Tag Archives: injury

PTSD, C-PTSD Pain

I read a truly interesting article recently on TheMighty.com.  The author spoke of her life with C-PTSD.  She was in a relationship with someone who pointed out how she was able to (as he described it) swallow physical pain & continue on as if nothing happened.  Apparently she didn’t realize she did this, which lead her to research why she behaved in such an unhealthy way.

Long story short, she learned that people with PTSD tend to be very out of touch with pain or very highly in tune with it, depending on their mental state at the time.  Often in times of really bad anxiety, people with PTSD experience oversensitivity to pain.  Anxiety causes the body to tense up, which certainly could explain that.  It also explains why many people with anxiety experience chronic pain in their bodies.


Interestingly though is what the author described next.  After a serious injury, her anxiety levels were very high, which triggered other pain not related to the injury.  The man she was dating then noticed how at times she’d just “swallow” the pain after a minute & go on as if nothing happened. 

This is a survival skill that can be very useful.  If you’re in a dangerous situation & can ignore the pain long enough to get yourself to safety, clearly this is a very useful survival skill!  In daily life however, it isn’t.  In daily life, it means you will ignore your pain & not take the time to rest & recover that you need.

I have realized I do this.  After my back injury at 19 when my mother threw me into a wall, although I was in constant pain of varying degrees for 10 years, there were times I was so disconnected from the pain, I wondered if people who said I was faking the pain so I didn’t have to work were right.  Maybe it wasn’t all that bad or maybe I wasn’t even injured at all.  Hardly healthy behavior!

Another point in the article is people with PTSD who dissociate generally tend to have a much higher threshold of pain than people without the disorder.  Dissociation is known for allowing a person to disconnect from emotional pain, but it also can allow a person to disconnect from physical pain as well.  This means they naturally won’t feel pain as intensely as others who don’t dissociate.

Knowing this information was very helpful for the author of the article, because it helped her to change how she thinks about her chronic pain & treating it.  I believe it also can be extremely helpful for the rest of us whether or not we have issues with chronic pain. 

Recognizing that it is very unhealthy to disconnect from physical issues helps you to have a better perspective on them.  Unless you’re in a very dangerous situation, this survival skill isn’t needed.  It’s healthier to recognize what is happening & deal with the issues accordingly. 

Having this problem myself, I also realize that there are times it feels like you should be ashamed of having a physical problem which probably contributes to disconnecting from your pain.  The narcissists that have been in my life had zero tolerance for my illnesses or injuries.  In fact, I never told my parents I nearly died from carbon monoxide poisoning in 2015 because of that. 

I know health situations can be incredibly hard to handle.  Adding in this dysfunction to the health problems can make them utterly miserable.  In fact, I’m not really great at handling health issues myself.  I have found something that helps me to have a healthier perspective on health issues.  That is to remind myself constantly that there is no reason to hide the problems anymore.  My health is my responsibility, & I have every right to handle it however I see fit.  If that makes me something bad in the eyes of other people, so be it.  They don’t live in my body & don’t know how I feel.

Sometimes there will be simply dysfunctional but not narcissistic people who have no patience for others with health problems.  When dealing with them, I remind myself of the same things.  Also, when their opinion hurts because it is so negative & unexpected, I remind myself they must have some sort of dysfunction when they respond to the health problems of someone they care for in such a bad way.  Doing that helps to take much of the sting out of their thoughtless words.  It’s an excellent reminder that what they say isn’t personal.  It’s about their dysfunction, not me.

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

Illness & Injury In Victims Of Narcissistic Abuse

I recently realized something that I’ve been living with for my entire life is most likely a symptom of narcissistic abuse.  It never occurred to me before, so I started researching it & found absolutely nothing on this topic.  All I can share with you is my personal experience, nothing I learned from anyone or anything else.

Many of you who know my work know I survived Carbon Monoxide Poisoning in 2015.  As a result, I live with symptoms of that & a Traumatic Brain Injury from either the oxygen deprivation to my brain during the poisoning or the concussion I most likely got from hitting my head when the poison made me pass out or a combination of both.  I don’t discuss these symptoms much partly because I don’t want to sound like either my mother or mother in-law who used their health problems to gain attention.  I also doubt my problems in spite of the glaring evidence that something is wrong.  Sometimes I think I’m exaggerating or even faking it in order to get attention like them.  And, I don’t want to “bother” anyone with my trivial problems.

