Relationship Need support-spouse of PTSD sufferer

BrokenHeat

New Here
My husband told me he has been suffering with PTSD about 6 months ago. However, it did not come out that way. What came out was "i dont know how i feel about you anymore or if we have a future. " He kept saying he had to fix himself before he knew. My life was turned completely upside down. I felt sick to my stomach, and was in absolute shock that my husband-the only love of my life-no longer loved me. Through more conversations we both realized he must have PTSD; he lost both parents unexpectedly within 18 months and is a police officer in a very destructive city. There have been 3 child welfare calls that he identifies as sticking with him and causing him concern. 2/3 children involved ended up dying.
When my husband saw how hard i was taking the news of his feelings changing, he felt he needed to be strong for my sake, apologized and said he loved me and he would try to get better. What ensued was 4 months of him acting like his normal self, to keep me together. However, it became too much for him and about a month ago he shared that he has been acting and dreads coming home. (bcuz he has to pretend to be okay) He has been coping by drinking to help him be able to be at home. This news broke my heart because i thought or wanted to think he would be okay. He shared that he wanted to get help and that his goal was not to get a divorce, BUT that he felt detached from me , numb and like he had nothing to offer or give to me emotionally.
Since he told me this, he has reached out to some people that have gone through similar situations. He even told me he contacted a therapist...not sure what that means exactly-but the fact that he shared it was progress, so i didnt ask for more details. He told me he was still not happy with things, but wanted me to know he was trying.
I go through a variety of emotions daily; one day i am strong and i can support him through this and love him enough for both of us, one moment i am so scared and wonder what my future holds, i am so scared of losing him and do not want a life without him, one day i am mad and want to yell and scream at him to try harder and try other things such as medication (which he is very against), scared about telling our children if he decides to leave and how they will handle it, and most days i am very sad and feel like i am so helpless in all of this. I dont want to make him mad by asking too many q's but i also need to know certain things so i can survive this. I wonder where i will live, where i will work, can i move to another city with my children, when will we have to sell the house we live in?
I love him with all my heart and know i want to be with him; but it isnt that easy. He shows no affection towards me anymore and this was a man who was very affectionate, playful, called me "mama" all the time and love to reach for me. NONE of those things happen anymore and the lack of love i am receiving is starting to take a toll on me. I feel lonely and sad and i miss him so much. He has mentioned he may need to leave to sort himself out...i told him i can support that, but in my research i cannot find anywhere that says that is recommended. It sounds like the first step in a separation to me, bcuz he has nobody to be accountable for in his recovery. OR is it better so he can hopefully see how much he misses us and loves me??? PLEASE if anyone can offer a possible solution-please do.
 

enough

MyPTSD Pro
so sorry that you are going through what I put my wife through, the realizing there was a problem and not knowing if my own emotions were real anymore. I got a diagnosis and help. We are still together. Hope you can be able to say that in time.
There are a lot of different people with a lot of different experiences here, there will be people that can relate better to the 'police" aspect but I can relate to the doubting my own emotions and the trauma of seeing bad outcomes in child welfare situations as a volunteer fire fighter, and the desire to cope on my own and shunning drugs.
My best little piece of advice is one I bet you already understand: don't become the problem.
So many times in my relationship I was lost in the turmoil of not knowing how to solve my problems, even what the problem was, when the problem became"she wants to sit down and solve this' I had, at last, a problem I could solve so I did, slamming the door on the way out. That has to be hard to hear. But if I was angry at the world and life and the job and just plain everything and couldn't do anything about any of it, any disagreement at the wrong time might get the full attention of my desire to solve a problem and solve it I would. She is a strong willed woman and luckily her will was that we stay together.
I hope he can find help, I hope you get good advice from supporters, not just this old sufferers long winded opinions. This is a good place that has helped me a lot, congrats on finding it and good thoughts to you.
 
B

Broken Heart

Thank you so much for your insight. It is nice to hear from a fellow PTSD sufferer. I’m starting to learn not to be the “problem” and to give him time to come to me when he is ready, instead of trying to solve this in one afternoon. One question I have for you; did u ever feel like you didn’t love your wife anymore or I guess as my husband puts it, “feels numb, has nothing to give me and I deserve better.” If so, when and how did this start to change for you. When did you start to feel again?
What is the best thing I can do for him in our home life? I’ve tried it all but think I should carry on as normal and keep loving him so he knows he is loved and we love him as he is.
thanks
 

