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Relationship Broken Heart: UPDATE, Alone and wondering if he will come back

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My husband told me he has been suffering with PTSD about 6 months ago. However, it did not come out that way. What came out was "i dont know how i feel about you anymore or if we have a future. " He kept saying he had to fix himself before he knew. My life was turned completely upside down. I felt sick to my stomach, and was in absolute shock that my husband-the only love of my life-no longer loved me. Through more conversations we both realized he must have PTSD; he lost both parents unexpectedly within 18 months and is a police officer in a very destructive city. There have been 3 child welfare calls that he identifies as sticking with him and causing him concern. 2/3 children involved ended up dying.
When my husband saw how hard i was taking the news of his feelings changing, he felt he needed to be strong for my sake, apologized and said he loved me and he would try to get better. What ensued was 4 months of him acting like his normal self, to keep me together. However, it became too much for him and about a month ago he shared that he has been acting and dreads coming home. (bcuz he has to pretend to be okay) He has been coping by drinking to help him be able to be at home. This news broke my heart because i thought or wanted to think he would be okay. He shared that he wanted to get help and that his goal was not to get a divorce, BUT that he felt detached from me , numb and like he had nothing to offer or give to me emotionally.
Since he told me this, he has reached out to some people that have gone through similar situations. He even told me he contacted a therapist...not sure what that means exactly-but the fact that he shared it was progress, so i didnt ask for more details. He told me he was still not happy with things, but wanted me to know he was trying.
I go through a variety of emotions daily; one day i am strong and i can support him through this and love him enough for both of us, one moment i am so scared and wonder what my future holds, i am so scared of losing him and do not want a life without him, one day i am mad and want to yell and scream at him to try harder and try other things such as medication (which he is very against), scared about telling our children if he decides to leave and how they will handle it, and most days i am very sad and feel like i am so helpless in all of this. I dont want to make him mad by asking too many q's but i also need to know certain things so i can survive this. I wonder where i will live, where i will work, can i move to another city with my children, when will we have to sell the house we live in?
I love him with all my heart and know i want to be with him; but it isnt that easy. He shows no affection towards me anymore and this was a man who was very affectionate, playful, called me "mama" all the time and love to reach for me. NONE of those things happen anymore and the lack of love i am receiving is starting to take a toll on me. I feel lonely and sad and i miss him so much. He has mentioned he may need to leave to sort himself out...i told him i can support that, but in my research i cannot find anywhere that says that is recommended. It sounds like the first step in a separation to me, bcuz he has nobody to be accountable for in his recovery. OR is it better so he can hopefully see how much he misses us and loves me??? PLEASE if anyone can offer a possible solution-please do.
I'm a sufferer of ptsd.

I think what he's being saying to you sounds very typical of somebody whose in that kind of occupation and coming to grips with the fact that they have ptsd and working through the gruelling process of what to do about it.

Often law enforcement officers will be the last to admit this condition even to themselves and the least likely to divulge this information to family, colleagues etc because it has far reaching ramifications for their careers and how their lives go forward from the point of acceptance. Likely he's seen workmates suffer from it and it's super hard to admit now that he's suffering too.

He's seeking out professional help so that is a good thing. His drinking isn't a sign that he cannot handle home with you, it's a sign he's not coping with the ptsd. Self-medicating with alcohol is also quite common in unmanaged ptsd sufferers.

His expressions to you about feeling numb, distant and unattached are also familiar to me so again imo that's a typical set of feelings.

His desire to want to leave could be for a number of reasons. I think it may be possible that coming home to family each day is stressful because he does want to keep some standards and that takes a huge amount of effort. Remember he's been 'the one in charge' at work and at home and it's a huge step for him to acknowledge he's no longer in that position and further, he cannot maintain the façade. I don't think that it's got to do with relighting the love by putting some distance between you all.

My advice is twofold - It's got to do with you and how you live with this diagnosis and how if you decide to, you support him.

Some fundamentals first about you. You must for the sake of your own mental health and your children shake down all of those questions and stop buzzing your brain with what if's.. These are questions that you may be able to better answer later on. Nothing will happen in a hurry but I do concede that it's likely he's been suffering from this condition for a while so whilst you've know for six months, he may have been suffering much longer. Most of what you're worrying about is unknown so you cannot pre-empt much at all.

