Sadly Narcissistic Abuse results in a variety of health issues, some of which are terminal, and it is therefore imperative to escape the abuse and make many lifestyle changes if you are to reduce the likelihood and severity of life-threatening issues in the future.
Freeze / Flight / Fight
Prolonged stress of any kind puts the body into an almost constant state of freeze/flight/fight response. Developed over millions of years of evolution, these responses were effective at dealing with life-threatening risks from predators etc and still serve the animal kingdom very well. Faced with a threat, it is the Central Nervous System, (and not the brain) that puts the body on an instant state of high alert and triggers immediate reactions. It is for this reason that you immediately withdraw your hand when touching something hot – it is not a conscious command instructed by the brain, but an involunatary reflex triggered by the Central Nervous System (CNS). Adrenalin is instantly released and floods the system as is cortisol to repress pain, blood is diverted from many organs including the skin, digestion is put on hold, a strong dose of energy hits the bloodstream and the heart goes into overdrive. It is for this reason that people turn pale with fright, leading to the phrase “it looks like you’ve seen a ghost”.
Trauma – an everyday occurrence for animals
Once the threat is resolved, an escape is made, and the animal is in a safe place once again, any excess energy rattling around the system is released through intense shaking. Animals don’t have to resolve the incident further – they were attacked by a lion, one of their brethren was killed in the attack but they were one of the many others that managed to escape, shit happens but life goes on, the sun is shining, they’re peckish, this patch of grass is tasty, and they tuck in with the rest of the herd of gazelle. No further mulling over, ruminations, working out the why’s and the wherefore’s required, and their Central Nervous Systems and body functions return to normality for another ho hum day in paradise. Some shaking is all that is required – if the run-like-hell response hasn’t already burnt this excess energy up already.
Humans and the need to resolve trauma
Sadly humans on the receiving end of narcissistic abuse don’t resolve in the same sort of way and for two primary reasons – first the stress and danger posed by narcissistic abuse does not recede in the same sort of way but is instead poses an ongoing insidious psychological attack on our well-being, and secondly the brain and CNS have evolved so much that the CNS requires a degree of resolution from the brain to make sense of threats. Most of us learn to be wary of objects that might be hot before touching them, for instance. It is very difficult to resolve Narcissistic abuse, particularly as it is ongoing and insidious, and so the Central Nervous System remains in a state of high alert.
The effect of prolonged exposure to Stress
Sadly, a CNS in a high state of alert has very negative impacts on the body over prolonged abuse – quite simply the freeze/flight/fight responses were developed for short and defined instances of high stress, not to become the norm. Systems that suffer from an ongoing state of stress include the auto-immune system, the nervous system and the gut.
Early indicators of overexposure to stress include poor sleep, a change in eating habits (either loss of appetite or comfort-eating), fatigue, depression, lack of mojo, inability to concentrate of everyday tasks, loss of enthusiasm and drive, difficulty in feeling joy, and general listlessness.
The onset of physical ailments are heralded by aching muscles and joints, particularly the neck and back, migraines, skin disorders, endometriosis, chronic fatigue syndrome, arthritis, diabetes. Irritable Bowel Syndrome, Crohn’s Disease and Ulcerative Colitis are indicative of damage done to the lining of the gut.
More serious ailments
Longer term diseases, which may manifest long after the abuse, include Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s Disease, Motor Neurone Disease / Amytrophic Lateral Sclerosis (AMS), and Multiple Sclerosis.
More worryingly, a number can also be life-threatening including cancer and heart disease. Whilst not strictly a medical ailment, suicide amongst victims is also a very real threat – particularly those who haven’t made the connection between their situation and Narcissistic Abuse – as many sadly don’t. The ailments described above do not necessarily make a definitive list – there may well be others.
Urgent Intervention required
If victims are to mitigate the effects of Narcissistic Abuse and reduce the chances and severity of ailments, particularly those where there is a delayed onset, it is vital that they take urgent steps to intervene. There is no one-size-fits-all solution given that everyone’s experience is different, and the options available to them vary. Nevertheless, be prepared to make some very fundamental changes in lifestyle, diet and mindset. This sort of client work is very much at the heart of what I do. I can also help you resolve a host of other issues.
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