Hi and welcome to my blog post on living with the anxiety that comes with living with a narcissist.
There’s no doubt that as victims of the narcissist we can very quickly and easily descend into head spin with anxiety. It’s unavoidable given the many different masks our narcissists are able wear , sometimes a few different ones on any given day .
Even though we become somewhat used to this unpredictability, it affects our well-being and presence of mind and keeps us second guessing ourselves especially when the charmer turns into the manipulator who then becomes the blamer! We are already off balance because of this Jekyll and Hyde behaviour and then when the head spin really kicks in we are reduced to a blithering mess.
Whats happening inside us when we are in head spin with anxiety?
In a nutshell we have 3 natural inbuilt reactions to fear (and fear causes anxiety) which are fight flight or freeze. The fight or flight response is now called the fight, flight or freeze response because sometimes, when the odds are overwhelming we neither fight nor flee but simply freeze because we can see no hope.
These reactions to danger are controlled by our autonomic nervous system which is made up of two parts ie. the sympathetic nervous system which gets us ready to fight and/or flee and the parasympathetic nervous system which calms us down. Both deliver a range of different hormones into our blood system which have either a stimulating or a relaxing effect on us .
The trouble is sometimes the parasympathetic struggles to take over and calm us down if we are highly anxious and we get stuck in the “red zone” which is constant state of anxiety. At this point we really need to somehow get back into the “green zone” which is where we are (or should be ) in our everyday lives .
Sure , daily life has ups and downs and sometimes we go up into the “yellow zone” and then back down into the “green zone” which is quite normal whereas once we become constantly anxious and we’re stuck in the” red zone” our ability to function is severely compromised and we can end up out of control .
My experience of head spin
In my case ( and its different for all of us ) when I go into head spin mode I tend to feel numb around my lips and sometimes into my arms and hands, my mind goes blank if someone asks me something I would normally know , I feel as though I’m trembling inside even though its generally not externally visible , I cant remember what I am doing from minute to minute , I flit from one thing to another sometimes going from room to room doing a bit here and a bit there but achieving nothing and yet even though my heart is racing everything feels as though its happening in slow motion.
This is just “normal ” anxiety for me . Panic attacks are another thing and I’ve only had one. I will talk about those a bit later .
How do I feel ?
I feel sweaty and lightheaded, my heart rate is high , I feel short of breath ,I feel tingling in my lips and hands and my mouth is dry. I have no appetite and may even feel like vomiting. I probably wont hear you if you speak to me and I can often only see straight ahead rather than to the side as normal.
How do I look ?
I’m not sure but I think I probably look like a scared rabbit in the headlights … a pale, freaked out trembling rabbit at that! My pupils will probably be dilated and my skin tone may be flushed or pale.. but hopefully my skin hasn’t gone furry and there’s no white cotton tail on my backside!
My strategies to cope with head spin
I have a few lots of tools in my anxiety toolbox which I have developed over time as I’m sure you do too. I’ll list mine here and make a brief comment on how or why they help me. These are in no particular order . I hope you’ll list yours below too so others can benefit!
- Breathing….3 very deep slow breaths is a great start. Breathe out very as if blowing through a straw, very slowly .
- Stay in the moment and repeat my mantra that “this is how it is for now”…a kind of acceptance rather than using more of my already depleted energy by trying to fight /control the anxiety which will make it worse.
- Repeat to myself “this will pass” “I am not alone”
- Count or name the things I can see around me that are a certain colour ie. white flower , white car, white shirt, white clouds ………..as a distraction technique.
- Walking or running because I like exercise and it raises my endorphins (the happiness hormones!) and gets me outside.
- Counting backwards aloud…another distraction technique because I have to concentrate because numbers are NOT my thing!!
- Journaling to get my thoughts out of my head and on to paper which helps reduce the head spin .
- Tell someone ……connect with someone…..BUT remember … its one thing to tell someone, but you dont necessarily have to allow them to come over. I’ve FINALLY learnt NOT to say YES if I mean NO when someone wants to be with me ! Often its enough for me just to let someone know but then still maintain my own space.
