Relationship I have PTSD, I'd like to hear advice from supporters

Roland

Confident
Hello everyone, I'd really like to get some opinions and advice from supporters of people with PTSD.

I have PTSD myself, and so my tendency is to isolate when I'm struggling. While I know this isn't exactly healthy, I see it healthier and safer than lashing out, or "bringing everyone down with me". I also have a hard "boyfriend/family/friends aren't therapists". That said, I don't have a therapist.

In a PTSD sufferer/supporter relationship dynamic, how do you handle trauma and trauma reactions? Often supporters have their own shit too. Is it preferred to be completely open and honest about everything, or are some journeys better travelled alone?

I struggle with this, I often feel like I shouldn't be in relationships at all, because of my illness, because of the way I react and I don't want to hurt anyone, I'd prefer to be alone than to hurt someone. But also, why be in a relationship to end up alone (by isolating myself)?

Any advice or opinions about the relationship dynamics are welcome, supporter or suffer, but I'm especially interested in hearing supporters opinions.
 
I guess it depends what your family/ boyfriend / friends are like, or what your relationships are like between you. Not helpful to dump on anyone, but not helpful to be a fake version of yourself non-stop, either. Either worried you'd be a burden or left feeling let down, unless they are supportive. Balance and risk-assessment I guess.

Sorry it's not more helpful. ☹️ Mind's not really able to contribute useful words today.
 

Roland

Confident
I guess it depends what your family/ boyfriend / friends are like, or what your relationships are like between you. Not helpful to dump on anyone, but not helpful to be a fake version of yourself non-stop, either. Either worried you'd be a burden or left feeling let down, unless they are supportive. Balance and risk-assessment I guess.

Sorry it's not more helpful. ☹️ Mind's not really able to contribute useful words today.
I struggle with that balance that you eloquently described: "Not helpful to dump on anyone, but not helpful to be a fake version of yourself non-stop, either".

I've cut out toxic people, so the only ones left are good supportive people, but I have no idea how to balance the "Isolate when hurt" for many reasons: 1. So I don't hurt them. 2. So my shit doesn't strain the relationship (family/friends/boyfriend aren't therapists and shouldn't be expected to be). 3. Similar to #2, I have a penchant for codependency.

But then there's also the extreme of shutting people out because I hurt. Not having real relationships, because I'm only available to others when I'm feeling okay. Not feeling safe to be real with people (propensity to lash out because of being close to others, so I feel "threatened").
 
Well no one is your T unless you expect them to do the work or provide the answers. And codependency is a different thing entirely from interdependency.

Maybe it would help to say you are scared when you are? I often feel like being triggered is like being a frightened animal, might bite or quills come out. And in the moment it certainly reminds me of others- projection at it's finest.

I don't think there's much point having a partner or best friends that b.s. though.

I've had more help and given it over a beer with a friend than anything else.

One way or another no one can mind read. So a lot will be affected by both the willingness to learn and co-communicate.
 

Roland

Confident
Well no one is your T unless you expect them to do the work or provide the answers. And codependency is a different thing entirely from interdependency.

Maybe it would help to say you are scared when you are? I often feel like being triggered is like being a frightened animal, might bite or quills come out. And in the moment it certainly reminds me of others- projection at it's finest.

I don't think there's much point having a partner or best friends that b.s. though.

I've had more help and given it over a beer with a friend than anything else.

One way or another no one can mind read. So a lot will be affected by both the willingness to learn and co-communicate.
Thank you for the input, hard to find a balance, but it's always achievable just gotta keep pressing for it I guess
 
Fwiw, (just for me), knowing what I know now, I would never say anything again (I never did), but I would accept the care and interest (I always discouraged it from others for the reasons you stated above).

Best wishes to you, good luck.

ETA I am sorry I apologize @Roland I am not really a supporter in the strictest sense of the word. (I am very sorry, see now you specified that's what you wanted.)
 
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Livinginhope

Confident
Hi @Roland
I'm a supporter, or at least I was until a few weeks ago. I supported my sufferer for 2.5 years, and there were lots of ups and downs during that time. Here's a few things that I've gleaned as a supporter that might answer your question.

