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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Having Trouble Dealing With A Discovery...

Discussion in 'Supporter Relationships' started by Mellotron, Feb 6, 2011.

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  1. Mellotron

    Mellotron New Member

    I've made a rather confusing and quite hurtful discovery, but the way in which I've made it and my girlfriend's current mental state have me pretty torn on how to deal with this.

    In the wake of a recent Anxiety episode - so bad she could barely speak, let alone leave her room and suffered some minor delusions - I came to stay at hers for about a week. Barring the personal space issues (we slept in the same bed, but she didn't like being kissed on the mouth or held for too long, but she'd still hold my hand when we were falling asleep / stroke my face occasionally, etc.), we had a good time loafing around watching DVDs with the odd social event and whatnot as she recovered.

    Having got back today, I decided to have a cursory look at her posts in a forum she discusses her PTSD in, since she'd been kind of emotionally quiet while I was there. Pretty much the first thing I found was a post by her from the same day her anxiety episode was at its worst - the day before I came to stay - talking about how much she missed her ex, whom she left over four years ago, and how lonely she felt and how he was the only person she'd ever truly loved.

    Given our relationship up til now, this is almost more baffling than painful to read - it just runs totally counter to everything that's happened between us up to this point. We had a few months last year where we had to split up in the wake of a dissociative state she suffered as the result of a Suicide attempt, and we ended up reconciling partly because, in her words, she realised that she loved me and she didn't want to lose her chance with me to her PTSD. We get along fine, we never argue, and neither of us has been anything but dedicated and loving to the other, and this is just completely out of the blue.

    Of course, the situation I'm in now is that I feel I need to know if this is genuine or an emotionally unstable outburst that I shouldn't worry about, but I can't ask her up front because A) she's still kind of fragile and I don't want to start putting pressure on her to quantify our relationship and B) asking would involve admitting that I've breached her privacy somewhat, even with the best intentions (yeah, I know, road to hell and all that).

    I'm just at a total loss. Can anyone with more general insight on the state of mind she was in offer any perspectives or advice?
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  3. Iron_Angel

    Iron_Angel Active Member

    Hey Mellotron... I can't begin to imagine anything about her state of mind but my advice is to let things alone. She may not even realize that what she wrote is inconsistent with her current relationship. Maybe think of it as two trains of thought on different tracks. She might have meant that her ex is the only person she'd loved _until now_.She just didn't say it that way.

    The reality is that she's with you. And as you say, what she wrote is completely counter to what has happened between the two of you to this point. So anything else is irrelevant. The important thing is how you two move forward together, and the trust you build with each other. I think therefore that you are right not to confront her about what you read. And don't let it get between you and start to cause a divide. Just love her and support her as you are doing, and keep going step by step, taking each day as it comes.

    Having a loving, supportive person who wants only good things for us is the best way to forget about any ex. [​IMG]
    BloomInWinter and Junebug like this.
  4. Mellotron

    Mellotron New Member

    Thanks for the response. :)

    I'm just worrying about poisoning the well, so to speak, thanks partly to the uncertainty I now feel and the Guilt that I've found this out by sort-of going behind her back; I mean, it's not like I had to look hard to find it, she showed me the forum and her forum name herself a while ago, but I know I should let her vent elsewhere without sticking my nose in.

    You're totally right, of course, and I'm going to bite the bullet and keep on going as normal, because when it comes down to it I love her and trust her to be honest about her feelings, so if these are grounded in reality I'll know soon enough anyway.
  5. Darkness Shines

    Darkness Shines Well-Known Member

    I say the craziest things during bad episodes, and yes, I've posted quite a bit of nonsense on this forum as well. I've even said bad things about my husband who's the most wonderful lover and supporter anyone could ever possibly ask for. I didn't mean it! Truly, I have no clue what I'm typing/saying when I'm at my worst.

    I do think it's important to have open communication about these things, though. I would never want to leave my husband wondering whether there was some truth behind something bad I said during an episode. I know I say off the wall things and am not going to freak out about someone asking me if I really meant what I said. Then I can tell them NO I did not mean that crap and it was just the PTSD talking.

    So I would say you probably have nothing to be concerned about, but should still feel comfortable sharing your feelings with your girlfriend. It's far too easy for PTSD relationships to become one-sided, with the healthier partner getting no support in return.
  6. Mellotron

    Mellotron New Member

    Again, thanks for the response. It's reassuring to know this kind of behaviour isn't totally unique, and that my hope that it was just an outburst isn't entirely unfounded.

