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Narcissist post-traumatic stress disorder is a real thing. This is not typical behavior to exhibit when a relationship ends. Narcissists are disordered people. True NPD is a serious personality disorder. I'm not referring to someone you may have been involved with that was just a jerk. There are plenty of those out there as well, but, what I'm referring to is someone who's core being is so toxic that it will cause you serious mental, physical, and emotional distress.
There are many types of narcissism; classic, malignant, vulnerable, overt, covert, somatic, cerebral, and inverted. All types are no good for someone trying to live a happy and conscious life. The types in this article are not relevant. The damage any type can cause will be outlined so you can determine which avenue of help you want to pursue. The goal is to heal, you're not a victim and you will get better.
Narcissism is a spectrum disorder. Some narcissists are not as bad as others. If you've googled these topics and stumbled across this article, you've probably been abused by a narcissist. Narcissists would not read this.
You've become Sherlock Holmes
If you're in a relationship and suddenly find yourself looking up all sorts of strange information you're probably dating or friends with a narcissist. These people will cause you to question everything. You'll start looking and digging for truth because they are liars. Your gut tells you they are full of shit, but you ignore this. You may start stalking their social media, looking up criminal history, or anything related to their past.
This is not normal behavior in a stable, trusting and honest relationship.
You feel Crazy
A narcissist will tell you that you are crazy. Give it enough time and they will have you questioning your own intuition and logic. This is a very well known tactic called gaslighting. They do this because again, they are liars.
Conversations that should be smooth and simple will have you exhausted and befuddled. You'll question yourself and if you did the right or wrong thing when trying to communicate and discuss any issues with these people. It doesn't matter who the narcissist is to you. It could be a boss, partner, spouse, or relative.
So by the time the relationship is rotten or ending, you will be feeling like a mental patient. And they will be sure to tell everyone you are. If you meet someone who says their exes are crazy, that's a warning sign. Narcissists LOVE to play the victim when they destroy someone. Most of a narcissist's behavior is so textbook that when you finally learn this...it's like they all operate from the same book. It's actually pretty creepy. You're not crazy. But they love knowing they've done this type of psychological damage to someone. And that's pretty crazy!
Fatigue or not being able to sleep
Excessive sleepiness or insomnia that prevents you from being able to get a restful night's sleep is a common occurrence with Narcissist PTSD. This brings me to other symptoms affecting this...
- You feel emotionally numb. You're either hypersensitive or can't feel other emotions that were previously not an issue, such as joy, trust, and love.
- Your soul feels tired. This is because, on an energetic level, your soul has been raped and violated.
- Brain fog & memory gaps.
- Mood swings.
- Lack of appetite or over-eating.
- Overthinking. Everything.
- No sex drive or desire to connect with others.
Nightmares or strange dreams.
The psychological damage a narcissist can do will come out in your subconscious. You may have very vivid dreams which involve them. Dreams are extremely symbolic so you should take the time to note them and review how the dreams make you feel. You may be dreaming of them in absolute bizarre ways. This is your subconscious trying to get messages to you that this is not a normal relationship!
Rage and Anger
A narcissist can piss you off beyond belief. They also like to project their nasty, ugly emotions on others. You may have been a very happy go lucky well-balanced person before your encounter with them and now you are angry. And this anger I'm talking about it more like blind rage. Things that would never have bothered you before now make you furious, and these things do not and often do not relate to the narcissist directly.
There are two main reasons for this anger. 1. You have been lied to and manipulated. 2. At some point, you knew the red flags were there and you ignored them. You need to forgive yourself for being human and expecting the best of someone that is mentally disordered.
Chalk it all up to a learning experience, forgive yourself and let go and the anger will go away. Learn from it.
