Apathy: Stage 3 w/a Narcissist

I can’t. I just can’t. 

Are you tired of and overwhelmed from the constant chaos from our Administration and the Media’s sensationalism that apathy has seeped into your life?  I know I am.  Actually, I vacillate between caring (giving a damn) and being apathetic (not giving a damn).  In my orbit, the stress point for people has definitely increased regardless of political affiliation. When people (and animals for that matter) become stressed, anger and anger outbursts are natural symptoms.  In a previous post, Sorry, But it Never Gets Better with a Narcissist, I shared some tidbits about narcissism and what you can look forward to being in relationship with a narcissist.  Even knowing that life only goes from bad to worse with a narcissist and having the psychological insight to expect chaotic and inconsistent behavior doesn’t immune me from becoming affected.

Relationships with narcissists are often very difficult for partners to leave because the narcissist has created an environment of control and dependency over a length of time. However, nothing is one sided, sometimes the partner has a dependent personality or dependency issues in which they feel they can’t survive unless depending on someone else for their livelihood.

One aspect of being in relationship with a narcissist is at some point you stop caring.  You’re tired of the chaos because it’s something different, more outlandish and inexplicable day after day.  You’re tired of the lies.  You’re tired of fighting and you’re tired of placating.  You’re tired of standing up for and defending yourself and others. You’re also tired of acquiescing. You’re. just. plain. tired.

Nope. Not gonna happen

If you’ve reached this point where you just had to stop caring about what the narc (president) does and distanced yourself from the relationship (such as not reading about or watching the sensational news. I still don’t get how every damn tweet that man does ends up on the news as if it’s breaking ‘news.’ Smdh. What a waste of time and resources). But I digress. If you’ve reached a point of ‘why bother,’ then you’re in the middle stages of the relationship.  This feeling, unfortunately is very normal. Distance will give you some respite.  Usually, by this time in the relationship you have unknowingly and knowingly given some, if not most of your power away to this person, meaning you are somewhat dependent upon him and stay in the relationship because you can’t yet see a way out.  Maybe he’s or she’s taken control of the money saying that he’s better with it or knows what to do with it.  You can’t really move (leave)…to Canada or overseas, so you’re kinda stuck where you are.  This is when the wind gets knocked out of your sails and you get the case of the ‘Meh’s’ and the ‘Blah’s.’ You become apathetic, losing interest in some of the things you’ve enjoyed in the recent past. Nothing sounds fun or interesting. Forget about Self-care because nothing really rocks your boat right now anyway. ‘So what’s the point?’ This is apathy, where you stop giving a shit.

You’re tired of being steamrolled. Confronting a narcissist on their lies is like playing wack-a-mole. As soon as you confront one lie, he’s telling another lie to get out of that lie and another until he actually tells on himself! You say, ‘Aha! There it is!’ thinking you’ll get some accountability. Instead, you’re left there holding the mallet, knowing you got-the-mole, but scratching your head wondering if you really did get him, because somehow, the mole keeps moving.

Nationally, it’s easy to feel depleted and apathetic when the president continues to be enabled by Congress, his cabinet, and the DOJ. You wonder if anything you do or say really matters to the narc and as you wonder, you know the answer. “No.” You’ve come to know the reality of your partner, the relationship and the future doesn’t look so bright to you. So, you become a little more depleted and tired of caring.  With each transgression, you care less and less.

Some of your faith in and luster for life may have been depleted,- without realizing it. If you’re feeling this or have felt this, then you’re normal.  Just applaud yourself for caring in the first place despite not caring now.  You did this out of protection for your well-being.

To remedy the ‘Meh’s’ and the ‘Blah’s’ you must be concerned with and take care of your own well-being because he won’t. Actually, no one will. This is your job. The narc will continue to trample you and do things that tell you, ‘You don’t matter’ and ‘You aren’t important.’ Not true.  You are.  You are important. You do matter.  You just need a break from the chaos otherwise you become chaotic. The trickle down effect of chaos and uncertainty from this relationship (administration) is stressful and it’s ok to take a break, but you must get back in Your life at some point.  Otherwise, who you’ve known yourself to be will diminish. Your spirit will diminish. With this, Depression can sink in over time and this is not good. Regardless if you stay or leave, instead of fighting for the relationship you so dearly want but will never have with a narcissist, fight for your way back to you.

