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Miracle recovery: happy but also suspicious

Discussion in 'Supporter Relationships' started by Hojay, Oct 12, 2017 at 11:13 AM.

  1. Hojay

    Hojay Active Member

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    Some of you may remember me: I posted a lot a few months back when the situation with my sufferer boyfriend (PTSD from childhood sexual abuse) were at a terrible low. Constant panic attacks for over a year, flashbacks, withdrawal, you name it. In the process I experienced vicious verbal lashings, constant fights, we barely saw each other (we're long distance for now.) It was a terrible, terrible mess.

    Things hit an all time low 4 months ago, when a trip we had planned fell through because he couldn't get on the plane to see me. With all the love, understanding, and support, I could not take it anymore, and told him I did not want to be in this relationship anymore if things didn't improve asap. (Something like a trip falling through may not seem like a huge deal, but this was after a whole year of horrific PTSD relationship up and downs...)

    Lo and behold, from one day to the next, he seemed to have made a miracle recovery. No more panic attacks, no more verbal lashings, irrational fights, disregard for my feelings, withdrawal, childish finger pointing, isolation, paranoia. All of it stopped. Subjects that would have sent him into a triggered mess just a week before didn't faze him anymore. For four months now, he's been able to listen to whatever is on my mind, is consistent, loving, caring, all of the above. His PTSD seems to have....evaporated.

    I have to add that he is not in therapy at the moment. He had a terrible experience with a therapist whom he's now taken to court (long story.) But it's not any sort of treatment that could have caused this improvement

    Of course (!) I am happy about this positive development! I seem to finally have my guy back. But something, I don't know, doesn't feel quite right about it. I'm not an expert in how people recover. I'm sure sometimes leaps can be quite spontaneous. But this seems...too good to be true.

    Yes, I'm also a little afraid it will come back full force, but that's not my issues here. It's the fact that he seems to be able to joke about, listen to, put himself in situations, remember, and discuss things that even remind ME of what he's told me about the prolonged abuse he suffered. (Take certain sex jokes, for example. Just the mention of certain sex practices used to trigger him. Now he's open to hearing them, even jokes about them with me, sometimes in a sexual way that could suggest he'd be open to trying them. E.g. I gently and jokingly asked him the other day what he thinks about gentle bondage practices, handcuffing me, that sort of thing. I immediately regretted it when it came out of my mouth. I thought I'd triggered him terribly. He didn't even flinch, said, sure why not? I was too confused to pursue the thought. )

    I don't know, my issue here is vague and hard to put my finger on. But something inside is balking. At my darkest moments I wonder if his PTSD was somehow....an excuse? That he somehow...exaggerated? Did he...made some things up? Or does he have some sort of other, I don't know, distraction I don't know about? Someone else in his life? An outlet he's not telling me about? Man...where my mind goes when trying to figure something out, but it's all a little odd.

    None of you are oracles, I know that. But what is your experience with this kind of miraculous, overnight improvement? Has it happened? Should I think twice about it?
     
    ladee, dulcia and Snowflakes like this.
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  3. EveHarrington

    EveHarrington I'm a VIP Premium Member

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    Miracle overnight recoveries are not reality. He may be in remission right now, which means if he has ptsd it WILL all come back at some point imho.

    You can't fake this stuff. I think his ptsd is real based on what you've described, and now he's in a period of symptom remission. If things really were that bad before, dare I say he's somehow repressing his emotions? Healing doesn't happen overnight, especially when someone isn't in therapy.

    I doubt he's seeing someone else. I don't even know how that plays into this. I mean do you think he puts all his symptoms in someone else and saves the good stuff for you? This doesn't really happen in intimate partnership relationships imo, not given the stress that comes with it.

    If you're still long distance? All the easier to make this kind of "miraculous" recovery.

    Just brace yourself. Things will likely go south again at some point.
     
    dulcia, TreeHugger and Snowflakes like this.
  4. Hojay

    Hojay Active Member

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    Thank you for the fast reply, @EveHarrington.

    Luckily, when I ask him about this, he says he doesn't consider himself "healed." According to him, he's just better able to put things in perspective and calm himself down when strong feelings bubble up. I've even asked him if he thinks he's repressing. He thought about it for a while and said he doesn't think so. Of course, repression's major trick is that it makes us oblivious to it. I personally believe there must be a little repression going on.

