The Little Shaman is a spiritual coach & specialist in cluster B personality disorders, with a popular YouTube show and clients worldwide.
It's not uncommon for people who are dealing with narcissistic relationships to become exhausted, listless and depressed, especially over time, and many times it's more than just being tired from constant drama.
We often hear about narcissistic people feeding off of the energies and emotions they provoke in other people, but what about the energies and emotions that other people catch from them? When someone is dealing with a high conflict personality like a narcissist, it's common to feel stress both physically and mentally. High conflict people experience high-stress emotions and high-stress emotions are contagious. Emotions in general are contagious, especially if you are more empathic, and high-stress emotions are very contagious. This is how panic seems to spread so quickly during a high-stress situation, for example. People are "catching it" from each other.
When you are dealing with a person who is so excessively hostile, angry, paranoid, afraid... you can catch a bit of that. Maybe a lot of it. It amplifies your own emotions - which are probably already running high - and makes your stress level go up even higher. High stress levels bring changes to the body, such as production of adrenaline and cortisol, a rise in blood pressure, an increase in heart rate, it also affects your breathing, the way your mind works and other things as well.
When this chemical dump and jump in activity are over, the body and mind are tired. They need time to recuperate and recover. However, with narcissists there is often not time for the body or mind to recover before there is a new emergency. This condition of staying stressed out in high gear becomes a way of life and while your mind may or may not get used to it eventually, your body cannot. It can't run in that high of a gear all the time. It only has limited resources.
Over an extended period of time, what happens is that your body can cease to react at all, even at times when it probably should. The things that should signal stress in the body, like a pounding heart or sweating may not happen at all. The body is just too worn out and cannot do it anymore. Many times emotional reactions will be affected as well. Someone may find that their emotional reactions used to be regulated, then they were overreactions resulting from being pushed, prodded, provoked, abused, emotionally blackmailed and surrounded by emergencies nonstop and then, after a while, they didn't feel much reaction at all anymore. Even in situations where they should react, people might find they just don't seem to. Normal emotional and physical responses have just been burned out. Exhaustion sets in. The body is just too tired to react anymore.
This exhaustion can present itself in different ways, besides what we've just discussed. It can show up as depression, weight gain, blood pressure problems, libido issues, an inability to get out of bed, difficulty with sleep, autoimmune flare ups or other problems, a persistent lack of energy, something some people call adrenal fatigue, cortisol problems, gastrointestinal problems and many other things.
Even normal stress does damage to the body, and the enormous amount of stress caused by dealing with pathologically narcissistic people is far beyond what anyone would consider normal. It's like being in a battlezone, like being in a war where you are attack all the time with no reprieve. It is in fact not uncommon for those who've lived with narcissistic people to be diagnosed with PTSD because the living situation is so traumatic and stressful. People usually appreciate the damage this has done psychologically or emotionally but they may forget that they have probably suffered physically as well.
Often we forget how much recovery time is needed from abusive situations. It can take years for the mind and body to get back to healthy functioning and regardless of what anybody thinks, the healing cannot begin until the abuse has stopped. Once that happens, time in a different environment with meditation, clean eating and dealing with the issues that the abuse has exposed is what is required to heal. Spiritual connection is very important too, whatever that means to you. There is no way to manage abuse so that you are not affected by it. It can't be done. The only way to be sure you won't be affected by it is to get out of the situation where it is happening.