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New to The Whole Thing - Boyfriend has PTSD But No Official Diagnosis

Discussion in 'Supporter Discussion' started by American Mary, Aug 11, 2006.

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  1. American Mary

    American Mary New Member

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    Hello, all. I'm a newbie here, so please be gentle. :smile: Where to start... My boyfriend is a Desert Storm vet with plenty of other combat experience. He's not been diagnosed with PTSD as of yet, but I'm certain he has it. We've discussed the toll it's been taking on him and also on our relationship (not sleeping for days then sleeping for days on end, hypervigilance, detachment, depression, etc, etc, etc) and he's agreed that he needs help to deal with the situation.

    So far, so good, right?

    Well, maybe not. I don't trust him to take the initiative to research the illness and find a counselor. He has very specific criteria for a therapist (wants the person to be a vet, specialize in PTSD, and not be affiliated with the VA - we are in America). Should I research these options and present him with a list of therapists? Should I just stand by and wait for him to do potentially nothing? I've read a few posts on this board and understand that a large part of my role is to stand by and be supportive and not take things personally, but at some point, I feel as though I need to intervene, especially if we are to stay together.

    Sorry to ramble so. Can anyone point me in the right direction? Thanks for reading.
     
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  3. anthony

    anthony Renovation Aficionado Founder

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    Hi Mary,

    Welcome to the forum. Mary, you are actually correct, "so far, so good!" You should be celebrating the fact that your boyfriend accepts that he has serious problems, and does want to get help. Yes, we often have criteria with our counsellers, because we don't feel safe with just anyone, and most counsellors have no idea about combat, because they haven't been through it, hence why we feel so safe with people we know we can relate with in that they have seen what we have seen, so we don't need to bullshit around with all the chit chat.

    Ok, firstly, don't trust him to go do this himself, because the symptoms of PTSD often don't allow us to actively seek help for ourselves. PTSD is quite overwhelming, trust me on that. What you need to do, is find the appropriate people for him, discuss the list with him, and even just the one that fits his criteria to feel comfortable, make the appointment for him, and don't allow him to make excuses. Take him to the appointment yourself, as you will atleast be sure that he does attend. Once he goes a few times, and if he does feel comfortable with that counsellor, he will then be fine, in actual fact, may even look forward to going and chatting with someone... maybe!

    What you can do is ring local counselling services around your area, this includes military ones, even though he doesn't want someone associated to the VA, they can often give you a list of private counsellors who may fit the description, or counselling agencies for you to call and ask them if they have any veterans who are now counsellors.

    You are very correct Mary in your statements above, in that you do need to just support him, and not take things personally, but at the same time you WILL need to intervene and ensure he is going in the right direction, and not just doing nothing, ie. put your kicking boots on and give him a swift kick in the arse if needed to push him along.

    This is PTSD, and this is the reality of the issues and concerns to get initial help. Very well done though Mary on your efforts, and using a very commonsense approach to what is the best interests of yourself and your partner.
     
  4. manhattan

    manhattan New Member

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    similar shoesNew to The Whole Thing - Boyfriend has PTSD But No Official Diagnosis Re

    American Mary--
    I am in quite the same situation and am also seeking the guidance of those who are going through this or are further along. My beloved is an OIF 2 and OIF 3 combat vet. He was injured his first tour and volunteered to go back to Iraq for another tour. He returned in January after a long long year. At first I thought something was wrong with our relationship, but as time went by and we talked I realized that something else is going on. He is deathly afraid of intimacy, is easily startled, can't be around people for long periods of time, feels like he doesn't deserve to be loved, and I am the only one he shares these feelings with. He is simultaneously pushing me away as hard as he can and is calling out for me. My heart is breaking and the load of being the only one (and my family) who knows is exhausting.
    He sees the pain this is causing me and thinks that I don't deserve this and don't deserve a man who has seen and been through what he has. Seeing me in pain only makes him feel worse. I am trying to be strong and not take it personally, but it is so hard to see my beloved suffering so much. My love for him is greater than all love that I have ever known and I cannot be pushed away. He refuses to talk to his family. He agreed to go to the VetCenter to an appointment I made, but she simply told him what I tell him: that it is normal to feel how he is feeling and we can get help. But he really believes that a part of him died in Iraq and this is who he is going to be forever. He is a brilliant man and a religious man and feels like he cannot find the right person to talk with. His friends don't know either.
    I don't know what to do. We move across the country in three weeks.
    Thanks for any advice or thoughts.
    Manhattan
     
  5. Aelis

    Aelis New Member

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    Kicking Boots

    Where does the line get drawn with those kicking boots?

