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Topic: Living with a partner with PTSD

13 posts, 0 answered
  1. Lornz
    Lornz avatar
    2 posts
    24 November 2016
    Please help! My de facto partner of almost 3 years suffers PTSD after 28 years in army, SF, CT duties, 11 deployments and it is a constant "tread on egg shells". He is medicated and sees psychiatrists and psychologists on a regular basis. He says he loves me but cannot give me emotional support when I need it. He sees problems in my life as insignificant, he says I don't support him, he won't talk about what he has experienced as he says I will throw it back at him, anything that happens out of what he feels should be happening is always my fault. I feel so lonely in this relationship. Everyone else in the world is dumb, stupid, ignorant, it's always someone else's fault, never his. What about me? There is very little/no support that I can find for partners living with loved ones with PTSD. I woke this morning to a man very different to yesterday - Today I can't seem to say the right thing, I seem to be looking at him the wrong way, when I question him to ask if anything is wrong, it's all my fault that he is like he is. I have had counselling myself to try and gain information and how best cope with this lonely, always to blame feeling, but each counsellor has told me I don't have a problem and it's him, so I give up attending and go back home to the constant lonely, on edge feeling trying to deal with it myself. This in turn is making me so depressed and anxious about our otherwise healthy relationship. I have tried reaching out to social media support groups but a lot of these is about women having a moan about their husbands - I don't want this, I love him to pieces, all I want is direction on best ways to deal with Living with a partner with PTSD. Military professionals seem to get the support they so honourably need, but where is the support mechanisms for us partners left to live with PTSD daily. Please, if anyone can guide me in any way or throw some light onto if his behaviour is normal PTSD behaviour and how best I deal with it, please let me know before I walk out on this man I love.
    2 people found this helpful
  2. romantic_thi3f
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    romantic_thi3f avatar
    3114 posts
    24 November 2016 in reply to Lornz

    Hi Lornz,

    Welcome to the forums and thank you for reaching out.

    I'm sorry that you're in this situation and it sounds incredibly frustrating; I don't have a lot of experience in this but I'm posting to let you know that you've been heard. I know there's a few users in the forums in the same situations so I imagine that more people will post soon.

    In the meantime though, you may find these links helpful to read -

    https://www.beyondblue.org.au/get-support/online-forums/supporting-family-and-friends-with-a-mental-health-condition-(carers)/my-partner-has-ptsd-and-anxiety-and-i-find-it-challenging-at-times!!!

    https://www.beyondblue.org.au/get-support/online-forums/supporting-family-and-friends-with-a-mental-health-condition-(carers)/feedback-about-my-emotions-with-my-ptsd-partner

    https://www.beyondblue.org.au/get-support/online-forums/supporting-family-and-friends-with-a-mental-health-condition-(carers)/first-time-dealing-with-partners-ptsd---any-advice-that-might-make-sense

    2 people found this helpful
  3. Lornz
    Lornz avatar
    2 posts
    24 November 2016 in reply to romantic_thi3f
    Thank you - hopefully the start to hearing from others.
  4. Starwolf
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    2521 posts
    24 November 2016 in reply to Lornz

    Hi Lornz,

    What a great job you are doing ! Your partner is lucky to have you, even though he is perhaps too overwhelmed by his mental issues to realize this. Mental illness is often all consuming, leaving little space for anything or anyone else. A difficult position indeed for their loved ones.

    Due to your description, I'm wondering if there is also a narcissistic personality at play. I'd suggest you check narcissism (it can be googled). Having a better idea of what you are up against would be an important first step. Perhaps there is more to his behaviour than PTSD.

    Have you checked the bottom of this page ? There is a section on "Supporting someone", including a "Looking after yourself" part.

    I'm sad that you have found little empathy and assistance in counseling. Sometimes, it takes several attempts before finding someone we can work with. Nothing wrong with ditching unhelpful service providers to search for the right person. Hospitals usually have social workers (either attached or visiting). Checking there to find out what/who is available in your area could help point you in the right direction.

    I hope you can soon find the support you so much deserve.

  5. romantic_thi3f
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    romantic_thi3f avatar
    3114 posts
    29 November 2016 in reply to Lornz

    Hi Lornz,

    I just wanted to throw a couple of resources and suggestions your way;-

    You said in your first post your counsellor said that you don't have a problem and that it's him. In my opinion this feels a little dismissive (as well as completely unhelpful); as even though your partner does have a problem, this is affecting you both in so many ways. I wonder if you'd consider trying to find another counsellor who maybe has a little more experience in what you're going through.

