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General Need a Shoulder - Husband Suffers PTSD

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hi my name is kim and have just recently found this forum. my husband suffers from ptsd after serving with 1RAR in somalia. latelty i have been having a lot of trouble coping. all i need is a shoulder to cry on where they understand what i have to go through. i find it very hard talking to my husband because i do not wish to upset him. i feel like my whole life revolves around making sure that nothing sets him off. it has got so bad that i find it hard to trust him to look after our own children. if there is someone out there who would like a chat or if you know someone in townsville i could talk too it would be very helpful at this time. thankyou
Hi Kim,

Welcome to the forum. My wife kerrie-ann will respond shortly, as her being my spouse, and I having PTSD. She is probably the most suited for you to chat with about some off our behavioural patterns.

We just moved from Townsville to Melbourne at Christmas time... as I am now discharged as an ex Petroleum Operator. The good thing about Townsville, is it has the best support for PTSD. You have Vietnam Veterans Counselling Service (VVCS) available to you at no cost, as a spouse of a veteran, located in Kirwin on Thuringowa Drive. If you look them up in the phone book, you will find them. They are the ones who deal with most of the PTSD matters in Townsville.

For you spouse, if he hasn't already, he has available at no cost to him, to do the PTSD course run by the Mater Hospital. If he is still serving, then the military pay, if he is discharged, then Vet Affairs will pay the bill for him to do it. If he has done it already, well... you need to get him to visit them again, or start rereading the content he has.

Townsville has an excellent support network, and so it should having one of the largest bases. I was diagnosed with my PTSD in Townsville, and did everything in Townsville, including the PTSD course, so I and my wife pretty much know the ins and outs of PTSD support in Townsville.

If you need to know doctors, shrinks or the best way in which to claim for PTSD related matters through Vet Affairs, please ask me, as I was one of the few who got it right and wasn't stuffed about in the political red tape.

My wife will respond soon enough, and may send you our phone number, where you can chat on a more personal note about dealing with us.
Hi Kim,

Boy am I hearing you. It is tough a lot of the time living with someone with PTSD and sometimes it would be easier to strangle them - not that I am advocating violence mind you. My life is turbulent enough!! First Q I guess is has your husband sought treatment for his PTSD? I am guessing that he has seen someone for you to be able to lable his behaviour as such. Second thing is do you have any support at all? You need it, especially with children. This forum is a good place to start but if it is tough for you right now talking face to face with someone will help immensely. As Anthony mentioned VVCS on Thuringowa Drive, Kirwan is a good place to start, as they have qualified counsellors who at least have some working experience of PTSD as they see it a lot in Townsville. You could also call their 24 hour number if you need to talk to someone right away on 1800 011 046. Another group that will be able to help is a group called Partners of Veterans Association - these, ladies, have the first hand experience with living with a vet and one of their aims is to helps others like you and me. A contact number is:

Bronwyn Fullick
07 5492 2756 (phone)
0411 071 793 (mobile)

She will be able to put you in contact with the local ladies in Townsville.

Helping you first helps him. It allows to you to vent away from the children in a place with others who understand. It helps. If you aren't up to talking to them right now, I believe Anthony has just sent you a post with our contact details - please give me a call, I will be happy to speak with you.

Now about the husband of yours. If he has got help previously and he is going off the rails, try and encourage him to get help again - not that, that is an easy thing to do mind you - I know. I used to get soo pissed off at Anthony so I started sending him emails and then not commenting about them. Not the best way to communicate but it allows me to vent at him and then allows him to absorb and usually (now at least) we can discuss it shorthand without all of the rubbish in between. Just don't fall into the trap of doing it when you are really mad as it will escalate the situation. Alternately, Camry, one of the members here mentioned the idea of a diary of sorts passed back between the two of you with things that you need to say. Like I said not the best way to communicate but it is better than you saturating in anger, frustration and unexpressed emotion. It also allows him absorb what you say without being confronted by the emotion. People with PTSD usually don't deal with in your face emotion very well, particularly if it is just another thing to make them feel worse about themselves.