BrokenHeat

New Here
Thank you for your insight. You are the first PTSD sufferer I’ve heard from. Nice to hear your perspective on things. My husband has a very hard time explaining any of it to me. He hates to talk about it.
I’m learning not to be “the problem” as that can really set him off. I’m also realizing that this is not something we can solve in one afternoon at the table.
I have a question for you; did u ever feel like you didn’t love your wife anymore? Or as my husband puts it, “feel numb, have nothing to give you and you deserve more.” If so when and how did your feeling come back?
What is the best way for me to support him in our daily lives? I’ve tried all angles; for a few months I lived in denial and was over the top loving and doing all his chores and parenting, then he came to me and said that wasn’t helping. I’ve tried to act like I don’t care or need him and I will be fine without him, and I’ve been so sad and broke down crying everytime I see him. I’m thinking it is best if I act normal-the way I did before all this happened. He needs to see he is loved just like before and know that we will continue on. Any advice on this would be greatly appreciated.
oh and also-if he wants to leave and be on his own “to sort shit out,” what about that? Did u ever feel that way? Is it something I should be supporting? To me it seems like the first step to separating bcuz of course if he lives alone-it will be easier to cope. No home pressures or guilt of seeing our faces everyday. Or will it make him realize what he has and he will miss us and it will help him??
Thanks so much
 

Survivor3

MyPTSD Pro
Hi @BrokenHeat, very sorry that your going through this. It's scary isn't it. I wouldn't keep on trying to change yourself in this situation because you'll drive yourself nuts and quite frankly your not the problem. It's your partner that is unwell and may have PTSD not you. men can typically find it difficult to talk about thoughts and feelings and PTSD just makes that worse. Using alcohol just makes things worse, (I'm an alcoholic and haven't drunk in 6 months) so I fully understand that. If your partner leaves and just isolates himself without receiving professional help and support them he'll probably just get worse. I would really advise that your husband get professional help that includes speaking to a docter and finding a counsellor/therapist. Best wishes S3😊.
 

enough

MyPTSD Pro
@BrokenHeat
first, no I never left for more than a day alone. Always home. But thats me, I need the security of knowing everyone is home and safe at night before I can relax my vigil. After the kids had moved out I was on my way to a better place and have been a better husband. A person can need to get away and still be a good partner, I wouldn't disqualify anyone I don't know so don't use my experience to form an opinion.
I have a question for you; did u ever feel like you didn’t love your wife anymore? Or as my husband puts it, “feel numb, have nothing to give you and you deserve more.” If so when and how did your feeling come back?
that was one of my symptoms for sure, but it wasn't just my wife and kids, it was everything. I kept my job simply because I didn't care how much I hated it, I wouldn't have cared if I loved it either. I didn't go home and kick the dog, but I didn't fall down and let him lick my face either. I just kept putting one foot in front of the other, locked the doors at night and grabbed a towel on my way to the shower in the morning. Drugs just made it worse and the only emotions I might feel are extreme anger and usually over feelings of betrayal or distrust, that was me. And that went on for years.
My diagnosis saved me. You can't diagnose and neither can I but a good counselor can and will know what comes next. best thoughts for a good outcome
 

BrokenHeat

New Here
@BrokenHeat
first, no I never left for more than a day alone. Always home. But thats me, I need the security of knowing everyone is home and safe at night before I can relax my vigil. After the kids had moved out I was on my way to a better place and have been a better husband. A person can need to get away and still be a good partner, I wouldn't disqualify anyone I don't know so don't use my experience to form an opinion.

that was one of my symptoms for sure, but it wasn't just my wife and kids, it was everything. I kept my job simply because I didn't care how much I hated it, I wouldn't have cared if I loved it either. I didn't go home and kick the dog, but I didn't fall down and let him lick my face either. I just kept putting one foot in front of the other, locked the doors at night and grabbed a towel on my way to the shower in the morning. Drugs just made it worse and the only emotions I might feel are extreme anger and usually over feelings of betrayal or distrust, that was me. And that went on for years.
My diagnosis saved me. You can't diagnose and neither can I but a good counselor can and will know what comes next. best thoughts for a good outcome

Thank you. He believes this is PTSD and a therapist has agreed with him. So he knows what this is ....but I guess in the end I cannot force him to get help. That has to be his choice. He gets very mad if I suggest ideas or names of therapists. It has to be done on his terms completely. Hi situation sounds similar to you-he has no feelings about anything anymore. Just puts one foot in front of the other, says he doesn’t care at work anymore and just does a mediocre job. I guess the part I’m stuck on the most is how he has no feelings about me anymore. But I need to try very hard not to take it personally. He feels numb about everything he says.
did u end up taking any medication? Was your therapist a psychologist or psychiatrist?
 

Warrior Chicken

MyPTSD Pro
I will have to post more when I have some additional time, but....I can relate to your situation and perhaps offer some of my own insight from my experience as a sufferer (also LE profession).

There’s a really good thread on this site for supporters created by @Freida its called “what are they thinking” or something to that effect. I’d link it but short on time as I mentioned.

