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New To Forum - Wife Has PTSD

Discussion in 'Supporter Discussion' started by Distraught, Dec 9, 2005.

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  1. Distraught

    Distraught New Member

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    Hi, it's good to find this forum though I don't know if it work out for me or not. My situation's probably somewhat different from others, in that a). I'm a husband (my wife has PTSD) and b). she's not in the military (not a vet). Maybe there are others similar to me, but I guess I sort of have the notion that these forums are more oriented toward vets and their spouses...

    Anyway, my wife has severe PTSD she was gang raped by police officers in her native country (in Latin America) and kept this repressed for the first 9 years of our marriage. It was difficult for us before I knew what had happened, and very difficult since. (She aborted our child.) She is now living in another state and though she is seeing a therapist (she tells me), we have barely seen or spoken to each other she seems to be avoiding me, and avoiding the realities of life as well. I'm worried for her, for us. I just discovered that she has maxed out her credit cards and isn't even paying her minimum, and now I'm afraid her creditors could come after our house and other assets.

    I'm so torn, because I love her dearly and yet she is so unstable and unreliable (cannot keep a single promise, even to return my phone calls) that we virtually have no relationship/marriage to speak of (we have been married almost 12 years). I have been trying to educate myself more about PTSD, which helps somewhat, but the reality of her instability and its affect on my own emotional (and financial) needs is becoming overwhelming.

    Any thoughts or advice?... Thank you for listening... :(
     
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  3. anthony

    anthony Renovation Aficionado Founder

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    Hi Distraught, and welcome to the forum. This forum is for exactly you, and not limited to military and vets, as what I learnt before opening this forum, is that PTSD is much more wide spread than the military, as your case, and others here already, are good examples. Military PTSD is actually quite small compared to the rest of the cases.

    I must say though, Wow... you are definately seeing the full affect of PTSD currently. As you mentioned, the first 9 years she kept it down, but now it has reared its ugly head to really overwhelm her. I know what your saying from the point of view that she is going through, as I've been there, done that side of PTSD, and most likely will have similar reactions during my life when everything gets to much for me.

    I don't know what your wife is feeling right now, but at a guess, her past has caught up with her and she has to decide whether to face it head on, or try and bury it, which the later doesn't work anyway... tried that also.

    Mate, you really are in between a rock and a hard place. Your worried about your wife in one instance, but also the damage she is doing financially, which will affect you. Me personally, if I was going nuts on the booze, drugs and obvioulsy the money to fund it, then I would expect my wife to cut the accounts off, so nothing more could happen. I would expect all monies to be frozen until the matter is sorted out.

    I don't think I would like her doing it, but I know it would be for the best when I came to my senses again. Hopefully, it might push her to seek immediate help, as the therapy just isn't enough at present.

    My wife will no doubt be able to provide you a more "spouse" orientated opinion on this, but at the end of the day, it is your decision, and certainly not a light one to make at that. I guess all you can do is fix one problem at a time, and let me just clarify for you, her problems at present aren't the place to start, as she won't come around anytime soon. If things have caught up with her, which she is still trying to suppress the hard way, then she has a lot of work to do yet before becoming reliable again. I know all about this, as it took me a good year and a bit to come around and sort myself out, and I didn't even know I had PTSD at that point, though even when I did know, I still have my days, but its no longer months or years, just a day here, day there...

    Me personally, I would expect my wife to fix what she can control, and not what she can't, being me (the one with PTSD)... Your wife is going to take some work to fix at this point, though I definately wouldn't give up on her, as she will get past this one way or another... preferably the way that keeps her living a good life with you again.

    I won't lie to you, as dependant upon each persons symptoms, suicide is quite often an affect of depression and other symptoms... its just that only a small percentage actually carry it through, the rest just want help.
     
  4. permban0008

    permban0008 Policy Enforcement Banned

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    Hello Distraught,

    You are really in a rock and a hard place at the moment. I am really sorry to hear about your wifes' trauma, I don't imagine that recovery (to the point where she can lead a 'normal' life) from that will be an easy road for her or for you. As Anthony has said, she is really in the grip of PTSD now having suppressed her feelings for so long. It is not a nice place for either of you.