If on the other hand, he has not sought help previously, you could always do what I did to Anthony. Tossed a VVCS contact card at him, told him he had PTSD and he needed help. Eventually, he got of his ass and did something. He is a much nicer human being now than he was back then.

Hard road for you...........soldier, grunt, male, PTSD.........all the blokey things that allow them to wallow in the nastiness of PTSD and put it down to just 'bein a bloke' or 'being one of the boys'. The only thing missing from that equation for my husband was the 'grunt' bit but never mind being a Petroleum Operator was sufficiently blokey and very male dominated.

Well Kim, a bit long winded but hopefully some relevant information for you. Please do not hesitate to call any of those numbers or us if you need help now! Take care of you and the kids,

Hello Somalia Spouse,
My name is Tammy and my partner also suffers from PTSD. I live in Townsville and I also have a child (5 months and a beautiful little man). I am a uni student so most of my time is spent at home with my men. If ever you need someone to talk to or to vent with I am here for you. Although my partner didn't get PTSD from overseas service he is a member of the defence force (we are in the process of discharge- thank god) and therefore I sort of understand the whole "I am male, males don't show emotion, there's nothing wrong with me" attitude. Whilst I haven't seen this done before I have no idea how to get my details to you any other way but to post them here. My home number is 4728 6154 and my mobile is 0402 364 480; contact me any time you need or want to.
New to Forum

Hi I have just joined this forum being a spouse of a PTSD sufferer he was in Army for 20+ years is on TPI. We are having a bit of a bad time at the moment actually he has gone away for a few days which is probably a good thing for us to spend some time apart.
At the moment I cant do anything right by him so we will see if things have settled after a few days apart :)
Thank you for this forum.
Hi Jen, and thankyou for coming here to help us, and hopefully help yourself. My wife has been trying to send me away recently, for pretty much the same thing, but I got past it now by getting some things out on this board, and I feel pretty good getting all that stuff off my chest that has been building for a while now. Maybe you husband just needs to do that... get it all off his chest?

I know one thing, you probably need to do the same though, as my wife certainly does so here, cause I do drive her up the wall at times on bad days. I had bad months but recently... but a bit better now, so she is starting to ground herself again and not tip toeing around on eggshells.

I really hate PTSD... honestly I just hate it. Living with it, and seeing what happens to those around it, sometimes it just makes us worse, because we know what we are doing to people, but sometimes we just can't stop it, even when we struggle so hard to stop it, or atleast reduce it... it is still very difficult at times for all concerned.
Hi Anthony thank you for your reply you said you were a sufferer of PTSD so I suppose you know what feelings my husband has. He wont talk to me about his feelings ( I think its a man thing :) ) all I know he seems to be really cranky where as he never used to get cranky sometimes he looks at me like I have two heads! We have just bought a small business but I am starting to think it may have been a mistake.
He has been at home the last 4-5 years doing nothing I thought investing in a small business may give him a reason to get out of bed in the morning and take on a bit of responsibility and we could run the business together even though one person could run it.
He has jumped into this new venture very keen and is doing a good job but I seem to be his problem all of a sudden I cant do anything right he said when he asks me to do something I dont do it right we seem to be having problems communicating at work together I told him dont talk to me like I am in the Army!
Thank you from Jen!
Yer, I think kerrie-ann (my wife) will say about the same as you just have in regard to me... cause I do very much get like that. We try to control things, but it is really hard to explain to people what happens, because they don't believe us anyway. It is only people who actually have PTSD who seem to be able to truly know what each other is talking about, as we feel the same things.

It was said to me once, PTSD is like a fog rolling in over the mountains, so thick that you can't see through it. It is a very good statement of what its like for us. When it is happening, we can't see outside ourselves, as it just consumes us to a point where normal people can't believe, as they can't go there, or ever been there themselves, so it makes it very hard to comprehend.

