Similar to PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) people who have once shared their life with a narcissist may go through corresponding occurrences resembling the symptoms of PTSD. Maybe we should call it PNSD or Post-Narcissist Stress Disorder.
Post-traumatic stress disorder develops after one has experienced an event or action that causes intense fear, disbelief, helplessness or horror.
While it is common to have a period of adjusting and coping after a narcissist, for many these periods of difficult adjustments may continue for quite a while. With time, attitude adjustment, letting go of the narcissist and giving the narcissism back to the narcissist (it is THEIR problem and ISSUE, no longer yours) and taking care of you, such traumatic reactions usually get better and dissipate completely.
Anything can bring on a PNSD…even things as simple as the familiar smell of his/her cologne on a stranger walking by, a song playing on the radio, even certain foods. It doesn’t matter what brings you back to that terrifying nightmare … what does matter is that instantly & out-of-the-blue you are transported back to a time in your life that was mentally and emotionally disturbing. These identifiers are called ‘triggers’.
THREE MAJOR SYMPTOMS OF PNSD:
1) intrusive memories of the narcissist — these may be memories that had a sudden onset caused by a ‘trigger’, or memories that are continuous and lingering
2) avoidance and emotional numbing
3) anxiety and increased emotional volatility
Symptoms of intrusive memories of the narcissist may include:
Flashbacks of their narcissistic rages, images of intense rage or reliving the traumatic event for minutes or even days at a time
Suddenly questioning your own mental stability due to months/ years of abuse and/or gaslighting when trying to perform everyday tasks or relating to others
Upsetting dreams about the narcissistic event
Difficulty readjusting your self-esteem and feeling good about yourself in social situations resulting from months/years of emotional, mental, verbal and oftentimes physical abuse
Symptoms of avoidance and emotional numbing may include:
Avoiding social situations, activities, people or relationships that you once enjoyed
Trying to avoid thinking or talking about the narcissist
Feeling emotionally numb towards life and love
Substance abuse or overuse of sleep aids
Trouble concentrating or performing simple actions
Distancing yourself or feeling on the apathetic ‘outside’ of conversations
Difficulty starting new relationships or maintaining close relationships
Cocooning or hiding
Hopelessness about the future or feelings of defeat
Symptoms of anxiety and increased emotional volatility may include:
Irritability, rage, temper outbursts or anger
Being caught up in the gaslighting mode whereas you may have difficulty adjusting to everyday tasks or questioning your memories, motives and sanity. Self-doubt and loss of self-confidence
Overwhelming guilt or shame, self-blame or Stockholm syndrome
Self-destructive behavior, such as casual sex with strangers, drinking too much, not eating properly, quitting your job, or doing drugs
Panic attacks/Crying attacks
Being easily startled or frightened, jumpy and hypervigilant
Paranoia or imagining worst-case scenarios
Questioning others intents and genuinity, especially with new partners
Reliving arguments or narcissistic rages in your head
The narcissist experience may haunt you for a long time. It may interrupt your daily life and activities, and invade you at any unforeseen moment.