There’s always hope.  Start with doing, again, what you once enjoyed. Start small if you don’t have the motivation or energy. You can seek help to build your self-esteem, set boundaries and leave the relationship if that’s best for you.

For the rest of us, there’s still Russia and Mueller.

Attachment Theory Explained through the Senses- Part 2

taste

Attachment theory is based on the connection between parent and child. How we connect to our parents can impact how we connect as adults to partner’s as well as impact our long term health and well-being. Part 1 discussed the importance of eye contact and touch in development.  Here’s part 2.

Voice (Tone/language).

Tone-

Often when we speak to our baby (babies), we often use a rhythmic or melodic tone.  This also builds a comforting connection with your baby because it is soothing. Tone is important obviously, because tone can also be rage filled, angry, or aggressive etc and your child’s nervous system will pick up on that too as it is stress inducing.

Language-

Reading to your baby/child has been the foundation for early childhood education.  Every teacher knows that reading and engaging your child in conversation helps to engage your child’s brain, creating more neural networks (brain pathways). In doing so, it increases your child’s learning ability.  There have been studies regarding the differences in learning abilities of children from affluent environments and less affluent environments, with children from affluent environments flourishing in school while children from the less affluent environments have difficulties excelling.  How does this happen?  There are various layered reasons or contributing factors as to why children from more affluent environments have been found to have greater learning abilities, but I’m only going to address one aspect contributing to this issue: Stress.  Stress impacts your connection with your child.  Stress impacts every connection in your life, period.

Here’s how stress can impact the child’s learning abilities.  A parent(s) from a lower socio-economic situation is concerned with the basic survival of their family.  In addition to raising their child and worrying about their well-being, parents from a lower socioeconomic background have the stress of making/finding enough money to pay the bills and put food on the table etc.  Single parents can go in this category too.  The more stressed you are, the more limited you get in your thinking.  Meaning, you don’t have the time, space or the luxury to contemplate the meaning of (your) life.  This can carry over unknowingly in how a parent interacts and engages with their child.  One’s scope gets smaller under stress and that can include language. The parent may be focused on “don’t do that, you can’t do that, stop it, be quiet etc.”   If this is the most of the conversation you have with your child, then your child’s vocabulary will reflect that, limited vocabulary.  Lack of engagement also impacts the brain’s development where the brain becomes pruned in that area (no new brain networks are created), limiting their learning abilities as they grow older.  Expand your child’s language through conversation and reading and you expand their ability to learn. With each conversation, you’re  helping your child create new brain neural connections and pathways.  From an attachment perspective, when you’re reading and engaging with your child, you’re also being present with them, connecting with them.  This is something that you can do and change right now, in your own home.  Teachers can only do so much.

Which brings us to Energy.  This isn’t one of the 5 tangible senses but it’s important because it’s about being present, energetically present to your baby/child. I know it’s impossible to be 100% present 100% of the time, but in the field of attachment (connection) we’re concerned more with consistency and quality.   Many adults will often say, “My child is too young to realize what’s going on.”  Ummmm…yes they do.  Children/babies soak up their environment and their experiences through their senses and nervous system (body memory).

A parent can be physically present but not energetically/emotionally present and various behaviors can contribute to a sense of disconnect, such as depression, addiction (including workaholic), substance abuse, video games etc.   This can translate into a parent being physically present yet emotionally/energetically distant and unavailable.  Some of you reading can relate personally to this, or some of you can relate by the men/women you attract into your life.  If you’re still negating the energy aspect of this:  Think of a time you spoke to someone, a family member, partner, spouse or co-worker. As you spoke, they bobbed their head to acknowledge they were listening, however, you could feel or sense that they weren’t really listening to you. They were physically present, but not energetically present to you and you felt a disconnect in that moment.   It’s the same for a baby/child.