    What I mean is, when does someone need a kick in the pants and when are you doing too much and getting too drawn into being a codependent to the PTSD?
     
  6. anthony

    anthony Renovation Aficionado Founder

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    Hi Manhattan,

    Welcome to the forum firstly. Very glad that you are here.

    You hit the nail on the head with everyone who suffers PTSD, not just males, not just veterans, but everyone who suffers PTSD often pushes their loved ones away, because they cannot stand the pain themselves of the pain it cause upon others to see them deteriorate as we do.

    Ok, now this is a bit more into some of the smaller issues. I used to say the exact same thing actually when asked by counsellors, that it is like a part of me died, a little in each country I have served on operations. What I realised, is that pieces of me didn't die, but more I left them in those countries, because I couldn't bring them back with me, as I had enough already. I imagine this is something more realistic to what your husband is feeling, but maybe struggling to find the words or emotions to see it. Whilst many of us veterans leave pieces of us within the countries we serve, we can still get those pieces back, though we can't just go and pick them up, more we have been given a little reprieve and allowed to rebuild those pieces of our emotions, thoughts and feelings, once we have come to terms with our trauma. I explained it once something like this, in that I had no more room to carry any more trauma within me, so I just functioned as I had too. When I got on the plane to come home, I had no room, so I had to leave some pieces of me because I had excessive trauma now onboard me, which means something has to give. What do you do with emotions in an environment that don't cater them? You get rid of them. What do you do with feelings in an environment that doesn't cater you to feel? You get rid of them. What do you do with information that is useless within an environment that only requires survival and killing? You get rid of it.

    This is the very real issue with veterans that we have during our operations, but the problem is, we don't realise what we have done until it is to late. We have left behind the very parts of us because of the environment where within, the parts that make us the person we once were. Instead all we have is incidents, survival, instincts, hypervigilence, alertness... trauma. On operations, you get rid off what is not needed, and you use that space to get your through with what occurs within that space of time. Sad, but very real. It takes time to learn how to rebuild emotions, thoughts and feelings, but all very realistic to achieve.

    Manhattan, I would say your husband needs to come on here and talk with myself, as I know exactly what he is going through, as I have been through the exact same problems myself, and I have gotten past them all, and into the clearing where life once again is beginning for me, without all the weight of trauma. Help exists, and it is just waiting for him to want it.

    Case by case scenario I think Aelis. If you make an appointment, and they fail to attend, kick them in the arse. If they fail to make the second one, kick them harder... if they fail to make the third one... three strikes and your out. I was given an altermatim, do it or I'm gone, said my wife. That shook me enough to attend... and well, everything just went from that point. It has taken me three years from start to finish to get better, and what a bumpy ride it has been, but it can be done. Within twelve months of active trauma therapy, going through hell and back again, this time with guidance, things get better to the point where symptoms still have impact on daily life, but very little compared to uncontrolled trauma and anger.

    It is all through this forum, where people have tried to just put it aside, bury it, hide it, ignore trauma... and each and every time, every single person is still suffering because of it. Ignorance is not an option with trauma, and those carrying it need to know this. It won't ever go away unless they want to rid themselves off it by getting it out of them, until they accept it. Until then, it will just continually haunt them, affect sleep, relationships, their own lives, everyones lives around them, and will still be present more than ever until such a time when they want to get better.

    A sufferer needs to make that active choice and mean it, or else they are just wasting everybodies time and energy on partial fixes, all of which just get reversed faster than it took to achieve because trauma still exists.
     
  7. permban0008

    permban0008 Policy Enforcement Banned

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    American Mary, Manhattan,

    Welcome to the forum. I am sorry that you are both now suffering the family effects of war. My husband and I have discussed this quite a bit since they sent Aussies to join the coalition forces are we are expecting another round of Veterans with PTSD, like you are now seeing. Trouble is for us, as it is for your boys (with the Gulf War) is the accumulation of battle/peacekeeping stress. Anyone who is deceived by the title 'peacekeeping' needs a dose of reality. It is certainly not the same type of operation as war but its stresses are still there, I know plenty of people who have returned from 'peacekeeping' operations who are never the same. Finally, they come home but then its their families who wear the impact of that accumulated stress.