My sufferer was an isolator too, so there were frequent bouts of little contact. From a supporter point of view, the hardest thing is having no clue what's going on with your sufferer. We're not mind readers. If you're feeling rubbish and can't keep a date or need to disappear for a while, just say. Or figure out a signal with your supporters that tells them without you needing to explain. Then, when you feel up to it later, try to find the words that help us understand.

If you're going to have a relationship, please try to communicate as much as you can. Obviously, I appreciate, that's not always possible 😞 but it will help your supporters far more than you think. Even if they can't understand what you're going through, just knowing that you want to at least try to share it with them will be huge for the genuine ones.

And if you're not sure you can commit to a romantic relationship, please don't start one. This is where we came unstuck, 2.5 years in. I thought we were slowly moving forward but he just wasn't able to handle it, and freaked out, creating a narrative that he never wanted a relationship in the first place. I don't believe that's true, but I do believe that he's not able to be in one at the moment - possibly never. I know there are no guarantees in any relationship, PTSD or not, but supporters can feel a bit like guinea-pigs if a sufferer dips in and out the whole time.

Good luck with everything.
 

Sweetpea76

Moderator
n a PTSD sufferer/supporter relationship dynamic, how do you handle trauma and trauma reactions?
Are you asking for the ideal? What advice I’d give a sufferer from a supporter perspective?

First would be to communicate and be honest. If you’re not capable of open dialogue then don’t be in a relationship with a supporter.

Isolating isn’t doing us any favors. You’re (universal you) not doing it for us, you’re doing it for yourself. We think you’re dead in a ditch somewhere if you don’t communicate. Ghosting is disrespectful. If you need space, communicate that.

Realize that what is happening in your head isn’t always happening in reality.

If you’re not feeling well it’s because you’re not feeling well. Your partner isn’t causing your mental issues. Nobody is in charge of your mental well-being but you.

Give your supporters more credit as to what they can or cannot handle. You cannot read their mind, and you’re not always right. Just because you’ve had a conversation in your mind 10 times doesn’t mean you’ve actually communicated with your partner.

Just off the top of my head, after being a supporter for a decade.
 

jenjak99

New Here
Im fairly new here, having recently discovered that i am a "supporter". I reached out here after nothing else made sense. My boy was very open very early that he had nasty combat ptsd. I thought it basically meant he was like afraid of fireworks. Nope. He would try to express himself: preferred to be indoors not out, even on nice days, didnt like new places, new people, going shopping. Didnt "want to be responsible for another person's feelings" but sobbed at the suggestion that we end things. Randomly cancelled plans, off the hook sex one day then cringed when i touched him the next. I could go on.Just strange behaviors, yet he was trying to tell me.

As someone with no ptsd experience and no guidance i thought the things i suppose most probably would: we're too different, nothing in common, he's not interested, he's not attracted, he's cheating, etc. When i would present these thoughts to him (calmly, never raised my voice) he eventually isolated. Like he knew none of those things were it, and i truly believed him, but he either couldnt or wasnt comfortable telling me what was the problem so he just cut it off.

My point: communication is HUGE. HUUUUUGE. Yes, there may be people you will try to date who say f*ck that im not going down this road of disrespect. And there are people like me who truly care and want to understand and work with you. Of course you cant tell right away and that's the scary part.
 

Roland

Confident
Hi @Roland
I'm a supporter, or at least I was until a few weeks ago. I supported my sufferer for 2.5 years, and there were lots of ups and downs during that time. Here's a few things that I've gleaned as a supporter that might answer your question.

My sufferer was an isolator too, so there were frequent bouts of little contact. From a supporter point of view, the hardest thing is having no clue what's going on with your sufferer. We're not mind readers. If you're feeling rubbish and can't keep a date or need to disappear for a while, just say. Or figure out a signal with your supporters that tells them without you needing to explain. Then, when you feel up to it later, try to find the words that help us understand.

If you're going to have a relationship, please try to communicate as much as you can. Obviously, I appreciate, that's not always possible 😞 but it will help your supporters far more than you think. Even if they can't understand what you're going through, just knowing that you want to at least try to share it with them will be huge for the genuine ones.