Lastly, smell.   Babies can identify you and connect through their sense of smell. Having a blankie with your smell on it as they go off to childcare will keep your baby connected to you through smell.

In the theory of attachment, connection is the name of the game.  Connection = Better Health.

Attachment Theory Explained Through the Senses- Part 1

taste

I’ve been interested in attachment theory since I studied the theory during my master’s program. I look at the world through the eyes of attachment (connection),  how that connection can be altered or disrupted,  how does connection or lack there of affect a child’s development (and adult) and how can it help us heal.  I know, it sounds like I’m in a proverbial existential crisis.  For me, attachment is actually the science of spirituality of all things being connected. So, let’s get started.

Attachment theory was created by John Bowlby and further studied with Mary Ainsworth. Attachment theory is basically the study between parent and infant/child. The way I interpret this is: it’s a theory based on connection.  And how we connect with infants and children is through the senses.  We feel life, we feel through life.  We are all experiential beings, and kids more so simply because their brains aren’t developed to organize or make reason from their experiences like you can.  For this video, I explain the theory of attachment through the senses of eye contact and touch.

Eye contact is beneficial in creating and maintaining a bond with your child. When you look into your infant’s/child’s eyes and they look at you, a wonderful thing happens. You release a chemical called oxytocin which is the feel good, ‘Im in love’ chemical.  That’s why new moms will often say, “I’m so in love with my baby!” And its true. You are.  This feeling is also great because if you’re feeling so good, so in love then you’re more likely to continue caring, bonding and connecting with your baby/child. This is necessary for your baby’s survival.

The area of the eyes is important because this is also how your baby can develop mirror neurons by teaching through your facial expressions and emotions.  Facial expressions allow your face to come alive and show emotion and we connect through mirror neurons.  When your face expresses sadness, anger, frustration, joy, love, guilt etc, you’re teaching your baby to attune to you which in turn your baby/child will attune to others. This helps in emotional development, emotional recognition (emotional intelligence) and empathy. When this area around the eyes and forehead are in a state of freeze (expressionless) through brow lifts and botox, this can disrupt the emotional development of your baby because you aren’t mirroring those emotions via your face making it more difficult for your baby/child to fully develop the part of the brain that identifies and expresses emotions.  As adults, we can see and know (cognitively) that we are connecting with another regardless if they have had a brow lift or botox.  A baby’s/child’s brain isn’t nearly developed as adults.  They can’t make sense of it and the child may feel a ‘lack’ of connection to their parent because they have difficulty ‘reading’ the parents face.  I have wondered about the long-term impact on children as they grow up – will this stunt their ability to attune to another, to have empathy for another and to identify and express their own emotions.  Also, what is the impact on their relationships as adults?

The second sense is touch.  Healthy touch is imperative for the development of children on all spheres: mentally, emotionally, physically.   There is a school of thought of letting your baby cry themselves to sleep-on a regular basis.  In the theory of attachment, that would be a basic no-no if done on a consistent basis. The reason?  When your baby/child is crying they’re usually in a state of distress and when they’re in a state of distress, their little bodies are flooded with cortisol, the stress hormone.  If the parent doesn’t come to the baby’s rescue or protection to provide nurturing or consoling, then the baby can get the message that:

  1. She/he cannot fully rely on you when upset and distressed (stressed)
  2. The baby/child will have to learn to take care of their own distress and emotions the best way they can. And the only way a baby can take care of her/his own feelings is to fall asleep.

Another aspect is, if your baby/child becomes flooded with stress (cortisol) on a consistent basis with little/no nurturing/consoling, then it can set up your child to turn to other ways of soothing their distress (emotions, stress) as they get older which may impact their emotional, physical and mental well-being.

As always, I hope you learned something new or different.

Remember, if you don’t have kids,  you were one.

