Relationship Long-term Prognosis for relationship with newly diagnosed Sufferer....?

North_Wind

New Here
Hi Folks, Looking for some insight or advise for anyone who has been through this or something similar.

I am 1 year into a relationship with a female sufferer of PTSD. Its been a helluva journey and started out to appear very promising and 'normal' but then went south quickly.

Here's a bit of her story, then I will share about the relationship....she is in her late 30s. 7 years ago she came to the end of two back to back abusive relationships - the first lasted 5 years and was psychologically abusive, the second was 2 years and was psychologically & physically abusive and at one point he hurt her quite badly. She eventually left and proceeded to move on with her life but she repressed it and wasn't aware of the trauma building up inside of her. He then reappeared about 2 1/2 years ago and threatened to take her home which she had a full and legal right to. The reappearance of him and her life started bringing on early symptoms of PTSD. Anxiety, panic attacks, depression, shame, and a host of other experiences that increased slowly but steadily over the past two years.

Our story - She and I met a year ago and fell madly in love. She told me she had PTSD at the time but I didn't really know to what extent and how it impacted her life. The early signs that I knew she was suffering were her states of hypervigilance and paranoia and very rapid and disproportionate dysregulation (rapid anger, yelling defensiveness etc). She would also begin to fight very quickly and very aggressively established boundaries and would become quite rageful if she thought those boundaries were threatened. A couple months into the relationship she alluded to "a dangerous place that she could get to", but she did not say what it was. Because of some of the mood intensities she was experiencing we would have ruptures that arose very quickly. In one of those ruptures, when she perceived that I was blaming her for the conflict, she suddenly ran past me and down the outside stairs and ran her head straight into the side of a vehicle. I came to learn that part of her PTSD episodes if she is severely triggered or just regulated is that she recreates the physical violence that was set upon her by her abuser - and smashes her head against dangerous surfaces. Something inside of her creates so much shame that she believes the words he told her when he said she "deserved" the violence she received. Over the next few months she became more depressed and had more panic attacks - usually in the morning. We were somewhat long distance so I wasn't always able to see what was happening. She went to a doctor and was prescribed sertraline or Zoloft. We were both feeling very encouraged that the medication would help pull her from her depression etc. She was on a very low dose and she came to stay with me for a while. A couple of weeks into the medication she began to become very rageful and have daily bouts of severe dysregulation. This went on for about 10 days day and night until eventually in one rupture we had, she suddenly bound across the room and put her head through my glass door. We soon came to learn that because this was her first experience with psychotic medication, she'd had a bad reaction and it brought severe dysregulation and trauma to the surface and she remained in a hyper-traumatized state for two months. Having multiple episodes a day and always on the verge of self harm, even though she had stopped the medication immediately after the door incident. For two months we struggled through to try to keep her regulated but it seemed to not be working and she was perpetually retraumatized through our normal relationship functioning. Eventually we broke up, and within a matter of days she returned to be with a previous ex, not the abusive one mentioned by somebody who had abusive tendencies. Somehow, after three months we found our way back to each other. I was very reluctant obviously given what I had witnessed and what she had been through. She had spent the previous three months in severe dysregulation and at one point was committed by her family for hospitalization. She begin to take lorazepam and sleeping medication on advice from the psychiatrist. We are tenderly and carefully going through this time because her system is completely cooked and she is having daily dysregulation and severe panic attacks, severe blaming of others for her situation. She has self harmed as well in some of those occasions. I know this is a very long thread and if anyone does read it I guess my questions are:

- because this came on so quickly for her after repressing for a number of years, is it possible that she could pull herself out of this as quickly? Is it possible that she can pull herself out at all?
- given the severity of the panic attacks and the self harm, does this seem like a severe form of PTSD or possibly something else? When she was in hospital she was diagnosed with PTSD as a primary diagnosis but the full range of cluster bee disorders as a secondary diagnosis.
- obviously, given her history, being in any kind of relationship is going to be triggering for her. I wonder if there's any hope for this relationship to continue given how acutely inflamed her nervous system is right now. And I just want to try to figure out if there's immediate hope for her and if she can turn her life around to be able to show up in this relationship the way she wants.
- and I guess I'm asking this question because it is still new for me, and while I love her dearly, we have certainly been through hell. And I'm trying to get a sense of what might lie ahead and if I have what it takes to move forward to help her live a normal life and for us to have a normal relationship. Or if this is just gonna be how it is from now on given the rapid escalation in the severity of all of it.
Many thanks in advance for any thoughts on any of this. Also open to any considerations for medication. The benzos don't seem to be doing the trick.
 
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Sideways

Moderator
No one here can diagnose, but there's nothing in your post to suggest her treatment team have her diagnosis wrong.

Severe, acute episodes can pass quickly. But this isn't really in its acute stage any more - she's been very unwell for a very long time.

My advice to anyone, irrespective of mental health conditions - if you're getting into a serious relationship with someone, get into it for who they are now. The person in front of you is the person you're making the commitment to, not the person you aspire for her to become.
 

EveHarrington

MyPTSD Pro
Sadly, for someone who is this disregulated, healing may indeed be a lifetime endeavor. I don’t want to give you hope that “snapping out of it” is likely, as I don’t believe it is base on my experience and the many encounters I’ve had with others who have PTSD.

Another major concern is that she has likely had multiple concussions. This could mean she has permanent damage to her brain and as such could mean that outbursts and violence are more likely. I encourage you to look into this more.

Benzos are not helpful for many of us with PTSD and actually make many people worse. I have a prescription but am tapering down and currently use a very small dose infrequently (and usually struggle the day after as I hate the side effects).

I have PTSD myself.
 

anthony

Founder
- because this came on so quickly for her after repressing for a number of years, is it possible that she could pull herself out of this as quickly? Is it possible that she can pull herself out at all?
Not a chance. There will be nothing quick about her recovery.
- given the severity of the panic attacks and the self harm, does this seem like a severe form of PTSD or possibly something else? When she was in hospital she was diagnosed with PTSD as a primary diagnosis but the full range of cluster bee disorders as a secondary diagnosis.
PTSD will often come with a list of comorbid disorders, all interacting and feeding one another to some degree. The focus is the trauma, not the symptoms.
- obviously, given her history, being in any kind of relationship is going to be triggering for her. I wonder if there's any hope for this relationship to continue given how acutely inflamed her nervous system is right now. And I just want to try to figure out if there's immediate hope for her and if she can turn her life around to be able to show up in this relationship the way she wants.
IMHO, I think she needs someone to be around, but it won't be healthy. She needs a friend, not a partner.
- and I guess I'm asking this question because it is still new for me, and while I love her dearly, we have certainly been through hell. And I'm trying to get a sense of what might lie ahead and if I have what it takes to move forward to help her live a normal life and for us to have a normal relationship. Or if this is just gonna be how it is from now on given the rapid escalation in the severity of all of it.
Based on what you have written, she has turned this relationship toxic for you. The million dollar question is -- how long can you remain in a toxic, abusive relationship? It will take her years, decades, to recover. That only starts when she starts doing the hard work, and then symptoms get worse, not better.

I get it, abusive relationships are her trauma, yet now she has become the abuser due to PTSD. It's just what happens. She has to work on her first and you have to take care of you first. Both people in a healthy relationship function this way. She can't do that now or in the near future (years). Simply, this will not be a healthy relationship any time soon. The decision is your own about your life. Stay and try not to resent her in the future for the abuse, OR, get out and find the healthy relationship to match your own mental state. You may endup with PTSD or symptoms of it if you stay.
 
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