Relationship Supporter of a Survivor Who Is Unaware of CPTSD/PTSD

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lexia1218

New Here
Been reading this forum for a while and it's been very helpful. First time posting.

I've been in an official relationship with my partner for about six months with a period of dating (and ghosting) prior along with a very slow start with months to pick up. It's a long story I won't bore you all with the details. He has textbook CPTSD/PTSD symptoms and fearful avoidant attachment — all of which I learned about in my own journey (I'm not a major trauma survivor but am healing from other mental health / emotional neglect etc things) yet as far as I know he's unaware of both CPTSD/PTSD and attachment theory and is untreated. About a month ago, he told me a piece of his trauma story but in a round about way and that's been the only mention. Once he told me, all of his actions clicked immediately for me (as I had been reading up on stuff and I had suspected prior to him telling me).

I thought he would pull away after opening up but the opposite happened and we were much closer for a couple of weeks. (All during quarantine so we weren't seeing each other.)

His isolation periods started last year as we got closer and this year while officially dating are still there. We've talked about them, he says it's not personal etc and I've learned to not take them personal. I'm really independent and working to be secure, so it's not a huge issue for me if I know it's not about me.

Earlier this year I communicated (while drinking so I know that doesn't totally count) that I needed time spent, for him not to ignore my texts, and I ask him to let me in. The ignoring of texts completely stopped for about 2 1/2 months and overall communication was better, but has recently started back up. It started with ignoring my follow ups to see him, and then now has led to a couple of smaller things (which I can get past the smaller things).

But what I'm struggling with is this:
1. Getting together in person (which I'm guessing is in part avoiding sex or avoiding serious conversations as in person we've some talked about his struggles/feelings of himself)
2. Communication / his overall avoidance — it's impossible to have a serious conversation and he's been so dismissive

I'm prepping to have conversation, and I just so strongly feel like how is any of this going to change if he's unaware about these things. It feels weird to know so much that could help and not be able to say anything. He has a lot of the physical symptoms, nightmares, etc. As I know I can't fix or save him, and it's not my role. I've tried to encourage therapy and lead by example. He started meds last year but still no therapy.

So I guess my questions are:
A. Any suggestions or success stories of people bringing attention to the concept of CPTSD/PTSD or attachment? Or is this just totally off the table?
B. What can I do to help him be more comfortable in this discussion and without it coming across as huge pressure which will just shut him down? (I'm naturally very empathic, kind, never yelling, etc)
C. In general, what can I do to help?

I want to be a good partner and supporter, and I care so much. I've tried to do my research (here, videos, The Body Keeps Score, Pete Walker's CPTSD book, etc). But I'm also trying to put up some boundaries so I'm not just continuously dismissed.

Thanks so much for your help.

* addition to ?s in C: In general, what can I do to help yet also express that I feel unimportant and dismissed?
 

RubyBlue

Policy Enforcement
I don’t have any good advice to add to what you’ve already done. But I wanted to chime in and say thank you from the bottom of my heart for being someone so willing to educate yourself and to be so patient with him. We desperately need more people like you in the world.

Though I know how hard it is to pretty much know the answers but not be able to do anything about it. I’ve been there with other situations. For me, I had no clue until I put myself in therapy for an attempt. Granted no one in my friends or family ever approached me with the idea or are even that thrilled that I’m in therapy to begin with.
 

joeylittle

Administrator
Hi - I've moved your post into the Supporter's area for a better fit.
He started meds last year but still no therapy.
Be careful of trying to diagnose him yourself.

Has the person prescribing his psych meds suggested therapy? And, I'm assuming he has a diagnosis from that person - do you know what that is, and whether he accepts it?
 

lexia1218

New Here
Thanks @joeylittle... sorry about that!

I know re: diagnosing... I could be off... and regardless, I don't want to or would never be like "you have CPTSD/PTSD and you're fearful avoidant." I just want you get the concepts out there somehow.

I'm not sure about psych. I know he didn't tell them certain things he told me (not trauma story) but other related things because he told me that — and I highly doubt he told them trauma/etc. I think he just said he had anxiety sleeping. So his psych gave him sleeping meds and an antidepressant. I know he's stopped taking the latter a month ago because it made his nightmares worse.