 

Your Stress Set Point

Stressed_grande

You may have heard of  a ‘weight loss set point,’ in which the theory suggests that a person has a certain set weight point that their body likes to be regardless of how much weight lost.  But, are you familiar with the stress set point?  I think the focus on a person’s ‘set weight point’ is actually the ‘stress set point’ of the person, considering stress is often  the culprit for gaining and losing weight.  However, weight has been easier to study, simply because there is a tangible and finite result to measure.  Stress is not.  Stress is ambiguous, sneaky, encompassing and often, we don’t know we’re under stress until something isn’t working or reached a breaking point.

Everyone has a stress set point, and this set point is basically the level of stress that your nervous system is used to, regardless if your stress level is wreaking havoc on your body and overall well-being.

Why is knowing your stress set point important? Simple, it will affect your mental, emotional and physical health and your relationship(s).

A person’s stress set point will often tell me (and you) 3 things:
1. Your stress set point will tell me your level of intensity.
2. It will tell me how comfortable or used to this intensity or chaos you are.
3. Your stress set point (and level of intensity) will tell me whether there’s a possible addiction or an addictive personality.

How does this stress set point get established?
Well, your stress set point becomes established by the stressful or traumatic experiences you have in life. The experiences can happen in childhood and or adulthood. There are various elements to this such as stress hormones and intensity level, but I will explain this simply.  Below is a picture of a Temperature thermostat model with zero (0) being calm with the least amount of stress to the nervous system and 10 being the highest amount of stress to your nervous system.

Distress thermometer FINAL EN
Let’s say you’re born and your nervous system starts at 0 (zero) with little to no cortisol (stress hormone) flooding your system because your family environment is calm and all of your physical and emotional infant/toddler needs are met. Then as you grow older and move through life, you experience a stressful event(s) such as consistent neglect, beatings, being bullied or constant state of perfectionistic family expectations. These are only a few stressful/traumatic examples that children can go through. With each stressful experience, your nervous system becomes flooded with stress hormones (cortisol and adrenaline), increasing your stress set point (tolerance level) up to, let’s say a 6 or higher. At this level, your body becomes accustomed to being flooded with stress hormones.

I’ve given you an example that included experiences in childhood, but as you know, stressful and traumatic experiences also happen in adulthood. This can mean that if your stress set point was a 6 during childhood, and you further experience a major or multiple stressful experiences in adulthood, then the cycle begins again increasing your stress set point (tolerance).

However, when your body has consistent time to decompress and reduce its stress level from a 6+ to a 4 or less, you most likely will feel uncomfortable as if something is wrong and subconsciously create a stressful situation to increase the amount of stress hormones flooding your body, bringing your stress set point back up to a level 6.  This can create a need for intensity by seeking out stressful experiences to induce stress hormones flooding your system.  The higher your stress set point, the higher your intensity level.  You need intensity to keep feeding your stress level.  This is a way for your body to become ‘addicted’ to the flood of stress hormones, even if you are sick and tired of feeling stressed, and for the addictive personality this can feel the most comfortable.

I say ‘addicted,’ because like anything your body experiences, you can create a tolerance level, just like you can with drugs and alcohol. You may begin with using substances casually, yet you like the feeling it gives you, then you begin to use more or more often building a tolerance level for that drug. Over time, you need more of the drug/chemical (stress hormone/intensity) to get the same feeling as before, but often leaves you feeling worse.

Intensity can come in the form of high stress jobs, sports, extreme sports, multiple partners (affairs), intense or chaotic relationships and chaos in general. Just a few examples.  Seeking intensity (or your stress set point) is a means to feel ‘normal’ by inducing stress into your system and can also be a set up for addiction to take place.

9ecae12adb865e5f9c56e68d619aebfb
The good news: Your stress set point, like your weight set point can be changed. The bad news: it takes work. I know, fun times.  Consistency is the name of the game. With consistent ‘work’ at reducing your stress and intensity level to  calm your nervous system, your set point can be lowered which is the place where healing, flow and creativity happen.  Learning your stress set point will help you gain awareness into patterns and behaviors in your life (Do you have an addiction or addictive personality?), your relationship dynamics (Do you seek out or create chaotic or intense relationships?), and your health (Is your health impacted in any way or do you seek out substances to quell?).  Awareness allows for choice in how you want to live.  Oh, and I almost forgot,  a natural by-product of reduced stress is weight loss.