    I understand all too well where you both are at, at the moment. Your first best bet is to get them to counselling if they will go. If they have specifics and almost certainly they will, try and find someone who meets that criteria. Importantly though, that person must have an understanding of PTSD and deal with veterans with this illness. Anthony has already mentioned that but from a spouses point of view it is really important. From where they are looking, they need to trust this person and if they get a dud first time it will be a battle to get them back to see someone differently. Its a lot of pressure, I know, but research it well if you have the luxury of time to do so. Be ready to apply the 'kicking boots' strategy if needed, they will need a boot in the ass sometimes particularly if depression sets in. They will probably get angry at you and tell you to bugger off (Aussie slang for go away) but sometimes you can't take no for an answer.......especially if they stop taking care of themselves or become suicidal.

    As for yourselves, you need to take care of you too!! If you can, seek some counselling for yourselves. It helps to take the load off because at the beginning of the journey it can be really rough. The upside to all of this is at least they both have recognised that help is needed. If you need a break, take one, if you can get some fresh air and/or exercise and find someone else (other than the counsellor) to talk to.

    One other thing, at this stage if they don't want anyone (like family or friends) to know what is going on try and respect that. Those with PTSD often have trust issues and won't take to kindly to a breach of trust. I am careful with this even today and even though my husband has this website going.

    Keep posting and let us know how you go or even if you just feel like a chat or to vent. Take care of you.
     
  8. manhattan

    manhattan New Member

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    Thank you Anthony and Kerri-Ann--
    Your guidance and presence is comforting.
    I must admit that I have become overwhelmed with fear-- we are not married yet, but my beloved is whom I want to spend the rest of my life with. I am so scared to lose him. Unlike being married, there is no sense of relationship 'security' or 'duty', except that which I have in my heart. So, it is challenging to threaten him with my leaving, as his pushing me away ways may just want me to. In fact he says they do. Our relationship is so incredible, yet since he sees the pain in me he is having a hard time differentiating PTSD from us.
    Does "I put up a thick wall overthere. Now I just can't break it down. I can't let anyone close to me" sound familiar Anthony? That is a way in which he has been affected.
    I want to get him on here to talk with you, but I have to be so careful in my ways of offering help, as he only does this stuff for me, not because he feels like he needs help. Again, as far as he is concerned this is how it will always be. Any suggestions?
    Thanks so much!!!
    Manhattan
     
  9. anthony

    anthony Renovation Aficionado Founder

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    Yep, sounds exactly familiar, and done it myself for many years before knowing better. Suggestions? Yep... if he does it for you, then get him on here and chat with me. He doesn't have to chat in public, use the private messaging system, and I will enlighten him to some facts in which he is in a world of hurt if he doesn't wakeup and do something about this soon. He will physically shutdown soon enough... no doubt.
     
  10. American Mary

    American Mary New Member

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    More to add...

    First - thank you to all who responded to my question. I had no idea such wonderful resources were available. I appreciate all the kind words and willingness to listen or just "be there".

    That being said, I'm not sure if this should have been the start of a new thread, but I have more questions about PTSD behavior...

    This weekend, my bf was supposed to come and meet my son. He never called and never showed. We spoke the night before and he said he had kidney stones (a usual occurrence for him) but that he'd be at my house at the appointed time. Well, that should've been 2pm yesterday and I've not heard word from him since Saturday night. I'm tempted to throw the whole relationship out the window at this point. Obviously, I'm tremendously upset and have lots of questions. Can anyone help me with a couple of these?

    Do PTSD sufferers become physically ill more easily and/or frequently than those who do not suffer from it? Is it in the realm of possibility that PTSD would cause one to feel so overwhelmed by a "big deal", ie meeting the child of a loved one, that he'd shut down? I don't know whether to call him and yell at him for standing us up, or ask "WTF?", or just call the whole thing off. I don't know how much more bs I can take. I'm in counseling and have been for 2 years ( I have other issues) but I can't drag him along behind me, too. When is enough enough? How do I face this most immediate situation (him standing me up and then not calling since)? I realize that not everything is attributable to the illness and I do not want to be manipulated by it, but I am having a hard time drawing the line between making allowances for PTSD and being a doormat. Does anyone have any insight into this?