That's all I know on that front.

Because we spend so little time in person together (and with the pandemic; but in person is always great and we're close), it's hard to have solid conversations and talk about things like that, so I kind of just get things when we're in person or occasionally when he's drunk or anxious over text.

I don’t have any good advice to add to what you’ve already done. But I wanted to chime in and say thank you from the bottom of my heart for being someone so willing to educate yourself and to be so patient with him. We desperately need more people like you in the world.

Though I know how hard it is to pretty much know the answers but not be able to do anything about it. I’ve been there with other situations. For me, I had no clue until I put myself in therapy for an attempt. Granted no one in my friends or family ever approached me with the idea or are even that thrilled that I’m in therapy to begin with.

Thank you, that means a lot :) Hang in there... therapy is so helpful once you find the right match.

Do you think you would've been open to the concepts? If approached in concern? It feels like such a tricky subject for someone so avoidant. I know when he's triggered more anxious, we can have these discussions pretty easily. But he's almost always avoidant or neutral. (Maybe that's because I'm the anxious one, I'm AP/secure, but trying really hard to earn full secure with therapy and I'm an internal AP so I don't call a ton or anything.)
 

RubyBlue

Policy Enforcement
Thank you, that means a lot :) Hang in there... therapy is so helpful once you find the right match.

Do you think you would've been open to the concepts? If approached in concern? It feels like such a tricky subject for someone so avoidant. I know when he's triggered more anxious, we can have these discussions pretty easily. But he's almost always avoidant or neutral. (Maybe that's because I'm the anxious one, I'm AP/secure, but trying really hard to earn full secure with therapy and I'm an internal AP so I don't call a ton or anything.)

I can’t really speak on the avoidant part since I’m very very very disorganized lol. But I do think I would have been open to it, provided it was done in a loving way and when I was calmer and maybe had just come down from a more anxious/angry state so the person can be like hey look at the damage that was caused can ya go to therapy already? Lol maybe not quite that harsh. I do have a good friend that is more avoidant and she does have a tendency to go through spells of denying her diagnosis altogether. When that happens, I let her process it out, if she’s insistent we’ll talk about what led to her diagnoses and eventually she comes back around to accepting it reluctantly. It can be a hard pill to swallow because for a lot of people there is still the stigma of developing a mental illness (or injury really) makes you weak. There’s thoughts of why couldn’t you handle it and etc. which is of course where therapy comes in. I kind of rambled there but just be prepared if when he does go into therapy or another psych visit that there very well may be denial, possibly anger like uh no that docs got it all wrong, and of course the potentially lengthy process of finding the right therapist and if medication is needed finding the right doses/combinations.
 

lexia1218

New Here
I can’t really speak on the avoidant part since I’m very very very disorganized lol. But I do think I would have been open to it, provided it was done in a loving way and when I was calmer and maybe had just come down from a more anxious/angry state so the person can be like hey look at the damage that was caused can ya go to therapy already? Lol maybe not quite that harsh. I do have a good friend that is more avoidant and she does have a tendency to go through spells of denying her diagnosis altogether. When that happens, I let her process it out, if she’s insistent we’ll talk about what led to her diagnoses and eventually she comes back around to accepting it reluctantly. It can be a hard pill to swallow because for a lot of people there is still the stigma of developing a mental illness (or injury really) makes you weak. There’s thoughts of why couldn’t you handle it and etc. which is of course where therapy comes in. I kind of rambled there but just be prepared if when he does go into therapy or another psych visit that there very well may be denial, possibly anger like uh no that docs got it all wrong, and of course the potentially lengthy process of finding the right therapist and if medication is needed finding the right doses/combinations.

Thanks! That is very helpful. He’s also very disorganized, I just feel like he leans more avoidant I guess because I’m more anxious and taking the lead. But the moment that I don’t respond even for a short time (as I always respond) or anything like that, he’ll double/triple text. Many other things... which also is another reason I know he still likes me. I also obviously don’t know how things are for him, only just what I see.

We saw each last week and it was great. He was texting normally after, etc. Then a couple days later he went back dark and blew me off about hanging out, in a weird way too. Then texted me like two hours after the place closed when he was already home like nothing happened. Totally disregarding that he never texted me to come up there if he went (which he did).