I know how ridiculous this sounds.  How can I think that way when I know better than anyone else just how difficult my life is because of the symptoms?  And for attention?!  I minimize them to everyone, including myself.  As far as burdening anyone, I’m not one to ask for help easily so I of all people should know if I want to ask for help, it’s very necessary.  I know all of this, yet these thoughts are still there.  Why?!

Suddenly it hit me.  These thoughts are there because of narcissistic abuse!

Growing up, my illnesses & injuries were taken as an inconvenience.  My mother could be nice to me when I was sick or hurt.  A part of me looked forward to being sick or hurt for that reason. But, she would remind me even years later how much of a burden it was when I was sick.  The older I got, however, the less likely it was she’d be nice to me when those things happened.  In fact, I never missed a single day of high school even though there were days I really should have stayed home. 

When I was 19, as I’ve mentioned before, my mother & I got into a physical fight & she threw me into a wall. I am reasonably sure she wanted to kill me that night.  I lived with awful back pain for 10 years after that.  No doctors believed I was injured & my mother was convinced I was faking it.  Looking back now, I think the pain was due to the emotional trauma rather than any physical injury, because when I get extremely stressed, my back aches in that same location.  At the time however, I didn’t realize this, & thought if even the doctors think I’m faking it, maybe I am. 

As an adult, other people haven’t believed me when something was wrong or acted as if my pain was nothing but an inconvenience to them.  My ex husband being the worst of them, but there were others too. 

I believe the years of being accused of faking problems led me to doubt myself, & think that I am faking whatever problems I have, unless there is undeniable proof.  I realized this recently when I learned one problem I have is a common symptom of brain injuries.  It should have simply been eye opening but instead it made me happy because here is proof that something is wrong!  I’m not faking it!

I also realized I hide so much from my husband because I don’t want to burden him, & I don’t feel I have the right to expect his help when I need it.  Pretty ridiculous, really.  He should help me if I need it!  That is what spouses do for each other! 

It occurred to me that if I experience this with my own health problems, then others who have endured narcissistic abuse probably do too.  That is why I wanted to share this with you today.  You’re not alone & you’re not crazy!  I totally understand!

Unfortunately as of yet, I don’t know of any ways to change this dysfunctional thinking, but if I come up with anything, I definitely will talk about it in the future.  In the meanwhile, please know I understand & am praying for you!

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

Executive Dysfunction After Narcissistic Abuse

Have you ever heard of executive dysfunction?  As the name describes, this is when executive functions don’t work properly.  Executive functions are cognitive & mental abilities that enable us to accomplish things.  They help us by directing & controlling our behavior, planning, prioritizing as well as giving motivation.

Executive functioning is higher level cognitive functioning.  Some examples are:

  • Emotional regulation, such as working through anxiety.
  • Impulse control.
  • Attention, such as directing attention where it is necessary to accomplish things.
  • Planning such as creating & following a schedule.
  • Self assessment, such as making sure you’re taking a reasonable amount of time on the task at hand.
  • Using working memory, such as following directions or reading.

Anyone can experience executive dysfunction periodically, in particular when overly stressed or tired.  That is entirely normal.  It becomes abnormal when executive dysfunction interferes with daily life.  Difficulty with decision making, concentrating, organization & low motivation are some examples.

Executive dysfunction is often caused by brain damage.  Traumatic brain injuries, dementia & Alzheimer’s disease are known causes, but mental illness can cause it as well.  Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, depression & Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder are known to cause it as well. 

PTSD is another mental illness that can cause executive dysfunction, & that is the reason I felt it necessary to discuss executive dysfunction.

May of us who struggle with PTSD or C-PTSD also struggle with executive dysfunction, yet are unaware that was what our problem is.  It doesn’t help that those in our lives call us lazy, tell us we need to get out more often or offer other equally useless & unsolicited advice.  Useless or unsolicited, it still can take a toll on the self esteem especially since it’s already been so damaged thanks to the narcissists in our lives.