The getting out of bed part seems more like depression than anything, as that is what depression does. Depression can be beat, though cannot be cured in conjunction with PTSD, as it is the PTSD itself that causes the depression, not like someone who only suffers depression, where they can beat it and never be bothered by it again. The business is a great idea, and I think your onto a winner with that one in regard to getting him doing something.

The problem that you mention though, is a little bit PTSD, little bit Army training, and not actually one or the other. Military training is brain washing, nothing short off it. We are trained to a point where controll is via commands (a button to put it simply), where when the military need us to run up that hill, fight and kill the enemy, we do it without regard for our own lives. This makes us over alert to our surroundings, makes us hyper-vigilant and generally, everything has to be done right, our way or the highway, especially if your husband had senior rank or was a senior officer. When we leave the military, nobody takes this training from us, or reduces it to help us cope. There are courses that enlighten us to what is going on in the civilian work place and so forth, but no actual deactivation compulsary program that every soldier must attend. I doubt they ever would either, as this enables them to recall a person in war-time with minimal training requirement. If they deactivated us, they would have to go back to square one with every person when re-enlisting or called upon when needed.

What your husband needs to identify, is whether its the military component, or PTSD component that is making him so decisive and "black or white" in his decisions still. Military are trained to be "black or white" when decision making, no grey areas. Civilians without that training are black, white, grey and probably some other colours inbetween. Mix the two, and your gonna get a bad outcome....
Hi Jen,

Welcome to the forum. I know exactly where you are coming from. I often cannot do anything right, in fact as I write this I have just walked out of the bedroom as he was starting to insult me about the process of making a bed - for heavens sake!! I usually just try and get away from Anthony when he is in one of his moods, which he has been in quite a lot lately. Thankfully I work full-time so that means I am out of the house more often than not, mind you that is also a reason for him to get peeved at me. Not home enough, don't do enough when I am here, untidy, don't spend much time with the baby.........and the list just goes on. It can be hard on your self esteem.

As you have identified, communication is also hard. I really don't have the answer to that one, we struggle with that, although he was a lot better after we completed the PTSD course - he appears to have regressed. It used to be that I would make myself physically sick when I had something unavoidable we had to discuss. It is not quite that bad now but still stressful. I wish that those with PTSD would realise that by talking about things, in a constructive manner, it eliminates a lot of the stress. Perhaps like you have said, the break may do both of you good. I wish Anthony would bugger off for a bit. I have tried to convince him to go to his parents for a break or go and visit one of his mates with PTSD so he can vent but no luck so far!

Crankiness,from my experience is part of the package with PTSD. Anger is an emotion and often times the stress and frustration that they feel comes out in anger. It is quite often not anything you have done or didn't do but that look that you get from them sends the opposite message. I have found that telling Anthony that his anger is his issue, not mine, sometimes puts him back in the box.

Do you have children? Do you know of the support groups in Townsville? And what help, if any, does your husband get for himself? Actually, that is one the biggest things that tick me off about those with PTSD - I am all for accepting that they have an illness and sometimes they need to be cut a little bit of slack but when they deliberately do not take care of themselves, I get angry. In my opinion that is selfish because it impacts on those around them, if they were only hurting themselves go hard I say.

Anyhow, I don't know about the business but you said that it can be managed by one person so two would allow your husband scope to rest if he needs it. Some advice though watch him and make sure that he doesn't overload himself. They will do that, then fall in a heap because the stress is too much. It can be a form of escapism for them like alcohol, drugs (etc), if you can help him keep it balanced it would be good for both of you. Try and encourage him to take care of himself even if you get out of the house to go for a walk, its fresh air, raised serotonin levels (feel happy hormone - and its free!!) and exercise. Its all good!!

You are right to stand up to him and not let him talk to you like you are in the Army. Like Anthony said there is no depogramming for ex-military personnel and those with PTSD need it the most. Again, from my experience you just need to pick your battles otherwise you end up living in a war zone, literally. It was really hard for us for a while, we are both pigheaded, both Army (I am still in) and we would just go toe-to-toe over everything and I mean everything. Way too stressful for both of us, although it hurts our pride we are starting to find a little middle ground where we can say we don't like something but in a more constructive way. Having said that I am quick to point it out to Anthony when he steps over the line and he me.