Try really hard to stick to a routine even if his starts to waiver. Routines are the pillars from which you will find your own way even if eventually it is without his support or presence. Take care of your own needs and put yourself as a priority. Make sure you take care of yourself always. Regardless of what happens going forward. These are not empty words... take notice - your life is changing without you consent but you are more than capable of handling this. That's not to say it will be easy or you'd choose not to do this. You love this man and something is happening to him that you cannot control and feeling unsteady about him and the future is completely normal. Perhaps find some professional support yourself?

Start a diary if you need to here on this site to log how you're going and to reflect on your own journey through this. Other supporters will certainly give you the wisdom of their own lives too. It's entirely understandable that you're angry, emotional and upset at times and it's actually good for you to say so - to him & to admit it to yourself. Diary

For your husband - it sounds like he's trying to do all of the typical things - denial, acting, self-medicating, promising stuff & then suggesting he leaves. Sorry, but this is exactly what so many others have done and experienced.

Be certain of a few things though. He is responsible for getting help, for managing this illness and his own behaviour. Ptsd doesn't take away any of those responsibilities.

If he drinks to excess then suggest that he gets some assistance to curb that because it'll not help his condition one bit. If he's angry or abusive set boundaries about what you will and will not accept and act on those boundaries for your own and the children's sake.

Encourage and support him to continue getting professional advice because that will assist in the management of this illness.

We're all here too if that helps.
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Thank you for those words. Yesterday things kind of came to a head. The day before he was drunk and still trying to participate with the family watching movies on the couch. Nothing major happened-it’s just uncomfortable and weird for everyone not drunk. Most importantly-our kids.
so yesterday I set the boundary of if he is going to be here then he has to be sober. I told him most of this is out of my hands but that I at least could keep him accountable. I asked if he could be here sober, and he said yes.
Now don’t forget a couple of weeks ago it was mentioned that he may need to move out which was a very frightening stressful thought for me.
So yesterday when we had our emotional conversation and he admitted that he drinks a Mickey of vodka-at least-before he comes in the door. Be it after his shift or throughout the day if it is a day off. That is JUST so he can he here, in our home. I understand better from all you amazing people have shared, that he is trying to cope and this is common.
Anyway he shared yesterday he has spoken to a friend who has room for him, and he is moving out for a while to try to “fix himself.” He told me he isn’t sure when yet. He also told me he is terrified about telling our children-one of whom is 11 and already suffers with anxiety-she will take this very hard no doubt that he is moving out. I told him it is best we be honest with our kids. The youngest one with anxiety needs to know the truth bcuz she has a good friend whose parents just divorced. It was very hard on this little girl; and our daughter will jump right to that conclusion. We are going to explain that daddy’s brain is not working properly in regards to emotional regulation. Something like that.
He also told me he is terrified about what will happen to us. And he can’t believe it has come to this. (I too am terrified and cannot accept that this is the end of our story. We have always been so in love)I have told him I love him and I will be here for him and that won’t change. He flat out said he isn’t doing well at home and I agreed. I can see it regularly.
I feel like I’m living in a nightmare. I want him back and I need him. But I will do my best to be strong and get through whatever is next. He is very against medication. He says there is not going to be anything I can take to take away this “distant” feeling. Which I know isn’t true-meds can be very helpful in emotional regulation.
Any thoughts on meds that work or how I can present this to him? The irony is that I have been on anti anxiety meds for 12 yrs. the reason I first went on them was bcuz I was so angry all the time and had severe anxiety. He had told me before in the past how impressed he was with how great my meds worked and how we probably wouldn’t have stayed married if I wasn’t on them!!!!
Hello again @BrokenHeat - has he been a heavy drinker for a while? In some police departments drinking is a huge issue. I hope you can return to this issue with him and point out that a coping mechanism like this isn't working for you or the children and that drunkenness may make him feel he's doing okay but in reality it's not so. He needs to be told that his inebriation doesn't make him a better husband or dad. If he's been drinking for a while then stopping even just to be around you and the children is going to be a challenge for a start.

Isn't it sad that he'd not want medications but is willing to drink to excess?

so yesterday I set the boundary of if he is going to be here then he has to be sober. I told him most of this is out of my hands but that I at least could keep him accountable. I asked if he could be here sober, and he said yes.

Well done. You've set that boundary but remember boundaries apply to your standards and your responses. So if he gets or is drunk around the children what is your plan? Obviously confronting him isn't okay because he's drunk. Do you have a relative or a place you can go if he gets drunk? Are you willing to collect up the children and go if he breaks that boundary?

