Tag Archives: disease

Physical Problems Can Change You

Those of you who have been reading my work for some time know that on February 27, 2015, I nearly died.  My fireplace’s flue had a problem & it caused carbon monoxide to enter my home.  It caused me to pass out, hitting my head on the logs beside the fireplace which gave me a concussion.  I easily could’ve died that day, but I didn’t.  I live with symptoms daily from the experience but my thinking has been especially odd to me.

 

My emotions & ways of thinking are different now than they were prior to my accident.  I have become much more self-centered in my thinking.  I firmly believe this is a side effect of the concussion, as many people I’ve seen who have experienced brain injuries become extremely selfish, some even narcissistic.  Thankfully I’m aware of it & do my best not to let it get out of hand.  I am also triggered VERY easily now.  Seeing a happy parent & child together saddens me, for example, because my relationship with my parents is so unhappy & downright toxic.  It’s very odd since I never thought that way before.  I also don’t lose my temper often, but when I do it is very ugly.  Even after 2 years, I’m still getting used to all of this.

 

I finally recently asked God about what is going on with me.  I’m hoping what He said will help some of you as well if you’ve experienced changes after a health scare.

 

Some health issues can change a person.  The chemical or physical changes caused by some illnesses or injuries can cause a person to respond differently than they once did.  Traumatic brain injuries & carbon monoxide are known for changing a person, but other illnesses & injuries can as well.  Many people experience depression after surgery, for example.  The changes you experience due to your physical problems may influence how your brain processes information.  In my case, my brain was already injured due to C-PTSD, & the concussion was just one more injury & one more trauma.  No wonder I’m triggered more easily now.

 

Becoming more selfish isn’t necessarily a bad thing either.  As long as it’s kept in check, it’s actually a good thing.  So many of us raised by narcissists learned early to put other people ahead of ourselves no matter what.  We need to become a bit more selfish & start taking care of us & without feeling guilty for it!

 

Everyone has a point where enough is enough.  When a person faces a serious health scare or near death experience, that may push the “enough is enough” point way up.  Something about coming close to death makes a person realize just how fleeting life is & how quickly it can end.  Often, that realization means patience for abusers vanishes & sometimes that filter that keeps you speaking nice things doesn’t always work.  You may not get mean, but you may become more blunt.  The realization also can make a person more determined to enjoy every possible moment of their life.

 

 

If you come from a narcissistic family, facing health problems means you have an additional complication to your health concerns.  Do you tell them?  If so, you know they won’t be there to help you if need be.. will they even care?  Can you deal with whatever cruelty they dish out to you on top of being sick?  Being faced with having to hide your problems or hear from your narcissistic parents about how much worse of *insert name here* has it than you are NOT nice prospects!  In fact, they hurt a great deal & they make you angry.

 

If you’re experiencing changes in your personality after illness or injury, talk to your doctors.  If nothing is physically wrong, then maybe you’re experiences are simply similar to mine.  Why not try to embrace the changes the best you can?  Maybe once you get to know the new you, you’ll think you’re pretty cool!  And maybe  too, the changes are for the best.  Losing patience for abusers is a good thing- you won’t be a doormat anymore!  Being more determined to enjoy life is a wonderful thing too.  You’ll  waste less time on fruitless things & spend more time on the things you enjoy & that are important to you.  I know it can be hard to find the good in health problems, but some things like I’ve mentioned in this article can be good.  They may be hard to get used to at first, but they really can be a good thing!

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Filed under Abuse and the Healing Journey, Christian Topics and Prayers, Mental Health

Illness In Victims Of Narcissistic Abuse

Many of us who survived narcissistic abuse have trouble with being sick or injured.  We repeatedly have heard statements like,  “Others have it worse so you should stop complaining!”  “That’s no big deal.  What I have is so much worse!”  “You have a bad back?  It’s nothing compared to mine..”  These kind of things sink in.

As I’ve mentioned here before, last February, I got sick with carbon monoxide poisoning & when I passed out, hit my head, resulting in a concussion.  Since that time, I haven’t fully recovered, & may never do so.  In spite of that knowledge & the symptoms I live with on a daily basis, there have been plenty of times I wonder if I’m faking it.  My husband was floored when I told him that, & he said it’s impossible- I even look different when the symptoms are really bad & I can’t fake that look.