Well Jen, a long winded post, I don't think Anthony and I can profess to know all of the answers but we are working our way through the minefield that is PTSD like you. Hopefully our experience and honesty will help others like yourself feel less alone. Feel free to vent here anytime you like, Anthony is usually on the computer until all hours anyway. Take care of you.
Hi Kerri Anne and Anthony thank you very much for your replies I have found them very helpful. It is handy to know that people can see where I am coming from. I am going to see a counsellor next week at Vietnam Vets just to have a chat. If anything just to help me understand whats going on with him. You said Kerri about him overdoing it I think that might be a bit of his problem as well. He doesnt seem to think I am capable of running the business whereas we both know I am.He just seems to make me nervous when he is explaining things to me which seems so stupid we have been married over 20 years.
He is tired all the time always had sleeping problems. Alcohol doesnt seem to be a problem but he does take a lot of medication for several problems. My main health problem is headaches which turn into migraines a lot of it has to do with the stress of whats going on.Sometimes when he starts going on I can feel my head getting tighter like its going to explode!! I have 2 children my son is in the RAAF but my daughter 23 is still at home and she is great for a shoulder to lean and cry on:)
Thank you Jen
Hey Jen,

Good to hear that you are heading off to VVCS for some help. It is good to talk to someone, non-judgmental, about what is going on at home. I agree that your migraines are probably stress related. Have you considered acupuncture? I know some people think it is all hocus-pocus but I found a good practitioner there in Townsville who helped me fall pregnant (Alexander is now 16 months old) and helped me maintain my health while pregnant. He was aware, generally, of the stress I was under and I suspect that he also managed to treat me for that a little. Anyhow, it worked for me.........the guys name is Michael Dare, the Zen Den in Flinders St West.

Sleep is generally an issue for those with PTSD - either not enough or no quality sleep or they need to sleep to feel better. Anthony used to do that quite a bit and he needs to during the day which he is usually the better for. Nightmares can be an issue with some people avoiding sleep or it just interrrupts a normal nights sleep - if there is such a thing for them. Anthony does still have nightmares which I have learned to gently wake him from as he would probably go on like that all night.

Jen, its good that you have a daughter home to talk to but do you have anyone else? Aside from VVCS there is also a group called Partners of Veterans Association it might be worthwhile contacting them also. The ladies that I met before we left Townsville seemed like a lovely bunch, just dealing with living with someone and PTSD. It may be obvious and if you have been married for 20 years you may not be used to or inclined to but you need to look after you first. VVCS is a good step. They will probably tell you the same thing anyhow.

As for the business, if you let him, he probably will overwork himself. Like I said, it is a form of escapism for them but the stress is often just too much for them to handle. Never mind the fact that they are male and ex-military where their pride is often bigger than Ayers rock. God forbid they admit that it IS too much for them and that they either need a rest or some help. Life would be easier!! If you can ignore his criticisms and get on with the business, he will appreciate your help, even if he doesn't admit it. They are responsible for their own care but if you can see they are being silly about something, sometimes you have to step in. I have had to do it with Anthony before and still do occasionally if he is having a bad day. I make him get up, have a shower, encourage him to eat and sometimes drag his sorry ass out the door for exercise. Sounds like treating him like a child but it is not that, I can see he is unwell and I know (most of the time) how much scope I have into pushing him to do something for his own good. If he gets upset, I back of and let him be.
Hi Kerri Anne thank you for your reply I have felt a bit better today reading these emails. I just dont know what sort of mood he is going to be in when he decides to come home after his couple of days away. I am hoping he will be feeling a bit better about things after some time out.
Because the way I am feeling I am not going to stand there and be spoken to like an idiot that is the way he has been talking to me. He seems to be taking some of my confidence from me I dont know if he means to or not but I seem to be getting nervous around him I think I am worried that I am going to say the wrong thing? Does this make sense to you ?
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