Relationship Aftermath of a traumatic event, strategies for moving on

JeffL92

New Here
I want to preface this post with a note: I am not seeking advice or opinions on drug use. The things mentioned in this post are done for spiritual reasons.

The event:
My wife and I just got married two weeks ago. It was a very very small wedding with a select group of close friends and no family, so that we could craft the event around the spiritual use of psychedelics.

It was a multi-day event, and everything was going very well (all things considered... we are a very disorganized bunch of people). After the ceremony, the psychedelic journeys began. Several hours into that part of the festivities, an additional psychedelic was added to the mix. Everything up to and including this time had been familiar territory, so there was no expectation of disaster.

When I added the next psychedelic to the mix, things quickly turned bad for me. My mind started going through a series of horrible experiences all directed at convincing me to stop breathing, as I tried to fight against it or figure out how to accept it was happening and push through the fear of death to "follow the instructions" that my mind had given me.
Unknown to me at the time, I also had VERY low sodium and VERY high electrolytes, which can result in a seizure.

About 5 minutes after this episode started, my wife found me and tried to help me snap out of it. I was curled up and screaming (because screaming = 1/2 of breathing, and I was fighting against my own mind telling me to stop). When she tried to help, I started yelling some very mean things at her. To me, the things I was saying were directed at the psychedelic trip, not at a person. That concept is hard to put into words properly, but I was yelling things like "shut up, you're always so loud. Everything is always about you, just shut the **** up!" In my head, I had personified the trip itself, so anybody talking to me wasn't an independent person, they were an element of the trip itself.

After some yelling, she used her hand to open my eyes, which were bouncing up and down rapidly. I looked at her, made a cute "I love you" face, and said "it's so beautiful here, I don't wanna go back" and went completely limp and ghostly pale.
My wife ran out of the room screaming for help, grabbing smelling salts, and the next 25 minutes were spent calling 911 and trying to bring me back to reality as I laid on the floor curling into strange positions and groaning and saying strange things until the ambulance came. They took me to the hospital 45 minutes away, I got admitted and got a CT scan, and was finally responsive and sane again by the time I was out of the scan.

I have quite a detailed memory of the ordeal because of the way that LSD prevents you from being unconscious, even when your subconscious takes over. I know a good amount of what I said during this episode, and a vague idea of what I was doing. To me, this episode feels much like the aftermath of being blackout drunk, only much much worse. It's like the feeling of "cringy" turned up to 11.

The Aftermath:
I have this superpower that I call neurodivergent-based nihilism.. To me, despite how awful it is to think about that episode, I don't process it on an emotional level. It's a thing that happened, it was awful at the time, now it's embarrassing and uncomfortable to think about. I shake off those thoughts and move on with my day, I'm perfectly happy and have no lingering anxieties about experiencing reality fall apart around me.

My wife, among others, had to watch from the outside. She had to see me lose my mind, yell hurtful things, have a seizure, and almost die mere hours after getting married.
We're now in a position where there's a laundry list of things that have been triggering flashbacks of that day. If I groan in frustration at something, it sounds like the groans I was making that day. If I say certain things, it brings her back to those moments I said similar things while having seizures. If she smells certain things related to what happened, she's back there in that room. Everything that happened in that room has part of her mind frozen in time, and she doesn't know how to escape or how to cope.

I need to know how to help her, and I feel like I'm in a very good position to do so... because she did not lose me, I am still here and able to help her build new memories and new patterns and to reshape how she interacts with this trauma.

Please let me know what I am supposed to do. I'm afraid it could tear our relationship apart because there's just so many triggers. It was a long ordeal, and I did a lot of things that are very typical for me.. things I like doing to be cute or funny, or just different ways I respond to things around me on a normal day.
 

Movingforward10

MyPTSD Pro
This sounds as though she is worried about you as you had a reaction to drug use. No suprise she's worried. Sounds like what you went through was scary for you and scary for her, someone she has just agreed to spend her life with.
Time is likely to help with this.
And perhaps addressing drug use or how you use drugs or how much in one go?