This illness is a monster just on it's own. Combine it with alcohol and it becomes even nastier. If he's relying on alcohol in the way that he is, don't expect him to be able to abide by your boundary because he's not managing his ptsd or alcohol use well right now. So in other words think out what you'll do on a temporary basis, to disengage with him if he becomes drunk.

a friend who has room for him, and he is moving out for a while to try to “fix himself.”
^ I know this is terribly bad news for you and I'm sorry to hear that he's still wanting to leave. Have you asked him what he's doing in terms of therapy? Fixing oneself in terms of ptsd is not really possible imo unless he's got a plan.

Untreated, unmanaged ptsd isn't fixed by going to live somewhere and by oneself - not on it's own. Sure it takes the pressure off but it doesn't actually manage the ptsd part of the problem. By removing himself from the home he's trying to a) aleviate stress that comes from being at home and regardless of how well the children behave and how wonderful you are it is still stressful (have you looked at the stress cup article on this site? stress cup

Please have a read. I was told a long, long time ago that stress (good and bad) is cumulative. Regardless of where the stress comes from, it's still stress. When a person has ptsd the brain doesn't distinguish the source of the stress and there's no relief simply because it came from a happy or non threatening source.

So 'fixing himself' is a fairly broad message. Have you drilled down into what that means for him? Can you take him to your local GP and get a referral to a psychologist. Does his employer have any assistance they can provide - professionally?

He also told me he is terrified about telling our children-one of whom is 11 and already suffers with anxiety-she will take this very hard no doubt that he is moving out. I told him it is best we be honest with our kids.

^ I think you're correct in being honest with your children. I'd also be looking into some counselling for you and the kids and it'd be even better if your husband could go along too. If not, okay but at least see if they can speak to somebody on a confidential basis to talk out their fears. I know that they can talk to you of course but sometimes they'll have fears they aren't willing to disclose to parents about their parents.

We are going to explain that daddy’s brain is not working properly in regards to emotional regulation. Something like that.
^ I don't know how to word this to children that's why talking to a professional would be so valuable before you even start. I think the most important message is that you both still love them and will still be around to care for them. Don't take this as given say and do it. Shore up against their insecurities that this isn't a separation and divorce. You need to speak to your husband about this issue before you speak to the children. If for any reason, he's asking for this separation and it's something other than ptsd then you need to know now because messing around with you is one thing but messing around the children is unforgivable and may have long lasting emotional effects on them.

I feel like I’m living in a nightmare. I want him back and I need him.

^ Yes it is nightmarish and what you're feeling is normal. He's been suffering for a while now by what you write.
He is very against medication. He says there is not going to be anything I can take to take away this “distant” feeling. Which I know isn’t true-meds can be very helpful in emotional regulation.

^ Medications may be helpful with ptsd but again, he has to willingly want them. He has to be motivated to go and seek out help from a psychologist or a psychiatrist. If he's not seeing a doctor about the ptsd then he'll never know.

I was trialled on literally dozens of meds. Some worked okay but after a while they stopped helping me and actually became a hindrance. I cannot say what my life would have been like without meds because I simply don't know now. I'm not on any meds now but I'm a long way different from your husbands situation and stage of recovery and management of ptsd.

^It's up to him but I will suggest that whatever is motivating him to say no at this point needs to be discussed with a proper professional and the merits of meds should be considered when you both have all of the information. Please ask him to see a fully qualified trauma therapist or at least a doctor to discuss this issue.

I have been on anti anxiety meds for 12 yrs. the reason I first went on them was bcuz I was so angry all the time and had severe anxiety. He had told me before in the past how impressed he was with how great my meds worked

I get what you're saying but ptsd is wily little beast. The willingness to want to recover and manage ptsd must come from him. It's so sad that he'll try self-medicating with alcohol and moving out before he'll consider meds. But you cannot make him do that - he must come to the point that he'll try them because he wants to do so. You cannot parent or police his meds just as you cannot stop him drinking. It's all up to him.
Any thoughts on meds that work or how I can present this to him?
Are you willing to give your kids up? For good, maybe...for the next several years, definitely. What arguments could someone present to you that would make you seriously consider that option?

