Husband refuses to learn and understand

Diagnosed with PTSD, Major Depression, and General Anxiety.

I don’t know how to get my husband to be less callous about mental health issues. Seeking suggestions, and support.

I’m really struggling immensely. Three sleep meds (Ambien then Lunesta, Trazodone, Prazosin) together are no match for the fear I have of falling asleep because nightmares WILL come. So I often get 2 hours on a 3 med combo. I’m having more flashbacks and intrusive thoughts than the previous 23 years combined since the original trauma before this current mess. I’m hanging on to life by a very thin thread and insulting, condescending, sarcastic manure just keeps flying out of his mouth. I ask him does he know what a flashback is like and then shared with him the two links below and he has shown zero interest in talking about it.

He did ask me one time a couple months ago what I would do if I were him and I showed him a meme about mental vs physical illness and asked that he try to treat my issues as he would a physical illness. It does have somatic symptoms in the form of sometimes intense itching when I have flashbacks and intrusive memories, so bad I end up in a scalding shower scratching until the water is used up. He rejected from the get go my suggestion that he solicited, dismissing it as irrelevant because in his words “your malady is not physical”.

I have begged him and he has flat out refused for years to learn to understand my struggles, using Gabrielle Union as a staring point for understanding sexual assault aftermath, Howie Mandel as a starting point to see I have zero OCD rituals or thoughts that interfere with work or recreation.

His rationale: “I don’t live with them, I live with you.” So he continues to trample all over my feelings, saying things such as “what’s wrong in your life that’s not in your head?”, chastises me for not getting better fast enough, and insinuates I’m not persevering with “Howie persevered, he stayed positive” when I mentioned it looks like his wife is understanding of mental health and doesn’t dole out regular insults, all while I’m in the current hell I’m in as a result of his actions (severely triggered by him 22 months ago), and continues to refuse to acknowledge his part in triggering me to the point I am today and can only ever utter “I’m sorry but....”s in insisting to this day that “nobody could have foreseen (what he did 22 months ago) it would cause a mental break down”.

***** Background: *****

Random sexual assault by total stranger in an alley 25 years ago as a teenager. Did not get therapy then and never got on meds then, but self-healed to the point of functioning perfectly normal in the “outside world” but devised an inside/outside separation for myself so when I get back home to my living space, I shower immediately and wipe down everything that needs to be brought in beyond the immediate entrance area, so I go to bed with nobody else on me.

Basically it’s you can rub the bottom of your shoes all over me out in public, I can hang with you at your house or any public establishment, just don’t come to my house because you can’t come in to use the toilet so I can’t host you. This separation allowed me to not have physical symptoms — the itching, no matter how dirty I get outside the house because I can expect it to end and I can power through the day. Flashbacks, nightmares, and intrusive thoughts were pretty well managed and few and far between.

***** The triggering/re-traumatizing incident 22 months ago: *****

Husband (in his frustration of following my “rules” to keep inside/outside separation) stepped outside to the backyard barefoot into dirt ants dug up, came back in, whipped out his phone to record how “crazy” that made me. I’m not sure which was more triggering, the separation being violated, or the emotional betrayal of my confidence in him and disregard for a past that caused my “issues” that felt like a new assault although not sexual.

At the cost of being able to continue a profession I worked very hard to get into (it requires a medical certificate which being on psychiatric meds will disqualify me for), I recognized I was put in a very dark place and needed help this time around and sought help.

My past and the occasional itching episodes is something he has known since before we married. In fact, he experienced it over the phone with me one night when I tried and failed to ignore a minor “contamination” of my living space. A month before this triggering incident 22 months ago, we had another argument about my “inside world” clean need and he made me feel so bad I resorted to google mapping to show him the location of my assault complete with pointing to my position on the ground to remind him this happened, that’s why I am the way I’ve been, and it’s not for him to poke at or use against me. Barely a month later he does what he did, that backyard dirt thing.

I asked him yesterday: “Do you have any idea, any at all, how much pain you’d have to put someone in, for that person to resort to revisiting the scene of a traumatic past in 3-D in an attempt to get you to stop? Can you begin to imagine how triggering and re-traumatizing it was then, for you to pull that stunt of yours and aim a camera at me to record how “crazy” that made me and the amount of pain you brought? Are those tears and emotions fake in that video? “

His answer: “No one but you has told me that.” (It being triggering/re-traumatizing).