 

 

#1 Stress Reducer

Baby-sleeping-on-bed

 

I’ve posted about stress, but I haven’t yet posted about what helps reduce stress. The #1 stress reducer : Sleep. Ahhhhh…sleep. I don’t know about you, but I love to sleep. So much so that my favorite room in the house is my bedroom, and my favorite piece of furniture is my bed. But lately, I haven’t been getting the restful sleep that I need or that I’m used to.

Sleep allows your body to rest and realign, allowing your brain to process and dump the day’s experience. Deep sleep is what we’re after because it is in the 3rd and 4th stages of sleep that our brain waves move reeeaaally slow. There are no eye or muscle movements.  This is Delta sleep stage. This sleep state induces healing. If we find ourselves getting continuous or more light sleep than deep sleep, your body and mind will not have the time or space to rejuvenate or heal.  Lack of sleep impacts your weight, your heart,  immune system and makes you age faster or at least look like it.

nosleep

 

Stress and sleep are closely linked and sometimes it’s like asking the question: what came first the chicken or the egg. Stress can impact your sleep, just think about any time you’ve lost sleep because you were worried about something , a relationship, a job, a performance etc. Losing sleep can create stress. Have you ever woken up in the middle of the night or maybe too early in the morning only to find that you’re unable to go back to sleep? The more time passes, you toss and turn, you try different sleep positions thinking and hoping this will help. Instead, you become more stressed out because you see the clock getting closer and closer to the time you actually need to get up and all you want to do is scream “Ugh!!!!!!?”   Frustrating I know. Not sleeping through the night can snowball into more than one night. Not getting enough sleep can lead to stress or compound your stress, and stress can lead to not getting enough sleep because of worry or anxiety. It is cyclical, and they both interact and impact each other.

 

There was a time when I worked at a rehab center, which I liked to call an emotional ER. People would be admitted  because their lives were in shambles due to addictions and trauma. There was constant stress and intensity, so much so that my nights after work looked like Homer below.  I was getting a lot of sleep, but not the deep sleep I needed for my nervous system to Fully decompress, destress or heal. I was in a state of exhaustion.  Many people may find themselves in this state due to situational stress, stress that is due to a certain career, job, receiving higher education (freshman 15 weight gain) demands and expectations.

images

 

So, the next time you find yourself overwhelmed, exhausted or stressed, and your body is needing you to sleep, give yourself permission and some time to take a catnap.  This is normal. This is your body telling you that, “Hey, I need to heal. I need to decompress.”  Your body and your mind will thank you.

 

Sleep Well

 

What is Stress? Big T and little t stress

 

 

I’ve written about this previously on this blog some time ago.  This is the second video in a series about stress for your health and wellness.  Each video will build upon the next, and I keep this stuff light, you can tell by my graphics.

If you have any questions or something to be researched email me at info@tejwest.com.

 

Stress and the nervous system

 

Hey There! This is the first of a series of videos about stress, your nervous system, relationships in the hopes that it will help you, your health and your relationships. This first one is a little bit longer, but I hope you enjoy it.

Stress and the Nervous System

images-14The American Medical Association attributes 60% of all illnesses to Stress.  60%. Before we get to how stress can manifest physically in the body, I’m going to share about the nervous system.  There is so much to write about this subject, but because I don’t like to read long blog posts myself, I’m not going to write a dissertation in a blog.  Be forewarned, I am not going to go into the details of how the body / nervous system functions at this time (synapses, neurotransmitters, polyvagal nerve theory, hormones, the brain, yada, yada, yada). First, I’m going to give a very simple overview of the overall picture and break this subject into multiple parts/posts.  Hopefully, you will find that each of these posts build upon the next.

