Narcissistic Personality Disorder - Hyperarousal of the nervous system

The biochemical and physical aspects you might have to deal with are just as grave as the psychological ones. As your nervous system is on high alert for almost all the time, your heart is pumping fast and the cortisol and adrenaline is high too.

It appears to me that the body finally decides that enough is enough and triggers a process of becoming stronger (in the sense of Nietzsche saying: "What does not kill me makes me stronger"). Over a certain period in time (in my case ca 2 years) your perception increases. You see better, you can hear better (what seemed soft in the past is now quite loud), your tactile senses are better and so is your taste. If however this is the case, then something must have been happening to your brain. This is supported by the fact that you feel endlessly tired, just like a baby. The need for babies to sleep so much is largely to do with the fact that new neuro connections are created at a fast speed. There is some evidence that the brain of an adult too can morph and grow. The London taxi drivers show more activity in a certain part of the brain than other drivers and more recently it has been shown that people watching aggressive films too develop a morphed brain. Taking the two things together; the tiredness and the improved perception, there is good reason to believe that the brain actually does change.

It is very difficult to deal with the hyperarousal (hypertension) of the nervous system. On the one hand you are tired but on the other hand you are hyper. This does not go together well at all. When all this reached the peak in my case, I asked the GP for medication. Unfortunately, the GP gave me anti-depressants, which made everything even worse. If you take medication, you need to insist that you require beta blockers or (in case you have asthma) lisinopril. Another alternative is alcohol. If you know yourself and know that you have a strong will and that you generally do not become depended, alcohol might be safe. However, it must be stressed that alcohol is a very dangerous drug, and many people suffering from post traumatic stress become alcohol dependent destroying the lifes of themselves and the people around them for good.

Once, you have broken with the narcissist, you will become hyperaroused. But, it is unlikely that you will stop there. You will look for others who have betrayed you or lied to you. It seems that it is spring cleaning time. I myself broke with so many people, that I hardly could bear any such breaking any longer. Partly, this is also for your personal protection as you can't be quite sure who to trust and who not, it is better not to trust at all (except services). Again, this will cause you to be hyperaroused and tired at the same time. When I reached the climax (for ca. 2 weeks), I would get up in the morning, drink a bottle of wine (1 bottle of milk and orange juice too) and go back to bed. When I then would wake up in the afternoon, I would drink another bottle of wine and go back to sleep. I would wake up one more time in the evening and another bottle of wine would make me sleep for the rest of the night till morning. Now, this might have been okay for me, but it might not be okay for you. Again, remember that alcohol is a very dangerous drug. It is always important to be careful about any form of self medication. Remember too, that you need to be in safety. Never drink alcohol if you are not 100% safe. Your actions must not threaten your safety in any way. If you are not in the position to do this, seek help wherever you can get it (except the narcissist). Get as much time out as possible. Do disengage from as many responsibilities as possible. Seek medical advice, as you are on auto-pilot and you do not even know.

Eating too is difficult. There is a loss of appetite. Try to eat whatever you fancy. There was even a point when I would swallow balsamic vinegar which seemed to be doing much good to my stomach. At certain points I kept throwing up all the time.

It seems that the hyperarousal does disappear (over a period of 1 to 2 years), but the improved perception seems to remain. Additionally, the quick release of cortisol and adrenaline when excited (this might be positive or negative excitement) remains for a very long time an d might be permanent.

There are quite possibly times when you think that you never will be normal again and that you cannot do the things you used to, but as much as this seems to be the case (especially when you fall back into another episode) this is not true. In time you will get out of this state of mind and you might find yourself even stronger than ever before. Accept help and support from everywhere except from the narcissist.

Dr. Ludger Hofmann-Engl


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