TL;DR Husband displays continued callousness about mental health struggles. Insists “nobody could have foreseen” that his actions 22 months ago could “cause a mental break down”. Says “Nobody but you has told me that” in response to my trying to tell him how triggering/re-traumatizing it was for him to do what he did. Refused for years to learn about my issues, dismissed as irrelevant my ask for him to treat mental issues as he would otherwise treat a physical illness — with sensitivity and not callousness. Shown zero interest in having a discussion about what flashbacks are like and what my days and nights have been like for nearly 2 years now. Hanging on to life by a thin thread. HELP?
 
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Movingforward10

MyPTSD Pro
I wonder if there is some nuance to be found here for both you and him?

For you, to survive you have created your outside/inside rule. That works for you, but at a cost because you can't host people and if someone breaks those rules your sense of security is whipped straight back into trauma land. So it works, until it doesn't. It's a strategy that will only work if complete compliance by everyone around you is adhered to.
There isn't nuance in that strategy.....
Which is why your husband will fail. He will fail unintentionally and prob sometimes deliberately. Because you're asking something of him that doesn't have nuance or room for mistakes or rule bending.

Are you in therapy?

I'm writing this post as also a survivor of sexual violence,by people I knew, people I didn't know, in childhood and young adult hood. So I totally get the need for safety and building rules about how that can be achieved.
So I can say there are healthy and unhealthy ways to do that. Having done unhealthy (and sometimes destructive for me) ways myself.

And I wonder if there is a way to understand where your husband is coming from, and for him to understand you. For you both to compromise a bit? He needs to understand mental health, and you need to understand how he experiences your mental health.
Because safety doesn't come from him not bringing dirt in from the garden.
The feeling of safety has to be built on the inside of you.
 
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You have 2 choices. You either accept him as he is, and you accept that he’s going to treat you like crap….or you leave.

He is NOT going to change. He does not care about you enough to even treat you with a basic amount of respect.
He actually isn’t a bad person otherwise outside of this. I think it’s an insane stigma that he has for mental health issues. So severe he doesn’t care to learn what it’s like. So all the while I’m telling him how hard it is he rebuts literally everything I say and completely invalidates my pain.

He claimed I don’t “open up“ to him, and I don’t -ask- for support. I don’t think support is something you’d have to explicitly “ask for” from your husband. Especially not when he is the one that triggered/caused it. And he can see with his own eyes my scratched up body covered in red, symptoms I didn’t have before (not to this extent anyway). I’m already crying my eyes out and he continues to hurl insults and continues to justify and excuse his actions with how “crazy” I am.

If I can just swap brains with him so he can feel the fear and pain and experience a nightmare and a flashback and know what it’s like to tremble randomly in a supermarket.
 
I wonder if there is some nuance to be found here for both you and him?

For you, to survive you have created your outside/inside rule. That works for you, but at a cost because you can't host people and if someone breaks those rules your sense of security is whipped straight back into trauma land. So it works, until it doesn't. It's a strategy that will only work if complete compliance by everyone around you is adhered to.
There isn't nuance in that strategy.....
Which is why your husband will fail. He will fail unintentionally and prob sometimes deliberately. Because you're asking something of him that doesn't have nuance or room for mistakes or rule bending.

Are you in therapy?

I'm writing this post as also a survivor of sexual violence,by people I knew, people I didn't know, in childhood and young adult hood. So I totally get the need for safety and building rules about how that can be achieved.
So I can say there are healthy and unhealthy ways to do that. Having done unhealthy (and sometimes destructive for me) ways myself.

And I wonder if there is a way to understand where your husband is coming from, and for him to understand you. For you both to compromise a bit? He needs to understand mental health, and you need to understand how he experiences your mental health.
Because safety doesn't come from him not bringing dirt in from the garden.
The feeling of safety has to be built on the inside of you.
Yeah, I totally get his frustration. And I have told him I get his frustration. I’m the one who has lived with it, for 25 years now. And every time I have messed something up in transitioning from outside to inside and I start itching it frustrated the heck out of me. It just doesn’t justify in any way his actions and continuing to flat out refuse to even consider learning to understand what kind of hell I’ve been “living” in the last 22 months. He can’t accept responsibility. “I’m sorry but” is not an apology.