    Re. seeing someone else. I am thinking about it more along the lines of distracting himself with someone else. Meaningless sex, what have you. Before we met he had 101 modes of repressing, distracting, and soothing himself, none of which were healthy. So naturally I wonder: What is it now? Sadly I've been conditioned to view any sort of change in behavior, good or bad, as a sign of infidelity, but it could be any number of things he's doing to feel "well." Is my fear...

    Either way, I hear you. There's more coming, I'm sure of it too. I'm not sure what to do in this instance, however. Whatever he's doing seems to be working. I have mentioned to him that he should go back to therapy at some point, and he agrees. But in the meantime...I don't even know how to trust this situation and/or what to believe about his condition.
     
    ladee and Snowflakes like this.
  5. Snowflakes

    Snowflakes Hope Premium Member Donated

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    @Hojay In my case, the overnight cure seemed to come about at the same time I had enough and was ready to walk. The difference is that my suffer realizes she must continue in therapy or, as @EveHarrington says, it will come back. In my heart, as long as she continues therapy then she will learn to manage her C-PTSD. Also, as long as I continue my therapy, I’ll learn coping skills so that I never get on that roller coaster again.

    It would seem that you and I share the experience of “breaking the cycle” by an ultimatum. In my case it was born from despair, exasperation, and desperation. However, I do believe it is important your boyfriend pursue therapy sooner than later.

    Take care.
     
    ladee, EveHarrington and dulcia like this.
  6. Hojay

    Hojay Active Member

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    Thanks for sharing your experience @Snowflakes. Thankfully, mine recognizes that he needs to continue therapy too. I think he is happy to have a bit of a breather right now. Hear himself again, maybe not have his PTSD and past experience rule every single element of his life. That's how he felt over the past year, rehashing and going deep in therapy. He knows it's time to go back soon though.

    Yes, it was pure despair, exasperation, and desperation that led me to this ultimatum. I would have never given it to him if I wasn't prepared to walk away. I think he heard that in my voice.

    Still, it's confusing. I heard so many times over the last year (more actually) that it's not something he can control. But here he is, controlling it. Very well I might add. All I ever wanted, but now that he seems capable of it, I feel just a tad less weary than before.
     
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  7. shimmerz

    shimmerz My silence spoke a thousand words you never heard Premium Member

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    Doubt it somehow.

    I have been through 3 'I am all betters'. More if I count my childhood. Some doctors have told me it was a further fragmentation. Others have told me that a major stress could bring old triggers back on. Others have told me that I have worked very hard and have improved.... but I do know that I can relate to what your friend is going through. Those old triggers haven't come back, btw. I am eternally grateful.

    Just wanted to say that yes, it is possible. However, I still am receiving weekly T appts. I hope all continues well with the two of you. Sounds like you deserve a break.
     
    ladee likes this.
  8. Hojay

    Hojay Active Member

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    I'm glad to hear it's somewhat within reason to somehow "snap out of it" in your experience, @shimmerz. That sounds hopeful. I know from my own experience with depression that sometimes, a thought, a gesture, a person, something entirely unexpected can shine a whole new light and lift you up. I just always considered PTSD to be a different beast that can be immune to spontaneous insight or revelation.

    I'm expecting relapses for my boyfriend. The moment I found out about his condition I knew this was something he/we would have to deal with for the rest of our lives (if, you know, we stick through that long.) Here is to hoping the next low will be less severe. Maybe I should just enjoy this "good time" while it lasts...
     
  9. Friday

    Friday Raise Hell Moderator

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    My PERSONAL experience, which means I'm not saying he's done this, is that I do it when

    1) My emotions are shut off. Voila. We are now in a crisis, so everything I used to care about? I don't, anymore. No love, no anger, no fear, no regret, no remorse, no trust, no nothing. I DGAF. About the present, past, future, any of it. I can know I love someone intellectually, and continue to act as if, but I don't feel it.

    -or-

    2) I have lost all trust/faith in the person in front of me. For all intents and purposes they are now classed the same as an enemy. We do not show weaknesses to our enemies. Full stop.

