Being With a Narcissist Can Be a Hazard to Your Health

It is more than obvious that becoming a victim of emotional abuse can be very damaging to your emotional well-being. Everyone who has already been in a relationship with a narcissist  – or with an otherwise distanced, unavailable and abusive person – knows all too well that they can tear us apart and leave us broken, despaired and frustrated. However, there is far less talk about the fact that narcissists cannot only wreak havoc to our emotional balance, but can actually be a hazard to our health. I made this experience while I was in a relationship with a narcissist. The constant agony of being treated with distance, inconsistency and neglect led me to treat myself in a very unhealthful way. Besides, after a certain amount of time, the stress and pain were taking their toll on my body. The worst part was that I didn’t even care that much about the bad physical state I was in. I felt so down and low that I couldn’t have cared less. Looking at my complete indifference in retrospect leaves me shocked and in disbelief. At times, I feel extremely ashamed and angry at myself because I treated myself so neglectfully. Back then, I completely lacked the clarity of mind to put a stop to my bodily decay. I was so engulfed by pain and drama that I didn’t give much thought to my health.

During the first few weeks of being with the narcissist, my body was still able to handle the stress quite well. After a few weeks, however, the drama and stress were beginning to reflect in my physical state. First of all, I began to feel stinging pains in my chest, which reminded me all to clearly of the fact that my heart had already taken enough damage. At times, my entire chest felt so tight and constricted that I had trouble breathing. On top of that, the agony that came with all the disappointments and the insecurity led to an extreme loss of appetite and to insomnia. I often lay awake for hours, being tortured by unpleasant thoughts, and being kept from falling asleep by my efforts to make sense of his behavior and to find the rationale behind his detachment and unavailability. The lack of sleep, malnutrition and constant exposure to emotional stress caused me to feel extremely despaired, tired and exhausted. Every little task suddenly became strenuous and trying. Despite the constant feeling of exhaustion I still had trouble falling asleep.

I began taking sleeping pills and calmatives in order to be able to function in my daily life and to find some sleep at night. However, since they soon lost their effect, I began to take more and more of them, steadily increasing the dose without giving it much thought. I know that to some of you this might sound like an exaggerated reaction to a solvable problem. After all, I could have just left him. However, things are often not as easy as they seem. I was convinced that I had already invested too much to just let go and opt out. I wanted things to work out so desperately that I lost sight of myself in the process. I not only started taking pills, but also drank more alcohol and smoked more cigarettes than I used to. Before meeting the narcissist, I was only an occasional drinker. After I had been with him for some time, I started drinking more and more. I never lost control, I never drank far too much, but I began to rely on the calming effect that came with drinking a class of wine in the evening. Looking at if from today’s perspective I am very aware of the fact that I was slowly losing control – and that I was on a downward spiral towards complete decay. Back then, I wasn’t really aware of what I was doing to myself, because I didn’t really care all that much about it. I felt so low that I couldn’t have cared less about what I was doing to my body.

After a certain amount of time, the constant exposure to stress and my tendency to treat myself with neglect were beginning to show. I lost weight and my hair began to fall out. Besides, I was beginning to generally feel unwell and unhealthy. What greatly added to my indisposed state was the fact that I began feeling really depressed. At times I couldn’t stop crying; at other times I felt completely apathetic – being unable to get out of bed, not caring at all about what was going on around me. Additionally, I became very irritable, and every triviality could cause me to get angry or to start crying. I guess I wasn’t much fun to be around at the time – and still my family and my best friend were treating me with nothing but patience and understanding. I can’t put enough stress on the fact that their unconditional support was saving me. I don’t know where I would be without it. The depression could get so overwhelming that I at times really lost the will to live. As the narcissist sucked all the joy out of my life with his penchant for drama, ambiguity and triangulation, I fell deeper and deeper into a seemingly bottomless pit. The only thing I longed for was sleep, and waking up in the morning began to feel like a giant slap in the face. I guess this indifference towards life greatly contributed to my tendency to treat myself with neglect. Why should I have cared that my health was going down the drain? At this point it is important to emphasize that I was never suicidal, I never really contemplated putting an end to my life. However, I stopped being enthusiatic about life and a strong apathy and feeling of hoplessness were taking possession of me.