I was in therapy but stopped a month ago after 44 sessions. Terrible therapist. Need a new, good one at some point. She was supposed to EMDR me but I suspect she’s not well trained and clearly isn’t interested in continuing professional education. We did 1.5 haphazardly administered desensitization sessions that ended cuz time was up. She isn’t a certified EMDR therapist and there isnt even a Certificate of Completion displayed in her office for finishing Basic EMDR Training. She claimed my somatic symptoms (the itching) hinders progress. But that’s exactly what EMDR is suppose to address and reduce and eliminate. And I found there is credited continuing education on EMDRIA’s website for therapists to learn about common stuck points and what to do. I questioned her, she lied to my face, I stopped going.

We talked about couples counseling. But I have major doubts he has any intention to listen to anything anyone says. I see in him a serious ego and severe superiority complex. A suggestion to treat my issues with sensitivity as he would a physical illness was immediately rejected. Links to posts from other people describing what flashbacks are like and how frequently they happen did not start a conversation about what I’m going through. He still can’t accept his backyard stunt was a severe trigger that wiped out 23 years of (although not ideal) progress.

How do you get someone who refuses to listen, to listen?

What's keeping you in this relationship?
Daughter.....

And really... he isn’t a bad person. Just ego, superiority complex, and callousness when it comes to mental health struggles.
 

NoWhereKnowWhere

MyPTSD Pro
I’m not sure how to say this but your husband is a terrible person. Imagine how much easier your healing would be if you didn’t have him constantly bringing you down.

At first I thought you know he’s obviously an arse hole (fair dos plenty husbands are…and wives for that matter) but your strict rules about the house is a you issue and the “functional” life you’ve been leading is not that functional if you think about it. If he has issues with your rules I think that’s fair or even accidentally or possibly purposely (depending on the rationale) breaks those rules it’s still a you issue. The recording it that’s the thing that literally made me gasp. People who love and respect you don’t do shit like that. He purposely did something that would trigger and upset you so he could record your reaction. It’s so messed up.

Sometimes you have to throw the whole man away. I say that as a married rape survivor. There are some things that are deal breakers even though he has to put up with a lot from me. But my partner actually listens to me and respects my boundaries and that shit is hard af for me. It’s supposed to be a partnership you help each other not drag them down. You deserve better.
 
I’m not sure how to say this but your husband is a terrible person. Imagine how much easier your healing would be if you didn’t have him constantly bringing you down.

At first I thought you know he’s obviously an arse hole (fair dos plenty husbands are…and wives for that matter) but your strict rules about the house is a you issue and the “functional” life you’ve been leading is not that functional if you think about it. If he has issues with your rules I think that’s fair or even accidentally or possibly purposely (depending on the rationale) breaks those rules it’s still a you issue. The recording it that’s the thing that literally made me gasp. People who love and respect you don’t do shit like that. He purposely did something that would trigger and upset you so he could record your reaction. It’s so messed up.

Sometimes you have to throw the whole man away. I say that as a married rape survivor. There are some things that are deal breakers even though he has to put up with a lot from me. But my partner actually listens to me and respects my boundaries and that shit is hard af for me. It’s supposed to be a partnership you help each other not drag them down. You deserve better.
Maybe not a terrible person... just terrible at this particular issue ... and it’s the refusal to learn and understand that really hurts.

I can understand his frustration with my issues and accept his rationale for the backyard stunt he pulled and that he did not know at the time it would be a severe trigger.

What I cannot understand, and accept as being acceptable, is his refusal to acknowledge, nearly 2 years later, that it was in fact severely triggering and this incident is what got me on meds and in therapy. I‘ve said to him I’d like to think if he had made an effort, a single attempt to talk to me in all the years prior to that incident, he wouldn’t have done it. But he continues to show no interest in learning what it’s like.

The video he made of me is hard to watch. And it really felt like an assault the second he pointed his phone at me. It feels so validating that you said it made you literally gasp.

