Peer support subsequent to trauma contributes to full recovery

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) -- including complex trauma (cPTSD) -- is debilitating, breaking down the body through anxiety and stress, and it poses a significant suicide risk in sufferers. MyPTSD seeks to help and inform those who are directly or indirectly affected by these conditions through peer-to-peer support and educational resources.

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Friends and Family Don't Believe PTSD

Discussion in 'PTSD Relationships' started by Broken_LCD, Jun 21, 2009.

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  1. Broken_LCD

    Broken_LCD New Member

    Does anyone else here seem to get the feeling sometimes that they just don't believe in the whole PTSD diagnosis?

    I'm not sure if it's that they don't understand, or they don't want to believe a loved one is hurt in such a way?

    Sometimes I get the feeling that my parents (my mom in particular) and friends think I'm faking it. They understand that I get "Depressed" and "sick" but beyond that there is no understanding.

    I'm scared of losing my friends because of it. One day they are just going to get sick of putting up with me and leave me behind, then I will be alone. I wish my mom understood more too because she has been a rock for me most of my life when my dad was being crazy and we were both shot at the day of the shooting. I feel we have a different bond because of it.

    What really bothers me is when my best friend brings up a job. I just recently stopped working because I just can't do it physically and mentally. I was getting paranoid, seeing things out of the corner of my eye, not listening to people when they spoke, and throwing up before work. I used to work 2 jobs and go to college. I feel ashamed to be on disability because of them.

    I still don't know if they honestly believe that I do things and have no recollection of doing those things. My dad says it's because I'm overtired and not PTSD. Ugh, it just bothers me so much.
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  3. dancingmayflower

    dancingmayflower New Member

    Hi, I'm a totally new member - joined just a while ago. Your question re your family and disbelief re existence of PTSD really resonates with me. I have recently had to abandon a social work degree course due to my PTSD symptons. My parents (part of the cause of the PTSD) asked me why I couldn't just 'lighten up' and not take things so seriously and implied that with 'an act of will' I should be able to overcome my difficulties.

    The hardest one for me though is my partner - who is extremely supportive in many ways but constantly tells me to leave the past in the past and concentrate only on the here and now and future. When I try to explain that I cannot control my regression to the past and that my symptons are not under my conscious control, he rubbishes me and says that he must be a lot stronger than me, mentally, and implies that I am being weak (incidentally my partner is an alcholic but unprepared to do anything about it). Needless to say I do not tell him that he is weak!

    So yes, you are not the only one with problems of disbelief. Personally it makes me feel very alone as I can only really talk to my counsellor about the effects of having PTSD as she is the only one who really understands. The aloneness is the reason I have joined this forum.

    Hope this helps you.:smile:
  4. ISupportHer

    ISupportHer Supporter Member
    Premium Member

    Broken and Dancing:

    Just wanted to say that I am sorry you are feeling like you are not understood when you are already experiencing pain. This forum is where you need to be, in my opinion.

    If you have not already done so, look through the old posts and I know you will find others that have expressed similar frustrations. One recent one is what not to say to someone with PTSD.

    If you are pouring your heart out here, you may want to look at the carers resources and provide family/significany othres/friends with some of these resources (books, etc)

    Just a quick personal comment. Wife had several years of Depression before the PTSD after memories surfaced. I feel that I was believing of the problem but not fully understanding. I mean, the first book I read, Partners in Healing" or something similar was a start but I was niave. Thought, "now we know and we can "fix" it". It is my hope that, with education and love, your loved ones will come to understand and accept you for who you are. I wish you well.

    No magic advice from me. I'm new here too. Others with more experience will chime in with their words of wisdom.
  5. TLight

    TLight I'm a VIP

    YOu'll find a ton of people out there who think we can just 'put it all behind us' if we were just 'strong' enough or not so 'weak' or being just a 'victim.'

    This is the reason I just don't tell anyone. The secondary wounding is too great. My family? Well, they are the abusers so of course they are going to negate your experience and pain. I got rid of my family because I know they will never change.

    As far as losing people? WEll, I'm afraid of that too. It is hard because I feel like when my symptoms are high, I'm bringing those around me down. I haven't figured out how to deal with this one yet. My instinct is that I'd be better off just being completely isolated, then I wouldn't bother anyone, but that is the disorder talking. I deserve love and attention, even when I'm not capable of returning it.

    I know how you feel.........I guess that's the best I can say.
  6. Marlene

    Marlene I'm a VIP
    Premium Member

    I've had friends walk away from me for PTSD. One told me she didn't believe it. Whatever that means. My mother in law told my daughters that I made up my PTSD to get out of my responsibilities and that it doesn't really exist.

    Sometimes when my husband's stressed out or upset he goes back to that 'You believe you have PTSD because you were told you have it'. I used to be really, really hurt by this. But I know when things get rough for me, it's a defense mechanism for him. I reply the same way to him...'If a doctor told me I had cancer I would believe him and get a second opinion. It's their jobs and their specialty. I've had two diagnosises of PTSD from two doctors.' Or I don't answer him at all. I know, I understand and that has become enough for me.

    It's taken me a long time to get here. Lots of pain and tears to get to the point where I don't give a flying fig what others think of me or my illness. I live with it the best way I know how and that's all I can do. I stopped trying to convince others because, as TLight stated, the fall out from it is just too much. I don't hide it, but I also don't walk around with a sign.

    You can't make people who don't understand what it is to have PTSD understand. It's just not going to happen.