I know that some of the things I related in this post make me sound like a pathetic mess. I often felt that way about my own behavior and was ashamed that I allowed someone else to gain so much power over me. One could say that my pursuit of affection went way too far and made me lose control over my own body. In my exhausted and depressed state, I didn’t really care all that much about my physical well-being and therefore couldn’t bring up the determination to save myself. I’m certainly not proud of myself and it was not easy to talk about it and to admit my own failure. I am still shocked that I let things get out of hand to such an enormous extent. Back then, I wasn’t taking my mental and physical decay all that serious because I was just too apathetic. Now, I am very much aware of the fact that I was actually endangering my health, and that I was driven by emotional abuse to hurt and neglect myself. On the one hand, my physical state was negatively affected by the stress and drama the narcissist exposed me to. However, I also began to turn into his accomplice when it came to destroying my health. I was led by his ambiguity and distance to treat myself with neglect and indifference. I simply couldn’t find the strength and determination to take better care of myself. I was simply too depressed to give my health much thought.

Being with a narcissist can therefore be a real hazard to your health. I nearly lost control, and I don’t even dare to think about what would have happened if the relationship hadn’t ended so soon. I presumably would have continued on the downward spiral until I would have done some real damage to myself. Earlier, I often reacted with lack of understanding towards people who allowed themselves to be damaged by love. Now, I know better than that: I know how it feels to be defeated and to still not find the determination to opt out. I know how it feels to be damaged by a willingness to love, give and sacrifice. I know that emotional abuse and addiction to love can lead you to fall into a bottomless pit – to completely lose control. From an outside perspective, my reaction to the narcissist’s unavailabilty may seem exaggerated and unreasonable. Being caught in a dramatic and unhealthy relationship, however, greatly affects your ability to think rationally and impairs you to such a degree that you cannot muster the strength and determination to do what would be best.

Even though I feel ashamed about my lack of determination and extreme loss of control, I still felt the need to talk about it. I know that there are many people out there who made similar experiences – people who sacrificed their own health in their efforts to make an unhealthy relationship work. It is important to raise awareness that being the codependent partner in an emotionally abusive relationship can actually lead to physical decay (or even worse). My addiction to being loved and appreciated caused real damage and I’m happy that I managed to get back on track. I can finally sleep again, I eat regularly and I feel healthier and happier every day. My hair is no longer falling out, I stopped drinking, and I started taking yoga classes to increase my physical and mental well-being. I’m convinced that the experience of bodily decay was a wake-up call for me: I don’t think I will ever again let things get out of hand. I choose to belief that in the future I will have the strength to opt out of relationships with people who are sucking the life out of me and leave me sick and broken.

24 thoughts on “Being With a Narcissist Can Be a Hazard to Your Health

  1. It’s amazing how you are opening up like this 🙂 inspiring at the same time, I’m glad that things feel better for you now 🙂 God bless you 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

      • This is my story! I kept reading and felt as though you were living my life. I am so thankful you chose to share this as most people don’t understand the incredibly damaging affects this personality disorder truly has on their partner/victim. I am going through this phase yet again for the umpteenth time in the past 11 years. Its seems to have taken its toll on me more than ever these last two discards/ orchestrated break ups w my Narc. Meaning he orchestrated the fight that caused me to leave. While he walks off without a care in the world back into the dating scene within days. I’m living your post again…right now. Thank you for being so brave and sharing ♥


  2. It is scary how similar our experiences were. Truly scary. I too let myself go slowly but ineluctably. The stress caused by the narcissist became too much and I started suffering from insomnia, I lost my appetite too. I have always loved my food but I couldn’t even force myself to eat even though I knew I had to. I lost lots of weight, my panic attacks which were a thing of the past came back – I ended up at the doctors who said my BMI was far too low and that I was dangerously underweight.