After narcissist abuse, you will most likely have a time period of feeling like you don't know who you are. For a co-dependent, this could be absolutely devastating. It's very sad that empaths and narcissists attract each other. My personal theory on this is because they are two opposing ends of the spectrum. Extremely high empathy is the complete opposite of narcissism. Empaths typically see the best and highest potential in anyone. They see a broken and damaged person aka a narcissist and think they can help them. Co-dependents are also drawn to narcissists, for obvious reasons. Narcissists take, and co-dependents give. It's that simple.
Empaths, however, will learn from these disordered individuals and become very strong as the result of interacting with them. It may not seem that way at first but for some reason, an HSP/Empathic person needs to encounter this lesson for soul growth, development, boundaries and helping others.
Your identity has been messed with, so rightfully so you will feel a loss of self. Chances are you did things for this narcissist that you'd never do for anyone. You disregarded your own needs, your intuition, and sometimes your morality and principles. You put them above everything, of course, you need time to figure out who YOU are again. Identity erosion will cause a whole host of other signs and symptoms. Lack of motivation. Loss of interest in things you previously loved. Feeling empty and joyless even though you have many things to be happy and grateful for. Lack of goals or direction. Hopelessness in the future.
All of these things will return once you cut contact and heal.
How are empaths and narcs the same? You may be surprised you have more in common then you want to admit.
- How Are Empaths and Narcissists the Same?
Although Empaths and Narcissists are fundamentally different, they also share many similiarities.
Obsession and feeling suicidal
If you're obsessing over anyone, this is not healthy. Waking up thinking of them, falling asleep thinking of them. Replaying situations or circumstances over and over in your mind, none of this is healthy. Communication is a cornerstone of strong healthy relationships. You should be able to clear any misunderstandings with someone and not have it replay in your head because they will not be an adult.
There is a huge difference when you love someone and have your life and they have theirs and you combine them. They should complement each other and balance. You will not excessively obsess positively or negatively. You won't be thinking about what are they doing 24/7, because you'll have your own life and together you share a life. If you are putting off your own life, responsibilities, and health because you're obsessing over anyone, this is cause for huge alarm. The bells should be going off in your head that this is not healthy. Being with a narcissist can be like a drug addiction. The highs are very high and the lows are very low. I really don't need to tell you if you're doing this, you'll know. And you'll know that it is not normal.
Obsession can also lead to feeling suicidal or having thoughts of not wanting to be alive. If anyone loved you, truly in any capacity, you would not be feeling this way from interacting with them. People that care do not wish harm on others and you don't feel like you can't live without them, it's just not normal. They don't disrespect your feelings to the point you feel so insignificant that you don't want to be alive. If you're feeling suicidal, reach out for help immediately.
Avoidance and Isolation
If you're avoiding places, memories, or activities you enjoyed because of a relationship with someone that's a dilemma. To some extent, when any relationship becomes negative or toxic or needs to end for various reasons we may temporarily stop frequenting places they may appear. That's not the same as doing everything you can to avoid seeing them or stopping the things you love doing because of another person.
When two adults decide for whatever reason that a relationship is not in their best interest to continue, they part in mature and loving ways. Narcissists do not allow this.
And here is why...
- Forget accountability. A narcissist will not admit, acknowledge or own mistakes they have made. Do they know this on an internal level? Yes. But they will not be mature enough to admit flaws, mistakes, lies, stealing, etc... Doing so would be an admission of failure, which they avoid at all costs.
- They view you as property or an appliance. Your only use is to serve them in some way. They never truly discard anyone. They do not give closure.
If you are avoiding social activities or other things you normally would do without a second thought, you need to stop. Let the narcissist be the one to leave, or rearrange their life. Let them be uncomfortable if you show up.
How to get Revenge
- How to Get Revenge on a Narcissist
The best revenge is to cut your losses, be thankful for the lessons and live a happy life. But sometimes that's not what we want to do...