  7. Frankie

    Frankie Well-Known Member

    I know how hard it is to make someone understand about PTSD and the lifechanges it entailes....and I also know that not everyone will want to understand. Reasons ? fear, ignorance, shock, disbelief, the list can be long !!

    In my case it is my exbf that has the disorder. When I started seeing him and he told me he had ptsd, I truly didn't know what it was or how severe it could be, but I was starting to like him and I read and read and joined this forum....I wanted to better understand what he was dealing with....and what I would be dealing with.

    Yes, there were times at the very beginning where I thought to myself " why can't he just move on ?" or worst "it will go away with lots of help and love" till I realized that he didn't have the choice to "move on" or that it doesn't go away...

    Having said all this, I accepted the limitations that this disorder brings, and I know that it doesn't go away....but by then I was beginning to love him and I was committed.

    However, not everyone I know understood.....I got a lot of "why doesn't he get over it ?" or why can't he keep a job ? he lazy ?.....or worst "stay away from him, he could be dangerous !" or "you can do better" !!!!!!

    I tried to educate them about the disorder, gave them info to read....and as much as they would read and heard about the disorder....there was still that feeling of "hmmmm" from some of them.

    And I decided that if they didn't understand or believe....well so be it. Yes, it did hurt and was frustrating when I had to constantly justify why he was sometimes acting the way he was......especially since I knew the wonderful, funny, caring man he was. But I did go into the relationship knowing that ptsd was part of who he was and never regretted it.

    The best suggestions I can offer is find someone you can talk to and trust....someone that won't try to "change" you.

    Educate them as much as you can.....but also remember that for some.....ignorance is bliss !! And don't ever feel you have to justify yourself....if they can't or won't is their problem and loss !

    Just like Marlene and TLight, you have come to the right place Broken LCD and dancingmayflower, lots of info and support and you will make friends along the way !

    ISupportHer, I know how it feels to love someone with the disorder......could be a rocky and long journey, and at times lonely.......but very rewarding too......Keep on loving her and supporting her.....she is truly lucky to have you in her life.

    Take Care !

  8. Ursa

    Ursa Well-Known Member

    Hello Broken

    I hide my PTSD from most people because I don't want do have unsuportive people around me telling s***t.

    I chose very carefully the closest friends to tell and my family does not know about this diagnosis. Unfortunately they are the reason for my PTSD and the day I tell them about the diagnosis will be also the day I will have no family anymore. Just my husband which is the family I chose.

    For the friends that know, it is a relief that I don't have to fake a mood I am not in anymore. For the ones that don't know, well those are not the kind of friend that you can really count on.

    So, I think that what I am trying to say is, we don't have to put ourselves in situations that don't help us. You have a choice. Not everybody need to know about this condition and a lot are better not knowing.

    Take care.
  9. 2quilt

    2quilt I'm a VIP

    Your friends and family don't believe in the diagnosis because it's easier for them to ignore traumatic events and the aftermath of them than to acknowledge them.

    Traumatic events cause fear, and since they don't want that same trauma to happen to them, they dismiss and discount yours.

    Just like when they say, "Why didn't you (fill in the blank here) when the perpetrator did that?"

    It's so easy to tell someone what they SHOULD have done to prevent the trauma that happened in the past because it's too scarey for them to imagine themselves in the same situation.

    They feel stronger and more powerful and safe if they can tell you and convince you that PTSD does not exist, you did something wrong to bring the trauma on yourself, lighten up, put it all behind you, move forward, etc.

    And I don't think that someone on disability has any reason to feel guilty or a fraud for receiving that compensation. PTSD is as real as any physical illness, any physical disability that stops us from gainful employment. We are worth every penny of that compensation! We deserve it!
  10. midi

    midi Guest

    Denial is hard work. You've got to minimize, Shame, belittle, lie, avoid... pulling the scabs off to heal the wound underneath takes courage - which some people just don't have or aren't interested in doing.

    It's hard, it's disappointing, and heart breaking when people attack you because they can't deal. Try to be true to yourself and hang with peeps that are understanding, supportive, and non-judgmental.

    The ability to perform heinous crimes causing others deep trauma lies within every single human being - and that's the truth that people who deny do not want to face. So, they will continue to discredit you and your trauma.
  11. Grama-Herc

    Grama-Herc I'm a VIP

    One of the best example of how truly uneducated the general public is about PTSD was what my supportive and loving mother said to me the day I was released form the hoptial.

    Being very serious and extremely concerned for me, she said and I quote, "So, when did they say you could go back to work?" When I told her I was not cured, she asked why they sent me home then. I had to explain that it was not like I had surgery and I had recovered. There is no getting "cured". So she asked why I was put into the hospital then. I explained it was to be correctly diagnosed, properly medicated and taught how to live with PTSD.

    People simply don't accept things they can not see. The friends will come and go.
    True friends who care do stick around. I know it feels lonely--it is.
  12. Claire

    Claire Well-Known Member

    I used to wish that you got big red spots with PTSD so people could actually see it! It is hard and I've had the same problems with both friends and family.

    Have you tried to explain to the people that you really want to accept you and PTSD? There are lots of books out there that might help them understand it better. There is such limited understandind of mental/emotional health problems and many people are just ignorant. I find if they can accept that a soldier that comes back from War might be frightened of a car back firing then that's a good start to try and explain you own case from there.
  13. Grama-Herc

    Grama-Herc I'm a VIP

    I know what you mean. If one more person asks me "exactly what are you afraid of" I am gonna scream. An old high school friend calls occassionally and every time he asks the same stupid question. I've tryed to explain how I feel. How I would prefer he NOT call me anymore, nothing works. So, mom nswers the phone now.
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