And if you're not sure you can commit to a romantic relationship, please don't start one. This is where we came unstuck, 2.5 years in. I thought we were slowly moving forward but he just wasn't able to handle it, and freaked out, creating a narrative that he never wanted a relationship in the first place. I don't believe that's true, but I do believe that he's not able to be in one at the moment - possibly never. I know there are no guarantees in any relationship, PTSD or not, but supporters can feel a bit like guinea-pigs if a sufferer dips in and out the whole time.

Good luck with everything.
This is honestly so sad to read, I can hear the pain in your writing. Going through that is awful and I hope you can find a healthy relationship that is much better in the future

Are you asking for the ideal? What advice I’d give a sufferer from a supporter perspective?

First would be to communicate and be honest. If you’re not capable of open dialogue then don’t be in a relationship with a supporter.

Isolating isn’t doing us any favors. You’re (universal you) not doing it for us, you’re doing it for yourself. We think you’re dead in a ditch somewhere if you don’t communicate. Ghosting is disrespectful. If you need space, communicate that.

Realize that what is happening in your head isn’t always happening in reality.

If you’re not feeling well it’s because you’re not feeling well. Your partner isn’t causing your mental issues. Nobody is in charge of your mental well-being but you.

Give your supporters more credit as to what they can or cannot handle. You cannot read their mind, and you’re not always right. Just because you’ve had a conversation in your mind 10 times doesn’t mean you’ve actually communicated with your partner.

Just off the top of my head, after being a supporter for a decade.
There's definitely a lot of wisdom and experience in your words.

You say "Give your supporters more credit to what they can or cannot handle"

I isolate and struggle to communicate what's actually going on in the moment, and if I do communicate, I tend to feel threatened by closeness (especially when I'm struggling) and will lash out. Since I don't want to lash out, I prefer to isolate.

I don't know how to handle that any differently, it's like an established pattern. I don't want to make people I care about feel alone and shut out and I definitely don't want to hurt them.

Im fairly new here, having recently discovered that i am a "supporter". I reached out here after nothing else made sense. My boy was very open very early that he had nasty combat ptsd. I thought it basically meant he was like afraid of fireworks. Nope. He would try to express himself: preferred to be indoors not out, even on nice days, didnt like new places, new people, going shopping. Didnt "want to be responsible for another person's feelings" but sobbed at the suggestion that we end things. Randomly cancelled plans, off the hook sex one day then cringed when i touched him the next. I could go on.Just strange behaviors, yet he was trying to tell me.

As someone with no ptsd experience and no guidance i thought the things i suppose most probably would: we're too different, nothing in common, he's not interested, he's not attracted, he's cheating, etc. When i would present these thoughts to him (calmly, never raised my voice) he eventually isolated. Like he knew none of those things were it, and i truly believed him, but he either couldnt or wasnt comfortable telling me what was the problem so he just cut it off.

My point: communication is HUGE. HUUUUUGE. Yes, there may be people you will try to date who say f*ck that im not going down this road of disrespect. And there are people like me who truly care and want to understand and work with you. Of course you cant tell right away and that's the scary part.
What's the balance between communicate and share what's going on, being open and honest

Vs codependency, I need you to need me, being enmeshed with one another?
 

Sweetpea76

Moderator
If you’re in a relationship, and you want your partner to stick around, you have to tell them why you’re acting the way you’re acting. That’s the bare minimum.

You don’t have to tell them all the details of your trauma. Just telling them that you have PTSD and you’re overwhelmed is a start.

As far as lashing out goes, I have hard boundaries about that, because it sucks to be the designated target. He can lash out, but I’m not going to stand there and listen. If he wants to talk he needs to talk to me like an adult. I will turn on my heel and walk out of the room. It’s amazing how fast that nips lashing out in the bud.
 

jenjak99

New Here
What's the balance between communicate and share what's going on, being open and honest

Vs codependency, I need you to need me, being enmeshed with one another?
My guy just broke his 9 day silence today. Just said he was sorry for not responding, his mind is still a mess, he needs more time. That's all i needed to know for now. I dont need the details unless he wants to share them. That to me is communicating. I told him to let me know if he needs anything, we can discuss more when he's ready.
I dont think it's safe in any relationship to need to need one another. I have my friends and hobbies, he has his.
 
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