These periods of blowing me off and avoiding hanging out but not even just saying I don’t feel like it or something just confuse me so much. It makes me feel unwanted. Yet when we do meet up it’s great.

It’s just that stuff and not communicating well or at all about things isn’t healthy, and I want us to be healthy. Our connection, compability, etc is so great.
 

joeylittle

Administrator
I'm not sure about psych. I know he didn't tell them certain things he told me (not trauma story) but other related things because he told me that — and I highly doubt he told them trauma/etc. I think he just said he had anxiety sleeping. So his psych gave him sleeping meds and an antidepressant. I know he's stopped taking the latter a month ago because it made his nightmares worse.
Encouraging them to fully disclose to their psychiatrist, is where I'd start (if I were in your shoes).
But he's almost always avoidant or neutral. (Maybe that's because I'm the anxious one, I'm AP/secure, but trying really hard to earn full secure with therapy and I'm an internal AP so I don't call a ton or anything.)
My advice to you would be to not get this far in your own mind. You may be pathologizing him in order to avoid communicating about - or prioritizing - your own needs and feelings
 

Friday

Moderator
I mistook my ex-husband’s brand of crazy for one that I am waaaaaaay familiar with / experienced with (my own, and what most of the blokes I’ve dated have also been diagnosed with).... all of his symptoms that didnt “fit”? I didn’t SEE... in part because I didn’t know what to look for, or that they even were symptoms, and in part because I saw what I expected to see.

Your beau could easily have PTSD, if he has a trauma history. Trauma makes the disorder possible. But trauma also causes or exacerbates a huge number of other disorders, that also share symptoms with PTSD. My exHusband’s trauma history, for example? Became a personality disorder. He & his sister both have personality disorders from their childhood, although they’re 2 very different disorders / in 2 entirely different clusters. He’s actually so textbook for it that leading researchers in that field still reach out to me to try and get in contact with him. (Nope. Huh-uh. Not gonna do it.).

So just a word from the ...wise, isn’t exactly on point, more BTDT and have the scars to prove it :wtf: ... tread very cautiously with self-diagnosis.

Seeing myself in others / judging others by myself? Never served me wrong, up until that point. So I very much understand the impulse. It can also just go badly awry.
 

lexia1218

New Here
My advice to you would be to not get this far in your own mind. You may be pathologizing him in order to avoid communicating about - or prioritizing - your own needs and feelings

I agree I do this, and I want to not. It’s something I talk about in therapy. I just don’t really know how to express my own needs without coming across as pressure. It’s hard enough for me to express my needs in general.
I also feel like I’m just enabling his avoidance.

I mistook my ex-husband’s brand of crazy for one that I am waaaaaaay familiar with / experienced with (my own, and what most of the blokes I’ve dated have also been diagnosed with).... all of his symptoms that didnt “fit”? I didn’t SEE... in part because I didn’t know what to look for, or that they even were symptoms, and in part because I saw what I expected to see.

Your beau could easily have PTSD, if he has a trauma history. Trauma makes the disorder possible. But trauma also causes or exacerbates a huge number of other disorders, that also share symptoms with PTSD. My exHusband’s trauma history, for example? Became a personality disorder. He & his sister both have personality disorders from their childhood, although they’re 2 very different disorders / in 2 entirely different clusters. He’s actually so textbook for it that leading researchers in that field still reach out to me to try and get in contact with him. (Nope. Huh-uh. Not gonna do it.).

So just a word from the ...wise, isn’t exactly on point, more BTDT and have the scars to prove it :wtf: ... tread very cautiously with self-diagnosis.

Seeing myself in others / judging others by myself? Never served me wrong, up until that point. So I very much understand the impulse. It can also just go badly awry.

Thank you! I could be off for sure. I guess I just want to have a healthy dynamic. We’ve made a lot of progress but the in person time has always been an issue.
 

Sweetpea76

Moderator
In general, what can I do to help?

Honestly... accept the fact that you cannot help. We, as supporters, cannot help. We cannot fix. We cannot do the work that they need to do for themselves.

This is a big ole supporter trap. Of course we want to help and fix... we love them. It’s only natural. Fixers and helpers make for quick codependency though. It won’t be a good situation for you or him.
 
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