    ***

    With both of these there tends to be a pretty finite length of time I can exist in this state without a major blow up of some kind. 1-2 years, is my absolute upper limit; but more commonly a few months, & then the cracks start to show. I can solid back up by inventing a few crises to lock me back in all things hard & distant, or I can go blow off some major steam (which often has the oh so handy side effect of creating some crisis or 3 to manage) to relieve the pressure.
     
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  10. Snowflakes

    Snowflakes Hope Premium Member Donated

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    @Hojay You say that “Maybe I should just enjoy this good time while it lasts....”

    I would never presume to tell you what to do but I have learned the value to going to my own therapist. By doing so my “good time” continues when the time comes that my sufferer endures another episode. I no longer wait in fear for it. I now accept when she has a bad day and no longer take it personally.

    Being driven to the brink of a permanent breakup was hard on me. I’m certain it was hard on my sufferer. At that instant I could wait in fear for the other shoe to drop or have a therapist teach me coping skills. The latter took me 10 years to learn and now all my days are doable. Some are stressful but such is life with someone suffering with PTSD but I truly believe I’ll never get to that point of despair, exasperation, and desperation again.

    I wish you and your boyfriend well.
     
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  11. WTF Happened

    WTF Happened Member

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    @Snowflakes would you be willing to share what some of your coping skills are?
     
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  12. Snowflakes

    Snowflakes Hope Premium Member Donated

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    @WTF Happened My biggest problem is I took my sufferers words personally. When she lashed out at me, I tried to defend or explain myself. I’ve learned to simply tell her that I love her and I’ll be back soon. Then I walk away and do something relaxing for me.

    When she was isolating, I tried to help. I have learned that giving her unlimited time and space is a loving act. I’ll bring her a cup of coffee or a snack periodically and smile but say nothing so she knows I’m still here.

    If we make plans and she either cancels or has an episode about it, I used to get upset and not go. Now I go.

    Most importantly, I continue to go to therapy. Doing so has taught me not to go down the rabbit hole with her. It’s been a rough road and I am still learning and she is still learning too. I do love her with all my heart and perhaps our future is not the one we thought it would be many years ago but, when one door closes, another one will open. The frustration and despair has been replaced with hope and an internal peace.

    I have learned to change, to adapt, to her triggers and moods. I’ve also learned to establish and maintain boundaries. That never occurred to me before. Yes, she has an illness but that doesn’t give her the right to verbally abuse me. I’ve learned to tell her I will not be treated that way and will walk away. But I also tell her I won’t hold a grudge and I’ll be here after she settles down.

    I hope this answers your question. I’ll tell you and anyone else anything I can. Listening to others helped me get to where I am today.

    Take care.
     
    A concerned spouse, AnD and ladee like this.
  13. Hojay

    Hojay Active Member

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    I can follow your logic here @Friday, thanks for sharing. #1 you mention is particularly interesting to me. I have noticed that, while his affect is not depressed or numb exactly, it has become, say, less enthusiastic. I even told him a little while ago that when he says "I love you" now, it sounds a bit shallow or empty to me. His response was that he understands it may seem that way: after months of such extreme highs and lows, a "normal" expression of love may feel not as wildly passionate somehow. But what you say makes me think I should pay closer attention to whether or not he looks and feels numb...though I'm not his caretaker or therapist, but it's something to keep in mind.

    @Snowflakes Luckily, I've been in therapy too. For about a year now and it's been very helpful. Our experience sounds very similar in many ways. I too had a lot to learn regarding my own behavior and (lack of) boundaries that perpetuated the terrible cycle. I've since come to draw firmer lines, but also give him more space when he clearly needs it.

    Reading through all your helpful answers and reflecting a little more, I'm starting to think his "recovery" wasn't as miraculous and quick as it's seemed up till now. After my ultimatum we continued talking, but didn't see each other for another 3 weeks or so. I think my behavior changed within this time, i.e. I backed off completely thinking this was the end, and thus probably gave him the space he so desperately needed, while he took some time to rope himself out of the worst. Maybe it only seemed miraculous because the next time I saw him, he was more stable.

    I'm also convinced now that "recovery" is a misnomer. He's in remission, most likely, and things will continue to go up and down. If anything, however, I'm now more convinced than ever that he needs to go back into therapy ASAP (even though I fear that will throw him back again majorly....the care he has received thus far seems to have hurt rather than helped him. And not in a "it gets worse before it gets better" kind of way.)
     
    ladee and Snowflakes like this.
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