Most people who get depression get on medication to go back to who they were. I am on medication and I am struggling because I don’t know who I am apart from abuse to know what self I am returning to. I think this is what I was trying to express in my last post. I have been struggling to put into words what it is I am feeling.

I have spent a lifetime surrounded by abuse, psychopaths, and those with a narcissistic personality. My husband and I sometimes comment on how hard it is to believe the number of people like this who have been in my life from childhood. My husband just commented that it seems as though each one set me up for the next one. I truly didn’t have a chance in life to escape any of it.

The following list is from a post on gaslighting (see links below).

“Gaslighting or gas-lighting is a form of mental abuse in which a victim is manipulated into doubting their own memory, perception, and sanity. Instances may range from the denial by an abuser that previous abusive incidents ever occurred, up to the staging of bizarre events by the abuser with the intention of disorienting the victim.

Warning Signs of Gaslighting*:

  • Second-Guessing: living in fear of doing the wrong thing
  • Asking “Am I too sensitive?”: Looking for approval before doing anything
  • Apologizing: constantly apologizing for never doing anything right
  • Lack joy and happiness in life: Feeling confused, lonely, frightened and unhappy
  • Withholding Information from Others: Shame causes you to defend and withdraw
  • Knowing something is terribly wrong, but cant figure out what: the more the victim doubts their own reality, the more they depend on the abuser.
  • Trouble making simple decisions: losing autonomy, basing decision-making off of the wants and needs of the abuser.
  • You have a sense that you used to be a very different person – more confident, fun-loving, and relaxed: losing yourself by placating, complying and appeasing the abuser.
  • You feel hopeless and joyless: What once seemed like heaven turned into hell.”

The following link is to the blog post I read the above list on:

This link is to the original article the above list came from titled, The Effects of Gaslighting in Narcissistic Victim Syndrome, What is “Gaslighting”? This article is more in depth and worth reading.

My husband and I see myself in every one of the above warning signs. These are the things that have puzzled my husband about me. And I have had no understanding of any of this to know what was “wrong” with me either to explain it. I don’t think I fully understand all the things that happened to me to know what it is yet that I need to heal from.

I thought these things were a part of my personality, that they were a defect in me. I thought they were there because I am weak, which is what they each wanted me to believe about myself. They are things I try to hide, but I think I instinctively have known something was wrong. But I didn’t know what or why.

Two weeks ago during my therapy session, A. asked me to tell her how I got away from my ex-husband. This is the first time we have started to talk in detail about any part of my past in a specific way. She has been trying to help me with coping skills, waited for me to get on medication, and waiting for it to take effect. She wanted me to find help for the severe depression so that I had at least some buffer in my life before dealing with my past and the CPTSD.

I don’t talk about my ex-husband and what happened to me. I have blocked out so many of the experiences I had with him and other parts of my life. I don’t know if you can imagine what it feels like to not completely know what happened to you, how it has shaped you and your responses to life. This is both comforting and shocking all at the same time.

It makes me understand the fear of the pain inside of me. It does feel like a link, a piece of the puzzle that is my life.


45 thoughts on “Gaslighting

    1. Thank you for this Cindy. I need to get beyond the initial shock, pain, and sorrow of not knowing any of this to eventually get to a better place. Your words mean a lot to me right now. Thank you for your kindness! I appreciate you very much!

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    1. In that respect, yes I have!!! It has been a long road for both of us to understand what is going on with my reactions. And we are still learning. He has been a huge comfort and blessing to me. And I am very grateful for him! And with now having a wonderful therapist, I do have a chance to find healing. Every discovery is making progress. Thank you Nigel!


    1. Yes, I do think I am finally on the path. The craziness lingers for so long. We certainly need help making sense out of it all. The effects run deeply, as you know. Thank you so much for sharing this.

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      1. I left my tormentors 31 years ago. Moved away, found a good therapist. It took a while to sort out who I was, what I liked, what I believed, what was real. I still occasionally have a bad moment or even a rough day. But most of my time I am my own authentic self, mostly happy, living a meaningful life and getting stuff done. There is no such thing as “total recovery” but life WILL get better. I am grateful for every moment I live in freedom.

