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Communication With Sufferer

Discussion in 'Supporter Discussion' started by nyc, Nov 21, 2007.

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  1. nyc

    nyc Member

    Hi there,

    This may be obvious to you all, but I'd like to ask what sort of words are the most effective when soothing your sufferer?

    My communication skills seem to be not so great during this process. Things work best for us when I say nothing at all to be honest.

    But, if you know of any comforting things to say- that have truly soothed your friend/spouse...would you please let me know. He seemed to respond when I told him that I will always be there for him. Which I will if I survive his therapy. He looks ill if I tell him I love him. I'd just like to know what they need to hear- that doesn't push them away.

    I ask this so I don't mess it up. I am trying to control my emotions and just be there for him. But, I start off great then seem to slide during conversations.

    We have gradually started communicating again, and I will be seeing him in 3 weeks. So, I'd appreciate any assistance I can get.

    Thank you,
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  3. permban0077

    permban0077 Policy Enforcement Banned

    And normally during healing that is exactly how it will be. Security is important. That is about the only thing. Do not try to relate, you cannot. If he is actually opening up and talking the best you can do is listen and that is all. No one with this expects the other to get it.
  4. Claire

    Claire Well-Known Member

    Can you ask him? Ask him what helps him. Sometimes saying nothing is good. Just let him know you will be with him in this. That's what most of us need. I think for me it would help if someone would say all the 'I love you' words at another time. Not when things are bad. It just adds to the emotion and the pressure.
  5. Kathy

    Kathy I'm a VIP

    Nyc, I agree with the responses you have already received. There is really not much to do except be available if he wishes to talk, listen, and be highly supportive in attitude and demeanor. As Veiled mentions, you cannot relate, I have learned that one the hard way. If you notice that saying "I love you" or any other phrases bother him, I would avoid them. I have found that much of communicating with a sufferer effectively is a matter of trial and error. You will learn over time what works best for you in your particular situation. It is most important to maintain an attitude of non-judgment, not take things personally, and be open to changes as he heals. Good luck to you.
  6. nyc

    nyc Member

    Thank you Veiled, Claire and Kathy. I really appreciate that. You're right- he has told me he feels judged by me. So- that's why I'm trying to work on this. Thanks for the explanation Claire- now I understand.
  7. vera

    vera Active Member

    i believe it's not a matter of formulas or words: it's about recognizing a mood the person feels safe around. and the thing is, it depends 100% on the person. some people might want silent and supportive, some might want goofy and careless. some might want loving & clingy... it's up to you to find out, and your loved one to help you find out.

    all i can tell you is what *i* prefer, but there's no guaranty it will be of any use. i feel extra sad when i'm on a bad day and people try to cheer me up pretending all is well. i want to scream "listen you oblivious fvck, there's no way you're gonna convince me that everything's alright and we're having a good time" and i get caught up in trying to be nice to the one who's trying to be nice to me, pretending i enjoy myself. it does more damage than good.

    you seem to be on the right track, as you mentioned something about some things you know just don't work.

    what i'm trying to say is, all i can do is suggest you to ask openly and wish you the best of lucks.

  8. nyc

    nyc Member

    Thank you Vera. That makes a lot of sense. I know he doesn't feel safe with me because I'm too close.

    You know I never have asked him what he needs to hear from me. I will give some space for a bit and then ask.

    He started coming a little closer this week and then I messed it up again with my words. I feel like I'm back to square one. So I deeply value your insight.

    Yeah, I need some luck here.

    Take care of yourself.
  9. Frankie

    Frankie Well-Known Member

    nyc, everone will react differently to what we say or how we act. We, as carers have to be aware of our loved one's moods, and know what will "trigger" negative reactions from them. And I know that as hard as we try, we will make mistakes. When that happens, I will say "I am sorry, I didn't mean it the way it sounded".

    He gets very upset at loud noises and yelling...so I try to avoid yelling or talking loudly ! We have to try to adjust to a newer way of living. We also have to remember that we don't have to accept everything that they throw our way, PTSD is not an excuse for "bad behavior"

    We should never sound like we are always apoligizing...we are learning to cope and live with PTSD just as they are learning to cope and live with it !

    In my case I listen a lot...I never push, if he doesn't want to talk ! I always tell him "I am here for you, if you want to talk I will listen".

    Whatever they went through for them to have PTSD, we have to realize that it is very real for them ! I never say "I know what you are going through" because I DON'T !

    I only say "I can't even begin to imagine what you are going through" and if he doesn't want to talk about what happened to him or how he is feeling, often it is because he doesn't want me to be hurt, scared or feel pity for him. Which I don't !

    I do tell him "Whatever you say will not hurt me in the same way as it hurt you...cause I wasn't there, I didn't experience what you experienced"

    My bf seems to want and need me to hold him and hear me say "I love you". It is not the same for everyone. I hold him and say "I love you" not only when things are bad but also when things are great !

    I often find myself telling him how proud I am of him, of the long road he has travelled to be where he is today ! I am proud of the way he never misses a doctor's appointment and how he is careful with his meds...and how hard he is trying !

    And very important, I try to keep up my sense of humour....and try to send it his way Lol....I try to make him laugh !

    But always remember PTSD doesn't go away.....It can be managed ! The disorder will always be there. There will be many ups but so many downs...Accepting this fact is key to the beginning of a long journey !

    Good luck !
  10. Sapper

    Sapper Active Member

    With my little sister, less is more. I listen more than I talk, and I try to gage her mood. When she's not feeling well is not a very good time to tell her a bunch of heartfelt crap. "I love you" is dangerous at the best of times. Sometimes she takes it OK, other times she's suspicious of my intentions and says it makes her feel guilty. What works for me best is, I do things with her, things she enjoys. I talk to her about her interests. When everything's relaxed, and we're talking about nintendo or computers or whatever, often the conversation will naturally move in a more serious direction. From what I can tell, just jumping into a serious conversation without warning feels like a confrontation to her. Doesn't matter what my intent is, that's how she sees it. PTSDers don't do well with confrontation. Anyhow good luck, its never easy.
  11. nyc

    nyc Member

    Thank you Frankie and Sapper. I do feel like I'm always apologizing. He has cut off again. So, I'm just going to ride it out. But, it's true. I am so proud of him for starting his healing process- and going into his pain every week. I can see it's been killing him the past 6 months.He's made so many lifestyle changes to help him cope, some of them are really wonderful, some of them are hurtful. I need to just bite my tongue and let him do what he needs to do.Your posts are really very useful. Thank you so very much. I will keep referring back to them over the next few weeks.
  12. AdamGT

    AdamGT New Member

    Some times spoken words are not the best thing...When things get bad some times a letter saying you care and love the person is enough to calm them down. Plus a letter can be reread spoken words can not.
  13. nyc

    nyc Member

    Thanks Adam. I'm afraid it's my written word (email) that has done some damage. I guess words can be written quite flippantly over the email.It is a nice idea to write a well thought out letter as we're both in different countries right now. But, for now, I guess my main concern is when I see him in 3 weeks time. I'm going home for Christmas break. I just wanted to know how to communicate when I see him if things start taking a slide for the worse- which seems to be what happens lately.I just don't want to keep messing it up and pushing him away further each time because I inadvertently say the wrong thing. I wish he would just cut me some slack sometimes because all of this is so new and I can't be expected to understand what he's going through.
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