That’s what going on medication means for some people. Bare minimum he’s (probably, if his dept is like most) looking at having to EITHER quit his job (maybe forever) to spend the next 6mo-2years trying to find the “right” med or combo of meds -OR- to lie to his work, and commit a LOT of crimes, in order to be on medications that make it illegal for him to carry a weapon, drive a car, sign his name to legal paperwork (even flying a desk isn’t an option with a lot of psych meds) -OR- to take the hit career wise, take the next few years off on medical leave, and maaaaaaaaybe able to return, but never to advance., -OR- to take the next few years off without pay/benefits in order to keep it entirely off his record wih “just” a gap.

There’s no good choice in that clusterf*ck. Some are clearly better than others, but the better of 2 evils doesn’t make it good, ya know?

Not with the meds that are used to MASK the symptoms of PTSD to get someone through therapy. Because there aren’t any meds “for” PTSD. If he has another disorder, like major depression/MDD? Sure. He may be on those for the rest of his life. But PTSD drugs, are temporary, and fix Jack shit. They just mask they symptoms, to make them more able to do their lives (unless you’re a cop, pilot, surgeon, and a few other fields) & able to do therapy.

Alcohol, meanwhile? Is both a totally accepted way to mask symptoms (as long as they’re not drinking ON the job, before surgery, etc., but even then? There’s often at least a little wiggle room, if not wide swaths. Which may seem insane, but is also real life), and if it gets too bad, being in alcohol abuse recovery doesn’t carry the same stigma & isn’t career ending.

It’s also? Very short lived. Ounce an hour. Most meds, meanwhile, are 24/7/365. Which is a HUGE benefit if you have kids, or work. Because it means you aren’t off your f*cking head on med trials (generally 90days to 6mo) with uncontrolled bursts of rage, suicidal depression, sleeping the clock around, and other cheerful life-breaking-side effects... but can direct exactly when & for how long you’re affected by it. IF AND ONLY IF you’re being smart about it.

Don’t get me wrong.... meds can be FANTASTIC tools. Leave a person far more who they are then buried under whatever symptom set is crushing them, until they can dig themselves out, again. I’m not anti-med, in any way. But there are serious risks to them. Like not being able to do your job, or raise your kids, or killing yourself. Because, unlike antibiotics, things like antidepressants, mood stabilizers, antipsychotics, anti-anxiety, etc.? React very very differently with different people. Give the exact same med to 100 people and you will find -roughly- 80% of people have basically the same effect, but WILDLY different side effects... and 20% of the people are going to have wildly different effects. There’s NO this-does-this when you’re talking brain-stuff. If a person finds the “right” meds quickly? Then than 24/7/365 thing is a benefit, rather than a detriment. But most people don’t find the “right” meds out the gate. It takes 6-24mo to find what works without f*cking up their lives, or the lives around them.

So if you want to convince your husband to try meds? First, figure out how you’d convince yourself to give up your kids, and your work. Which is what you’re asking him to do. I’m sure there are ways you could be convinced to do that, and situations where you’d agree not being a mom & not working is worth it. I would GUESS -as a mom myself- that there would need to be some sneaky-dealing in there. Like moving (to save the job, giving him a reasonable “reason” for quitting for a few years, to return again later with a gap he can fib about), and guaranteed time with the kids WITH a 24/7/365 fall-back (you, babysitter, etc.) so that he’s never letting them down or putting them at risk if he’s too f*cked up. So that you wouldn’t be giving your kids UP to never see them, “just” giving up your parenting responsibilities. Which, sure, you’d probably never do under normal circumstances, but if things were bad enough you’d consider it.

There ARE other coping mechanisms besides drugs/alcohol. Most of them mean he’d prooooobably be spending more time away from home until he can wrap therapy and no longer needs those daily hours to manage stress & symptom spikes, plus work hours, plus therapy hours... which might save his career but tank his family... so it’s not exactly a risk-free option, either.

I know. It ALL sucks. Finding the way it can suck the least, and then embracing the suck? Will be pretty key.