Do either of you have PTSD or anything along those lines?
 

joeylittle

Administrator
My wife and I just got married two weeks ago.
This event is pretty recent, still. That's very good news, in trauma terms - it means that (theoretically) it's not been able to take hold in a deep-rooted way.
Please let me know what I am supposed to do. I'm afraid it could tear our relationship apart because there's just so many triggers. It was a long ordeal, and I did a lot of things that are very typical for me.. things I like doing to be cute or funny, or just different ways I respond to things around me on a normal day.
I'm always leery of ending up sounding like therapy is the only solution to everything...but I think that a few things are important to mention. One, it's ok that your wife is still upset. Of course, it's not a happy and good feeling, it's the opposite - but it's understandable, and reasonable given the events you describe. So please don't put pressure on yourself to restore normality too quickly - it can have the unintended effect of just stuffing feelings down and away. Better to let her be where she's at, and you as well. Because you're concerned, and that's also an understandable and reasonable reaction.

In terms of therapy - this may be something she'd benefit from being able to talk to a neutral third party about, someone she doesn't have to worry about hurting (you).

Or, it could be worth the two of you working with a neutral third party, so you can process it together with someone facilitating that process.

I am still here and able to help her build new memories and new patterns and to reshape how she interacts with this trauma.
I guess I'd finish with - an essential aspect of her healing from the traumatic event is allowing her to process - talk through - the negative memories, in order to achieve a degree of acceptance/catharsis with them, so they can then become a thing that is in the past. That's the part you can't fully help her with, because you were at the center of the event. But it's really great that you're attuned to the fact that she's struggling, and you don't seem to have a "fix it by forgetting it" sort of mindset either - that's a good thing. Can't replace the old memories with new ones without fully putting those old ones through examination, and choosing to move forward from them. She'll need time to do that.

I'm a sufferer, not a supporter, so I can't fully understand that perspective. I do know that traumatic events (whether they'd be classed as PTSD-inducing trauma or no) benefit from being expressed, addressed, processed. PTSD isn't diagnosed until there have been active symptoms for a number of months - that's because there's a window of time when an event is still recent enough that it can be assimilated into the memory, instead of remaining sort of "stuck" in the ongoing present. That stuck-ness happens through suppression of the event, the absence of looking squarely at it, feeling the feelings.
 

JeffL92

New Here
Thanks for your replies :)

She has regular therapy appointments already, and a well-established rapport with her therapist. When she brought up the incident, his response was fairly blunt- "yeah, you're probably going to have PTSD from this"

She's also already the type of person who fixates on traumas and leans into the effects they have on her life.. almost like she's too busy acknowledging them/using them to explain behaviors and reactions, leaving no room for trying to heal from them.

Even if she does not develop diagnosable PTSD, I'm hoping to find strategies to limit how many things trigger her and how severe those triggers are.

Regarding drug use: as I said, we do so in a spiritual sense, not "for funsies", so every single experience includes moments of consideration on this exact topic. The answer after this experience was pretty clear.. No mixing of the two substances, and a more cautious approach to the second substance, DMT, if we ever use it again. Presently there are no plans to ever use that drug again because of this episode, and because upon reevaluating our usage of it, we've both decided we already got what we needed from it, spiritually speaking.


So the advice so far is to have her find someone she can talk to on a regular basis, who can let her vent about what happened and how it's affecting her afterwards?
I just want to make sure that this strategy doesn't have the opposite effect of keeping her focused on what happened and solidifying those memories and the negative associations between my normal mannerisms and things that happened that day. Any specific advice for that?
 

Sweetpea76

Moderator
My advice is to step back and stop trying to manage or fix. It’s very early on and she is getting professional help. There is no guarantee that she is going to develop PTSD.

As supporters, it’s in our nature to want to fix and help our partners. The hard lesson to learn is that we CANNOT. They have to work on their own mental health. We cannot manage their triggers, help them with their treatment, or make anything easier. That’s what sucks. We have no control.
 

Movingforward10

MyPTSD Pro
There is reaction to stressful situations or traumatic situations. It would be odd if she wasn't worried about you, right?

PTSD is when these traumatic reactions continue and impact life.

Seems unhelpful her therapist said that after 2 weeks. It's two weeks. It's fresh. It's being processed.

What does your wife say worries her? What does she want you to do to support her and help her?
 
i think potentially 2 weeks is nothing, when, in her mind/ experience her 'beloved' nearly died on her wedding. I would lay off the drug use for now to be on the safe side, in case even drugs that agreed with you both no longer interplay with her thoughts in the way they did pre this trauma (which may have been mostly happy but are now likely fearful).

Am sorry that's not what you had planned for such an important day, and has to be a shock and trauma for you also.

Glad you were ok! Best wishes to you both!
 
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