15-08-2014 02:59 PM
I am looking to connect with other carers of men with PTSD.
My husband has PTSD (most related to time in the military and 20 years in the emergency services). His PTSD displays as nightmares, flashbacks, depression and emotional withdrawal. In addition, he has recently been identified as having a seizure disorder, but we are waiting to find out if it is related to the PTSD (dissociative seizure/PNES) or adult-onset epilespy (partial absence seizure).
He was diagnosed with the PTSD in the last few years, but had been displaying symptoms for longer than that, but the condition has been hiding in him from as far back as 1993.
I myself have (now well-managed) depression. We also have two girls aged 14 and 11.
The last few years have been extremely draining and exhausting for both him and I. It has affected our girls somewhat as well.
I hope there is someone out there who can relate to this.
15-08-2014 09:50 PM
My former partner has PTSD and he lives with us. His PTSD is from childhood and also from 2 tours in Vietnam. I also have PTSD (and we both have bipolar diagnoses - I accept mine, he says his is no longer current - but I think it is, whatever the shrinks say) so I can relate to your husband's symptoms.
My former partner also has a type of seizure and I think he was told at one stage it was an unusual type of epilepsy (I'm not sure exactly what), it makes him prone to suddenly going white (or yellow) and either passing out or nearly so and then throwing up. He's weak as a kitten afterwards. I've noticed he has these more often when he's stressed, and they are worse if he drinks much alcohol (more than one glass).
PTSD is often undiagnosed for a very long time, I've had mine since childhood but only got diagnosed in '09 after Black Saturday. It is possible, even quite probable, that your husband's PTSD goes back to his military career or before. No doubt his time in emergency services would have had a significant amount of trauma too. It is incredible what the human mind can live with and shield itself from for a very long time.
I really feel for you both. I've got 3 kids aged 6 to 17. It must be exhausting and terrifying for all of you.
Most of my life I've suffered from severe depression, and the way I learned to protect my kids from myself when I was in that space was emotional withdrawal. I was too fragile to deal with them very well (and usually couldn't cope with their friends coming over) and often told them I needed "time out" because I was stressed. I was frightened I would just lash out at them emotionally because I was so fragile and that would easily turn to burning rage. So it is possible the withdrawal is your husband's way of trying to protect all of you as well as himself.
One of the problems with my former partner's PTSD is that when he's triggered he can be quite emotionally abusive. It is one of the reasons we aren't partners anymore. I have had to learn to be very clear with him about boundaries for everyone's sake including his. So if he starts behaving in ways which are very inappropriate I tell him very calmly what he needs to do, and why I find his behaviour abusive. I know he doesn't want to hurt us, but at this stage he's unable to be fully conscious of his behaviour when he's triggered.
You don't mention whether your husband is receiving any (psych) therapy for the PTSD. I would recommend exploring this, it has made a huge difference to me in being able to recognise and manage my triggers (I'm happy to explain the other things I've found helpful in another post if you are interested). It might take quite a lot of work to find the right "fit" with a therapist, which is also very trying and tiring, but worth it in the long run.
Have you tried to tell your girls what's going on? They will probably be quite bewildered, frightened even - as you no doubt are (quite understandably).
One vital thing is to take enough time out to care for yourself, because you are carrying a huge load. They are all depending on you, and even without suffering from depression that can seem overwhelming. Whether you see it or not you are incredibly strong.
16-08-2014 07:19 PM
Welcome to the forums, I'm really glad you found us.
Kristin raises some good points, in particular making yourself a priority.
I hope you find these forums as just one way to look after yourself. Many members have contributed to this thread sharing the different strategies they use to help look after themselves.
Another option is to contact ARAFMI Mental Health Carers (Freecall: 1800 811 747) - not only will they assist you & what you're experiencing, but they also have referrals that may be helpful for your husband.
I'm sure there are other members here who have similar experiences that can offer support & advice. The person they care for may have different diagnosis, but the exhaustion and impact that you refer to is something a lot of carers can relate to.