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        1. This is an incredible story. I am sorry for all that lies behind your words. I am happy that you are now in a better place. I too moved away, but I was too afraid to go to therapy until recently. I have such a wonderful therapist now. So finally I am getting the help I need. Thank you for sharing your story. It does bring me hope!


  1. I don’t really want to revisit the things I have blocked out…do you? I can hardly deal with the things I haven’t blocked out. I know the effects are there but to me, remembering them would be even more torturous. 😦

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    1. Everyone’s experience is different. Yes, what I do remember is bad enough. What I don’t talk about or don’t want to remember, doesn’t change the effects it has on me. And maybe in so many ways it is just as excruciating, if not more so. Because I suffer without the awareness of why or the connections that make my reactions make sense. I have tried for years to just forget, to just try and be okay. It didn’t work for me. Like you, I was dying inside. I do want to make sense out of my reactions to what happened to me. I want to learn how to love myself again. But more importantly, I want to be able to defend myself in life so that I don’t have to live with so much fear. And this I have not been able to do on my own. Therapy isn’t just about rehashing your past. It is about making sense of how it has effected you. If we never get to recognize them, we will never get to see what is us and what is the effects of what happened to us in order to remove the shame that overshadows our lives. I have a VERY good therapist and that makes all the difference in the world. If she hadn’t worked out, I think I would have given up on this altogether. And I would have thought it was all just a joke. It is important to have someone who specializes in what you are dealing with. Most therapists will probably tell you they can help you with trauma, but most are not qualified to do so. I understand all that you are saying, but what we have been doing is barely what you would call living. My husband explains it to me this way: in therapy you go through a period of time of feeling a tremendous amount of pain in order to stop the continuous torture it is causing, rather than continue on for the rest of your life in constant pain. No, therapy is not for the faint of heart. I don’t even yet know if I can do this either. But when I tell my therapist I can’t do something, she doesn’t even try to force it on me. This didn’t happen to us overnight, and it won’t be resolved quickly. But we do at least want a sense that we are moving forward rather than stuck in isolation. In the end, if I still am, I will at least know that I tried. But I do want better than that for myself and you! I do wish you the very best Laurel!

      Liked by 2 people

    1. S.K. I get you. I am emotionally exhausted and unable to process this either. It is a huge realization and very overwhelming. A lot of things now make sense. When it goes on for so long, it becomes normal. It is very painful to recognize this. I am not just angry that it happened over and over again and for years on end. But I am also angry that I was not aware of it until now… all the heartache and personal torture that I have internalized… that I thought was me… my personality. To know it is all the effects of such treatment is too much to take in. My husband has been trying to tell me this for years, but neither of us fully understood it. I thought about you and wondered if you would relate to this. This might be why we relate so much to each other, but didn’t fully know why. Please, please know that you are not alone! I am sending lots of hugs to you!

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  2. I’m so glad that you found a great therapist. I understand how difficult it is to have to re-live all of the trauma while going through therapy. It creates the hell all over again. But I think you are doing the right thing. You are right that you can’t keep pretending it didn’t happen and trying to convince yourself that everything is fine. Deep inside, you know it is not all fine. And you know it isn’t your fault. You just know that something isn’t right and that you are hurting so deeply. And trying to live like that is just slow torture. Therapy is like breaking all of the pieces of you apart and examining each one, and then figuring out how to put it all back together again so that it makes sense and you can feel like your real, authentic self can finally show through all the pain and darkness. It’s a very difficult process, but believe and keep hoping that you are on the right path. I have faith in you and you are stronger than you know… otherwise you wouldn’t still be fighting. Sending you all my strength and love ❤

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    1. Thank you so much for all of this. It is a strange thing to have been strong enough to survive all that we have and yet to not be able to feel it. I do appreciate you sharing all that you have with me. Medication and therapy are all new for me. Your experiences are very helpful to hear. I appreciate you very much. Thank you!

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      1. You’re welcome. I hope I’m not coming across as if I’m trying to tell you what to do. I mean to be validating and am always happy to share my experiences (as long as it is wanted and helpful). I just really identify with what you are describing and experiencing. ❤

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        1. No worries here! You have come across very supportive and helpful. I was hoping someone would share their experience as you have… but I didn’t want to ask. You have been very helpful! Thank you!


  3. I can relate a lot to the beginning of your post, of not having a self to return to. Some of us are setting out as a blank slate whatever age we may be. I do think though that people who have been through depression and come out the other side will never be as they were, the experience will have changed them.