    Communication is vital, I agree, I've always been very aware of how important it is in a good relationship and I've always shared whatever's on my mind (well, when it's appropriate at least, I don't want to stress her out with my babble if she's in a bad way). I'm just very, very wary of how I should approach this with her, since she's still recovering from the anxiety episode and I feel bringing all this up would just push her away.

    Thanks for the concern; I've read the main relationship threads on this subforum more than a few times and I've remained aware of the healthiness of our relationship. I can't honestly say it's perfect right at this moment, but it's a pretty drastic change from the norm, I understand the circumstances at work and I intend to remain proactive as long as it's productive to do so. I'm lucky enough to have a girlfriend who is aware enough of how her issues influence her to keep up her end for the relationship, though, for the most part. :)
    Iron_Angel likes this.
  7. ironbird

    ironbird Active Member

    Don't bring this up. You will stress her out and she will run from you.

    I totally disagree with everything that has been posted in this thread. That is a major red flag. I know those other replies were nice to hear but there is no excuse for saying something like that. She missed him, felt lonley and he was the only person she truely loved...I agree PTSD can make a person say some hurtful things due to anger or what not but I don't think going to an internet forum and confiding this type of information is anything to do with it. I'd say she feels this way deep down and her episode made her feel that.

    How old are the two of you? How long have you been with her? What is the nature of her PTSD?
    Jadebear likes this.
  8. Heather

    Heather wonder woman I NEED YOU!!!!
    Premium Member

    Why are you snooping? You are invading her privacy and if she finds out you are going to damage the trust in your relationship.
    cat likes this.
  9. Mellotron

    Mellotron New Member

    We've been together for nearly a year or so, give or take the months we spent apart. She suffers from C-PTSD.

    I just find it hard to take at face value. It's not like this person is an unkown element to me; we've talked about her past relationships a lot and while she did regret bailing on him at the time she felt she'd moved past the whole thing. I know that I shouldn't get into denial about possible implications, though, but considering this is something I'll have to keep to myself I can't really take the worst case scenario otherwise I'm going to end up destroying our relationship anyway.

    I got worried about her. I know it was stupid and I regret it, the last thing I want to do is endanger the trust in our relationship and I've never been the type to snoop. I just found it hard to sit around when I knew that I had a chance of getting at least another angle on her mindset from her talking on a board she knows I know she posts on.
  10. JadeBear

    JadeBear I'm a VIP
    Premium Member

    I don't think you're at a total loss, I think you are just having a hard time accepting the truth. I don't mean to burst your bubble or rain on your parade, but I personally believe what you 'discovered' was her true feelings.
    1966 likes this.
  11. BloomInWinter

    BloomInWinter Transitioning to Single Parenthood
    Premium Member

    It's a good thing to remember too that these posts seem like they are a constant, but truly, just a brief snapshot of feelings in time.

    In Al-anon, I learned that it can get very unhealthy to 'snoop' on someone. That's time better spent working on myself. Either I trust that person to be honest, or I don't.

    We have other annoying bumper sticker gems that help me...

    'Never ask a question you either already know... or don't want to know...the answer to.'

    I'd ask a, what did you do nice for yourself, today?

    ...and, if asked, I'd advise to let this one go with a 'lesson learned' about driving ourselves nuts with the 'what ifs'...a sure sign our codependency monster has gotten off-leash.

  12. amethist

    amethist The Mystic Duck

    This is now getting out of line with the original thread. I have deleted 2 posts from this thread, any further posts like this will also be deleted and the thread closed.

  13. booboomatrix

    booboomatrix New Member

    First post.

    I really believe what she wrote on that forum is only consequential if she tells you about it herself. Also, she might have no way of getting back with her ex, and might have been missing him and feeling bad about that, but that it can amount to nothing.

    Unless she tells you about that, I would not worry about it. We miss people.
    It's nice that you're concerned, but it does kind of seem like snooping, and no I don't think those are her "true" feelings. Implying people can only feel for one person at a time, or we have off and on switches.

