Supporter Greetings, New To The Community.

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Clark0116

New Here
Hello, first time poster here. I didn't see any guidelines for introductions so I apologize for being a bit long-winded. I ended up typing quite a few pages, trying to give a high level overview of my experience. Thank you in advance to any who take the time to read my introduction.

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I am not a sufferer of PTSD myself, I have however been in a committed relationship with a sufferer—from here on referred to as L—for the last 4 years. As of just under a month ago L and I are taking a break from our relationship. It would also be accurate to say that she broke things off with me. However, I say that we are on a break because she has expressed a hope that at some point in the not-to-distant future we could try starting things over again.

L sees a psychiatrist regularly, and is currently between therapists. She is diagnosed with PTSD, panic disorder and bi-polar disorder. She receives medication in the form of clonazepam and lamotrigine. The source of her PTSD is sexual abuse she suffered repeatedly at the hands of a male "family friend" in her very early teens. She was raised primarily by a single mother who upon finding out did not press charges. Most of the people in her life at the time, her mother included, blamed her or otherwise made it out to be not a big deal.

In addition to the psychological issues, she suffers from nerve damage resulting in loss of feeling in parts of her right leg, chronic back pain and migraines. Last year she had a brain tumor scare that turned out to be benign. She receives treatment for her chronic pain in the form of mild pain killers and more recently spinal injections.

L and I met through a mutual friend. She lived in the rural south and I lived on the west coast. We chatted as friends for 6 months, we began dating on a 2 week visit she made to the west coast. Over the next 6 months she finished a semester at the local community college she was attending and continued to visit every few months. At the end of that period, she moved out to the west coast.

Since then we've lived together in the Bay Area over the last 4 years. She was completely up front with her emotional and psychological baggage so none of that came as a surprise. As she came from a very poor background, she did not move out with much, at the time she did not have a degree but had been going to community college in her home state. She did not have any insurance and was not receiving treatment at the time for her condition.

Upon moving out, for the better half of the first 2 years primarily we focused on trying to support her working through her emotional issues. Starting at the beginning of the next calendar year after she moved in with me, I put her on my insurance which dramatically increased the availability of treatment over the public option. Her physical and mental health were improving and after becoming eligible for in state tuition she applied for a local community college with plans to attend the local state university after one more year in community college, to pursue a degree in psychology. Her goal is working with youths—victims of abuse, those in the social services system or those diagnosed with mental illness.

The first 2 years went by fairly well, her PTSD made it difficult for her to have a consistent and emotionally connected relationship when it came to being intimate, but over those two years she made a lot of headway. Then one night, we suffered a broken condom and a few weeks later despite birth control and Plan B she was pregnant.

Neither of us are religious, and we weren't even sure if we wanted to intentionally have kids later in life so it wasn't a difficult choice for us. However, the psychological damage was profound. One of the biggest triggers for her PTSD is when she loses control over something. Losing control over her body and having to deal with the ridiculous guilt and red tape the American medical system shovels onto women in this situation was incredibly harmful.

The whole ordeal took a few months, and even many months after it was over, we were not back to normal. Our intimacy, which had been slowly building up for 2 years took a sharp dive off a cliff. A completely understandable turn of events, however, a few months after things were over I admit I had definitely started to become a little frustrated.

The next year and a half passed by with little progress made in regaining our prior relationship. We drifted apart in a lot of ways, we spent less time doing the things we loved together, we had sex very rarely, and she had begun to have flashbacks to her abuse during this time. She began to see a therapist during this time, unfortunately not one specializing in PTSD. Her therapist helped her in growing up and becoming a more mature and independent adult overall, but she did not make significant headway in confronting her PTSD. (She is currently looking for a PTSD specialist that can fit her current class and work schedule.)

Last spring L graduated from the local community college and in the fall began attending the local state University. She began making many more friends (previously, most of her friends in the area were mutual friends) and generally having a more independent social life. This winter she was accepted into her first job since moving to the west coast, counseling children with special needs at a wellness center near the state university. She is one year away from receiving her bachelor's degree.

About a month ago, L broke things off with me. We got into a confrontation and for two weeks she was unsure what she wanted to do. Eventually she decided she wanted to break up. Without going into exact details, she walked me through a number of situations where over the last two years, I had believed I had been putting her first but I had really failed to understand her illness and had been hurting her. She hopes that she can forgive me for the ways I had hurt her, and that I can learn from my mistakes. Neither of us want to throw away 4 years.