    The article on gaslighting helped me a lot, I can see how a narcissist in my life was doing this to me until I cut all contact with him. The article really helped me to understand exactly what was being done to me.
    I am sad that you have gone through all of this too. You are remarkable how you are learning and growing little by little. ❤

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    1. I am glad this was helpful to you, but I am sorry for what you suffered. Thank you for sharing this with me. No, I don’t think we ever will go back to who we were before… that person is long gone. And yes, abuse and depression changes us. It is hard sometimes to know what normal is suppose to feel like. There is so much about the conditioning of a narcissist that is very painful. I am glad I made this discovery while having A. in my life. I will need her to help me sort this all out. No matter how much we are struggling, it is important to at least feel as though we are moving forward in some way… at least some of the time. Thank you!

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  4. I was not familiar with the term gaslighting, so interested to learn about it, but sad to know about it too. I am so glad you have what seems like such a supportive husband now who is helping you through this and a good therapist. My heart breaks for what you have been through, and i am so hopeful for the therapy and a good husband to help you move on and survive and overcome your past.

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    1. Thank you so much Jodi! I don’t know what I would do without my husband. A lot of what I have been through, especially the effects, are hard to understand on your own. It has been very confusing and painful for both of us. Having a great therapist gives me a lot of hope that I can move forward instead of feeling stuck. Thank you for all of your kind words and compassion. It touches me deeply! I appreciate you very much!

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  5. The list in this post was what choked me up. It was me. All of it. It had just never been presented in such a way all together like that and it had a profound impact on me. I suddenly believed, yes, this happened to me. It really did. This is one of the reasons I am the way I am. It was overwhelming. Even coming back to it, it still overwhelmed me. I was able to write again last night after doing some research myself like this about what I’m learning about myself in therapy. I think we just go through periods of absorbing and thinking and the words eventually come. Thank you again for posting these links and sharing the info. It helped me so much identify some things in my life that needed a spotlight on them and it helped get my thoughts moving again.

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    1. “It was me. All of it. It had just never been presented in such a way all together like that and it had a profound impact on me. I suddenly believed, yes, this happened to me. It really did.” I experienced these same feelings when I read this list, which is why I wanted to share it here. I did have a feeling that you and others may relate to this as well. And may find the same confirmation. I am glad that this was helpful to you. I do feel that without this knowledge, we could very well have spent our whole lives suffering without answers from this type of abuse. You have to see it, really see it, in order to face it and find help.


  6. Digging through our past is gut-wrenching and not for the faint of heart. I was raised in a dysfunctional family (father was alcoholic, mother found her refuge in a fundamentalist cult, and only sibling is a manipulative narcissist). Living day to day with a narcissistic, abusive individual must be a torture others who haven’t gone through the ordeal can ever understand. I cut off contact with my (ex)-brother a couple of years ago. It’s the only way to start healing, removing yourself from the toxicity. And though I never went to therapy, I have been doing a lot of inner-child type of work and have spent many many hours sobbing my way through the various events in my past. It does actually get better, though that’s hard to imagine when first coming to terms with what happened. Thank you for your courage in writing about this.

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    1. This must have been painful to even write. I am sorry for the pain and loss you have had to endure. The damage left behind by narcissists and psychopaths is very hard to fathom unless you have experienced the devastation they can inflict upon a soul. It they could, they would suck the blood right out of you. There goal is to destroy you in every way possible and to cause others to hurt and abandon you as well. They want you to lose everything. And this feeds them and brings them joy. You are right, there is no other way to be safe than to keep as much distance as possible from them. Thank you for sharing your experience!


  7. I understand what you are saying. I myself am trying to get to the bottom of some scary childhood experiences. One thing that has helped me a lot is learning that at whatever age something happened is the way my body feels it. I can return to 2 year old self and work with it from there. Even if I don’t have the mental details of the event I just work with the feelings. Your list makes sense to me…exactly my experience. What has helped me is identifying with my intuitive, spiritual self as the real me and my guiding force. No pressure but it is my joyful, true self. I see my depressed self as a part that needs healing but it isn’t my truest. I’m not judging your experience I’m just tossing another idea out there. Thanks for writing this…..Sorry you have had to…

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