16-08-2014 08:21 PM
17-08-2014 05:21 PM
18-08-2014 07:37 PM
18-08-2014 08:03 PM
18-08-2014 08:37 PM
Oh his latchy wasn't like latching for affection, it was getting latchy to silly things like an expression on my face 2 hours ago which he was reading too much detail into and then winding himself up about it, stewing but instead of just saying what he was feeling, it would come out as him being angry with me for not feeding the cats on time. Or he'd feel strangely threatened by another person around me and instead of saying so, would act out in other ways until we'd fight the real issue would eventually come out. He isn't latchy with me emotionally so much, but when he has this latchiness around random things it does work now when he recognises that is what is upsetting him, to directly say so and for me to sooth him.
To show Pax I want his affection as he sometimes thinks I don't, I will pick up his hand or arm or whatever and put it around me, or say "HUG ME!" and smile and he hugs me. His PTSD can make body gestures as small as me putting my hand on his knee make him jump so I often have to say first "can I put my hand on your knee?" before acting so he knows it is me and it won't push him into a flashback or panic state.
With our relationship counsellor, we've come up with "time out". We rarely fight now, but when we do it can be explosive. So the idea is that he or I say "TIME OUT" and based on our coping skills, go off and do whatever we need to do to cool down before coming together again to talk. For me, I walk. I leave the house, call a friend to vent and walk it off. My partner naps..sleep is a great aid to him. But the key is also to have a time frame set on this...so if I'm going for a walk out of frustration from a fight or something I must be back within a set time limit (say...30 minutes) or message before that time is up to extend it further if I need it. This means my partner isn't fretting with increasing anxiety over my safety or whether I am leaving him (he will convince himself I am leaving him).
Communication is key, but both people in the relationship need to be on the same page...so in therapy together, we have come up with key phrases I can use in situations that won't make my partners PTSD flair up but will convey my needs in a language he can grasp and recognise. So for example if he's driving a bit silly, insteadof me saying "that was a bit stupid" I can say "That makes me feel unsafe" and he recognises it and it's like a reality check for him.
You must protect your own wellbeing first. I understand the desire to be there for your partner and support him and your family, but you are no use to anyone if you aren't looking after yourself first. So take the time out when you need to. Do you have a friend or neighbour who if you need a break, can watch your girls for an hour or so while you go and do something nice for yourself? It might be helpful (if you haven't already) to write down your list of positive coping strategies and stick the list up on the fridge or in your bedroom or your diary. Some of mine are:
-Go for a walk
-Write about it
-Sing and dance it out
-Call my mum
-throw oranges at the ground (releases anger)
My partner also has a list him and I worked on for him which cover helpful strategies he can use when he is anxious or depressed as well as a few key sentences he can say to himself when he feels insecure or anxious or depressed. He had trouble coming up with them at first, but things like "This feeling will pass. My wife loves me and cares about me. Don't push her away. Listen." and when you notice he is showing signs of anxiety or emotional negligence, suggest he has a look at his list and read his sentences out loud to himself.
My favourite message for myself and my partner is that all feelings are like waves in the ocean, they will peak and then fall away again. No feeling is permanent.
18-08-2014 09:17 PM
18-08-2014 10:19 PM
Oh I so relate to the oversharing thing! I think that is when it is handy to make friends who are also carers or to get yourself a support worker...not a counsellor, but a support worker who can go out and get a cuppa with you, or even attending support groups.
I'm glad your husband has made such progress, that's great to hear! Since he is happy to stay with the girls if you go out at night, maybe take advantage of that? Find night dance classes, art classes, etc. I know it can be difficult to take that step back, when I went into study 3 days a week I found it very difficult not to return home at the first sign of distress from my partner for about the first 6 months, especially.
If sleeping on the weekends is what your body needs, that's okay! It's what you need at that time, probably weekend catch up and something that relieves some stress for you! Maybe you could make something more of that? Capitalise on it a bit...run yourself a nice hot bath, put some lavendar oil in the bath and start reading a book or listening to some music, then go have your nap. Give yourself that rest you obviously need and deserve.
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