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How Do You Explain PTSD To Loved Ones?

Discussion in 'PTSD Relationships' started by Hen, Sep 7, 2009.

  1. Hen

    Hen Well-Known Member

    I have a wonderful partner who puts up with me but I wish I could explain to him why I behave as I do sometimes. He just says, "Oh, you're drunk again" or such like that but I don't know how to make him understand I am just not coping. Does that make sense to people?

    I have just been on a child protection course for work which has destroyed me but as I don't show emotions I can do but once home I have fallen apart.

    What do I do?
  2. littleb

    littleb New Member

    How Do You Explain?

    Hello Everyone,

    Am doing better today, thanks again for all your advice, kind words, and support, it's really helped me in the past few days. I have set dates in my plan on moving forward, should be all set in stone here soon, after today really, and having that all lined out (what I'm doing, and when) really has helped me feel more in control the past day or so.

    I have a new problem though. Apparently its become obvious to everyone that Im not the same as I was. I didn't realize it until now, but I suppose everyone else caught on pretty quick that "somethings not right" with me lately. I've only told my one friend, and my man, that I have this, and even then its been a brief "yea went to a therapist and she said I have PTSD, so I got to deal with that" description and that's it.

    I don't think my man understands at all what I'm going through, I know he doesn't and I don't know how to explain it to him. I know what it is, I just don't know how to relate it so that he (or anyone else) would understand it. I have been lashing out more lately, not physically violent, but I've become paranoid about people's intentions. It's (as you know I'm sure) not a conscious decision for me, I just switch from feeling somewhat logical (now) to feeling as if everyone's out to get me, and I know it's not true, but it doesn't change the fact that when I switch to that mode that I treat people with that in mind. I make people who don't deserve it, out to be the enemy.

    Other acquaintances have noticed that I'm not the same, I've lost weight, my concentration is shot, I'm sleeping even less than I did before, and it's taking its toll on me, and my appearance shows it. So do I explain to them whats going on? Do I leave them to think what they will?

    I feel like I owe them an apology or something.

    The other part of this, there have been a few acquaintances that are trying to transition to friendship (and currently failing horribly although that's no fault of theirs, I just can't reciprocate their feelings of trust and friendship right now). Do I tell them? I feel bad that they are putting forth this effort and I really feel like I can't do the same right now.

    PTSD and why I have it, is not something I'm used to thinking about let alone talking about. I didn't even know I had it until a few weeks ago. As for my past, I really can't talk about it, when I told my fiancee, I told him about it in the same way I'd tell him about putting gas in the truck, or doing laundry, like its no big deal. But it is, I just can't seem to express that. I have seriously changed in the past 8 mos, I feel like I turned into a completely different (unpredictable) person. I don't know how to explain that to him so he (or anyone else) understands the seriousness of it, especially since every time I try to talk about it, I put it out there like it's just another typical everyday thing.

    I don't want to depress him or scare him (or anyone else) away, I need people around me right now, even if I don't want them around (and a lot of times I don't) I need them around, if that makes sense? I spent 8 months trying to fix it by myself before I realized it's not something I can do by myself. I didn't get to this point by myself in the first place so why I thought I could just "fix it" without anyone knowing, I don't know, and I thought that so far I had succeeded in hiding it and apparently I was way wrong on that one. Now I'm trying my hardest not to continue to push everyone away, and I need support, but I don't know how you go about getting it. How do you tell people, that even when you sound like you don't want them there, you need them there for you? Do I just come out with it, and let them do the searching? Do I explain...and if so...any pointers on getting past the initial denial of the seriousness of it. I know it's serious, but when I go to talk about it, I can't express that. Anyone else have that problem?

    Is there any good way to tell someone news like this? And....last but not least my employers, they haven't said anything, but if everyone else has noticed how different I've become, I'm guessing they have too? Do I tell them or wait for them to approach me?

    A lot of questions, sorry its such a long post. Thanks in advanced for any helpful tips you can give me on initially dealing with this.
  3. helena

    helena New Member

    Hi Hen,

    Don't be too hard on yourself - it isn't your fault you have ptsd.

    The job you do is hard and would take its toil on anyone. I don't know how bad you get when you drink and, obviously, I can't speak for your partner but I usually only get upset when my so drinks and loses sanity or puts himself at risk by getting beat up and/or arrested.

    Drinking per se, is not the crime.

    Take care
    Hen likes this.
  4. Mina

    Mina VIP Member Premium Member

    Keep in mind that although your fiancee may not be able to relate, he can still be supportive and educate himself on PTSD. My husband has no basis to relate to my PTSD or to my past, but after a rocky start (he kind of thought PTSD was a bunch of psycho-babble crap at first), he has become an immense support to me, and provided very valuable insights into my behavior.

    Have you considered printing out that post, and showing it to your fiancee? It's good. Your words express quite well how you very much you don't want to push him away, even if you seem like you do. It's also clear from your post that although you wish you could explain everything to him, you can't explain it to yourself yet...so even though you want to bring him on-board, you're not ready yet. Maybe if he read what you wrote, he would have a better understanding of where you are right now.