  I have a couple of visuals that I use to explain stress and the nervous system:

First, I ask you to imagine a metal coil or spring and imagine grasping both ends of the coil between the fingers of both hands and pulling.  The coil is malleable.  However, if you push the coil together, you are applying pressure to the coil.  When the coil has enough pressure applied to it, it becomes compressed, unable to move and becomes stagnant so there is no room for the coil to adjust, move or breathe.  The coil is the Nervous system and the compression (applied pressure) is the impact of Stress on the nervous system.

Second visual: In my last post, I wrote about the Big T and little t trauma/stress. For the next visual, I’m going to ask you to think of a scale between 1-10 with 10 being the greatest impact (Big T, little t) to the nervous system. When stress ‘hits’ the nervous system, the nervous system adjusts and adapts as best as it can.  Each time the system gets impacted, the level of stress ‘tolerance’ increases. For example, as a baby, we may start out with maybe little t’s to equate a level 2 stress tolerance to the nervous system, and as we develop and grow we experience other little t’s or a Big T that moves us up the scale to an 8 stress tolerance level.  With each Big T or little t experience,  tolerance is increased and we move up that scale. As we move up the scale, the nervous system and body become acclimated to that particular feeling or level of stress.   With each level of stress, the coil goes from being malleable to becoming more and more compressed.  Remember, our nervous systems don’t start out compressed. I am describing this in very simplistic terms, because I like simple and easy.  Please know that everyone’s stress tolerance and capacity is different and I use this scale imagery just to explain and provide an overall picture. With that being said, although I write about tolerance within the nervous system, once the nervous system is at capacity (10 scale), it does not have ‘room’ to process or deal with additional stress (the compressed coil) and the nervous system becomes overwhelmed.

This is how the coil and the scale go together:

The impacted nervous system (the compressed coil) becomes acclimated to the stress and this consistent revved up (scale 1-10) feeling.  So, the healing process becomes about regulating the nervous system, meaning having the nervous system ‘come down’ and resting from the stress, from this feeling of being ramped up.  However, when the feeling of stress is reduced, it often feels uncomfortable to the individual and the individual will often subconsciously ‘create’ some stress or chaos to mimic the feeling of the previous level of stress. For example, lets say your system ‘builds’ a tolerance for a level 8 stress point, yet when your system begins to heal,  your tolerance scale drops to a base level 5 stress point, becoming your new nervous system set point. But, your body/subconscious mind will begin to read this new level 5 stress point feeling as ‘not normal’ and begin to create a situation that will bring you back up to a base level 8, where it feels ‘more’ comfortable.   That’s why some people become ‘addicted’ to chaos or a certain level of stress and adrenalin, it feels ‘alive’ and ‘comfortable.’  Here’s another example: Let’s say you have anxiety, to the point that you wake up in the middle of the night and can’t go back to sleep because of racing thoughts about what you have no control over (the next days work, the confrontation you need to have with your friend/neighbor/coworker, the bills you have to pay, or the paper that needs to be submitted etc.).  By the way, this never happens to me.  Anyhoo, your body becomes used to the effects of anxiety such as feeling jittery,  an internal ‘buzzing’ feeling, short breathing, or the pseudo butterflies in your stomach that have nothing to do with passion, lust or love.  However, when your nervous system becomes relaxed on a more consistent basis, this becomes a new feeling for the body, and you will subconsciously identify this as, ‘something’s wrong (it’s too calm),’ ‘something’s going to happen (because it’s too calm),’ or ‘why am I not feeling xyz,’ and then the anxiety spikes back up with those racing thoughts. Again, this is cyclical, because this feeling really doesn’t feel good to you, it’s just comfortable, what the body is used to, what the body remembers.

So, there you have the coil and the scale, the interplay between the nervous system and stress.  You may not see coils that same way again.  Just remember, what gets revved up, must come down for healing. When that begins to happen, your nervous system, which was compressed begins to open, creating space within your Self and your body, allowing you to adapt to change and the stress of life.

In gratitude.