    I suggest that she is avoiding you because you are the closest to her, and therefore, there is an expectation that she will participate in the relationship on all levels, including emotionally. That is not an unusual expectation to have in a relationship and in fact would result in a rather healthy one. Other relationships for her will not require the same level of emotional intensity, thus requiring less effort and less anxiety for her.

    Mate, I can't tell you what to do in this situation but having witnessed the PTSD 'going off the rails' first hand, I would be the first to cut access to credit. My husbands second trip to East Timor paid off his credit card from one of his 'going of the rails' binges. As hard as it is, she is an adult and responsible for her own behaviour, although she won't see that now. Being married is one thing, supporting them another but becoming financially unstable or worse still, bankrupt (through irresponsibility) is not part of any marriage contract. In fact I have a friend, who this happened to (her partner ended up in one of the Veteran hospitals) and she had to do exactly that, cut his credit. I remember her saying how bad it felt for her, as she was beginning to feel like his mother and not his wife. It was either that or lose her house and go under financially, after years of hard work.

    If there is one thing that I have learnt myself, and from other partners is that you have to take care of you first. You have to be well to support them, as best you can, otherwise they will drag you on this rollercoaster journey. Only your wife can make things better for her.

    Anyhow, whichever way you look at it, trauma is still trauma and PTSD is still PTSD. Welcome to the forum. Hopefully, talking will help and you can benefit from the support of others in a similar position.
     
  5. Distraught

    Distraught New Member

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    Thanks for the support

    Anthony & Kerrie-Anne,

    Thanks for your replies, both of which touched upon central issues that we're going through. I ended up driving to see her yesterday and we were able to talk (she didn't want me to stay over or even to hold my hand...). What you said, Kerrie-Anne, is exactly right:

    "I suggest that she is avoiding you because you are the closest to her, and therefore, there is an expectation that she will participate in the relationship on all levels, including emotionally."

    This is exactly what she told me... that it's emotionally too difficult to see me or even speak on the phone, because it brings her too much pain. It's so paradoxical to me; I would expect someone to want to run to the person who loves them, who can protect them but it's exactly the opposite. Understanding this "intellectually" helps, a little, but it's still very difficult emotionally, not only because I miss her (terribly) but to also know that she won't (can't) allow me to provide her with the comfort/protection i feel she most needs at this time, and which as her husband/partner I feel desperate to provide. I feel like I don't have a role in her recovery. It's really contradictory to understand...

    She did ask me for money, which I didn't want to give but what am I supposed to do? Let her go without eating? Fortunately, she doesn't have any addictions (not even smoking), so I at least know she's not destroying her body in any way. And I'm investigating how I can remove her name from the lease of our house, to protect myself.

    The "positive" side to this, however, is that she told me that she recognizes how deep in the hole she is, and she tells me that she wants to check herself into a clinic. I'll feel much better knowing she's actually immersed in intensive therapy, but the point here I guess is that she needs/wants to face this head-on. She told me, with tears in her eyes, that she asked herself if she wants to live or not and she decided that she does want to live, but that she wants to go through this without any contact with me, so that I'm not associated with the process. She wants to "start fresh" with me after confronting her demons. I don't know if that's possible or not, but I was conforted by hearing from her that she wants to live and reconstitute our marriage once she has faced down her trauma, though obviously it is something she/we will live with for our entire lives, in some form or another.

    It's really hard for those of us who don't suffer PTSD directly, because I feel lonely/angry and yet guilty for feeling that way, and at the same time very concerned and yet helpless (and marginalized) in her recovery.
     
  6. camry

    camry Member

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    Hi Distraught

    Sexual assault can be a very hard trauma to deal with. It's a violation of every sense of the body & mind, so there are so many parts of her being traumatised. I used to think that it was taking so long for me to get over it, until I found out that there are many women of sexual abuse out there that are still battling demons 30-40 years or more later.

    One of the main things I picked up on in your wifes situation, is not only was she violated, but it was done by the very people who are 'meant' to protect us from such things. Her faith & trust must be shot to pieces.

    Another is, did she repress it, or did she hide it from you? If she was hiding it from you (which is often the case) then it must have been quite suffocating for her. Once she told you, she could also have felt quite exposed.

