It is easy to think that your headache is caused by too much coffee or that your anxiety is due to nervous butterflies. Your body may be telling you more about your environment and people than you realize.
Sometimes our bodies can show us what our subconscious is aware of but we are still not conscious.
Shannon Thomas, a trauma therapist and author of Healing from Hidden Abuse, told Insider that many clients in abusive or toxic relationships experienced physical symptoms without any obvious medical reason.
Thomas stated that he doesn’t know of any client who hasn’t had a physical reaction to being in an abusive relationship. There are many manifestations of abuse, and there are many degrees. However, every person has experienced some form of it.
Lisa Lawless, a psychotherapist, told Insider that toxic relationships can have a devastating effect on your body.
She said, “It is important to understand that emotional stress may manifest in physical symptoms.” It’s important to pay attention to your body and know when something is wrong.
Feeling worn down.
Trauma bonding is a common reason people stay with abusive partners. This is when the abuser takes their victim on a rollercoaster ride, punishing them and rewarding them with kindness whenever they behave. The body is experiencing its own turmoil with high levels of dopamine and cortisol.
Thomas stated, “When there is a combination of a chemical rush and the body reacts to it,”
This turbulence can cause you to feel tired all the time. This is usually the goal of the abuser, as a tired victim is less likely to be able to fight back.
Thomas stated that while the high moments are great, when the downward spirals begin, the gaslighting and the silent treatment, the body may go into a crash. It’s this up-and-down and up-and-down that wears down survivors.
She stated that people can go from looking at before and after photos and having dark circles under their eyes, withdrawn facial features, and vibrancy, to feeling vibrant again.
She said, “Our environment can really poison us.”
Bad relationships can lead to skin problems, such as inflammation and body aches. Thomas stated that 95% of her clients who went to the doctor about their problems were given a clean bill.
Although it is generally good news to get the all-clear from your doctor, it can also be distressing for patients, as they know that their symptoms are real and there is no medical explanation.
Thomas stated, “Then, we need to look at their environment and the relationships they are in and see if it’s creating symptoms or extreme anxiety.”
If their partner keeps telling them that they are making things up, it can lead to abuse or gaslighting.
Thomas said, “In a hidden toxic environment I always correlate it with clearing poison in the water. You don’t notice it until you get sick.”
Digestive problems, hormonal changes
Bad relationships can cause people to have difficulty eating certain foods when they were once able to. Thomas explained that this could be due to the presence of adrenaline and cortisol in the body.
Human anxiety evolved to aid us in our fight-or-flight response. Hormones spike to either help us run away from danger or face it head-on. There are also downsides to these hormones not having a place to go.
The trouble with memory and speech.
Your mind is always on alert and watching for arguments, so it doesn’t have time to think about anything else.
Thomas said, “I have seen many clients who have difficulty reading books, processing new information, or keeping information or memories.” These functions can be very difficult for clients who are in abusive relationships.
The mind is trying to understand what is going on and why their partner is manipulative and cruel and is working hard to find solutions. Problem is that the abuser doesn’t want to find solutions.
Thomas said, “You believe everyone wants harmony. But psychological abusers don’t.” They love drama and the entertainment that comes with it.
She said that it can be a eureka moment for many victims when they realize the other person is not working with them but against them.
Thomas stated, “After the abuse has ended, the person is learning to feel confident in their words and thoughts.”
“I believe that this may be part of the recovery process of finding their voice back, that things don’t have to be perfect, and that they can speak freely with people and have an easy conversation, whereas before they had to choose carefully because they were on eggshells.”
Muscle tightness and tension
Thomas stated that muscle tightness can be a sign that someone is making you uneasy. However, we may still rationalize it as nerves.
“I encourage you to really think about why your body is reacting so differently around this person. She said. “Maybe my subconscious is noticing something about this person that I haven’t noticed, but my body is sensing.”
Your gut is more intuitive than your brain.
Thomas says we should trust our guts more because most of the victims she’s worked with or spoken to about psychological abuse didn’t like the abuser.
She explained that “Something didn’t feel right, but they rationalized it and continued spending time with that person, which is when trauma bonding began.” It’s quite common to find that before there was any attraction, there was an initial type of ‘no. It’s a common refrain that I hear over and over.
Sometimes, the abuser can be so charismatic that there is an immediate spark. But for others, their gut was telling them to stay away from this person.
She said, “I believe that’s what happens if we see them with clear vision.” “The first thing we do when we see them is to notice something’s wrong. Then, over time, our eyes become distorted. However, that is their most honest reaction. They have no attachment to them.
You will feel isolated.
If your relationship with your partner is not healthy, it is likely that you will have a difficult time integrating socially. You may be putting too much effort into the relationship, or your partner might have manipulated you to end your friendship.
This can cause feelings of loneliness that no partner can fix. It can be difficult, but it is important to maintain these connections.
Lawless, a psychotherapist, said that it is important to put your mental and physical health first and to recognize when you are not being served by a relationship.
“Although it can be difficult, you can reduce stress in the relationship and seek support from family members, friends, and therapists to help with emotional and physical symptoms.”
Lawless said that loneliness in a relationship could also be caused by a negatively affected libido.
She said that healthy physical intimacy is closely tied to emotional intimacy. “A healthy sex life is one that has effective communication and solid emotional connections. This can lead to a negative impact on one’s sex life.
Sometimes symptoms diminish with time but can sometimes remain.
Sometimes, psychical symptoms that result from abusive relationships disappear when the victim leaves. However, they may persist sometimes. People may feel more anxious or more sensitive to food than they used to.
It can vary from one person to another, depending on their age, general health, and length of abuse.
Thomas stated, “There is recovery for everyone.” It’s only a matter of how much it must be managed after an abusive relationship.
Lawless stated that unhealthy relationships can come in many forms, and not all involve physical violence.
She said that emotional and psychological abuse can also be damaging and should be addressed. Remember, you are entitled to a relationship that makes you feel secure, respected, valued, and safe.