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.
 

shimmerz

MyPTSD Pro
My goodness. If my head wasn't actually attached to my body some days I wonder....

My apologies Roland. Here is the link to the thread main thread. I have some spin off threads about certain 'parts' I was figuring out how to deal with. I will link to them as well in case it is of interest to you.






I hope some of this is helpful to you @Roland.
 

Roland

Confident
My goodness. If my head wasn't actually attached to my body some days I wonder....

My apologies Roland. Here is the link to the thread main thread. I have some spin off threads about certain 'parts' I was figuring out how to deal with. I will link to them as well in case it is of interest to you.






I hope some of this is helpful to you @Roland.
Thank you so much for linking these! Excited to read them
 
Yeah, it's hard. Trauma permanently changes a person, and PTSD is something that is now part of who you are. You can get better and cope with symptoms better, but when you're 88 years old you'll still have PTSD. Hopefully, you'll have learned how to live with it, without it infecting every area of your life. (By you, I don't mean you specifically, but you as in "anyone with PTSD"). In a way it is selfish, but I think it has to be. A person with PTSD needs to take responsibility for their symptoms and their healing and get better. It takes a lot of work, but it can be done. No one's brain is a rock, it can always change and improve.
^^ Yes @Roland that is true, and as per the plasticity as well. 👍🏻

I guess I am meaning (just for me) something deceptively more 'simple', (though in practice it's probably not so simple!), and that is a multi-branched effort to recognize and counter cognitive distortions, replace or reduce negative thinking, focus on my part in relationships rather than blaming others, and reducing daily (and future thoughts) of anxiety through the means/ behaviours/ relationships that help do so. I don't like in all ways how I've become, and it's up to me to change that.

Like to say, it's likely 35+ years from now there may be no cure, but perhaps very unlikely there won't be greater understanding of ptsd. And who knows? But specifically to at least (for me) to challenge the thought and think neutral vs negative. Better still not focus or default to the negative at all (other things to think about).

Because I thought, how did I manage better before? And I know what I did, but I forgot what I received that contributed. Specifically I think in ultimately reducing my stress cup, but also it had more profound benefits as per managing or reducing symptoms (and as you wisely said, that reduces energy drain). So it is something different than attitude or resolve, but like food you can't eat monday and expect to have energy by thursday, it's a continuous thing. Sort of like not realizing what is small, -is huge. (Hope that makes sense, am rushing too).
I wanted to say, I hope normal isn't where you get to. I think it is an unrealistic goal, myself. I hope you find your authentic self and learn to love it. Happy healing!
Hi @shimmerz (it's old Junebug ), just wanted to thank you also as another part of what I meant you taught me- the importance on living and focusing on doing positives vs eliminating negatives. So yes, I sure don't expect to be normal (haha), but I think of my dad and with some challenging support he went from talking about moving to the bush to having 400+ people show up at his funeral saying what good he had done for them on the sly, and never had a better marriage to my mom than the last 13 years. So it may not work, but I've tried a lot lol. Thank you so much! 😊

Am happy you got the links @Roland ! 😊
 

Roland

Confident
^^ Yes @Roland that is true, and as per the plasticity as well. 👍🏻

I guess I am meaning (just for me) something deceptively more 'simple', (though in practice it's probably not so simple!), and that is a multi-branched effort to recognize and counter cognitive distortions, replace or reduce negative thinking, focus on my part in relationships rather than blaming others, and reducing daily (and future thoughts) of anxiety through the means/ behaviours/ relationships that help do so. I don't like in all ways how I've become, and it's up to me to change that.

Like to say, it's likely 35+ years from now there may be no cure, but perhaps very unlikely there won't be greater understanding of ptsd. And who knows? But specifically to at least (for me) to challenge the thought and think neutral vs negative. Better still not focus or default to the negative at all (other things to think about).

Because I thought, how did I manage better before? And I know what I did, but I forgot what I received that contributed. Specifically I think in ultimately reducing my stress cup, but also it had more profound benefits as per managing or reducing symptoms (and as you wisely said, that reduces energy drain). So it is something different than attitude or resolve, but like food you can't eat monday and expect to have energy by thursday, it's a continuous thing. Sort of like not realizing what is small, -is huge. (Hope that makes sense, am rushing too).

