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How To Talk About It..??

Discussion in 'Military & Emergency Services' started by b3cca, Jan 30, 2016.

  1. b3cca

    b3cca New Member

    I have a close friend in the military who only brings up issues he is having when he has been drinking a lot. Sometimes to the point that he would be in tears while talking to me. As someone who is not in the military I cannot fully grasp the things he is saying to me or relate to him during these emotional moments. Someone who has been through this could you give me some advice...
    Should I bring up the things he said the next day when he is sober? Or should I leave it alone?
    I generally do not bring it up because I understand it can be a touchy subject that he does not like to talk about.
    What can I do during these emotional moments for him to know I support him and that it is okay?
    Is this something common that other people experience frequently?
    tiredtexan and Nikie like this.
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  3. Chava

    Chava I'm a VIP

    It's awesome that you are being so thoughtful about this. You sound like a very good friend. As an alcoholic I understand how some of that stuff can come up or be expressed when drunk (this is not saying your friend is an alcoholic, only that I understand getting drunk really well). You might try bringing it up in a non-serious, non-judging, yet caring or concerned way. Yes, for sure when he is sober.

    You might say something like, "Hey, I'm a little concerned about some of the things you bring up when you've been drinking...about the (trauma in a very general sense)...just wanted to let you know I am here for you if you ever want to talk...or if you need anything..." And maybe leave it there....because you are exposing him sober. If he's embarrassed or doesn't want to talk about it, or denies its importance, let it drop. It would not be unusual for him to want to entirely avoid the topic while sober. But you've let him know you care and that you're there for him, not judging, and okay with whatever he has said (btw, I'd also be a little bit general if he happened to be blacked out and wants to know what he said...like note he talked about this stuff generally, and was really sad...)...and it's all okay that he told you those things, and he can trust you.

    But if he's willing to talk a little you could get some sense of how he is managing, maybe ask if he's ever thought of getting any help (I would only ask about professional help at this point if he's willing to talk to you sober, or if he is suicidal). If he doesn't want to talk any about it but keep bringing stuff up while drinking you could assess another strategy later, like ask if he's thought about possibility of PTSD, etc. He could even just meet with his GP and discuss symptoms at some point and go from there.

    Basically, I think it's appropriate to bring it up, but just out of concern and somewhat lightly. Don't push him for info or to do anything about it...just let him know you are concerned, as a friend, and supporting him. Hope this is a little helpful.
    Last edited: Jan 30, 2016
    tiredtexan, Ocean5, b3cca and 3 others like this.
  4. EveHarrington

    EveHarrington _______ in progress. Premium Member

    I have PTSD but it is not due to military service. I thought I'd reply as I have done the same in the past. That is, I'd have these drinking episodes where I'd break down and everything would come flooding out. Unfortunately my friends were a bit immature and after I sobered up I had to deal with their taunts regarding what I had said when I was inebriated.

    This is a very hard thing to deal with and as a friend it can be quite difficult to know the right thing to say. Sometimes I think it can help if you tell the person you might not know the right thing to say, but that you are concerned for them. I think that if this is a person you truly care about then it is worth taking the risk to talk to them the next day after they sober up. It's possible that he doesn't remember all (or any) of the things he tells you. I think that even if he doesn't make immediate changes, at the very least he will hear that you care (even if he fights you on it).
    Ocean5 and Chava like this.
  5. Nikie

    Nikie Well-Known Member

    Hallo B3kka love the way you tipe your name welcome on the forum and thanks for taking the chance to write on introduction
    I can not relate to anything above .. But I want to mention something that might help you.. Its good to test the grounds you are walking in .. See how he react. For me I am forgetful so if you would like to try and write in a journal of all his experiences he mentioned to you when a bit over relaxed .. In this way you can over think the situation and remember the detail better. You can actually debrief him every time he is drunk ..( That is if you feel you are okey to handle the stuff he might be saying .. ) and if he get more relaxed he will in time start talking to you when sober ..
    Just be his trusted friend and partner
    Good luck B3kka please take good care of yourself in this as well :hug:
  6. Neverthesame

    Neverthesame A Mind The Dead Have Ravaged Premium Member Donated

    Civilian sufferer myself. But I can certainly relate to the drunken confessional thing.

    @Chava said it about perfect.
    tiredtexan, Ocean5 and Chava like this.
  7. Sweetpea76

    Sweetpea76 Semper ubi sub ubi. Moderator Donated

    I never bring up my vet's war stories or traumas... I figure they are his to tell or not tell. If he wants to talk about them he will.

    The most compassionate thing to do is be an ear. When my vet starts talking like that I listen and keep all my opinions and platitudes to myself. There isn't anything I can say to make it better. I'll never understand because I've never been there. I just quietly listen and let him say what he needs to say.

    It's not much, but it's all you can really do. We're not trauma therapists.
  8. b3cca

    b3cca New Member

    Thank you for the reassurance.... I never know what to say either because I have never been in the situation and in no way can say I understand what he went through or how he is feeling.
  9. Ocean5

    Ocean5 Well-Known Member

    Ask open ended questions when he is sober, if you get no response. Do not be offended. He is just protecting himself in only way his mind can. It's nothing.

    When he does open up, even drinking, just listen. Drinking is just self-medication.
    Ronin likes this.
  10. Sarah05

    Sarah05 New Member

    I agree that if he is talking to you while drunk, it's probably best to just lend an ear and let him talk. Sometimes people who aren't ready to speak openly sober just really need an avenue to get things off their chest. If he's drunk and talking about it, he's not looking for advice and may not even remember it if you gave any. However, it does show that he at least subconsciously wants to talk about things and that these issues bother him pretty regularly. I would bring it up in general terms the next day as chava suggested. There's no need to get into the nitty-gritty details. What he would probably most benefit from is evaluation and therapy with a trained professional, but he might not be ready to take that step yet and it's no good to push someone into that. Hopefully eventually he will reach the point of being able to open up to a therapist. But for no just take it slow, and let him know you are supportive and that the issues he is having are not at all uncommon. He is not alone. You're already being a great friend by asking for advice here. What he probably most needs from you is to just keep being that great friend.
    Ronin, Ocean5 and b3cca like this.
  11. b3cca

    b3cca New Member

    I did try to bring it up the next time and ofcourse he did not want to talk about it, which is what I expected to happen. I then just told him I am here for him if he wants to talk and just to know that I support him. I know he has friends who understand what he has gone through and I hope he talks with them about it if he needs to. It is difficult when you have not been in the situation and cannot relate and tell him you understand why he feels the way he does.
    Deadman and Chava like this.
  12. b3cca

    b3cca New Member

    Are there any behaviors I should be looking for or be worried about? He is not one to really open up and talk about things that are bothering, but I can also tell he is not extremely depressed. I know his drinking can sometimes be excessive but he does not get aggressive towards me or himself during these times. I just don't want to miss any signs that I could have helped him and didn't. I have been a listening ear and he knows I am here for him and support him if or when he wants to talk, but I feel like that is all I can really do. Any advice?
    Allie D. likes this.
  13. Chava

    Chava I'm a VIP

    Sounds like you are doing all you can...you let him know you noticed and that you are there for support or listening. He's an adult, so he can figure out what he can deal with and when/where to ask for help. If he's not directly hurting himself or others, leave it. If he is hurting himself or getting really destructive, bring it up and offer to help him find more support if needed. But you can't bubble wrap him or anything. If he starts sounding suicidal, find extra support. But it sounds like he is mostly managing for now, however imperfectly at times...that's pretty normal.
    Allie D. and Ocean5 like this.
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