    Still, I couldn’t eat and I couldn’t sleep but, oh yes, I drank a lot more and smoked like a chimney. I was a total and complete mess, I knew it but I was too far gone to do anything about it. Like you, I had invested *far too much* into the relationship to let it go. Plus, I refused to believe that it had all been in vain, surely those were bad times that we had to get through but it would all be okay in the end. My friends were very kind but they kept urging me to “end it” for the sake of my health and of course I didn’t listen to them because I knew better – it’s amazing how deluded you can become. The narcissist, throughout all this, kept telling me he “needed me” so despite the broken promises, the lies and everything else, I believed we could be saved.

    You are too hard on yourself Hugsy, don’t be. You are just a very kind human being who fell victim to a manipulative, extremely selfish (and ultimately mentally ill) man – this is not your fault and you shouldn’t beat yourself up about it. Whatever you went through, you did because you are fundamentally a good person who believed in the reality of the relationship. People like us are perfect prey for narcissists because we don’t give us easily and we like to “help”, we like nothing more than to try to “save” a damaged soul.

    You are a lovely person who learnt (the hard way) about who you really are. I know some people disagreed with you for saying in an earlier post that in a way you were glad you met him because it taught you about yourself and the experience would make you stronger…..well, I agree with *you* there. It’s not about “being happy” that you met him and he abused you – it’s about accepting what happened to you and recognising that it wasn’t all bad and that some good can come out of it.

    As usual, brilliantly written. Just don’t be too hard on yourself 🙂
    Lots of virtual hugs ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    • Oh wow…your comment just made me smile and brought tears to my eyes at the same time. You are right: it’s not about being happy about being abused. It’s about recognising that personal growth can come from all the misery. It’s good to know that you see it the same way. I’m so thankful for your kindness and the encouraging words…and I’m glad you are sharing your experiences with me. It makes me feel connected and less alone. Thank you also for telling me I shouldn’t be too hard on myself 🙂 I try my best, but sometimes it’s good to be reminded. I don’t think I can ever thank you enough. Your comments always make my day and remind me of why I’m blogging about my experiences. Lots of virtual hugs to you as well ❤ you are a wonderful person!

      Liked by 1 person

      • I really don’t deserve all your lovely words, the fact you are writing about your experience has helped me as much as my sharing my own might have helped you 🙂
        I guess it’s fair to say we are helping each other, not only by sharing what we went through but it’s also the fact we obviously have much in common and as I said previously, there is a connection there – you and I would definitely be friends I think 🙂
        You, Hugsy, are also a wonderful person – I’m grateful to this random crazy world that we’ve managed to somehow meet and connect xo ❤

        Liked by 1 person

      • 🙂 I’m also very thankful that we’ve managed to meet and connect. It’s unbelievable how much we seem to have in common. Your words are always a great source of encouragement and happiness ❤

        Liked by 1 person

  3. I almost forgot: I was also cranky during that awful relationship, I got angry really easily – I had such a short fuse, I don’t know how people put up with me. Tears came all too easily as well, usually triggered by the smallest things, it really was ridiculous but then again, what can you expect from a sleep and food-deprived person whose sole nourishment is alcohol and nicotine? I was in a very dark place and I’m lucky that my friends were there for me.
    Still, when you hit rock bottom, there’s only one way to go and that’s up. What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger and all that – it sounds pathetic and cliched, but it is all too true.