    Sorry to ramble - really upset this morning. Not sure how to deal.

    Thanks.
     
  11. anthony

    anthony Renovation Aficionado Founder

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    Many things could have occured Mary, which only he can answer before presumptions are made. You need to ask him this, phone him.

    Yes we do. If PTSD is uncontrolled, most definately. The sheer stress and anxiety alone can cause numerous health problems, from increased flu symptoms, to organ failures, to cancer that isn't even within the family genetics.

    Yes. The reason is because he is most likely over analyzing everything, instead of just focusing upon the issue that it is, meeting the child of the one you love. He would be telling himself everything from, how do I act with him to what if he doesn't like me, type scenarios.

    I would go with the call him, be calm, and ask him what happened, is he ok! Phone a person with PTSD and begin yelling at them... and well, let me just say that the events that proceed that yelling, generally aren't going to be in anybodies best interest within a relationship.

    That is an excellent point. You don't won't to allow him to use you as a doormat at any time, because firstly your better than that as a person, but also because once it happens, it will continue to happen.

    I don't know the past within the relationship Mary, so it is hard to make accurate statements. (That is a two side affair also...) What I will say, is that if you both truly love one another, then regardless what occurs, they are minor events to your true inner feelings. If people are prepared to change, then they should be given the chance to change. Saying that, a line does need to be drawn. If a relationship is still having the same events going on two years after an agreement to change ways was made, then things aren't going to change, and a decision needs to be made on whether to accept it, or get out now.

    Having a partner with PTSD is not easy, especially when it is uncontrolled, and you have your own issues also going on within the relationship. Again, I don't know the history, and am certainly not going to give advice to what a person should do with their relationships, but you know your relationship history, and you need to make an active decision based on those facts. Talking is the first option IMHO... as you will most likely find him curled up, sick to his bones, stressing about everything the world has to offer, because his anxiety has gone out of control over meeting your child for the first time.
     
  12. American Mary

    American Mary New Member

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    Thanks

    Thank you, Anthony. Reading over yesterday's post, I can tell how angry I felt. I can see how reactionary I was and that I "knew" the answers to most of my questions in my gut (like his tendency towards being sick more often than most). I guess I just needed some reassurance from those who've been there. It wasn't fair of me to ask a bunch of relationship questions when no one knows the whole context of our bond. Pretty ridiculous of me. My apologies.

    I talked to him last night and it seems that he has had a particularly bad recurrence of his kidney stones and in no way is trying to avoid meeting my son. We spoke again about him getting some help - he says he's called around to find a therapist. I'm seeing that as improvement.

    I think a large part of making this work will be to define (and redefine!) boundaries and try to live within them. I see a long trial-and-error process in my future, but a day-by-day approach seems to be the only doable option for us right now.

    Again, I can't thank you enough for your calm and sensible response to my irate ramblings. I feel a little embarassed and selfish about getting so worked up. Thanks again.
     
  13. anthony

    anthony Renovation Aficionado Founder

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    Mary, you are quite fine in getting worked up, because it is an emotional response to an action. All of us often need another perspective on situations before making decisions, especially based on emotions and not logical and factual knowledge. It is great that you made a phone call, and you found the answer, being what you knew was already a possibility, was the problem to the situation, and not that he just didn't want to meet your son.

    We can only believe what is factual, and not what we tend to presume or tell ourselves. This is human nature though, and this is why all of us do need support from anyone who can provide a logical opinion, not to sustain and reassure an emotional one.

    We can often relate this to a spouse who thinks another spouse is cheating on them. In that suddenly one partner is late home, is making excuses, is doing things out of the ordinary and so forth. Sometimes it may very well come down to a spouse cheating, and sometimes it has more logical answers such as stress about a topic within the relationship, maybe organizing a surprise for an upcoming event, a change in work has created more work, thus more time is needed to be applied, and the list goes on.

    It is great that you made that phone call though, because now your stress and anxiety levels have decreased, no rash decisions made on presumptions, and a great outcome to possibly a great future relationship. Well done mary.
     
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