    By the way, if you're looking for an analogy to use, this is one of my favorites :smile:
    Mary's Gorilla Theory - The Gorilla In Your House

    You might find some helpful information in these threads as well:
    How To Explain PTSD To Employer/Office Staff[URL="http://www.ptsdforum.org/showthread.php?t=7868"][/URL]
    How Do I Explain The PTSD...
    How Do You Get Your Family To Actually Understand?[URL="http://www.ptsdforum.org/showthread.php?t=5384"][/URL]
  5. littleb

    littleb New Member

    That analogy, is PRICELESS. LOVE it!!!:clap:

    I can articulate it well when I'm writing, but I can't talk for the life of me. Even small talk comes out jumbled, I can't ask about the weather without stepping on my own tounge.

    My gorilla got the best of me yesterday. I know I can't stop it, but I feel bad that its there, and that I've made my hubby feel inadequate because of it. He does have a temper, but my reaction to his temper is out of control. It was not a good day for us yesterday, I almost thought it was the end of "us" yesterday.

    I can't be around angry people, being around it makes me different. Anger from someone else, gets to me, and I react one of two ways; I stuff down the emotions while my brain implodes and I'm literally incapable of doing anything, not even so much as moving down a seat on the couch, or I become the raging gorilla, smashing anything I see as a threat. I was the latter of the two yesteday. I dont like either reaction, both extremes are bad, but I've got to say the latter definetly takes more out of me. I feel exhausted today, and somewhat depressed.

    I can't count the number of years I spent saying I'd never be like my father was, and when I hear myself sometimes, it sounds just like him. The problems I have now, are the same ones he had.

    My man hit a trigger hard yesterday, and I flew off the deep end. I made him out to be the abuser, couldn't help it. After losing it though, I did get a chance to explain a little better what is wrong with me, but I still feel like things go in one ear and out the other. Well, I'm sure it didn't help that my first attempt at explaining ended up with me screaming like a banshee :wall:

    I will print off my post and let him read it as you said, since I can talk about it some-what reasonably here. Thanks for the advice and resources
  6. TLight

    TLight VIP Member

    I know........I've found myself behaving like 'him (the evil one)' also..........we were exposed to that crap so young and our brains were programmed.

    It takes a lot of work. You are not doing it on purpose. It is not who you are..........remember that. Think about how he was and think about you, you ability to love, be compassionate to others, be respectful.

    You are not him.........the chemicals start and you are doing what was programmed into you brain........but you will intercept this with practice.

    Be kind to you, gentle.......

    I agree with having you carer read all he can about this disorder. Once they start to understand things a bit, they have the ability to help us out.

    Plus..........Therapy. Are you in therapy. This, to me, is a requirement. If you aren't, you run the risk of burning out you carer........

    Rely on you T when you feel the urge to drink.......call call call......that's what they are there for.
  7. Mina

    Mina VIP Member Premium Member

    You sound a lot like me, especially after I was diagnosed :smile: I'm sorry you were in that place yesterday...my husband and I have been there a number of times thanks to me and my PTSD reactions, and it is always a bad spot.

    T-Light makes a great point - are you in therapy? One thing I can say is that as I've gone to therapy and worked through past traumas, things have gotten better. Learning to direct my anger at the appropriate sources and acknowledge the pain has been very hard work, and sometimes gets worse before it gets better, but is worth it. Gradually I have also learned what my triggers are, and how to deal with them appropriately...much better than jumping into those awful fights!
    Hen likes this.
  8. littleb

    littleb New Member

    I was, but I dropped the ball, I don't know what happened to me really. I went in, was diagnosed, made my appointment for the following week and it was like I left the office and I imploded. I began to feel really resentful towards the T even tho she didn't do anything but try and help me.

    Oh yea, I forgot, some piece of me somewhere got mad because she verbally attacked my mom, and what she said was true, my mom dropped the ball as far as I was concerned, but I'm so used to protecting my mom that somewhere in my mind it flipped a switch, a trigger I guess. So there was that, and she told me "EMDR would get rid of all that crap in my head" making me think that she was going to "fix me", she said "After we're through you wont feel this way anymore" and thats how she put it to me, like her therapy was going to make it all go away.

    So when I went home I looked up EMDR, and saw that it worked for some, but that it wasnt a "cure" like she had made it seem, just another form of therapy that helps you deal with it, not cure it. I also read that it didn't work so well for child abuse related PTSD. So I think all of it together made me bitter towards her.

    Then some point after the first meeting I feel like I kind of lost it. I've been trying to file bankruptcy, I say trying because I've made 2 appointments now and haven't gotten to either of them. I didn't go to the first one at all, my man and I went yesterday to the second one, and thats when we got in the fight, and then I refused to go in. NOW I have to make yet another appointment to do that.

    I wanted to get that done, and go to the county clinic and get on a sliding scale setup. I have the place and number of where I need to go, I just wanted to figure out what the bankruptcy payments would be first, but since I didn't do that I dont know what I should do. Wait till after bankruptcy so I know what I can afford or just go do it and figure it out later.

    I just feel like a complete mess lately.

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