    I've linked below the APS Find a Psychologist; you can then find one in your area who can specialise in certain fields - you might like to search for PTSD and then Relationships - https://www.psychology.org.au/FindaPsychologist/

    The other thing I found is a forum specific to relationships and PTSD;- this might be helpful for you - https://www.myptsd.com/c/forums/supporter-relationships.44/

    Finally- I'm not sure if you're a reader but I personally have found reading books to be very helpful in dealing with my own situations. I recently came across one which is highly recommended called 'Loving Someone with PTSD' and refers to itself as a practical guide. If you are interested in it, you can click the 'google preview' button which allows access to a significant portion of the book (for free). https://www.newharbinger.com/loving-someone-ptsd

    2 people found this helpful
  6. MarkJT
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    29 November 2016 in reply to Lornz

    Lornz, awesome job coming to the forums and seeking advice. That is what it is here for and you are clearly in a situation that if far from ideal.

    As a PTSD survivor, let me give you some insight into what it is like and hopefully you will take something out of it to help you cope with daily life.

    Dissociation: This was the worst feeling for me. You are completely numb to the world and have zero feelings. You just simply, do not care. You hurt the people that you love over the most trivial of matters. I once sprayed my 5 yr old daughter for drinking the milk and not eating her corn flakes. All she wanted was more milk. Far from one of my finest moments. I have to live with that all day every day and it hurts. I don't blame myself, I blame the PTSD but i still did it. If your partner is in a constant state of dissociation, then it is very hard to reason with someone like that. Best advice I can give here is to reassure him that you love him and you are there for him. I know you do this and to get nothing back must be extremely difficult. This is not your partner, this is PTSD.

    Hyper-vigilance: Everything is a threat. Particularly if he was SF, he has come from a place where he was on auto pilot, his training kicked in and was surrounded by a team of like minded individuals. He comes back here and there is a sense of loss. A loss that he is no longer surrounded by these team mates so when a threat arises which a majority time is not a threat, it is only made a threat by the PTSD, he only really knows one way to respond to the threat but he is not in the middle east, he is in Australia. The record of checking every window and door in my house before sleep is eight times. There was no threat to me but i felt that there was. You cannot (and not saying you have done this) say there is no threat so be calm as his mind is so overpowering of being stuck in the fight (and not flight) that he is constantly having dumps of adrenaline. Very very difficult to talk to someone with an element of sense when they are having adrenaline dumps. Just be there for him when this takes place, which you are. Let him know that you will protect him, even though he is trained SF, hearing that you are "on his team" may help.

    To be continued....

    2 people found this helpful
  7. MarkJT
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    29 November 2016 in reply to MarkJT

    Flashbacks: Exceedingly difficult to control. When you get triggered it is like being back at the scene. I do not know what his triggers are but he could be walking the street and then all of a sudden gets triggered and he is then back into a full on firefight in Iraq or Afghanistan or where ever else he has deployed. I know when i got triggered and flash backed heavily, I would listen to music, tell me myself i was safe and got to a safe place, be that my bedroom or my desk at work (i had awesome support from work so could sit and calm myself down).

    Has he had any treatments for his flashbacks? I did exposure therapy which worked really well. Horrible to go there but would do it again tomorrow if i had to. EMDR is also a really good treatment.

    Again it is about being there and letting him know that you are on "his team".

    Sleep: Sleep is so vital to our health but i was scared to go to sleep because i knew i would have nightmares. Nightmares that are real events and actually happened. I found it helpful after my breakdown to have a nightlight as I was super scared of the dark and I used to love sleeping in complete darkness. Thankfully i am back to liking the dark but imagine what it is like to be scared to sleep. I never took any medication to sleep as i didn't want to depend on it. Not against it, just not for me. Is he drinking alcohol or caffeine in the hours leading up to bed? If so, if you can find a way to get him to stop doing that, it will be helpful.

    Moving Forward:

    Has he linked in with SoldierOn or Mates4Mates? A couple of outstanding organisations.

    Are you friends with any of his SF mates? One of the best things i ever did was chill with healthy mates who i had worked with (police) and they were able to relate to the things we see and do. Massively helpful. If you could get some of his mates to visit him and let them know what you are going through also. He may not be listening to you but i am pretty sure he will listen to his mates who he deployed with.

    You are in a pickle that is for sure. PTSD is a super debilitating injury that throws lives completely off kilter. Living with someone with it must be exceedingly difficult. I have so much respect for you in how you are going about it, even though it is hurting you.

    Very happy to hear that you are getting counseled as well. Keep doing that - just to unload on someone. You need to do that.

    Look forward to continuing this thread and seeing if can help navigate you through this journey.

    Mark.

