Looking for help in ways to show support for my partner who is suffering from PTSD. She is a military veteran.
PTSD Partner: Looking for help in ways to show... - Heal My PTSD
Heal My PTSD
I can only really reply for myself, not for your partner. But peharps that will be helpful too. To me it would be hepful, that my partner understood the symptoms that are invisible to most people, such as poor memory, reduced ability to processing information, and reduced concentration, to name a few that are not apparent. People who don't know me can easily become impatient, less tolerant and at times talk to me in a condescending way, assumably they mistake my problems for lower IQ, not too sure. I myself do NOT tell people why I struggle, I just srhug my shoulders and try to be around people who are more tolerant. I would not tell people why I struggle or teach them about my predicament. It is importan to me, that my symptoms don't become my identity, part of why i wouldn't tell. To me, i'm still just me.
Thank you for your response. Patience is hard for me, as well. It's not that I don't understand what is going on, it is the fact that I want to help fix it.
I will try to be more patient.
I would say to be there for hugs when needed, allow her to try to cope with it in her own way and time.... make sure she sees a great Therapist who can help with giving her the tools needed like mine did. This is so hard to deal with the PTSD I made small strides with the recommendations my Psychaitrtist gave me, and now they are finally adding up...I'm in some ways less symptomatic. Good luck to her and yourself, and please tell her I said thank you for her service..
Thank you for your response. Saying thank you for your service is huge to our military veterans.
I've never been in the Military, but I truly do appreciate the Service & Sacrifices that your partner has made, to allow us to maintain our freedoms. I'm not sure what the difference between Military PTSD & the PTSD that Civilians (Like me) go through. I recently Adopted a "PTSD Therapy Cat". Well, technically, we Adopted Each Other. My Cat, Hershey isn't an "Official" Therapy Animal, but he is VERY Dog-like in some ways. He comes when he is called - about 9 times out of 10, anyway. He knows when I need a cuddle, or how to make me laugh, when I really don't feel like laughing. And usually curls up with me to listen to Audiobooks at night when I can't sleep. Failing an Animal Companion, your partner could try aromatherapy - calming scents like lavender. Herbal Teas can help, too. If you have a DAVIDsTEA near you, try teas with Valerian in them. There is a tea with Lavender in it, called Serenity Now, which is REALLY calming, especially right before bed. I hope some of this might help your Partner. Best wishes, & Much Thanks.
Hi, Thank you for your response. She is trying many of these things you mentioned: she has 2 cats (not service animals), does the aroma therapy, and some tea. I will mention the scents and flavors you mentioned to her.
She is very proactive in her personal treatment. The VA, it seems, does not feel the sense of urgency that I do.
Are there any things I can do to calm her when she is in crisis?
Medicine won't cure it. But Minipress will help. I take it. Prazosin I believe is generic. Where did your partner serve, how long, in what branch, and what injuries? I know many veterans. I am 60 years old. I am not one but more uncles and friends than I can think of were. I know some things that helped. And it is not a disorder. It is PTS. Post Traumatic Stress. Any trauma can cause it. It is the way even a healthy mind can react to trauma. By the way. Roman scribes wrote about Centurions who had the same symptoms in Latin.
She takes minipress. She was in the army. Was deployed twice after 9/11. Was rolled in a hummer and received back and neck injuries. Was never treated for concussion but now has symptoms of post-concussive disorder. The VA is treating her for PTSD along with post-concussive disorder, plus the physical injuries.
She was medical in the army.
She is pro-active with her own treatments, as she does have a medical background.
I guess my main question should have been, What can I do to help when she is experiencing a crisis?
Uncontrollable crying usually followed by hours of isolation or sleep. When I say hours, I mean 10 to 20.
