If you have recently come out of a situation in which you experienced narcissistic abuse, chances are high that you are currently struggling with the symptoms of Complex Post-traumatic Stress (Disorder).
- low self-esteem
- feeling of shame and guilt
- feeling of frustration, helplessness and being misunderstood
- depression and emotional numbness
- reacting to emotional triggers
- experiencing the stages of grief
- loss of faith and trust in other people
- loss of interest in former hobbies and activities
- isolation, alienation, feeling of loneliness
- anxiety and panic attacks
- hyper-vigilance, feeling jumpy and easily startled
- (feeling of) a loss of control
- flashbacks and nightmares
- cognitive dissonance
- confusion, difficulty to stay focused or remember things
- self-harm, suicidal ideation or suicide attempts
While COVID-19 (coronavirus) is forcing millions of people into self-quarantine, how can you survive and practice self-care in this challenging time alone?
First of all, in the early aftermath of narcissistic abuse, most survivors tend to go through something that is almost similar to self-quarantine, i.e. self-isolation. Therefore, there may be not much of a difference when it comes to coping strategies, except for a limited access to in-person help and counseling.
What can you do?
- Stay present.
Staying present is understandably one of the toughest, but most important things to do. A typical symptom of CPTSD are flashbacks that try to mentally drag us back into our past and relive the torment all over again. Find ways to snap out of these moments. Focus on something nearby. Use the 5-4-3-2-1 Coping Technique for Anxiety by focusing on something that you can see, touch, hear, smell, and taste around you, and always take one day at a time.
- Feel the emotion.
Sometimes, the best strategy is to accept and surrender to the present moment. Allow the emotion to rush over you and fade away on its own. If you feel an unwanted emotion or flashback getting a hold of you, stay still immediately. Close your eyes and tell yourself that you are in a safe place now. “I’m going to be okay. It’s only a feeling. I’m safe now.”
- Rest & Sleep.
Get enough rest and sleep. A good nap or prolonged sleep not only pass time but heal and restore your brain functions which will ultimately lower the symptoms associated with CPTSD. During narcissistic abuse, victims experience the impact of brain-altering manipulation; for some, this included physical abuse and trauma to the head.
Find a space to meditate and relax. You can listen to music or guided meditation while doing so. It will calm you down and lower your levels of stress and anxiety. Lower levels of stress and anxiety also improve your immune system that will make you more resistant to any viruses.
- Be productive.
Distract yourself and stimulate your brain in productive ways. Be creative, paint, write, cook, clean or re-organize your place.
- Avoid triggers.
Get rid of anything that reminds you of the narcissist. Avoid other triggers such as too much coffee or sugar that can trigger your anxiety. Avoid watching the news for too long if the current situation creates stress and anxiety, as well.
- Text or call someone.
While it is advised to limit socializing in person, you can always call or text a trustworthy friend when you feel down. Have at least one person ready to contact in case of an emergency.
- Go online and connect with other survivors.
If you cannot text or call somebody else, the easiest and fastest way to receive help is to go online and connect with other survivors of narcissistic abuse. They are able to relate to what you are going through at this time.
- Write a journal.
Journaling about your day-to-day thoughts, feelings, and activities can help you process and reduce anxiety. A journal is a good alternative if you have no one else to talk to at this time.
- Inform yourself about narcissistic abuse.
Please take this advice with caution. Watching certain videos or reading books on narcissistic abuse while trying to cope with CPTSD can be triggering. However, now is also a good time to learn as much as you can about it in order to process your thoughts and feelings, receive all necessary validation, and stay safe in the future.
- Call a helpline.
In severe cases, there are helplines available that support those who experience mental health related issues or struggle with suicidal ideation. These helplines are open 24/7. You can find these numbers online for your specific area.
Please feel free to add more coping strategies in the comment box below.