ETA (also some potentially good news, when considering meds)

* Note : Whilst it often takes 6mo-2years to find the right combo of meds? Many -if not most- people with PTSD have their symptoms & their lives back under control within just a few months, even if they’re fine tuning for much longer. Others can take years and longer. There’s no set time, or even average time, as so many different factors are involved. There are trending groups (the vast majority will be sorted without therapy or any other assistance in less than 6mo, the next vast majority will use therapy and be sorted within a few months to a few years, and so forth and so on, until we get to the teeny tiny narrow end of less than 5% of people with PTSD will be struggling life long, even though it’s a life long disorder, most people “just” have the occasional symptom spike/ flare up/ relapse.) But it’s a good thing to know, when considering meds, that a helluva lot of people will actually be able to sort their shit in less time than even their first med trial would take... and is part of why so many therapists attempt therapy without meds, first.
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Wow-that is very powerful and a view I never thought of. Thank you for presenting the other side to me. I needed it.
I think you put it best when you said “finding the way to make it suck the least and then embracing the suck.” So here we are today embracing the man that is our entire world, moving out. I can see 100% our home environment was slowly killing him. He told me all he does when he is here is think about what a horrible father and husband he is. He hates himself.
So we are removing those stressors and he is moving in with a good friend. A friend who knows what is going on and understands this is not bachelor living rebooted.
so my hope is that today is the beginning of the first step to start his healing.
Does anyone here have any experience with the Stellate Ganglion Block treatment?
The last I’ve read on those trials is that it can be hit or miss / some success with depression, and some forms of TBI... but no more effective than placebos for for PTSD symptoms. To be fair? A placebo will buy many people at least a few weeks to a few months of reduced symptoms (or reduced self-reported symptoms, whilst spouses and employers notice no difference, depending on how the study was performed... a lot don’t include family & rely on self-report).

As far as practice, the only people in my state performing it “for” PTSD keep being brought up on charges of medical malpractice and lost their license. There’s a military hospital in my state that attracts a lot of quickie-fix civilian options for desperate service members willing to try anything to avoid having to be medically discharged. They’re a lot like the car-lots scamming service members with loan-shark-rate-loans, except the quacks are capitalising on desperation rather than excitement. As fast as you can shut them down, more spring up like mushrooms. So, maybe a better comparison would be coat hanger abortions in an alley. Even though SGB can be performed with minimal risk, and even some degree of efficacy for depression, the only docs who do it in my area are those looking to make a few hundred k quick, not give a f*ck about the consequences to their patients, and get to Costa Rica or Thailand before their assets are frozen. <<< Which is my caveat on my less than glowing review, as -like abortions in the 50s- it CAN be performed safely, it’s a dodgy treatment for anything in a lot of areas, but I theeeeeenk there’s only one or two blokes still touting it for PTSD.

So it basically comes down to... how much are you willing to spend on a sugar pill? (That comes along with the risk of nerve damage and mobility impairment and other issues when you start f*cking around with nerves/ganglia/spinal column if you’ve got someone scamming for theor retirement fund performing it)


MDMA trials have been so durn effective, especially for the complex trauma found in combat / first response / etc. (complex trauma in combat/first response = not a single rape, or a single assault, which is more than enough to cause PTSD, but the hundreds upon thousands of traumas that cops/paramedics/soldiers/etc live and breathe day in and day out) they’re nearing FDA approval for general use. They’re not only in stage 3, but were labeled “breakthrough treatment” with massive funding and multisite approval attached.) One of the giant benefits of MDMA treatment is that it isn’t a maintenance drug, like antidepressants, but a series of incredibly LONG therapy sessions. (5-10+ hours)... as MDMA isn’t used to treat symptoms, but to facilitate the therapy that goes after the root source. So, whilst one of the fastest/most effective potential treatments? It IS still in clinical trials & it can be a stone cold bitch to get in on one of those trials.


Outside of snake-oil & clinical trials, though... the top tier treatments for PTSD are EMDR (and there is a complex trauma option, now, which even 10 years ago there wasn’t), CBT // tf-CBT, (cognitive behavioral therapy / trauma focused-CBT) and... wait. I’ll just give you the links. Far better explanations in them than I could do.

Ptsd therapies <<< (giant list & breakdown of both Tier 1 & lower tier treatments)

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Thank you so much-I will definitely look into these links you sent. I value your input on the SGB treatments bcuz we would be coming from Canada so would be a HUGE expense. There is no price for his health BUT if it is a sketchy treatment at best then I’m glad to know before I book flights, etc..!!
@enough @Survivor3 @Friday
My husband decided to move out a week ago. Feels like it has been an eternity. I’m a complete disaster and feel very alone and sad and don’t know what the future looks like.
Those of you that have suffered-please can u provide me some insight. My husband says one minute he feels normal and wants to be with me. The next minute; he describes as a “coin flip” and he feels like he doesn’t care, and justifies that people split all the time, and we should just cut ties. Will this ever change? All the research says therapy and time can help. But I need to here from you sufferers about this please.
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