Hey there! I can tell you what has helped me. Here are some ideas: A journal. Writing helps tremendously. She could even do something symbolic w it like write it down then burn the paper, watching it. A lot of times just the symbolism alone takes a little weight of the trauma off, and let me tell you ANY little bit helps. Music that touches her heart. I'm not much for piano music but when I am spiraling down an emotional panic episode certain music seems to really speak to my soul, like down deep and that helps calm the panic. Try YouTube- Radio Ballet by Elluvium for example. Start there. Seriously, it may help. Art therapy. I had NO IDEA what creativity would blossom from my own despair and trauma. It's like instead of drowning in the tsunami of anxiety, I can now ride the wave of creativity through my emotions. I literally find art to be an incredible tool for deep emotional transfer. It has been a life saver for me. I stumbled across Willowing Arts while googling art therapy. Wow! What an amazing group of people I found that I am super proud to say, am now an active part of. I literally drew stick figures and now am painting deep emotional portraits and learning many styles of art expressions. I became proud of myself. Because PTSD throws you so off track, losing self confidence is a huge thing for us. To finally find "connection" with something and to feel proud has meant the world. I began to finally start putting the pieces together for my healing journey. This has been the path that works for me. Willowing Arts offers free beginning classes for art journaling with self guided healing techniques. I have never posted on here and many times wanted to. I felt a really strong urge to share this w you. I am truly sorry you guys are going through this. I know this is more than tough. Keep your head up, keep trying new things for her. Eventually some or a combination of things should help make these times a little more bearable. Good luck to you both! You are doing so much right now by researching this. Knowledge is power. The more she understands what she is going through the better she will be able to handle the complex confusing feelings and emotions that make all of us w PTSD feel soooo out of the loop w the world we always knew before. I hope this helps!!! (((((Huggggssss)))))) to you both!
I'm finding coloring books for adults helpful.
I don't want my partner to fix me, I just need a hug and some understanding and him being there for me emotionally.
He tried to fix me and we both got frustrated and angry - him because he couldn't fix me and me because I'm independent, that nearly destroyed our relationship.
Small gestures like preparing a nice cup of coffee or buying something nice that I might like etc are more important than trying to help because I needed a caring partner but without a pressure of him trying to help me too much. I really just need caring and love. Sometimes I need to withdraw but that's not personal.
Thank you Nathalie,
I appreciate your honest response and perspective.
I'm trying to be patient. The information I am learning in this forum is helping.
Thank you again.
The VA in the states has a PTSD smartphone app that I have found helpful
Wow, I don't think she know that. Thank you for that information. Going to see if I can find it for her. Thanks a bunch.
CDW4 -- education is key. The more you know the more you will understand and be able to help her.
Tips for understanding PTSD:
Our podcasts about how to heal:
And the webinar series on how trauma affects the brain, plus how to reverse the changes:
p.s. On her behalf, thank you for being the kind of man who stands by to help strengthen and support his woman. I had that kind of man during my recovery and it made a huge difference. We're still together today, so relationships can survive PTSD.
Thank you for the information. I will study study study.
I just wanted to say that I think what you're doing is truly, TRULY wonderful!
The other thing I wanted to say is when she has her relative good moments, perhaps very gently approach the subject and ask her what her she feels here needs are when she's spiralling. Having said that, yes, education regarding this horrid problem is the key so that is the very first thing I'd be doing as well.
Best wishes to the both of you.
Got to ask a maybe dumb question. Does she want to be alone or will she let you hold her when she is crying uncontrollably? I have had times when I cried. Yeah men cry too. And when a girlfriend hugged me real tight when I was really bad I would remember the next time that the scary painful fear and crying had that hug connected to that memory. The bad feeling had a good feeling associated with it. There's a thing about pain and suffering and love and compassion. The most toxic poison in the world will be diluted in an ocean. They more she cries, I think the more the bad things that happened come out. Better to come out in tears. Physical therapists know that you have to hurt to get better. And they know that the burn victims that yell the loudest are gonna make it. I have to say that maybe you could look at it as that she is not drinking or drugging or stuffing the pain. It's coming out. It's painful for her. But maybe think that she is painfully healing. And then it might not hurt you as much. I have heard peopl say of babies who cry loud. They don't get mad. They "He's got a good pair of lungs". God bless both of you. P.S. I have had 6 kidney stones. They hurt so bad. And I couldn't do much about it. But I knew when they came out the pain would stop.
Thanks, she has let me hold her when she has cried. Unfortunately we don't live together and I am hours away from her. I get scared the most when she is in crisis and I am on the other end of the phone.
Thank you for your reply.
I'd like to help her and you. Could I ask why you don't live together?
Educate yourself on what PTSD is and what it looks like. This will give you a General outline in order for you to be able to provide support.
PTSD itself is highly personal and requires time and patience. A lot of it.