- Put on music that I like and sing along……..singing is proven to be good for us in so many ways! Singing in the shower is good therapy!
- Outstretch my arms in front and push against a solid wall ……. causes the release of tension when I let go .
- Push my tongue up against the roof of my mouth really hard ……..stops overbreathing.
- Apply some acupressure to certain points on my body ….relieves stress quickly.
- Practice meditation or mindfulness…….stills my racing thoughts and slows my breath.
- I imagine “anxiety” as a monster that I’m going to beat. Its separates me from”it”. Try visualising it! Give “it” a name and tell it you are not going to let it run your life!
- Have a calming cup of herbal tea or my choice ……..herbs can help and warm drinks are soothing.
- CRY ,CRY,CRY ! ……Yes its a good thing to sit with your sadness and allow tears to come rather than fight/hold them back . Yippee! FINALLY the powers that be are telling us its good to cry! I have always had very productive tear ducts so its great news for me anyway ! So go forth and have a good old sook…..its VERY good for you !! Oh and P.S. Swearing is good too! Get that anger out (within reason LOL!)
- Ground myself …..I have 2 little bean bags that I can place on my feet, shoulders or head which “ground” me in the same way as a weighted blanket. Weighted blankets/ knee pads/cuddle blankets apply a certain amount of pressure which activates my parasympathetic nervous system (see above infograph) and therefore has a calming effect….. the weight makes me feel secure . when I’m anxious !
- Spray Rescue Remedy under my tongue..a combination of Bach Flower Essences to help relieve anxiety
- Dab some calming essential oil on(mixed with a carrier)instead of perfume…much more calming and lasts longer too !
- Add calming essential oils to a diffuser and allow the beautiful aroma waft throughout the house !
- Seeking professional advice from a counsellor/psychologist. Friends are great at “giving advice”albeit well meaning , but professionals can help …just make sure you have a good rapport with whoever you choose as you don’t need any more stress worrying about whether they “get you” or not !! Mine is fabulous but I tried a few before I found her! Yes , I know , I know , I know ….I AM A COUNSELLOR…….but I cant help ME!!!
- Yoga twice a week is a life saver for me….
- Massage is fantastic and there are some great massage tools that you can use at home as well!
- Online Apps can be great too but BE CAREFUL to choose one that doesn’t “judge” or score you on how well you are doing though! You don’t need that pressure !
- Pets are FABULOUS for de-stressing! I dont have one yet but I’m getting one SOON!!!!
Every day diet options for anxiety prevention ….
- Healthy diet….this is an absolute must . Our gut is our second brain so keeping it healthy is vital .
- Turmeric….fabulous for your whole body but especially for depression .Add to hotpots ,soup,smoothies etc
- Apple Cider Vinegar…..a good guy for your gut health!
- Super Greens(powder or capsules)…..so important given we don’t get enough of these in our daily diets.
- Cinnamon(tea, ground spice)also chammomile(with a squeeze of lemon!) …calming , good for depression and sleep !
- Nuts…healthy fats are great for your well being.
- Flaxseed oil or capsules
- Oily fish such as salmon and tuna…omega 3 !
- Green leafy vegs…yum yum !
- Avoid stimulants such as coffee and energy drinks.
- Cacao….much better for you than its refined cousin cocoa, it contains magnesium and neurotransmitters which promote a feeling of well-being.
Ive packed a lot into this post about head spin with anxiety and I will delve deeper into some of the subjects I touched on relating to diet and other ways to cope with anxiety in further posts. But for now why not head off now and have a nice warm cup of Cacao! Sooo good ! (or if youre in the northern hemisphere a nice chilled glass!!)
Until next time, remember to stay STRONG and avoid
the narcissists “TRAP” !!!!
I love this meme and just had to use
it just so we could finish off with a laugh!
Oh and please let me know below if you have any great tips of your own about how you reduce anxiety! The more resources we all have the better we will be able to deal with the monster that is anxiety !