That brings us to the present day. I've skipped over a lot of details, but I think any more would be a bit too much for an introduction. I'm here because a long time ago she asked me to look for help in understanding her illness. I did attend therapy sessions with her eventually, but I could never bring myself to post on a site like this because I honestly did not understand how it could be helpful. To be clear, it's not that I think these sorts of communities are not helpful, I think they're great and I'm sure they're amazingly helpful for many people. I just tend to have a hard time taking advice or learning through other's experiences.

I'm here though because I want to try to understand her better, and because if we do decide to try to start things over, I want things to work out this time. She means the world to me and I realized I've been making a huge mistake thinking I understood even an inkling of what she has gone through her whole life.

I look forward to the opportunity to learn. Thanks for reading.
 
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Friday

Moderator
Welcome to the forums!

I tend to have to learn things the hard way, too, by experience rather than observation. One thing which has helped a great deal -in that regard- is that I still have to learn by doing, but I've found both my learning curve and ability to adapt or rapidly changing or volatile circumstance is helped a great deal by a deep knowledge base.

So, too, that the ability to kick knowledge / pass on what I've learned by doing actually helps me retain better what I have learned, and to better define areas I'm working on or struggling with.

Mostly, though the wealth of experience & perspective just creates this kind of synergy that I've never found outside of putting a lot of heads together towards one common goal, and seeing what happens.
 

Suzetig

Sponsor
Welcome to the forum, you'll find all you need to know about posting in our community constitution - there are very few restrictions on what you can post here. As a general rule personal attacks, suicidal posting (as in actively intending suicude) and self promotion aren't ok. We don't use trigger warnings for what might be difficult or graphic content either because what is triggering for one person won't be an issue for someone else.

Thanks for sharing so much of your story, I hope you find support here.
 
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ladee

MyPTSD Pro
Welcome. I feel we all learn more by "doing" but having others understand how we feel is a large part of this community.
Lots of information and resources here so look around.
Your relationship has a better chance if you have more understanding of what she is experiencing. And you will learn how to take care of you when it just gets to be too much.
Wish more partners were willing to learn why we are the way we are.
Good luck and glad you are here.
 

AngelKeeperJ

Sponsor
Welcome, Clark0116
She means the world to me and I realized I've been making a huge mistake thinking I understood even an inkling of what she has gone through her whole life.

You wrote a VERY good introduction, and I applaud you for being so willing to do what it takes to know and understand L, the lady in your life. I do hope that things can be worked out, and that in the meantime you can be educating yourself, and learning how to better support her. It is difficult for most people to be able to express exactly what they need. I think that even more so with sufferers of PTSD. The emotions that have protected us, like fearing new people, and not trusting easily, cease to actually protect us, and hinder our growth and healing instead.

The above statement you made is the most profound, to me, anyway. You have realized that you didn't know that you REALLY had NO idea of what L had gone through. I hope you have been able to state that to her. I respect you VERY much for choosing to immerse yourself into learning what you can about what has made L the way she is, and what would be the BEST way to help her. I think that you will need to be ready to be her FRIEND, no matter what.

I know it is hard for men to not have hopes about having an intimate relationship with the woman that they love, but during her time of healing, she will need to know that you are okay with friendship only. I would expect that she will be fearful of the chance of becoming pregnant. Just that thought would be enough to keep her from wanting to be intimate. In women, the brain is the most important "organ" that must be "comfortable" and at peace.

(My own experience of giving birth to a daughter who had very severe brain damage, caused me to not be able to want to have sex, because of the fear of getting pregnant. I was in a deep postpartum depression, bordering psychosis, and I just KNEW that I would literally lose my mind if I got pregnant again. Thankfully, I got my tubes tied, and that was no longer a possibility.)

I hope that you will come here, and be able to learn and grow from what you read. To be able to understand how L's sexual abuse, followed by not being believed, AND made to feel like it was her fault, you will need to understand that her brain was quite literally "written on" and nothing there can be erased. She hopefully will learn how to somewhat "deactivate" those messages and become the beautiful "butterfly" who comes out of the cocoon. I wish you the best!

AKJ
 

Clark0116

New Here
It took me a while to get around to reading the replies, because dumping so much of my story into a public space is definitely outside of my comfort zone. So thank you all for the warm welcomes.
 
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