Being in the supportive position means you will be responsible for providing that extra time, making it when its not there and having your patience pushed beyond your limits.
Allow her time and don't push her. Leave the pushing to the professionals so the war doesn't come between you two.
Remember to take care of yourself as well. Do as you did here, ask for advice if you don't know with discernment.
I know its not much but its a start.
I hope it helps.
A HUGE hug to you both.
Thank you. Patience is what Im having a hard time with. I see her struggle and want to help so badly. I will keep educating myself and praying for patience.
Thank you for your response.
Hi. Brownies to you for trying, and her for standing up for freedom. I can't read all the replies,, so sorry if there's repetition. beside the basics.
1. Never make assumptions, however logical it sounds. We have a habit of trying to protect others, so often won't tell everything. Ask what she would like to try in a panic attack, ie touch or no touch sitting by, lights on, off, talking, especially what to avoid
2. Mine isn't service related. Unfortunately service personnel do encounter situations civilians sufferer faced. Try get to accept it's manageable, if not "curable"
3. Agree what you will both tell strangers when this happens, the truth? Migraine? Anxiety attack? Truth helps you accept it's not your fault. People are often kinder than we expect. However there are obvious practicalities.
4. How best to wake her up from a nightmare? Would playing music help?
5. Never think she is dispensing herself from you - unless she says so.
6. Something no one thought of telling me until years latter: remove all similarities in your environment, ie wall colour, material, specific sounds ie if they make building plans with drilling outside your door, think of staying away, as relevant
7. Try reach a point where you try things together. It is very isolating, you feel that you won't want your loved ones to experience any of it,for some. So try meditation, desensitisation, yoga together.
8. Make the post attack experience a good one together
9. Try using the senses as a calming tool: sent, ie incense, perfume, essential oils, hearing: music, your voice. Touch: trust me, try a cuddly toy, or blanket. The brain makes association, so cuddly toy can equate soothing
10. Learn to recognise the first signs of an attack, and ask her to learn the same. So you can go to ie bathroom if in a restaurant, or start your soothing process
11. I have reserch backing pet therapy if you need. A dog is the best, reserch based. It triggers hormones that counteract anxiety. I can recommend this enough.
12. Find support for yourself. They'll you can't care for someone else if you are incapacitated is oh si true.
13. Understand that she is not the person she was, if relevant. And both of you understand that post or not, we all change with age. It helps to know we don't have to "put on a face". Do things to rediscover one another. People grow appart, including minus ptsd.
14. Aim to reach a point where both of you accept it's a dissability, that she can depose of her guilt at bringing this home to you. Ask what she would do, if the role was reversed.
15. If children are involved, involved them in truth. Children pick up on things and come up with erroneous deductions. Very young ones can learn through play with an art therapist.
16. Consider couple counselling as a means to help her, and you, cope with this. It's a crisis, take it head on if you can.
17. Devellop a plan: is there times that are best to go out? Does and don't, like fireworks, war or themed films, books, etc.
18. Fight for good support, demand the best care, she will need it.
19. Encourage her to join a forum and/or support group, which you don't use. She has to feel free to rant or work out some things, like touch, before she gives you information.
20. Try working if she can. Not doing so is a killer. If she's lucky, she can try flexible work, or volunteering in an organisation that understand her position.
20. Make use of all your resources, including spirituallity/religion, national support groups, etc.
21. Explore self expression, like art, music, poetry, writhing. Both of you. It's a way of saying difficult things, or planned better words, ie bi mostly "letter" to each other: how I felt last week and now, how beeing with you makes me feel, what I want for you, etc communication is more important than ever.
22. Surprise her on and off with trivial, inexpensive things, reassuring her how important she is to you, that she isn't "damaged goods", ie this scaf reminds me your eyes, thank you muffin for an amazing evening, I missed you all day card, you brighten my day 1 flower, you make me feel list.
All the best.
Thank you for your very well thought out and informative reply. I truly appreciate this information and will definitely try some of these things.
I think recognizing first signs will be very helpful if we can stop a crisis before it gets overwhelming.
I am trying to think of things that help me. Another question. Can I ask like approximately how old are you two? Trying to get a clear picture. PM me if you want.
So you have on this earth for a while. You are not kids. Is she too far to visit?