    Liked by 2 people

    • It doesn’t sound pathetic at all…It is the absolute truth 🙂 And it’s during our hardest times that we learn who our true friends are and who we can truly rely on. So paradoxically, being emotionally abused also taught me that there are people out there who truly care about me and who support me in my darkest times. I’m so glad to hear that you also had the support of lovely people. It’s so important…<3

      Liked by 2 people

      • Yes! I realised when I fell to pieces that I have some amazing people in my life – I’d never really understood how awesome they were until I hit rock bottom. Something else to be grateful about regarding the experience with the narcissist 🙂 ❤

        Liked by 1 person

  4. When my husband went overseas, I was immediately physically sick the following day. I had the flu, cold, you name it. Because I dare not take any take off from work, I did not get to recover until about 3 weeks later. But I can tell you within the timeframe I suffered so badly from his constant texts, calls, etc. Everytime I managed to fall asleep I would get another call or some other BS. As soon as I recovered from my physical sickness, I immediately plunged into my mental sickness, my nervous breakdown which I never in my life had before. I couldn’t stop crying. I didn’t know what the hell was wrong with me. Getting help was just a joke, because I pretty much called every single agency out there and I wasn’t able to get what I needed. And when I did find the help, I was financially challenged. Mainly for me blogging and talking with friends finally did the trick. But boy, I do not ever want to go through with the experience ever again in my life! I’m so glad you’re able to realize this yourself. Take care of yourself. x

    Liked by 2 people

    • It was exactly the same for me. Blogging about it and talking to friends was the only thing that really helped me. Reading all those encouraging comments and realizing that I was not alone with what happened to me gave me back some strength. Thank you for sharing your story with me. I’m glad to hear that blogging and talking to friends made you feel better. Lots of love ❤

      Liked by 2 people

  5. Sometimes I read your posts and I get this surreal feeling that you’re talking about me. The weight loss, the personal neglect, the altered perception of reality … And while I didn’t lose hair, I broke out in acne for the first time since I was an adolescent. The narcissistic experience can be devastating on so many levels!

    I’m so happy for you that you’re making such good progress and giving yourself the love and validation you deserve. Keep on keeping the faith. Hugs. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    • You are right…and people mostly talk about the emotional level…there is so little awareness of the fact that they can actually be a danger for our physical health as well…Thank you so much for your lovely comment ❤ I try to keep making progress and it is also thanks to such encouraging words like yours that I feel better with every passing day.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. A few days after I ended a relationship with a narc, I noticed that I got a few more grey hairs. Mind you, he was harmless physically and seemed to be over the top into me, but he had no capacity to listen to himself and having to listen to him tell blatant lies and repeat the same stories over and over again was more than I could take. Of course, my body processes stress, too. My autoimmune condition flared up, too and I was sick for the rest of that year. Three months of going out no handholding kissing or anything more than conversation and my body was broken from the stress of hearing someone talk about himself in the most bizarre and grandiose terms.

    Liked by 2 people

    • I know exactly what you are talking about…a few weeks with a narc can already be more than enough to make us physically and emotionally ill…thank you for sharing your experiences. I am sorry to to hear you also had to deal with such a stressful person.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Yes, I went through the same…insomnia , bad nutrition, bad personal hygeine.
    Mental torment takes your focus off of caring for your basic needs.
    Also the narcissist prevents you from getting enough sleep. They do it on purpose. It makes you more open to “suggestions ” that the want to put in as post hypnotic thoughts. Insomnia and general reality confusion put you in a state like trance, that it open to the malicious suggestions such as ” you are mentally ill” ” you are inadequate “…”you are depressed or suicidal “…”you should feel fear of losing me…”

    Liked by 1 person

    • I totally agree. The insomnia and bad physical state I was in led the narc to say that I was overreacting. It made me feel even worse because I thought he was right and blamed myself.


  8. I married my narcissist and for a decade he controlled me like a toy. I was stripped of all aspects of self, literally and figuratively. He forced me to wear his cast off clothes, and throw mine out “for my own good” because they were “slutty”
    It goes on and on. The years of emotional abuse nearly killed me. I’m not kidding. By the end, he’d discarded me and I was 98 lbs. I moved out on my own and six weeks later I was diagnosed with cancer.
    I’m in remission now, but it’s true…the stress, the drama and the pain will make you very sick, and maybe even kill you.


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