Support for partners with PTSD
After a workplace accident my partner attempted to revive his colleague but he tragically died almost instantly. He developed PTSD after this and we’re still living with the impacts 8 years later.
Together we’ve explored many many options for ptsd. He’s undertaken EMDR, group therapy, 1:1 therapy, medication and natural therapies.
it’s made a difference for him personally but he still can’t be open emotionally with me. He shuts me out and can’t be affectionate with me. He also doesn’t really see how the ptsd impacts me and doesn’t acknowledge just how much his diagnosis has impacted me too.
I love this man, I understand it’s the PTSD, he’s a great father and I see him hurting - but I am so incredibly lonely in our relationship. I feel so shut out, so unloved. Irritability is one of the symptoms of ptsd, I know that, but it leaves me feeling like all I do is irritate and annoy him. Because of the ptsd he’s constantly scanning for threats, always looking at the negatives, I understand why but it’s still leaves me exhausted.
I’ve seen various psychologists for myself over the years and I’ve found them almost invalidating, one encouraged me to leave because I deserve better. I stopped seeing her after that because I felt she didn’t truely understand our situation - but I question now if maybe I am just not seeing things clearly? We have done couples therapy in the past to try and understand better how ptsd was impacting our relationship- I helped with understanding but didn’t really change anything. I often felt like my feelings weren’t valid because of my partners ptsd, anything I raised I struggled with felt dismissed because it was linked back to the diagnosis so it felt very hard to see a solution.
Our kids both have health conditions that require regular tests, medication, cardiologist appointments, I manage all of that to try not to add more to his plate, so I have a lot less left in the tank for our relationship- where as I had a lot more time and energy to invest in supporting his recovery a few years ago.
I’ve read ‘loving someone with PTSD’ and tried joining partners of people with ptsd support groups, the book was helpful but support groups were really negative about their partners and left me feeling worse about our situation.
I guess I’m just looking for shared experiences, is there a light at the end of the tunnel? I’m looking for hope or clarity I guess I feel so lost and alone.
Hey I struggle from PTSD, I don't understand it on your point of view but I can say I'm sorry, your doing good man.
If there's a barrier or a constant gaslight response to your needs and attempts, seriously don't allow it say calmly
"I don't think it's fair or healthy, and I feel we need to talk through this. Only when your ok though, I feel I need to speak about this, as I have something to say and I would appreciate it if you allowed me to finish" I know it's a longshot but take my advice, she knows you deserve to have a chance to say something,
I also suggest you's both seek support together and independently something is triggering her, and the impact it is having on you is obviously becoming less and less of a problem.
I am gonna repeat this Your doing good, in my point of view you's need to face this with communication and consideration and work through it as a team.
Did you know the possibility of your children eventually, committing to a similar future relationship is extremely high.
What would you want them to do, if they felt the same as you have been feeling lately?
You would want them to look after themselves, wouldn't you?
For them tomorrow when you wake up do something for yourself, it's the littlesteps that have the biggest impact, take your time to tell your partner you need couple support and look after yourself while working towards that.
I feel for you so much as you face what sounds like a threefold challenge. To raise your self, your husband and the relationship to new levels is a massive challenge and one you sound like you're working so hard to achieve. Great credit to you.
Blackberry_rose mentions the need to be heard and the importance of having this need met. This leads me to consider something my 21yo daughter has said to me in the past on occasion, which relates to where the bar is set in a relationship. I recall when I initially asked the question 'What's wrong with me?'. It was in relation to why I was so unhappy in my marriage. As I said to my daughter 'I should be grateful for the roof over my head. I should be grateful for the fact your father is such a loyal partner, with me having no fear of him ever cheating. I should be grateful for the fact he is not physically abusive and would never be this way. I should be grateful for the fact he cares about his family'. Her sage-like advice was 'Mum, you set the bar too low and that is why you're so unhappy. You settle for the basics of a relationship, what people should be entitled to expect from a relationship'. Her words woke me up to the truth of the matter. Over the years I had lowered the bar for a number of reasons (to not rock the boat/cause conflict, to not have to feel disappointment regarding medium to high expectation, to not have to feel like 'a horrible person' who expects too much etc etc). While it is incredibly important to lower the bar in some cases, based on a person not being able to cope with meeting high expectations under the circumstances of overwhelming stress or depression or the aftermath of trauma, at some point the bar needs to be reset, otherwise it remains low and that's something that can be felt in a number of ways.
In raising the bar for our partner, we present them with a challenge, perhaps one they've never had to face before. The ultimate challenge is for them to develop enough consciousness in order to reach that bar. The challenge is for them to evolve beyond their comfort zone or beyond a lack of consciousness. While your husband may have never felt the need to discuss and explore emotions, now the need is here and it's an incredibly serious and undeniable need that has to be met. There are ways of meeting such a need carefully, with great consideration.
Btw, Jordan Peterson offers a fascinating perspective on why it's so important to have a partner who pushes us to meet challenges (leading us to develop beyond our comfort zone). Might be worth a look.