Just quickly on the numb aspect - it’s one of my main symptoms and also coping technique. In the work your husband does, he’s been trained and has grown to learn how to turn off ‘switches’ to continue to function at a high level without being consumed by the emotions of what he’s confronted with at work. The problem starts to arise when we forget how to turn those switches back on when we get home. And when stress is higher, and remains high then numb becomes the default.

Another good thread/info piece by the site founder is called “the stress cup”

Will try to write more later and will try to answer Questions if you have any.
 

enough

MyPTSD Pro
did u end up taking any medication? Was your therapist a psychologist or psychiatrist?
Never seen a psychiatrist other than having a major 200 plus question assessment scored by one and getting drugs recommended and prescribed by them. Psychologists deal with therapy in my experience and oversee counselors in some organisations. Counselors are not necessarily the bottom rung, they can specialize more and he may find one that has aimed their practice at guys just like him.There are also Nurse practitioners that I see as mainly wide spectrum counselors that can maintain and alter prescriptions even though some of them have prescribed and some of them have advertised a type of therapy they focus on but I don't go down that path anymore.
I see a psychologist these days, he is very focused on where I want to go and where I came from. It's a good fit I had to find.
I urge anyone getting started to keep in mind that they are hiring someone to help them through a tough time. If you replace the words"help them through a tough time" with "find and harvest an elk", "take me out in a boat and catch salmon" or "tell me what my house is worth and try to sell it" most people get it. This is the same except it is hard to ask friends for their opinions on therapists and even going to the office is a hurdle to overcome. You may not like the first one, you may have to interview many to find one you want to hire.
Getting that was a big change for me, I was and am in control of my path to a better place since I realized that some of them were not working out and found better ones.

Kind of torn on the drug aspect. No one can take a blood test to see if I am less depressed or affected by PTSD after taking ANY drug. It is subjective. I didn't want any and was clear as I could be on that subject for a long time, then I decided to try an antidepressant and then another and then another. I just don't respond to them but can feel side effects pretty much right from the start. I gave it a long time to try several and finally decide I was done with SSRI's.
That said, I am on a drug now, it has side effects most definitely and I have weaned off for quite awhile at one time (not an easy thing with this type of drug) but decided that life was better with the effects in spite of the side effects. I plan to get off again when I retire and missed sleep and nightmares and days of total loss of interest are more easily absorbed than they are now while I am still working. And, if I weaned off again it may be hard to get another presciber because the current thought on these drugs is that they should be avoided due to the addictive aspects. To me, the addiction is another side effect just like all the SSRI's had, but the EFFECT is worth it.

I want to tell you, I am not on here most of the time. I might not answer a question for days or weeks if you ask more. Right now I am home taking care of my wife while she recovers from a major medical deal and some days that means I am busy with no time, other days I get an hour to kill while nurses come and go and I keep my dogs company in the other end of the house. I wish you and your husband well and for all of us to make today better than yesterday whenever possible. Guess what? It's always possible!
 

BrokenHeat

New Here
Never seen a psychiatrist other than having a major 200 plus question assessment scored by one and getting drugs recommended and prescribed by them. Psychologists deal with therapy in my experience and oversee counselors in some organisations. Counselors are not necessarily the bottom rung, they can specialize more and he may find one that has aimed their practice at guys just like him.There are also Nurse practitioners that I see as mainly wide spectrum counselors that can maintain and alter prescriptions even though some of them have prescribed and some of them have advertised a type of therapy they focus on but I don't go down that path anymore.
I see a psychologist these days, he is very focused on where I want to go and where I came from. It's a good fit I had to find.
I urge anyone getting started to keep in mind that they are hiring someone to help them through a tough time. If you replace the words"help them through a tough time" with "find and harvest an elk", "take me out in a boat and catch salmon" or "tell me what my house is worth and try to sell it" most people get it. This is the same except it is hard to ask friends for their opinions on therapists and even going to the office is a hurdle to overcome. You may not like the first one, you may have to interview many to find one you want to hire.
Getting that was a big change for me, I was and am in control of my path to a better place since I realized that some of them were not working out and found better ones.

Kind of torn on the drug aspect. No one can take a blood test to see if I am less depressed or affected by PTSD after taking ANY drug. It is subjective. I didn't want any and was clear as I could be on that subject for a long time, then I decided to try an antidepressant and then another and then another. I just don't respond to them but can feel side effects pretty much right from the start. I gave it a long time to try several and finally decide I was done with SSRI's.
That said, I am on a drug now, it has side effects most definitely and I have weaned off for quite awhile at one time (not an easy thing with this type of drug) but decided that life was better with the effects in spite of the side effects. I plan to get off again when I retire and missed sleep and nightmares and days of total loss of interest are more easily absorbed than they are now while I am still working. And, if I weaned off again it may be hard to get another presciber because the current thought on these drugs is that they should be avoided due to the addictive aspects. To me, the addiction is another side effect just like all the SSRI's had, but the EFFECT is worth it.

