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Supporter Cop Husband Has Depression & Ptsd

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Hello everyone. I'm Dawn, married almost 20 years, with 6 kids. My husband has been a cop for the past 16 years and began manifesting PTSD and depression about 5 years ago. About a year ago, his boss and partner were murdered in an ambush. My husband was first on scene and had to walk through the men's blood and brain matter as he cleared the house in search of the shooter.

Because he had successfully used EMDR therapy 2 years earlier, he immediately got into counseling but stopped after 6 months when the worst of the nightmares and anxiety went away.

We just passed the one year anniversary of the shooting and I fully expected him to have a terrible time. He went to Police Week a few weeks after the anniversary and that was cathartic, too. Except that as time went on, his symptoms got worse, not better. I convinced him he needs to go back into counseling and get back on meds; he struggles with anger and our older children are already in counseling themselves to deal with the emotional terrorism he put them through during his first serious bout of PTSD and depression.

I'm grateful that my husband has the humility to listen to me and seek treatment. My struggle is his emotional detachment. For the first 13 years of our marriage, we had an incredibly close, loving relationship. He called me his bride and I told everyone how much I admired him. Of course we had disagreements, but overall he was my absolute best friend in the world. And he felt the same about me. His whole world was me and our children; he said that his favorite place to be was cuddled on the couch with me and all our children.

Now, he spends the majority of his time on his tablet or phone. If he wasn't sitting on the couch with the kids, I'd think it was porn, but instead it's Facebook and Twitter and websites and cop forums and news sites etc. He says that he does this to turn off his mind, because he's constantly in a state of high anxiety. He startles often and can't let anyone stand behind him. He has completely withdrawn socially; other than hanging out with other cops or soldiers, he doesn't want to do anything with anyone. And he's a naturally extroverted, gregarious guy.

I have tremendous compassion for him, because I know he's suffering. He described feeling so deeply unhappy; he said he's aware that he can't find joy or meaning in things that he did before, like our family and marriage, and it bothers him. He knows it's hard for us to live with his symptoms.

What is absolutely destroying me is the total withdrawal of his love and affection. This man was always so physically affectionate and emotionally engaged with me. Now that's gone. I see him trying to fake it for our kids sake, but he doesn't for me. There's no intimacy of any kind anymore--emotional or physical. When I've tried to get close to him, he's apathetic.

I was abandoned by my birth mother at 18 months and then grew up with a severely disturbed adoptive mother who withheld all signs of love. She was so abusive that I still have burns and scars all over my body from her; she nearly blinded me at age 4 by slamming my face through a window. And I have hearing loss from her, too.

Having had this background (which I've had extensive counseling for myself), my husband's withdrawal of love is killing me. His love language is acts of service, while quality time makes me feel loved. Well, it's very easy for me to make him feel loved by me; I only need to keep doing what I've always done for him. But I am starving for love, because he has no interest in me, in my life, our marriage, nothing. To have gone from our warm, supportive, and even still passionate marriage to this has been even worse than growing up as I did. Because at least I never expected love from my mother, but to have had it taken away is unspeakably painful. I cry constantly, often the pain is so great I nearly vomit from it. I feel completely unloved and abandoned by him. I have started seeing a counselor myself (secretly) because I can't find a way out of this pain. I constantly remind myself that he's sick, that he doesn't mean to hurt me. But knowing that hasn't stopped the agony. I try to keep up the facade for the sake of our kids, but I feel like I'm dying emotionally, as I wait until everyone else is asleep at night and then cry for hours. I carry around a constant loneliness that sits in my heart like a heavy stone. But there's no one to be angry with, and there's not going to be a quick fix.

I would greatly appreciate hearing from some other spouses who have gone through this and come out the other side. Because I can't seem to find any information about whether treatment will even work and if it does, when? Have I just lost my marriage forever? Even if he could get miraculously healed overnight, I fear there's going to be long-term effects on our relationship. The first time he was severely depressed with mild ptsd symptoms, I just stuffed the pain of being ignored and unwanted, but this time there's no escaping it because his behavior is so much more severe. Please tell me that there's hope for him to get better, and for our marriage to recover, too. I have read everything I can about ptsd and I'm doing everything that the articles recommend, but no one addresses these things. Apparently, if I just keep in mind that he's sick and he gets treatment, and I just do things like take care of myself and make sure I exercise and get out of the house, this is supposed to be bearable. Only it isn't.

Thanks for allowing me to talk and I appreciate any wisdom, guidance, or advice you might have for me.
I am a sufferer.

I think the reason why you can't find this....

Because I can't seem to find any information about whether treatment will even work and if it does, when?

