Have you ever wondered if the stress you’ve endured either growing up under a Narcissist or being in a long term relationship with a Narcissist can make you physically ill?
I grew up with Narcissistic parents, had a blood disorder in my teens, and in my young 20’s was diagnosed with a systemic autoimmune disease. Which almost took my life on more than one occasion. I am still dealing with the on-going effects of this disease, and have also been unfortunate enough to have had cancer later in life. I’ve dealt with some very serious health issues throughout my life, and have seen more and more people questioning abuse and health issues.
Extreme chronic emotional stress is a catalyst for a number of physical changes within the body.
Being chronically abused creates a state of stress and distress within you, a state of constant negative anticipation, which changes the way your brain reacts to circumstances and stresses later in life. Whether they be large or small, your reserves to cope have been weakened, their context does not matter. These changes eventually become hardwired to hyper-react and make it difficult to stand down. Or, stand-up to draining stimuli. The effect cuts both ways.
If you’ve been emotionally abused (not lessening the effects of physical abuse here), know that it’s not your fault. There is no “correct” way to feel about it. Emotional abuse (any abuse) isn’t normal nor is it ever healthy, but your feelings of hurt, fear and letdown are justified.
Emotional abuse can lead to mental and physical symptoms that shouldn’t be ignored. Chronic emotional abuse and the stress therefrom will eventually manifest physically. Your mind and body can only take so much.
The American Psychological Association lists a cornucopia of negative health effects due to stress, such as muscle tension; headaches; asthma attacks; rapid breathing leading to panic attacks; cardiovascular problems; hypertension; inflammation of the circulatory system; higher cholesterol levels; increased epinephrine and cortisol levels; adrenal fatigue; insulin resistance and Type 2 diabetes; heartburn; gastrointestinal distress; irritable bowel syndrome; erectile dysfunction; irregular, painful, or absent menstruation; increased menopausal hot flashes; and reduction in sexual libido.
Some additional things that can stem from emotional abuse:
Various other aches and pains
Some of the most common autoimmune diseases are:
(Chronic stress can increase the chances of these occurring)
Diabetes type 1
Symptoms vary with each autoimmune disease, but some common symptoms include fatigue; joint or muscle pain; muscle soreness, numbness, or weakness; changes in weight; changes in bowel movements; abdominal pain; and skin rashes.
This information doesn’t mean that because you have suffered abuse that you will develop any of these disorders, everyone’s body reacts differently in each situation. If you are questioning how you are feeling, or see a pattern in your health presenting itself, perhaps, discuss it with your doctor.
Ways to help deal with having a Chronic condition:
- Join a support group. There are plenty of support groups for chronic health conditions, as well as national organizations.
- Educating and empowering yourself to manage stress
- Learning coping mechanisms – meditation; positive affirmations, etc.
- Get physically active. Exercise of at least 90 minutes a week can help you sleep better, keep your mind sharp, and reduce the risk of depression. Even less physical exercise like a walk everyday helps. Just keep moving.
- Stay Social. Friends can help you heal. Enjoying the company of others can be enough to boost your spirits.
- Watch your diet. When you are stressed you can wind up eating all the wrong things. Make sure to eat a variety of veggies, fruits and lean proteins.
- Make a good night sleep a priority. If you have trouble going to sleep, try easing some of your stress by listening to soothing music; aromatherapy (lavender oil); deep breathing exercises, and meditation.
- Volunteer. Find a cause you like and step out and help. When you help others, it takes the focus off of you and it makes you feel good.
Remember, what works for one person may not work for another. As always, if you find yourself stuck and none of these things change the way you feel, be sure to speak to a medical professional.