Are you one of the PTSD spouses who feels lost?
Does your spouse or loved one suffer from Post Traumatic Stress disorder (PTSD)? If you are then you most likely suffer right along side them. Spouses of loved ones with PTSD are some of the strongest and hopeful people in the world. In fact, these spouses are the unsung heros in our PTSD community.
According to the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs, the divorce rate is 38% for married couples where one partner has PTSD. Additionally, 30% of marriages ended in divorce in 2016. So, if your loved one has PTSD, does that mean that you are at a 68% risk for divorce?
PTSD Spouses Stay Positive
Although this data is disheartening to couples facing PTSD, you do not have to be a part of these statistics at all! I refuse to be a statistic. And my journey with my husband who has (C)PTSD has not been a walk in the park.
However, the good news is that PTSD spouses can support their partners in a healthy way. More significantly, your heart throb can absolutely send their symptoms into remission. Essentially, allowing both of you, and your children, to experience PTSD recovery.
PTSD Spouses And PTSD Statistics
Most resources will state that PTSD destroys marriages. And, this may be true for some people. For example, research has found that 38% of “Vietnam veteran marriages failed within six months of the veteran’s return from Southeast Asia.” Research also finds that “veterans with PTSD are more likely to report marital issues, increased difficulty with parenting, and generally lower ability to adjust back into the family than veterans without PTSD.”
Then, a 2005 Pentagon study found that the divorce rate for Iraq and Afghanistan veterans was up 78 percent since 2003. Not very encouraging for us PTSD spouses, is it?
Whether or not PTSD spouses are facing horrible and damaging symptoms of (C)PTSD, couples make it with joint effort. More so from the spouse who has (C)PTSD, than the PTSD spouses supporting them. A therapist once asked, “How much of his journey does he own”? Instantly, a light bulb went off when I was asked this question.
Think about it, does your spouse act as if they have no control over their symptoms? Additionally, do they feel they are a victim of their circumstance with no way out? All in all, how much of a crutch is the supporting spouse providing? On the other hand, do PTSD spouses hinder their partner’s progress?
Issues & Solutions For PTSD Spouses
Most likely if you are married to someone with CPTSD or PTSD, you are their sole caregiver. And, the position of “caregiver” that you naturally took on is a 24/7 job. Ultimately, the best thing that you can do as a PTSD spouse “caregiver” is to take care of yourself first. Often, I hear supporting spouses feeling as though “they’ve lost themselves”.
To better explain, its like going on auto-pilot. Constantly reacting to PTSD symptoms of your significant other. Consequently, PTSD spouses easily forget who they are at the core. For instance, you may find yourself worrying about your spouse all the time. Mainly, preparing yourself for the next onset of a full-blown PTSD or CPTSD episode.
PTSD Spouses Need A Support System
In these cases, PTSD spouses have become numb and isolated within the walls of their homes. And, their home has become unstable and toxic. Sound familiar? Have you noticed higher anxiety for yourself the closer that you get to home after going somewhere? Chances are you may be developing Vicarious PTSD.
With this in mind, it is highly recommended that you seek individual therapy with someone who specializes in trauma. They will be equipped with helping you. Equally important they will give you the tools you need to be a better support system as PTSD spouses taking care of someone with PTSD. There are therapists who spcialize in helping PTSD spouses.
Tips For PTSD Spouses
Maybe you have not slept a sound night in months, or years. Since your spouse suffers from hellacious PTSD nightmares they either don’t sleep or they wake up often. Chances are, if they are not getting proper rest, neither are you. You are then late to work often. And to make matters worse, the quality of work isn’t up to par. As hard as it is, you should meet with the H.R. department. Or, at least your manager. This way they understand why you aren’t behaving like your usual self.
As PTSD Spouses: Sample Conversation With Employer
Let your manager or H.R. department manager know what’s going on. The worst thing for an employer is becoming aware of changes in their employees behavior and not knowing why. They will notice negative changes that are out of character. In this case they will only assume that you don’t care about your career with them.
For this reason, you will want to cover a few crucial topics with them. This is exactly what I had done, and it took a weight of bricks off my shoulders.
- Ask them if they are familiar with PTSD. If Employers aren’t aware of employees who are PTSD spouses, they cannot sympathize.
- Then let them know that you understand that your situation is your problem, and not theirs. Explain how you understand it only becomes their problem if it affects their business.
- Inform them that your spouse is in therapy, and that things will improve. Also, that it is not a quick fix but that you will do all that you can to make improvements on your work performance.
4 Tips For PTSD Spouses Who Are Really Struggling
The key advice that I can attest to, and share with other PTSD spouses is this:
First, build a support system for yourself. Reach out and make new friends. Seriously. Certaintly, connect with other PTSD spouses online who are experiencing the same journey. As a matter of fact, there are some wonderful Facebook groups. Specifically, created for men and women who’s partners battle PTSD.
A few of my favorites that are invaluable are linked here:
Of course, you can always search for “PTSD GROUPS” on Facebook and find a some that feel would be vsluable.
Tip 2 For PTSD Spouses
Secondly, make time for things that you enjoy. Especially, If you’ve neglected hobbies or activities that bring you joy. Start making time for these. Believe it or not, you can schedule an hour or two every couple of weeksto engage in something fun – that’s just for you. If you have children, take them with you to go visit with a friend who also has children. This adult time is very healing for you.
Tip 3 For PTSD
Learn to recognize your spouse’s triggers. Familiarizing yourself with what their triggers are will help both of you avoid them. In turn, this will also enable working through each trigger after they are identified. Triggers can also change over time so keep this in front of mind.
Tip 3 For PTSD Spouses
Equally important is to recognize the onset of CPTSD or PTSD symptoms or an episode. What early signs of behavior does your spouse have when symptoms begin to surface? Does their physical attributes change? For example, does their skin turn red and blotchy? You may notice them begin to fidgit or speed up their breathing. Due to anxiety, they will act differently. This being said, anxiety is the first PTSD or CPTSD symptom. Then, if not managed quickly, will develop into a full-blown episode.
Tip 4 for PTSD Spouses
Lastly, don’t be so hard on yourself. You are doing the best that you can. You are in the exclusive club of PTSD spouses in love with someone with PTSD. Neither you or your spouse asked for this. Although you can’t control everything that happens to you, you sure can learn to control how you react.
Stay positive, read more articles on this site, and realize that you are not alone. Hey, according to the statistics above, we are part of the 62% successful marriages with PTSD, right?! Before you go, check out these valuable articles that will help you!
- The guide to PTSD and marriage – Learn how to enrich your relationship
- How to manage stress while battling PTSD – valuable stress reducers you can apply today
- PTSD Quotes – tips to help you stay positive, with 51 PTSD Quotes
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