As awful as it sounds, there will be moments that you are convinced you could kill this person with your bare hands in a plethora of creative and albeit insane ways. You may spend way to much time fantasizing of their untimely demise. You may want to tell everyone they know what they really are, rip that mask right off. Don't do any of this. Obviously, you don't need more legal trouble, chances are they caused enough as it is, and you don't need to tell anyone what they are. A narcissist cannot wear a mask forever and it's not your business to disrupt lessons others may need to learn. Narcissists typically count on you doing this, they've usually labeled you as crazy to others long before anyone really knows the truth. People won't believe you any sooner than you believed yourself, so just don't go there.
Fantasizing of someone dying, or being hurt or ruined in any capacity is not a very lofty thought. It's also probably something you really don't consider about anyone unless you have been abused by someone with these personality disorders. They like to project their own gross feelings onto us. Wishing someone would die because of how they treated you is not a feeling or mindset we want to linger in. Remember at some level, you did allow this. You permitted it. It's the reason you are so angry. The anger really doesn't lie with the narcissist. They cannot change or get better. But you can. So leave revenge or any of those other disgusting emotions in the past.
A few more non-specific signs and symptoms of Narcissist PTSD
Sadness and devastation. If you've rearranged your life for someone and in return, they lied, cheated, abused, and manipulated there will be moments of utter disbelief. We feel this way by psychopath and sociopath personality disorders too. "How can anyone do this or that", we are astonished and devastated.
Impulse control issues. In our attempt to regain balance and normalcy, we may have some brief issues with our impulse controls. This happens when we are self-medicating to avoid feelings. You may binge drink, overeat, not eat, shop, gamble, or do any other destructive behavior to avoid feeling all the emotions a narcissist will bring up for you.
Cognitive dissonance. This is what happens when your head and heart just don't seem to be on the same page. Your heart says one thing, but your mind will overrule it. Or vice versa.
Grief. When something so toxic ends, you're bound to feel grief. The ideal relationship, friendship, relationship or life you had anticipated with this person was total garbage. There was no foundation. You will grieve the reality of this loss.
There are probably a million other symptoms that I've missed or not included in this article. But hopefully, this may bring some awareness to the ones you may be feeling. If you're feeling the things I've mentioned for a prolonged amount of time, then you need to seriously examine why and reach out for help so you can grow past this.
Life is going to throw all kinds of relationships our way so that we advance and mature. This is happening to teach you if you allow it.
Other helpful reads
- Personal Boundaries; The Importance and How to Set T...
Setting healthy personal boundaries is important for self-preservation. Sometimes we neglect ourselves for the sake of others, which is not always healthy. Read on to re-establish your boundaries
- The Narcissist Personality and Your Sanity
We'll all know a narcissist at some point in life, but how do we deal with and recognize them? How do we keep ourselves emotionally protected? Stay sane when dealing with a narcissist personality...
- What a Relationship With a Narcissist Will Teach You
What will you learn from any type of interaction with a narcissist.
- How Are Empaths and Narcissists the Same?
Although Empaths and Narcissists are fundamentally different, they also share many similiarities.
© 2019 Rebecca
Rebecca (author) from USA on February 08, 2019:
So glad you finally broke free Elayne. I think that we do have sensors, but good kind people often ignore them. They are very TOXIC.
Elayne from Rocky Mountains on February 07, 2019:
I was married to a narcissistic person first who single-handedly ruined any self-esteem I had up until then. He was a bad person who affected my ability to trust anyone including my current husband. He was very toxic, a liar, and many other things. I wish we all had a built-in radar that would help us run away from them. He almost destroyed me!
Rebecca (author) from USA on February 01, 2019:
Thanks for the comment Lorna. I hope this will help others somehow. It's actually insane how toxic these people are.
Lorna Lamon on February 01, 2019:
A really good informative article. As a psychologist I am seeing the results of narcissistic PTSD more frequently. I liken it to having lived in a war zone with someone whose sole purpose was to destroy you.It can take a lifetime to truly recover from this type of abuse - thank you for sharing.