Many of my clients who have depression or anxiety have or have had a narcissist in their lives. The narcissist can be a parent, sibling or partner.
They often don’t realise this is the case until we start to do the detective work in therapy. The change in them when they realise that they are actually a victim of somebody else’s mental health issue is unbelievable. I always say that one of the main keys to successful therapy is awareness. Once you shine a light on something everything becomes clear and you instantly feel lighter and brighter.
So how do you know that you have been abused by a narcissist? Here are some of the signs:-
- YOU DOUBT YOURSELF
Do you doubt yourself all the time?
Victims of narcissistic abuse often appear uncertain of themselves, constantly seeking clarification that they haven’t made a mistake or misheard something.
This narcissist is ALWAYS finger pointing and shifting blame to YOU for ALL of the ups and downs in the relationship AND in the narcissist’s personal psyche.
Because this relationship has little or no boundaries, you will find YOURSELF constantly PUT UPON and FORCED to accept responsibility for things you didn’t do or say.
- YOU’RE CONFUSED
You’re almost permanently confused.
It’s confusing to KNOW that you aren’t responsible for someone else’s behaviour, thinking or feelings but you are CONSTANTLY SCOLDED for behaving, thinking and feeling as if you ARE.
A narcissist purposefully causes this confusion. They know that a divided and conquered mind is the most vulnerable and susceptible mind. This confusion is caused by an abusive technique called ‘gaslighting’.
Gaslighting is a technique of psychological abuse used by narcissists to instill confusion and anxiety in their target to the point where they no longer trust their own memory, perception or judgment. With gas lighting, the target initially notices that something happens that is odd, but they don’t believe it. The target attempts to fight the manipulation, but are confused further by being called names or told that they’re: ‘Just Too sensitive’, ‘Crazy’, ‘Imagining things’ or the narcissist flat out DENIES ever saying anything hurtful. Gradually, the target learns not to trust their own perceptions and begins doubting themselves. Broken and unable to trust themselves, they isolate further. The target now doubts everything about themselves: their thoughts and opinions, their ideas and ideals. They become dependent on the narcissist for their reality.
It is in your CONFUSION and acceptance of responsibility that a narcissist is able to successfully CONTROL YOU and USE YOU as a scapegoat for their problems.
- YOU FEEL LIKE YOU’RE GOING MAD
The vast majority of the time, a narcissist, is PROJECTING their disorder onto those around them. Having someone tell you constantly (or implying) that you’re going mad is sometimes enough to make you think that you’re going mad.
- YOU HAVE CLUSTERS OF SYMPTOMS THAT HAVE NO OTHER EXPLANATION
“I DONT KNOW what’s WRONG!! But I just don’t feel like myself. Something feels EXTREMELY TOXIC and I don’t know why”…..
People who have been in a relationship with a narcissist report that their spark has gone out and even years later find they just cannot get motivated about anything. Children of narcissistic mothers might NEVER have had a spark in the first place. They nearly ALWAYS suffer from crippling low self esteem.
Unaware that you’ve been living in a war zone with a narcissist, you can’t quite grasp the words to articulate the abuse, yet at the same time, you VERY MUCH FEEL IT. Symptoms of trauma can include avoidance, loss of interest, feeling detached, sense of a limited future, sleeping or eating difficulties and nightmares, irritability, hyper-vigilance, flashbacks, excessive anxiety, phobias, hopelessness, psychosomatic illnesses and self-harming.
Some clients can develop Stockholm syndrome and want to support, defend, and love the abuser despite what they have gone through.
Victims of narcissistic abuse may ‘dissociate’ or detach from their emotions, body, or surroundings. Living in a war zone where all forms of power and control are used against you (intimidation; emotional, physical and mental abuse; isolation, economic abuse, sexual abuse, coercion, control etc), the threat of abuse is always present. Dissociation is an automatic coping mechanism against overwhelming stress.
Symptoms sometimes found along with dissociation are PTSD, low self-esteem, depression, chronic pain, relationship difficulties, substance abuse, self-mutilation and suicidal thoughts.
These symptoms may lead you to believe that they are the source of your problem. The source of your problem is the narcissist in your life.
If you believe that you’ve been a victim of narcissistic abuse then please get in touch today. Let me help you start living again narcissist free.