    2 people found this helpful
  8. geoff
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    geoff avatar
    15556 posts
    6 December 2016 in reply to Starwolf
    dear Lornz, can I firstly say that by him being in the force, he had to take orders whether he agreed with them or disagreed with what was said, so in other words he was always overpowered, now in your marriage he feels as though he can say and do whatever he likes, far enough to a certain point, but you have your own wants, and what you want to do, so he has to appreciate this, but it's not happening.
    There can be no love in a marriage when one of you can't have a say without being criticised, and here it's you being told that you don't understand, and it's all well and good for each counsellor to say that it's his problem, but where does this put you, well no where, so have they told you how to handle this situation, or just let it go, leaving you more bewildered and totally confused.
    All those that come back from being in the force have trouble readjusting to the community, because now they don't have orders to confirm to, so they get lost trying to be able to communicate and settle back into the society, which definitely means coming back to a marriage.
    His sleep pattern has now changed where he had to be alert at all hours of the day/night when in combat, and in any anger he would normally go and hide in combat, so at the moment he's not ready to discuss anything with you because any shouting or arguing isn't what he wants.
    The trouble is that he may want to run away and hide from society, or another option is for him to start drinkng alcohol as a way of coping, but please remember that none of this is your fault.
    If you like please contact Veteran/Australia.gov.au or browse their site, but take in mind that he may want to reject any offers you provide him with, because he may believe that's it's an order. Geoff. x
  9. Croix
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    Croix avatar
    10556 posts
    10 December 2016 in reply to Lornz

    Dear Lornz
    You’ve been quiet for a couple of weeks so I don’t know if you are still reading. If you are I’m a new voice to go with the others. I’m an ex-cop, invalided out, and my mental injury was an equally devastating blow to the whole family, not just me

    Let me say right off that although I’m not totally cured it’s many years later and things get a awful lot better as time goes on. My wife and I got back to enjoying and supporting each other

    It must seem like there is a fair amount of understanding about what the PTSD suffer is going though and explanations of why there conduct themselves as they do. Both Mark_JT and Geoff have in tried to give you an idea of what you are dealing with but Starwolf mentioned the most important thing – looking after yourself

    You equally need just as much understanding, support, advice and respite. Living with and caring for a PTSD sufferer is not a one person job. Its devastatingly upsetting, all consuming and there is no past experience to draw on

    Those are some good links you have been given by romantic_thi3f where you may find some pointers or at least to know your situation is very far from unique. I can’t steer you at anything better though there may be a support group for military partners, perhaps someone else can advise on that

    My poor wife bore the brunt of the problem, she could see what was happening, had to deal with my irrationality, anger, sorrow, fear and everything else. At the time she did not receive from me the love and interaction we had enjoyed in the past (I was locked in my problems). She was alone and trying to deal with a situation she had never anticipated, one where she was full of doubt both about the relationship, if she was strong enough, what to do

    As it happened my wife had her mother to lean on who was there all the time for while and she also received support at her work (she was a nursing sister with a Casualty background)

    Is there anyone who could be there for you?

    Please feel free to continue here - you never know what might turn up.

    My very best wishes

    Croix

    1 person found this helpful
  10. RKcare
    RKcare avatar
    3 posts
    4 December 2017

    Thankyou for posting!

    I googled for help and found your post xx

    This is my situation down to a tee!! Reading i, i would of thought i wrote this myself!!

    im not sure if this thread is still live but reading all the replys has been helpful!

    I love my guy dearly!! and want more than anything to be supportive and be his soft place to fall when he needs it!

    I do cop my fair share and it takes ALOT to keep going but sometimes i break too. Im looking for help to cope as i want this too work.

    Thankyou xx

    1 person found this helpful
  11. Croix
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    4 December 2017 in reply to RKcare

    Dear RKcare~

    Welcome here to the forum. I see you have read this thread and it has struck a chord. Maybe you are in the same situation my wife was with me - not a place I'd wish on anyone.

    As you can see from the date stamps in this thread it is a pretty old one and not often visited nowadays. I'd like yu to have the full benefit of this place and that means being somewhere people can see you easily.

    Can I suggest you make your own thread? Simply go to the area you think best (perhaps PTSD ... , more likely Supporting Family and Friends ...) and hit the NEW THREAD button. Then set out your circumstances. I'm sure many will catch up with you there, I'll be one of them.

    I'll talk with you again

    Croix

    1 person found this helpful
  12. RKcare
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    3 posts
    4 December 2017 in reply to Croix

    Thankyou Croix

    I Appreciate your feedback

  13. Bethie
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    326 posts
    18 December 2017 in reply to RKcare

    Hi RK

    I'm with you on this. As a partner dealing with something that nobody signs up for its hard. At times my son and I have had to call the ambulance to help my husband and the minute we mention PTSD they bring the police to help as well.

    Im lucky. Our local police have either served or are trained to deal with PTSD.

    My husband' doctor put him on anti anxiety medication/ ant depressant combination which helps alot after the last trip to the P.A. I've been medicated for years due to anxiety and depression and pretty much demand to know if my meds would help my husband. I was told yes they would so he's officially on them now.

    He also takes mild natural medication like alot of guys who have and are currently serving.

    It's not easy at all but I can say please don' give up. Best part is now he likes Byron Bay baked goods 😊. Please keep in touch.

    Bethie

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