    I would not worry about it, continue to support her and look forward to more functional times. Make relationship decisions then. And so what if it's on a public forum, someone has to look or snoop for it. What matters is if that's accepted in your relationship. Most of the time I don't care when my bf checks up on me, only sometimes it gets worrying.
    sterre likes this.
  14. Ted Moen

    Ted Moen Well-Known Member

    "I've made a rather confusing and quite hurtful discovery, ..."

    But possibly not the discovery you think, Mellotron. Things in a person with ptsd's current situation trigger old stuff which the person with ptsd then has to deal with in their current situation. A smell, a sound, a feeling and the old stuff intrudes and suddenly the person with ptsd is overwhelmed with thoughts and feelings that have nothing to do with their current situation except they are there and interfering and suddenly stuff that should feel good feels very wrong. It feels very confusing. One healthy response in that situation is to express the feelings in a safe environment. Assuming you are part of your friends current situation, not the old stuff, you have discovered she has a healthy coping mechanism.

    Junebug likes this.
  15. Nicolette

    Nicolette ♡ Supporter Admin ♡
    Supporter Admin

    Just a reminder to the Sufferers who are posting here - this is the Carers section & while your input is appreciated there is a fine line between offering an opinion & demeaning others who are trying to understand PTSD. Please remember that this side of the fence involves learning, asking questions with little real insight to how someone with PSTD Suffers or their behavior.

    And I back everything Amethist said.
    cherryblossom likes this.
  16. 1966

    1966 Active Member

    For what its worth, I think it was a snapshot in time, and just what was going on in her head at the time. Exactly the same happened with me when my wife read a post of mine. She took it completely out of context... and guess what, I treated it like she was snooping into my inner most thoughts.
    That said, it must be just as hard for you as a carer, as it is for my wife as a carer, and all she was doing was trying to understand what I was going through. Definately a tricky one my friend.
  17. ironbird

    ironbird Active Member

    I think you should keep your guard up.
  18. Reclusive

    Reclusive I'm a VIP

    I'm a sufferer and a carer and I can tell from both my own behavior and my fiance's behavior that times gets all warped and wonky when you're going through an episode. There are sometimes I get all nostalgic and worry that I made a mistake when I left my ex... and then a few hours later I'll snap out of it and remember all the reasons I dumped that jerk and how incredibly blessed I am to have my fiance.

    When my fiance goes through an episode, he tends to not make sense - half of what he says is in response to something in his memories and they're only now (13 years down the line) starting to make sense to me. So I know that when we have our 'episodes' we pretty well lose it completely.

    But you have a decision to make because you have to take care of yourself. You can decide to let it go and trust her, hold onto it and doubt her, or confront her and see what happens. Because if you don't do the one that's right for you, you're gonna go nuts too.
    Junebug likes this.
  19. Shelley_S

    Shelley_S Member

    [First Post]

    As a carer of someone with C-PTSD, I tend not to take anything my sufferer says or does during an anxiety attack very seriously, unless she is threatening to hurt herself. Instead, I look at her behavior when things are calm to determine the status of our relationship.

    If I were you, I would be asking whether your girlfriend's reluctance to kiss you on the mouth or be held for too long are symptomatic of her C-PTSD, or whether she is just not that into you. You need to know where you stand in your relationship. So, instead of questioning her in relation to her forum post, I would be questioning her in relation to her behavior with you at a time when she is calm to determine the true nature of her feelings toward you.
    Junebug likes this.
  20. Junebug

    Junebug I'm a VIP
    Premium Member

    And what part has to do with triggers
    Shelley_S likes this.
  21. Mellotron

    Mellotron New Member

    Her trouble with physical intimacy has been an issue whenever she's triggered or dealing with an episode, so it wasn't really unexpected. Hypervigilance and a need for personal space tend to come up when she's going through a rough patch, and right now it's probably the worst one I've seen.

    I've remained cautious but there's so much happening with her current emotional state it's kind of impossible to tell if the emotional distance and insularity are a problem with me - she's told me it isn't, and I trust her, but I can only operate on assumption so far. It's hella confusing, in a nutshell.
  22. justwannabeme

    justwannabeme Active Member

    That's a tuff one, B) would kill me, if it was me. Been 24 yr in AA and my sponser reminded me once when I was really struggling with telling or not telling someone something I did or didn't do...."except when to do so would injur them or others.". Read about us here in this forum, you might understand her rantings a bit better, get a really tough skin, which I'm sure any caregiver (bless you all) would agree to and hold on, hang in.
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