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Supporting my husband with undiagnosed PTSD

Hi all, I'm new to this forum so a bit nervous. I'm pretty sure my husband has undiagnosed PTSD from when he was working for government.  He also has lots of unresolved issues from his childhood. He tells me that he has sorted it out for himself and that it is me that needs help (I was myself probably mildly depressed before, but am currently going through significant situational distress because he wants to leave me) , but he gets very low moods when either topic comes up and still has regular nightmares about the things that happened.  I feel that this is contributing to the breakdown of our marriage because despite all my efforts, he still feels that I am not there for him. How do I learn how to support him in a way that is helpful to him? I've tried letting him know that I care for him and I'm here to listen any time he wants to talk, but he won't reach out as he seems to think I should just know. At other times, I'm afriad that if I bring it up when he's otherwise okay, I will remind him and bring him into a slump. I am worried about him and even if he leaves I want to help and support him, especially since he has no one else to turn to. What can I do?

Community Manager

Re: Supporting my husband with undiagnosed PTSD

Hi @Treehugger

Welcome to the forums 😊

I'm sorry to hear about how things have been for you and your husband. You want to support him and work on the relationship but it feels as though there's a lot of pressure on you to fix everything alone.

Living with PTSD can be an incredibly distressing experience and it's not uncommon for men to have a hard time reaching out for support. I think the question you asked, is a great one "How do I learn how to support him in a way that is helpful to him?" Sometimes it can be a good question to put to ther person you want to support, and they can give you a bit of guidance on what might help. 

If you're feeling as though you've tried different stratgies and that communication has been shut down around his mental health, it might be a good idea for you to chat with a counsellor to get a bit of guidance in how to talk to him, and also how to look after yourself amongst everything. Sometimes in couples or families, when one person takes the step to seek support first (even if the support is mainly around how to support the other), it can model help-seeking for the other person and in time, open them up to the idea of seeking help too. 

Here are some practical tips from a UK based service worth a read. And here's a post form another member tlaking about their experience of suppporting a partner living with PTSD. You might also like to intriduce yourself to our other member's here

Hope that helps a little. Look after yourself @Treehugger