have compassion on those who are considering suicide rather than pass judgement. If you know someone is suicidal, talk to her! Show her gentleness, love & understanding. Maybe all she needs to know is that someone cares. Maybe showing her that you care will help her to choose not to take her life.
If it’s you that is contemplating suicide, please know I understand what you are going through! I’m so sorry that you are in such a terrible place! Please reach out to someone for help- a non-judgmental friend or relative , your pastor, a counselor or even the National Suicide Prevention Hotline. Most of all, reach out to God! Tell Him how you feel, & allow Him to help you. The world would not be the same place without you! You are a special, unique person & the world needs you! Please think very carefully & reach out for help before doing anything rash! xoxo