I firmly believe my irrational behavior is a direct result of being raised by a narcissistic mother.

As a child, I rarely saw a doctor or dentist, not even when I experienced anorexia when I was around 10 years old.  Fevers didn’t mean anything, I was fine according to my mother.  She made sure I knew it was hard on her if I had a problem.  Mother’s Day, 1986- I was on crutches & my father had hurt his back.  She has complained since that she had to sacrifice her Mother’s Day waiting on us hand & foot, it was such a hard time for her.  As an adult, any problem I have, she doesn’t believe.  I have had arthritis in my knees since 2002.  I told my father that was why I couldn’t do more to help my parents out sometimes around their home.  He told my mother & her response was to call me later & ask if that was even true.  Have I even seen a doctor?  Did she say I need a knee replacement?  That’s all I need- to get my knees replaced, it’s no big deal.  For 10 years I lived with back pain she caused, yet she accused me of faking.  She would slap me in the back or hand me something heavy every time she saw me.

Does any of this sound familiar to you?  If so, please know I understand your pain & frustration & that you are ok!  This is a normal reaction to an abnormal lack of empathy.

I know it is maddening when you are raised this way & as an adult, you don’t even believe yourself that you are sick or injured.  The doctor said you have a problem or you feel the pain, so why do you doubt it?  Then add in feeling that you don’t deserve to take it easy when you need to because someone else has it worse, & you really feel awful.

It’s time to start rejecting what the narcissist says.  Remember, they say nothing to help others- everything they say & do is about themselves.  Your narcissistic mother accuses you of faking your illness?  That’s because she is projecting her bad actions onto you.  She’s faked an illness before.  She says what you’re experiencing is no big deal?  It’s because she doesn’t want to be bothered with your problems, because it doesn’t provide her with the coveted narcissistic supply.

Trust the symptoms are real.  How could you fake them anyway?!  You aren’t doing this for attention or sympathy!  Narcissists do that, not normal, mentally stable people.

Another helpful tip is to read about the disorder or disease you have.  It helps make it more real.  Once I read about Edgar Allan Poe’s experiences with carbon monoxide poisoning, it helped me tremendously!  I realized that someone else felt the exact same way I did, I wasn’t crazy & I wasn’t making anything up!

While you are coming to accept what is happening, also don’t forget to ask God to heal you as well.  He wants you to be happy & healthy!  Allow Him to do that for you!

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

Stop Hating Your Weaknesses!

If there is one thing most adult children of narcissists do, often even years into their healing, is berate themselves.  Any weakness or flaw is cause to tell themselves how dumb or clumsy they are.  God forbid they get sick or injured, because then they become useless in their minds.

 

I do it myself, in spite of telling people to give themselves a break, it’s not right, etc.  I’d always done this but it went into overdrive in 1990 when my mother threw me into a wall & hurt my back, causing me to need to quit working outside the home a few months later.  I felt useless, no longer being able to earn a paycheck.  In 1996 when agoraphobia developed, I felt even more useless since I couldn’t go out alone without panicking.  2002, I got arthritis in my knees & was limited a bit more as to what I could physically do.  2012, C-PTSD fully developed, making me feel even more useless.  Then in February, 2015, I suffered carbon monoxide poisoning which made me pass out & hit my head causing a concussion, & I felt more useless yet once again when I learned most likely many of my symptoms would be life long & were untreatable.

 

Recently I was telling myself how useless I was because of all of these things.  I said something to God about being useless.  I asked too why these things have happened?  I never wanted to be a housewife or work at home- I liked a couple of jobs I had a great deal & would’ve been quite happy making either of them into a career.  Instead I’m at home, not making a lot of money which means I’m also putting pressure on my husband financially.  This just sucks!!  God listened patiently & reminded me of 2 Corinthians 12:7-10 which says:

 

“Because of the extravagance of those revelations, and so I wouldn’t get a big head, I was given the gift of a handicap to keep me in constant touch with my limitations. Satan’s angel did his best to get me down; what he in fact did was push me to my knees. No danger then of walking around high and mighty! At first I didn’t think of it as a gift, and begged God to remove it. Three times I did that, and then he told me,

My grace is enough; it’s all you need.
My strength comes into its own in your weakness.
Once I heard that, I was glad to let it happen. I quit focusing on the handicap and began appreciating the gift. It was a case of Christ’s strength moving in on my weakness. Now I take limitations in stride, and with good cheer, these limitations that cut me down to size—abuse, accidents, opposition, bad breaks. I just let Christ take over! And so the weaker I get, the stronger I become.”  (MSG)

What a message!!!  It’s a great reminder that everyone has limitations & God will work through them, not just your strengths!   You are capable of great things because you are imperfect!  Even this blog post is evidence of God’s ability to work through weaknesses.  Normally, I jot notes down for posts I want to write, because my memory is so bad.  But this one, I didn’t.  I just asked Him to remind me to write it.  Not only did He remind me, He showed me what all to include in it.