....is because there is no answer. PTSD isn't like having a bacterial infection where you start treatment and expect to be cured by the end of your course of antibiotics within a certain time frame. With PTSD, some people are able to heal sooner with one type of therapy, while others have to go through many different types of therapies and the healing process takes many years. Nobody can tell you how long it is going to take your husband to heal.

For some, EMDR works wonders, while for others, EMDR is ineffective. I think that it is a positive sign that EMDR has worked for him in the past though. While EMDR is a healing therapy, I encourage him to learn coping skills, too. Someone with a strong set of coping skills is more resilient against other stressors in life that pop up along the way, and can be more resilient to developing episodes.

Since this is his second round with PTSD, healing will likely take a bit longer. In general, one instance trauma takes the least amount of time to heal, and healing time increases the more traumas that one accumulates. Of course this is not a hard and fast rule.

I'm glad you're seeking out help for yourself and your children. I think that is a very positive step for you to be taking.
Thank you for your reply. I do realize that PTSD isn't like a physical illness and that no one can predict with certainty the healing process. I never imagined this was something that would go away quickly, either. But there's a rather big difference between six months and 6 years and "the rest of your life." Particularly when getting through one day can seem grueling. Of course, maybe the harsh truth of the matter can seem very bleak to both the suffering and the supporters.
Dawn...My heart goes out to you and your husband, I have been suffering from CPTSD, TBI for 10 years now, I am a former Law Enforcement Officer. Unfortunatley being an Officer with PTSD is very taboo, and your husband will not recieve a lot of support from his brothers in blue or from the community, just look on this site, when I first joined there was a lot more Officers on this site, but it is PC now to throw the cops under the bus....They have a target on their backs and it is from all sides...

I to went through EMDR and it helped me get through a lot of the worst of it..At the time I was elated thinking that I was cured, but when some of the symptoms came back, I was devistated, I talked to my T and we went back through the sessions and she was able to show me the proof that we had talked about the outcome of this therapy, that it was not a cure all that I still needed to learn coping skills that I needed to find a way to relearn how to live with my illness.

What I have come to realize is that I had to learn how NOT to be a cop, I had To KILL the old me....Let me explain, you will get where I am coming from.
For me I was unable to return to being a Police Officer, that was my whole identity, until about a year ago if people asked me what I do for a living, my response was..Well I was a police officer...and now........
My whole identity was wrapped up in the Job, that was who I was, and I had to realize that I was, I am more than that, I had to find that being the COP was not the best part of me...I had to change my way of thinking about myself....

Now you ask me what I do, and I will tell you I am a father, a husband.

I found I still have a huge drive to protect, and so I have become a personal body guard and protector of my family....

The problem with us cops and soldiers is trying to find someone that we trust, we only talk to other cops or solders becouse no one else has gone through the sh*& that we have so it is hard for us to relate to anyone else...

Police Officers in particular are very suspicious of anyone else because it is the very public that they are trying to protect that will end up killing them and sueing etc. So the culter is to circle the wagons and confide in your fellow cops. As you can see this circle is very small and very inclusive..
However if you become a COP with PTSD you now are on the outside of this cirlce, you no longer are trusted by those who you are to trust the most...

As a supporter you are in a lonley boat, and in someways you are also a sufferer, you have to stand by and watch the person you love the person you fell in love with in a literal sense die...He is no longer the same person, you live with Jekle and Hyde.

My wife and I have had to learn to lean on each other, she became by partner, my backup...You mention that he has the humility to listen to you and got back into therapy, that is a good starting point, see if you can get into therapy together...ask him how you can be his partner, not his wife but his back up, someone he know if the shit hits the fan you will be there for him. He already know that your his wife that you will be there for him in this manner, but for a Type A personality that has been trained to run into the carnage the chaos and hell that he sees, everyday, you need a partner...Solders call it a battle buddy.

I hope this helps, if you need to talk with another supporter I will see if my wife will talk to you..
Hello everyone. I'm Dawn, married almost 20 years, with 6 kids. My husband has been a cop for the past...
I can understand your pain. My best friend is a cop and he has seen many things in his years on the force. He had surgery about a year ago for a knee injury, and he has not been the same since.. His PTSD has been elevated (which he won't admit). He's not back in a patrol car, he's behind a desk... He is short tempered and hardly texts anymore. He's sweet and caring in person when I can see him for 2 minutes. It's sad... I wish I knew how to help him . I try to text him our usual funny things but never hear back . I just want to hug him and make it all better. Any advice?
Welcome to the forums!

It's must be really hard living like that. I hope that more theraphy helps, though it should as it has previously. Escaping from the feelings wont solve the problems unfortunately

Good luck and Hugs :hug:
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