I want to tell you, I am not on here most of the time. I might not answer a question for days or weeks if you ask more. Right now I am home taking care of my wife while she recovers from a major medical deal and some days that means I am busy with no time, other days I get an hour to kill while nurses come and go and I keep my dogs company in the other end of the house. I wish you and your husband well and for all of us to make today better than yesterday whenever possible. Guess what? It's always possible!

You have been a godsend-thank you so much for your advice. It has been the most I have received since this entire thing started. I hope your wife is healing well.
I truly appreciate you taking the time to type all that for me!!
Take care

I will have to post more when I have some additional time, but....I can relate to your situation and perhaps offer some of my own insight from my experience as a sufferer (also LE profession).

There’s a really good thread on this site for supporters created by @Freida its called “what are they thinking” or something to that effect. I’d link it but short on time as I mentioned.

Just quickly on the numb aspect - it’s one of my main symptoms and also coping technique. In the work your husband does, he’s been trained and has grown to learn how to turn off ‘switches’ to continue to function at a high level without being consumed by the emotions of what he’s confronted with at work. The problem starts to arise when we forget how to turn those switches back on when we get home. And when stress is higher, and remains high then numb becomes the default.

Another good thread/info piece by the site founder is called “the stress cup”

Will try to write more later and will try to answer Questions if you have any.

Such valuable information to have. Thank you thank you! I will check out those threads
 

Sweetpea76

Moderator
@BrokenHeat I’m a supporter... I know how confusing it all is. Best advice I can give you is to calm down. Take a step back and breathe. You’re in panic mode, trying to fix and save. Things don’t work that way.

This whole thing isn’t about whether he loves you or not, how fast he can get back to normal, or how it’s going to impact your marriage. I know that’s what you’re focused on because that’s the main impact on your life... but you need to focus on the bigger picture.

If he is starting to deal with his PTSD he is probably hanging by a string. They’re good at masking and pretending everything is OK. Emotional numbing is part of that. In reality he’s drowning.

I know you’ve been thinking about this:


My best little piece of advice is one I bet you already understand: don't become the problem.

BUT I don’t think it’s sinking in right now. This is an adjustment (or a hard lesson) most, if not, all supporters need. I’m not invalidating your fears or concerns, but in reality it’s not about you right now. Not how much he loves you. Not about saving the marriage.

Think about this analogy... this is an old chestnut here in the supporter section, so bear with me. It’ll make sense in the end. You’re swimming with your husband out in a river. He gets sucked out into the middle with the fierce rapids and fast current. He swimming as hard as he can, going under, fighting to survive. You’re in the shallows dog paddling around yelling for him to join you. Why won’t he come swim with you? He must not love you if he isn’t paying attention to you... what could be more important? He’s the most important thing in *your* life right now, why aren’t you the most important thing in his right now? Meanwhile homeboy is 100% focused on keeping his head above water. He can’t pay attention to you because he’s fighting to come out of the current alive. It doesn’t mean he doesn’t love you... it means he’s trying not to drown.

This is the reality of having a partner with any kind of mental illness. He’s trying to survive right now. He can’t handle his own emotions (hence the numbing, which is typical of PTSD). How is he supposed to handle *your* emotions if he can’t handle his own? You’re focused on saving the marriage and he’s focused on basic survival. You want him back to “normal” so the marriage will be the same as it always was... he’s not the same person now. When you’re healthy it is easy to prioritize relationships. When you’re in crisis you cannot because you’re trying to handle yourself and you’re not even capable of that.

I’m not saying he can’t pull his weight in a relationship or be married. Or that your needs aren’t important. I’m saying that in crisis he physically cannot deal with your baggage. It’s not about wanting or not wanting to... he can’t.

You can’t fix any of this. You can’t help. He has to have his process. What you can do is calm down and stop focusing on the marriage. He hasn’t left yet. Just be still and give him some time and peace. You don’t have to “act” like you don’t care... just seriously calm down and realize it isn’t personal.
 

BrokenHeat

New Here
@Sweetpea76
Wow. Thank you for that. You are so right and I have had some moments of clarity Iike this but it has been a long time. I needed that reminder that this is not about me. I know better-I am a social worker. But isn’t it funny how when things get personal, no matter our education/training-it seems all rational thinking goes out the window. Especially when emotion is involved. I am so thankful for this place. You are the third person to offer advice and each person has brought so much to the table. I wish I’d have gotten on here sooner❤️
I hope to chat with you again sooner than later
 
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