I know that it’s hard to believe but a toxic relationship can make you sick.
Just like being exposed to a toxic smell in the air or ingesting a toxic chemical by mistake, being in a toxic relationship can have serious side effects on your health, side effects that can be truly debilitating and life changing.
If you are in a toxic relationship it might be doing more than dashing your hopes for a healthy one. It might actually be making you physically ill and, if it is, it’s important that you stop it in its tracks before it brings you down any further.
Here are 5 ways that a toxic relationship can make you sick.
#1 – Physical debilitation
Did you know that being in a toxic relationship can actually make your body fall apart?
The stress that you are under trying to manage your relationship, trying to process whether you should stay or go, surviving the toxicity in the relationship and trying to live your life can just get to be too much. And what is the first thing to go? Your physical health.
The effects of stress on your body is not insignificant. Stress can lead to chemical imbalances, eating disorders and substance abuse. It can also lead to respiratory, digestive and immune system issues. Furthermore, stress can be a significant contributor to sexual function disorders.
If you are struggling with body aches, persistent colds, difficulty breathing or anxiety attacks, among other things, perhaps your toxic relationship is making you sick.
Do you want this relationship to kill you? Because it might just be, slowly, doing that.
#2 – Mental despair
The most obvious sign that a toxic relationship can make you sick is the depression and anxiety that can rear their ugly heads in the midst of everything that is going on.
Toxic relationships are a day in day out thing. When relationships are bad, more often than not people regularly ruminate on them. If relationships are more than bad, if they are toxic, then we can become obsessively focused on them, causing us to turn away from and neglect things that are important to us.
Furthermore, toxic relationships fill us with feelings of despair and hopelessness, they influence how we think about ourselves and the world, they make us suspicious of other people’s motivations, they make us feel unsafe. All of those things can lead to a situational depression that will get only worse before it gets better.
Extremely toxic relationships that involve severe emotional and/or physical abuse can actually lead to a clinical depression which can be hard to manage and can stay with you a long time, if not forever.
If you are feeling hopeless, if you just want to sleep all the time, if you are isolating yourself, if your moods are interfering with your life or your work, you just might be depressed. Getting out of your toxic relationship might be just thing to help you deal with that.
#3 – Isolation
Unfortunately, many people who find themselves in toxic relationships tend to isolate.
Sometimes the isolation is imposed by the partner, as a way of controlling someone, but often times people self-isolate. They do so because they might be feeling worthless, perhaps they are embarrassed by their relationship, perhaps their friends are sick of hearing about it, perhaps they are sitting at home, waiting for their person to show up.
If there is one thing that we have learned during this time of Coronavirus it’s that isolation is very difficult for human beings to live with. People need to be with people. People need to touch people. They need to surrounded by people who love them. Not having those things can be debilitating in a big way.
Loneliness is one of the most significant causes of depression. It can also lead to unhealthy habits, inability to sleep and substance abuse.
If you find that you are isolating because of your toxic relationship, it could be why your body and mind are suffering so.
#4 – Self-doubt
When we are in a toxic relationship we are filled with self-doubt.
Whether it’s because of the way our partner treats us, whether they belittle us or treat us with contempt or physically abuse us, the result is that we can doubt ourself at every turn. We can doubt who we are as a person, it can affect our work, it can make us question every choice we ever made.
And self-doubt is an insidious thing. The longer it goes on the more it can deeply affect your physical and mental health.
Fortunately, self-doubt can be shut down if you leave your toxic relationship and seek help. Unfortunately, as long that the toxicity exists in your life, the unhealthier, emotionally and physically you could become.
#5 – Substance abuse
When we are struggling with physical and mental issues, with isolation and self-doubt, we are often drowning, having no idea what to do, how to proceed, how to take care of ourselves. Our relationship is making us miserable and the stress is taking its toll on our physical health.
The best thing that we can do to manage side effects of a toxic relationship is to exercise, eat well and get enough sleep. Unfortunately, most of us don’t do that.
For many people, the way that they manage stress is by drinking, doing drugs and over or under eating. All of those things help ease the pain that we are dealing with, at least temporarily. Unfortunately, those things ultimately just make us feel worse.
Alcohol and drugs only exacerbate mental and physical health issues. Over/under eating can lead to self-hatred and health issues related to bad nutrition. Bad habits might feel good in the short term but they will only make us sicker.
If you find that your toxic relationship is causing you to develop bad habits that only make you feel worse about yourself, perhaps it’s time to walk away from the relationship and work towards being healthy again.
Knowing how and why a toxic relationship can make you sick is an excellent means of evaluating whether or not to get out of one.
If you are reading this article you most likely realize that your relationship is toxic and you are seeking some way to identify and deal with it. Connecting your toxic relationship to the physical and mental struggles you have had recently might give you that extra push to get out.
So, if you are struggling with mental and/or physical health issues, if you are isolating and full of self-doubt, if you find that you are abusing substances then it could very well that your relationship is making you sick.
Is anyone worth destroying your health for? I don’t think so!
I am a NYC based Certified Life Coach and mental health advocate. My writing has been published on The Huffington Post, Prevention, Psych Central, Pop Sugar, MSN and The Good Man Project, among others. I work with all kinds of people to help them go from depressed and overwhelmed to confident and happy in their relationships and in their world.