Those of you who have been down this road, I want to let you know today that you aren’t lazy!  There is something wrong with you & it’s not your fault that you have this problem!  Your brain has been broken due to the trauma or traumas you have experienced.  Brain damage in any capacity is no joke!  It’s a horrible thing! 

Brain damage is also not something you can fix easily, like a broken bone.  Brain damage may heal completely or it may not heal at all, no matter what you do or don’t do.  The brain is a very unique organ & very unpredictable in how it responds to injury, trauma & even healing.  I’m not telling you this to make you lose hope.  I’m telling you this so you can be realistic in what to expect.

With the symptoms of executive dysfunction, you can learn ways to work with your symptoms. 

Set up a routine & stick to it.  Not so much you become rigid about it because there will be times you need to change it.  Even so, having a set schedule takes some pressure off because you know what you need to do each day.  It becomes a habit, so it’s easy to remember over time, too.

Use a calendar app on your phone to help you remember appointments & tasks that are out of the ordinary.  One with alarms is especially helpful.

Utilize sticky notes & to do lists to help you to stay organized. 

When motivation strikes, use it!  There tend to be more days without it than with, so when it happens, use it to the best of your ability.

Executive dysfunction isn’t easy to live with I know, but you can learn ways to cope!

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Filed under Abuse and the Healing Journey, Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, Mental Health

Illness Changes Personality & Behavior

When a person faces serious health problems, they change & not only physically.  Their personalities change, too.  That is normal.  Sometimes the personality changes can be very bad.

A dear friend of mine lost her husband some time ago after caring for him for several years.  Not long before he died, she told me some very disturbing things about his behavior.  This once good, kind, loving man was suddenly exhibiting many narcissistic traits.  In particular, he didn’t want his wife to be with other people, including their children.  It was bizarre since narcissism doesn’t suddenly show up, like when you catch a cold.  The more we talked about things, the more I thought of something… 

After I survived Carbon Monoxide Poisoning, the hospital gave me no information & even said my elevated carbon monoxide levels “weren’t so bad.”  They also said I had no brain injury in spite of showing many signs of a concussion from hitting my head when I passed out.  The hospital said I could return to work two days later, but by that time, I still felt just as miserable as I did when I left the hospital.  I was lost, so I started researching my condition.  I also joined a traumatic brain injury group on Facebook.  I noticed immediately most people in the group showed a LOT of narcissistic tendencies & were very insecure.  I left the group quickly, but I realized something.  I was starting to behave much as they were!  I wanted my husband to be with me non stop & was very annoyed he wasn’t.  I knew he had demanding, elderly parents with health problems, plus a full time job which all left him exhausted much of the time, but even so, I was annoyed he didn’t spend more time with me.  Realizing how selfish I was behaving was a real wakeup call!

I told my friend about my experiences plus what I witnessed in that group & in time, we realized what happened with her husband was much like what happened to me.

The reason I’m sharing this is so many people are affected by serious health concerns either in themselves or in those they love.  Whether you are the person with the condition or someone you love is, it’s vital to understand that serious health problems can change someone’s personality drastically.  The condition doesn’t even need to be something that affects one’s brain directly like Alzheimer’s, stroke or traumatic brain injury for this to happen. 

When you become seriously sick or injured, you become scared.  Even if you’re getting the best of care & have a great prognosis, health problems are terrifying. 

Add in that you can’t do things you once took for granted & are forced to rely on other people for help.  That too can make you feel afraid, especially for the person who has always been self reliant, & is a serious blow to the self esteem.

Having to rely on other people also can make you feel like a burden, which unsurprisingly is terrible for one’s self esteem.

Feeling like a burden can make you feel that you need to put your best face forward & not show others just how miserable you feel or how much you’re struggling.  There is a very difficult balance in this situation.  If you act as if your symptoms aren’t as bad as they are, or not happening at all, people often think you’re faking the health crisis.  But, if you are honest about it, people often think you’re exaggerating your symptoms, feeling sorry for yourself or looking for attention.

