Narcissistic Recovery: Cognitive Function

I’ve been very frustrated with my writing lately. Whenever I sit down to write I have a blog post as a goal. I’ve lost my ability to free-form write and get out what’s in my heart without thinking of an audience.

I know I’m not getting down first thoughts. I’m censoring myself. More importantly, I’m also not using my full vocabulary.

I’ve lost access to some part of my brain that thinks of the right words for me.

The Narcissist often didn’t understand words or phrasing I used and would get upset about it. I think I became aware of the need to speak to him as though he were a kindergartener and got way too used to softening my tone and my verbiage.

It’s not how I used to be. I used to write prolifically. I was opinionated and fiery. I used to challenge people and get feisty in my writing. At times I believe I may have even been quite funny.

It feels like that is gone now.

My edges are dulled. It’s discernible in the way I write. I am not sharp.

My cognitive function feels impaired. It’s like I’m thinking through mud. My mind feels cloudy and it is challenging to try to get thoughts out.

I’m dismayed when I pass my pieces through various readability tests and see my writing measured as being at a 4th-grade level. I know the generally recommended standard for blog posts is 7-8th grade and I continuously fail to get there.

To that end, I want to try to do more brain exercises. I’m trying to read more. I’d love to play more online Scrabble and do other word puzzles as well.

Does anyone have any other ideas for things I might try? I want to get my brain back into shape. I miss it.


  1. A couple of tips to try. Read more, and enjoy it. (Your writing is just fine, and that is good enough.) And imagine you are speaking to one particular real person: not your hero or teacher but a friend of any age who is genuinely interested in the conversation. Bring back the joy of writing!

  2. I’d like to address the writing process here: what you are describing is something I have always done, only I don’t use words like censor. My college writing professor once told me: “Deb, you’re an excellent first-drafter.” That is what you are doing. It isn’t wrong. Setting down with a pre-conceived audience isn’t wrong, either, but is actually a skill you need to write professionally. So you are actually ahead of the game, you see?

    You are correct about losing access to some parts of your mind. This happens when you live with a narcissist, and it happens for other reasons as well. Part of it is natural process and you have to re-open and rebuild pathways. Reading is the very best way to recover vocabulary – it’s where you got it in the first place.

    I’d like to throw out here that self-doubt is sometimes inherent to a degree – this is how the narcissist gained foothold in the first place and was able to work his evil magic. Self-doubt is not wrong at its base either, but is a survival mechanism. The missing link is self-approval, once you look at what you are doubting and find you didn’t do anything wrong. Give yourself a pass and proceed.

    I recently found some of my own decades-old writing and was surprised to find that I wrote it. It sounds exactly like me! Before I got to the part that identified the author as living MY life, I thought it was well-written, touching, maybe even a little charming. I was on the verge of wondering which of my writer-friends sent me this and what they are doing now. Obviously I need to have a talk with myself about what I am doing now. We have catching up to do.

    Sounds like you do, too. You’re doing the right thing. Just keep doing it.

  3. Thank you, all of you, for this feedback. It’s given me much to think on. I’m definitely not being kind or patient with myself. Rather, I’m filled with anxiety about making a living as a writer someday, instead of allowing myself to sit with my present-day emotions and heal. I think I need to work on relaxation and mindfulness a bit before I’m able to get my writing back where I want it. I appreciate all of you pointing this out to me. I’m lucky to have such lovely and insightful followers. <3

  4. Maybe you just need some rest. I find that when I am exhausted, then I got nothing. Since I started writing my book, I feel too drained to blog.

  5. Honrstly, if you have enough trauma you can have advanced degrees in technical subjrcts and lose your ability to speak at all when dissociated enough (true story). It comes back, but not when you keep re-traumatizing yourself by judging and observing. A watched pot never books and a watched brain seizes in anxiety. Try doing the opposite – think about what you are feeling in your body when your mind feels most sludgy. Try remembering how to feel instead of talk about feeling. Try healing the trauma itself and the self-hatred it left you with and your brain might start to feel safe enough to move again.

  6. I’d like to call attention to the fact that you use a tremendous amount of self-judgemental language in this post. I have lost…my edges are dulled..I am not how I used to be.

    I’d like to propose an alternate view. It may or not be valid, that’s for you to determine.

    When everything you wrote about happens to me, and it happens to most people, it’s hard to not believe you have failed yourself in some way. More often than not, however, when this happens I think it’s time to do LESS and not more.

    You may be churning over things and doing the work of recovery in your subconscious at such a level it’s impacting your higher functions. You may be running low on energy for a myriad of reasons.

    Perhaps you could try having compassion for yourself and accepting that right now this is where you are. Turn the awareness of your change in writing style from rejection to love. Hold yourself as a vulnerable and wounded human being and perhaps then you can get a glimpse into the reason(s) for why this may be happening. Usually there is something going on that we can’t quite see. Take some more time for yourself and most importantly be kind to yourself.

    You got your point across in a way that’s readily understandable, that’s the single most important thing for effective writing.

    You can’t perform at the same level all the time. It’s ok to write at a 4th grade level. Hemingway’s The Old Man and the Sea rates at a 5.1 on the ATOS scale…or just above the 25th percentile for 4th grade readability. I copypasta’d your post and it rated at 5.4 on the same scale. I’m hoping that helps put this in a little context. 🙂

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