Hi @shimmerz (it's old Junebug ), just wanted to thank you also as another part of what I meant you taught me- the importance on living and focusing on doing positives vs eliminating negatives. So yes, I sure don't expect to be normal (haha), but I think of my dad and with some challenging support he went from talking about moving to the bush to having 400+ people show up at his funeral saying what good he had done for them on the sly, and never had a better marriage to my mom than the last 13 years. So it may not work, but I've tried a lot lol. Thank you so much! 😊

Am happy you got the links @Roland ! 😊
Yeah, it's definitely a constant battle, but many of us are here working on it step by step and making progress in our own way
 

Roland

Confident
@Roland What type of advice are you looking for from the supporters specifically?
Like what supporters need sufferers to do. I want to have healthy relationships. I don't want to be selfish, nor have codependent relationships. Supporters often have their own shit to deal with. In particular, I guess is isolation, I feel threatened when I'm close to people, but a lot of times it seems like supporters want to be in the trenches with us, but that's codependency. I'm trying to work out what is healthy "taking space away" vs. neglect and communication vs. boundaries like "I'm not ready to talk about that now, but I'm going through some shit and I need some space" you know without the supporter feeling neglected, shut out. I really struggle with healthy relationships, a lot of my relationships have been with codependents. Then I feel comfortable with avoidant people, but then is that healthy, both of us shying away from closeness and yeah it's a whole thing. My boyfriend is really understanding and supportive, but like I'm afraid of him taking shit personally, and I don't know how to bring him into my inner world with clear boundaries for both of us, I don't want to shut him out either. Like for example if I get triggered by something, we have clear communication of like "I don't want to do x right now" and he's understanding, but like does he have to know why and what I think and feel. I struggle to communicate things like that verbally.

Basically just trying to find the balance of healthy communication, space, and autonomy. No codependency, no isolation.
 
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shimmerz

MyPTSD Pro
(it's old Junebug ), just wanted to thank you also as another part of what I meant you taught me- the importance on living and focusing on doing positives vs eliminating negatives.
Junebug! So happy that things are going well. Nice to hear from you! I do actually love your new name. Thank you for the kind words. I look forward to catching up!
 

Sweetpea76

Moderator
but a lot of times it seems like supporters want to be in the trenches with us, but that's codependency.

Not everybody who is compassionate and supportive is codependent. “Being in the trenches” doesn’t have to be a negative thing. There are healthy ways to support without trying to fix or be a defacto therapist who takes on their partner’s struggle in unhealthy ways. That’s where your boundaries would come into play. “I will only share what I am comfortable sharing, and if I need to talk about my trauma I will seek help from a professional who is trained to manage that.” You need to communicate that boundary and trust that your supporter is there to support you in a healthy way if the relationship is otherwise supportive and healthy.

like "I'm not ready to talk about that now, but I'm going through some shit and I need some space" you know without the supporter feeling neglected, shut out.

“I’m not feeling well and I need some alone time to cope. It’s nothing to do with you and everything to do with me not feeling well.” Then set a reasonable time limit. Don’t be gone for months and expect to still be in a relationship. Not communicating this is what makes supporters feel neglected, not the isolation.

Like for example if I get triggered by something, we have clear communication of like "I don't want to do x right now" and he's understanding, but like does he have to know why and what I think and feel. I struggle to communicate things like that verbally.

If he understands that without all the gory details, then he’s capable of understanding that you need space without gory details.
 

Roland

Confident
Not everybody who is compassionate and supportive is codependent. “Being in the trenches” doesn’t have to be a negative thing. There are healthy ways to support without trying to fix or be a defacto therapist who takes on their partner’s struggle in unhealthy ways. That’s where your boundaries would come into play. “I will only share what I am comfortable sharing, and if I need to talk about my trauma I will seek help from a professional who is trained to manage that.” You need to communicate that boundary and trust that your supporter is there to support you in a healthy way if the relationship is otherwise supportive and healthy.



“I’m not feeling well and I need some alone time to cope. It’s nothing to do with you and everything to do with me not feeling well.” Then set a reasonable time limit. Don’t be gone for months and expect to still be in a relationship. Not communicating this is what makes supporters feel neglected, not the isolation.



If he understands that without all the gory details, then he’s capable of understanding that you need space without gory details.
Thank you very much for the input, it's hard to understand for me, because I haven't had a lot of healthy relationships with clear boundaries but you've had really insightful responses that have got me thinking
 
Thanks also to you @Roland , it helps me possibly understand too. I always feel torn between what is the implicit message/ directive not said, and feeling badly to not give the benefit of the doubt and assume truthfulness because I take the words verbatim or try not to assume/ mind read. But the other person feels badly if they don't get what they want (to be avoided or for me to leave), or I feel badly because I think I shouldn't assume it if they haven't said it. (Cognitive dissonance for me, if I am pretty sure that's what they want, but I feel badly about myself if I think they have to avoid or be untruthful, or I am thinking they are avoiding or being untruthful and what if that isn't fair to think of them?)

Honest communication would be useful if you have it or are motivated to do it, I guess.

Anyway, thank you!
 
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