    I agree with Kerri-Ann, you have to practice a little tough love though. If you feel that you need to help her, put her on an allowance. She may hate you for a while, but it's best for all concerned. If she says she knows she needs help with her demons, then she knows there is a door she needs to open to get help. And no matter who opens the door for her, she ultimately is the one who has to cross the threshold ... and thats a very big step. If her soul is in a very dark place, it can be a long journey to that door too.

    But you have to give yourself a little tough love too. I think you should seek out any partners of sexual assault too (there are bound to be groups somewhere in your location). Her demons have become your demons too, and you need help just as much as she does. You also need to be assured that your not alone in feelings that you have, which will help you deal with them better.
     
  7. Distraught

    Distraught New Member

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    Camry,

    Thanks for the thoughts/advice. Well, she "says" she wants to work with me on all of this, especially the financial end (which threatens to pull us both down), but she hasn't seemed to be able to follow-through on her promises... We'll see.

    I agree that I need to take a "tough love" approach, and am investigating about having her name removed from the deed to the house to at least protect myself/assets (her debt is in her name, but the house is in both of our names). Supposedly she is going to allow me to be her "banker," with control over how to budget her income so that she can regain (somehow) a semblance of control over her finances. I realized, however, that I can't keep pushing/reminding her to do this; either she follows through on her own, or she doesn't. I've done my part (more than my part, really), but it will be up to her to follow through.

    She tells me that she returned to taking her anti-anxiety medication, which (hopefully is true) should help stabilize her emotionally.

    What do you think I should do for the holidays?? Normally, we would all go to see family a couple of hours away (this is something we've always done, and both look forward to), but I don't think she wants to do this; yet I really don't think she should be isolated/alone during this period, either. Is it better to "push" her to have more contact with friends/family (which I would assume is also part of her recovery), or to let her decide on her own (which I fear would allow her to default to self-isolation)?? Should I even bring this up, or let her comment on what she wants/expects to do?

    And yes, in answer to your question, the rape happened when she was 17 (and had just left home, because of problems with her family) and she is now 36. She hid it from me, though looking back it's pretty obvious how it was manifest in various ways. (She also suppressed it, in the sense that when it all came out it was triggered by a flashback.)

    It's also important to understand that her rape was/is compounded by the fact that she grew up in a political/social environment in which torture, police brutality, militarization of society, and even natural disaster (a devastating earthquake, in which she helped pull bodies from the wreckage) all accumulated. In short, the lack of trust in governmental authorities (and authority as a protective institution, in general) is profound and systematic.
     
  8. permban0008

    permban0008 Policy Enforcement Banned

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    Hi Distraught,

    Looks like you really are in the thick of it. It is hard being the primary support person of someone with PTSD. I have been doing this now for nearly 5 years and sometimes I wonder what the hell I am doing here. You can never really trust what they say while they are going off the rails and usually anything you do will be the wrong thing. 'Tough love' is really the only way to protect yourself, emotionally and every other way. You can't help but love them, but there comes a point when loving them simply is not enough and they need to stand on their own two feet. It is right that you are taking steps to protect your assets, as I have learnt you can't save anyone other than yourself and your first priority has to be to you.

    As for the holidays, that is a tough one. Here on the forum, you will find those with PTSD discussing their lack of enthusiasm for the holidays and the anxiety it causes them. I have to admit this really drives me insane, as I am a very family orientated person and we are going home to my family it is difficult for Anthony to muster any real enthusiasm for Xmas. In fact Anthony told me the other day that he just doesn't do Xmas. Of all days of the year, I consider this to be extremely selfish when those with PTSD are having another 'off day' and it dampens the spirit for everyone else. Perhaps you could suggest, that you continue your holidays as you normally would, going to see family but you could shorten the length of your stay. Giving her some kind of structure to the day and a timeframe will help her cope better, if she is willing to go. If she is not, no amount of pushing on your behalf will change her mind. In that case I suggest spending a proportion of the day with her, exchange presents, maybe go out for breakfast or lunch and then going to visit family on your own. If it is important to you, as Xmas is to me, then consider discussing it with her - at least that way you have given her options.

    I really am sorry to hear of the extent of your wifes' trauma, she has a tough journey ahead of her and I guess by proxy so do you. Things will get better gradually if she takes medication and seeks treatment. I hope that what she is telling you is true.
     
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