PTSDDaddy’s Perspective: Relationships and PTSD
I was asked to write a bit about what is helpful for PTSD from my side of things when it comes to marriage and the spouse wanting to be of assistance. This has been a challenging one for me because if you ask my spouse she will tell you that most of the time I refused help. This is true, but not as true today as it was “Day 1”. First of all, the one thing I feel very strongly about is the fact that you cannot help those who do not want to help themselves. I believe this because I am guilty of being a guy who could not be helped.Due to not see a problem in the first place. Therefore I needed no help.
Relationships Have Issues Naturally
Along the way as we get to know each other better and discover new things it’s exciting and fun. Sometimes, the more recent status is nowhere near as cute as the is was at the beginning stages. Adding PTSD to the mix of “newness” really adds to the challenges of living up to the “for better or worse” vows of marriage. I admit, I have been an utter pain in the ass for my wife. I have been mean, verbally abusive, difficult to deal with and yes, stubborn as hell. At times, I am not sure what she still sees in me but I am certain she is possibly the only living being who could see that the times I was at my worst, that it wasn’t my real self. Essentially, it was the PTSD speaking and behaving for me.
The Beginning: Relationships And PTSD
At that point “help” from a spouse just made me angry and resentful. As you will see more in my book, it all came down to the ultimatum I was handed. “Go talk to someone, or I am taking the kids and leaving. I am not telling you where we are going and you will not be allowed to see them.” Important to point out, I would not recommend starting out with this method of “help”. But this was the last-ditch effort from my wife to get me to go find help. She was out of ideas.
Transition Phase of Relationships and PTSD
Next, there was the “transition” phase. I consider this a transition for relationships and PTSD because I was not quite convinced I even had PTSD. Explicitly because I was not ready to admit it. In part to my counselor validating that I slid some very good counter-arguments into my reasoning of why I did not have PTSD. This got the wheels spinning though. Logically speaking, I was starting to see what was going on, but emotionally, I was still arguing with the idea of it. Another key point is the biggest issue here was that I was being teamed up on. Look at it this way, now I am getting the “I told you so” from someone I’m constantly mad at and cannot stand my wife being “right”.
At the same time I had a counselor who I went to, for purpose of proving my spouse WRONG. My perception was that they were NOT doing their job! That is correct; because my counselor agreed with my wife, they were incompetent”. Luckily, rather than getting rid of her, I strongly wanted to prove them both wrong. This position was very difficult to be in for my spouse. Specifically because any help my wife tried to give was seen as a victory lap attempt to rub in my face that she was right all along. She was not helping. Of course, she was spitefully gloating! Inevitably, there was no helping me at this stage either.
Acceptance & Owning My PTSD
Finally, once I started admitting it, and learned ways to “deal” with triggers, I discovered the problem. Back then, the issue was that I went from zero to pissed-off in point 23 seconds. That’s right, there was no “moment of enlightenment” for me to tell myself “hey I should go do an exercise to deal with these feelings I am having now.” It was always too late. I talked to my counselor about medications, and finally got the guts to give them a shot. Surprisingly, they helped out instantly and worked wonders.
I now then experienced that moment in between being triggered, and going absolutely bonkers on anyone and everyone. As a result, I was able to recognize the situation, take a step out or away, and start to learn to cope with things. Only then I could come back to the people who had nothing to do with the trigger in the first place. From then on it was a necessity for my wife to learn along side with me.
We started with using code words to indicate when I needed a moment. At that instant, I’d go on walks alone, use breathing techniques, or a few other options to reduce my symptoms. My wife learned about these too so she could better understand what the hell I was doing and why. This was the magical moment where the process of rebuilding our relationship, as well as her being allowed to help STARTED. I capitalized started because this is a long process that requires consistent communication.
My spouse and I had been dealing with poor communication skills for a while and literally had to re-learn how to communicate with each other. Without realizing that you are both on different planets, and need to learn how one another interprets and sees things, there is no successful communication.
Tips For Relationships and PTSD
In conclusion, I will say this. If you are in the beginning stage, of the “partner with the PTSD” viewpoint, obviously you HAVE to do something to help. Be cautious though! I cannot stress this enough, at this point in time, anything you say can and will be held against you in the court of PTSD outbursts. Use resources to help, like a third-party so that you will not automatically feel double teamed on. Mainly, because this will most likely this person will be YOUR friend.
The next thing you know, my wife refused to speak to me that entire weekend. All because she was mad at my counselor. So, spouses, consider my experience and be open to what the counselor suggests. Keep in mind, what they are counseling you on is not a forever “submissive obedient spouse” sort of thing, but more of a “here is how to baby them until they reach a point they can better cope with it.”
Relationships and PTSD Communication Issues
Generally, he or she is trying to communicate something and it’s coming out wrong. I have such a hard time trying to vocalize my thoughts, triggers, love, etc…and If something sounds mean or off then it is likely a communication barrier. When this happens ask your spouse to rephrase what they said. Or instead, repeat it back in your own words. For example, “Okay, so what I am hearing is…”. Important to remember is not getting mad and go off on him, or worse, giving them the silent treatment. If you have ever been in relationships and PTSD was present, you can definitely relate.
If your husband or wife is anything like me, they probably aren’t even aware that they pissed you off. By asking for different phrasing or repeating it in your own words just really breaks down the communication into it’s basic form in order to confirm you understand what they meant or not.
Last Thoughts From #PTSDDaddy
Connect With PTSDDaddy
Thank you all for reading our posts, without you we are not successful in building a stronger awareness of PTSD and CPTSD! We hope that this will improve your relationships and PTSD issues. I have a small favor to ask you. Would you mind sharing this link on your social media channels please? I am raising funds for my PTSD Outreach Initiative and this would help tremendously! Thank you in advance!
PTSDDaddy has really helpful information pertaining to Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. What I really enjoy about his blog is his writing style and the personal insight that he shares. For more articles from PTSDDaddy see below. Be sure to visit his social media channels and connect with him. Did you know that he was nominated for the Best Blogger Recognition Award 2017? This is a prestigious accolade in the online blogging community. Not to mention the fact that blogs or websites dedicated to PTSD are few and far in between.
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