 

Don’t get me wrong- there is certainly nothing wrong with asking God to heal you.  He wants what is best for you, & often that does mean healing your physical or mental health.  Sometimes though, there is a very good reason that you aren’t healed, & you certainly can ask God why.  Maybe like the apostle Paul, you could lose your humility if you were healed, failing to rely on God.  Or maybe there is another reason.

 

God told me in my case, I’ve worked VERY hard all my life.  Not as much working hard at a job, but working hard to appease the narcissists in my life (including anticipating their needs or how to deal with them the most effectively), keeping my emotions in control so as not to upset or “feed” them & trying to do everything perfectly so as not to be criticized or ridiculed.  Now, I have no choice but to rest.  My body & mind demand it often, & frankly… it feels good.  Until the carbon monoxide poisoning happened, I pushed through any illness or injury so as not to be lazy.  Growing up, my mother often said I was lazy & as an adult, I’ve always worked to prove I wasn’t.  Now?  I kinda am, & it’s OK!  My mind & body demand it, so I have to respect that in order to stay healthy.  Maybe your case is like mine, & you too need that rest after a lifetime of working hard.  Rather than feel badly about it, why not enjoy your rest?  Accept it as a well deserved rest rather than hating it.

 

Dear Reader, you are a valuable person.  God loves you a great deal & made you as you are for a reason.  It’s time to let Him work through you, weaknesses & all!

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“You Don’t Look Sick”

I’ve been reading a lot lately about people who have a disease or mental illness, who have the handicapped plates on their car receiving nasty notes on their car that say awful things like “You don’t look sick.  Shame on you for using that parking place when someone who is really sick needs it!”  Or, others who have problems that don’t show outward signs are faced with family members & friends who don’t believe they’re actually sick.  These people are accused of things like looking for attention, faking it so they don’t have to work or even faking their illness so they can get certain drugs.

I’ve been on the receiving end of this myself.  Having C-PTSD, some people think is a walk in the park.  If only!  Try to handle a flashback when you have to focus every ounce of strength on staying in reality versus getting lost in the flashback & I dare you to tell me it’s no big deal.  Earlier this year, I’ve also been through getting a concussion when I passed out from carbon monoxide poisoning.  Each day is now a gamble on how functional I can be, because both have done damage.  But, since I look fine, & usually can hold a conversation fairly well, people assume I’m fine,  or some will flat out insult me when my symptoms show up.

It can be so hard not to internalize people’s cruel, thoughtless words!  All too often, I berate myself for being lazy when I don’t feel up to simple tasks or call myself stupid when I can’t remember things or can’t find the right words to express myself.  Internalizing such things demoralizes you & makes you doubt the legitimacy of your symptoms.  It can make you feel as if you’re crazy.

When I was 19, my mother threw me into a wall so hard, I had back pain for the next 10 years.  No one believed me, except for one chiropractor & my ex husband then later my current husband.  Everyone else said I was faking it, lazy, etc.  It sank in.  I doubted myself many times.  Even in the midst of awful pain, I thought I was making it up so I didn’t have to work (the most common thing I heard).  On good days when the pain wasn’t so bad, I was convinced I had to be lying & my back wasn’t so bad.  It was a terrible feeling!

The fact is, with most injuries, diseases & disorders, you have good & bad days.  Just because last Tuesday was a good day doesn’t mean you were lying about the other bad days!  You simply had a good day!

Most people seem to lack empathy for those suffering from debilitating health problems.  If you are one of them, STOP IT!  How do you think you would feel if you had a serious problem & someone  told you to get over it, stop faking it or even you don’t look sick?  You wouldn’t tolerate it happily, so why should someone else?