Feeling insecure & afraid naturally change a person.  Many people get angry.  Many others talk about their illness non stop in an effort to educate people, which often alienates them because people get tired of hearing about this topic.  Most people though seem to become insecure, some even to the point of displaying narcissistic tendencies.

If you are the person who is ill & behaving this way, please work on healing!  You are only hurting yourself & those around you!  I know it’s hard but you can change!  Watch your behavior, & change it accordingly.  Apologize when you mistreat someone or have unfair expectations on them.  Stop expecting people to meet your needs & focus on God to do that. 

If you are the person in a relationship with someone who is behaving this way, remember, you can’t change their behavior.  They have to change themselves.  But, you aren’t helpless.  You need to have good boundaries in place & enforce them.  Talk to this person & explains that their behavior hurts you.  Non-narcissistic people will respond to that!  I know it seems hard to believe if you’ve dealt with a narcissist, but it’s true.  Remind yourself that their behavior isn’t personal.  It’s their illness making them act this way rather than something you are doing wrong.

Whichever position you are in, remember to stay close to God. Nurture that relationship.  That is what will help you more than anything else!

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

Why Do Narcissists Doubt Those Who Say They’re Sick?

If you have a narcissist in your life, no doubt that you have had the unpleasant experience of telling that person that you are sick only to have them not believe you.  I certainly have.  I can’t count how many times my mother didn’t believe me that I had the flu or some sickness.  She didn’t even believe I was injured when clearly I was limping or bruised.  In fact, after she threw me into a wall when I was 19 & I had back pain for the next 10 years, she deliberately would hand me heavy items, smack me in the back & tell people I was faking the injury.

Does any part of my story sound familiar to you?  I would guess it does.  It’s so upsetting & frustrating, isn’t it?  Even if you don’t care what this person thinks of you, it’s hurtful knowing they actually think you’d be capable of lying, let alone about something as serious as your health.  It also can be difficult because if the narcissist is talented enough at gaslighting, you may start to doubt yourself & believe what the narcissist says.  I know, it sounds hard to believe, but it can happen.  I had plenty of times where I wondered if my mother was right, & I really was faking my back injury.

I used to wonder why this happens.  Why don’t narcissists believe people when they say they’re sick or injured?  Eventually, I think I figured it out.

As anyone who knows anything about narcissism knows, narcissists lack empathy.  If another person is sick or injured, they simply couldn’t care less.  So what if someone is suffering?  It doesn’t affect the narcissist, so it doesn’t matter to the narcissist.  If they can convince a person that they truly aren’t sick or injured, maybe the person will stop “bothering” the narcissist with their complaints & problems.

There is also the attention factor.  Narcissists expect to be the center of attention at all times.  If someone is sick or injured, other people will care.  Their attention will be on the patient, not the narcissist.  This is a problem for any narcissist.  If they can convince others that the patient isn’t really sick or injured, they may be able to divert all attention back to themselves.

Along the lines of getting attention is the fact that many narcissists will exaggerate or even outright fake illness or injury for attention.  Not long before the last time I spoke to my mother, she had a trip to the emergency room.  Suddenly she was violently sick to her stomach one day, & my father called an ambulance.  It turned out simply to be vertigo.  Highly annoying, yes, but not serious.  A few hours at the emergency room, & she was home again.  When I spoke to her that last time, she mentioned how she “was in the hospital.”  That comment made it sound much more serious than it actually was, didn’t it?

There are also those who will make themselves sick or hurt themselves in order to gain attention from their loved ones & from medical staff.  Munchausen Syndrome is what that is called.

I believe that because some narcissists will fake or exaggerate their own health issues or even harm themselves, they believe other people do the same.  Narcissists tend to see everyone as alike.  They expect other people to do the exact same things that they do, so if they will fake problems, it’s only natural to them to assume that other people will do the same. They can’t seem to comprehend that other people don’t act like they do.

The next time the narcissist in your life doesn’t believe you about being sick or injured, I hope you will remember this post.  Their lack of belief is their problem, & it has nothing to do with you at all.

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Filed under Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, Mental Health, Narcissism

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