If only I can somehow convince him it’s gasp-worthy.........?
 

Friday

Moderator
If I can just swap brains with him so he can feel the fear and pain and experience a nightmare and a flashback and know what it’s like to tremble randomly in a supermarket.
Sounds like the BOTH of you are locked in a cycle of trying to get the other to understand the pain you’re causing each other.

Seems pretty clear neither of you get it // That this plan isn’t working.

You shoving your pain down his throat, and he shoving his down yours, is just causing both of you to double down even harder; then treating each other even worse, each seemingly convinced that if you could somehow just get them to see/experience your pain (hell, you two are even showing each other videos!), everything would …somehow… be better.

So maybe try something else?
 
Sounds like the BOTH of you are locked in a cycle of trying to get the other to understand the pain you’re causing each other.

Seems pretty clear neither of you get it // That this plan isn’t working.

You shoving your pain down his throat, and he shoving his down yours, is just causing both of you to double down even harder; then treating each other even worse, each seemingly convinced that if you could somehow just get them to see/experience your pain (hell, you two are even showing each other videos!), everything would …somehow… be better.

So maybe try something else?
Friday......I am here because I just spend 5 hours crying 2 nights ago because he cannot stop the manure that comes out of his mouth and I was seconds away from total collapse and taking my own life... I’m hanging on for my daughter... I’m here seeking suggestions on that “something else”. Is there some resource you can point me to to help him even begin to try to learn? Anything I can even say or do to get him to be willing to learn? Rather than continuing to insult and condescend and say sorry with a “but”? He is not a sexual assault survivor or a survivor of any kind of abuse. I know he will not completely “get it” and that is perfectly fine.

Thing is.. I DO understand where he is coming from as far as the frustration — I live it and have lived it much much longer than he has, and I definitely, absolutely concur with previous comments that my inside/outside separation thing isn’t ideal even for me and is a big ask of him. I can even accept, that he “didn’t know” it was a severe trigger when he did what he did — the backyard dirt stunt. The video mentioned isn’t just any video of anyone. It was a video of ME, that HE made, aiming his phone at me to record how “crazy” HIS triggering my trauma made me.

If he “didn’t know” it was severely triggering then, the hell I‘ve been living in the past 22 months, the 6 meds in the cupboard that I have never been on my entire life is surely enough evidence I was in fact severely triggered? And he can’t accept that much, that it was indeed a trigger that wiped out 23 years of progress. He says nobody but me has told him it was triggering and re-traumatizing.

He ISN‘T a bad person. I just need him to somehow hop over his stigma and ego really, and disinterest in my struggles (mental health issues in general) to just digest this suffering is very much real and he cannot expect me to “get over“ it or heal when he is essentially kicking me while I’m already down. He is my husband, you’re suppose to be there for each other for better or for worse. I’ve needed his support and understanding of how difficult being triggered to this point is. Is there any possibility that he can be nudged to provide a percentage of it?
 

NoWhereKnowWhere

MyPTSD Pro
Maybe not a terrible person... just terrible at this particular issue ... and it’s the refusal to learn and understand that really hurts.
Ok well that’s certainly something. Tell me the good things or don’t I dunno think them write them down. Do they honestly balance out the horrible shit he says to you? If they do great I highly recommend couples therapy. I think I mediator could help you both.

perhaps it would be easier for you short term to take a break from each other. If it’s possible to live separately for a while until you’re less activated. Not a lot of constructive partnership stuff gets resolved when you’re in survival mode. It’s probably best to put that to one side while you try to get yourself right. One thing at a time.

You never know it might be how you are coming to him eg tone, inflection, body language. It’s much harder to see and mask what you might ordinarily to “keep the peace” while you’re highly symptomatic. He might feel to blame and is acting out in defensiveness. Or you know he’s just a tool.

Perhaps inpatient might be ideal if it’s a doable thing for you/ in your area. There are options, it’s f*cking awful right now but it won’t always be. And honestly have a look around the forum. This was always going to happen (not the husband part) there are some of us that struggled away for decades before the dam burst, but it always catches up with you. Eventually you would’ve had to deal with your trauma.
 
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