If you are someone who has been on the receiving end of such ignorant, heartless statements, please remember that the person saying such nonsense has no idea what you live with each day.  Ignore what they say.  You know what you live with on a daily basis.  You know your painful symptoms all too well.  Ignore their words & believe what you see & feel, what you live with daily.  Those things will show you that you are sick & that you aren’t lazy, faking, etc.  While you take care of yourself, don’t forget to ask God to heal you.  And, pray for the heartless person as well.  Ask God to help them to have an empathetic, compassionate heart so they don’t continue to hurt you or other people.

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Do You Apologize For Having Problems?

In talking with a lady I just met about her traumatic brain injury, I realized we share something else in common.  We both feel the need to hide our injuries & apologize for whatever symptoms we can’t hide.

I think this is a very common phenomenon for adult children of narcissistic parents to apologize for their issues as well as those with the so-called “invisible illnesses” such as mental illness, fibromyalgia, & arthritis.

Why is that?  Why would anyone feel the need to apologize for things that are beyond their control?  I think there are a couple of potential reasons.

One reason is people are often uncomfortable with unpleasant things.  They often respond inappropriately & without empathy.  They may make jokes in an attempt to lighten the mood or change the subject, but whether they intend it or not, it feels as if they are making fun of your illness or troubles.  It’s impossible to feel safe with people who do that, & often easier to hide your symptoms or apologize for the ones you can’t hide in an attempt to pretend you don’t have the problem.

Another reason is so many people seem to think if you don’t have obvious, glaring symptoms like a 5 pound tumor on your face, you can’t be too bad off or you’re faking your problem.  For example, I had awful back problems for 10 years after my mother threw me into a wall when I was 19.  I had better days sometimes where I could deal with the pain enough to wash my car or do other somewhat physical things.  Since I could do things sometimes, people thought I was faking my injury.  I learned quickly it was easiest to hide my pain rather than hear the nasty comments.

Many illnesses don’t affect your appearance, & if you don’t look obviously sick, many people assume you don’t have a problem.  I’ve experienced carbon monoxide poisoning which gave me plenty of lasting problems, but if you look at me, I look healthy.  You’d never know that I live with symptoms of it daily if you spend only a short amount of time with me.  Any time though reveals I stumble over words when speaking, have virtually no short term memory & get very tired, very easily.  When that happens, sometimes people insult me saying I’m old or dumb.  It’s easier for me to hide the symptoms or apologize if they show up.

Mental illness is its own special entity.  So many people believe having a mental illness means you’re weak.  You need to pick yourself up by your bootstraps!  Shake it off!  Let it go!  Stop wallowing in the past!  If you just did those things, you would be fine.  They fail to realize many mental illnesses are exactly that- illness.  You can’t just shake off illness.  Your brain is actually broken.  Many people refuse to believe this, unfortunately, which means it’s easier to hide your symptoms than to risk showing any & hearing about how weak you are.

And still other people who have experienced their own life threatening illness seem to think if you haven’t experienced what they have, you haven’t got a problem.  I knew 2 ladies who both went through cancer several times each.  One had a generous, loving heart, & understood that although cancer was terrible, there were other serious problems in the world.  The other, however, whatever your problem, she would tell you (or at the least imply) to be glad you didn’t have cancer, as if it was the only real problem or real illness anyone could have & nothing else mattered.

I know these types of situation are painful, & wanting to hide or apologize for your symptoms is a very natural reaction.  But I want to encourage you today, Dear Reader, to stop doing that like I am going to try to do.  Your illness or its symptoms are nothing to be ashamed of.  You have nothing to apologize for, either.  The person who makes you feel that way is definitely the one with the problem, not you.

While I’m encouraging you to stop hiding your symptoms, I also would encourage you to have balance in what you discuss.  People who discuss mostly one topic, in particular the awful disease or disorder they suffer with, tend to put off others, even those with great empathy.  It can be frustrating for a person who wants to have a relaxing conversation or even look for support regarding their problems to be forced to listen to someone who drones on & on about their condition every single time they speak.  It’s not good for either person.  The listener gets frustrated, may say hurtful things in their frustration or even end the relationship.  The talker is so focused on something negative (their disease or disorder) that they ignore the more positive, good parts of life, which can lead to depression.  The talker also ends up hurt because they feel rejected when the listener is obviously tired of hearing about their condition.

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