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Readers Respond: How Do You Cope with a Family Member's PTSD?

Responses: 110


Updated June 25, 2009

faith..struggle & unserstanding

I met my husband in the military and we deployed together. Years later we had 2 beautiful children and have separated twice within the last couple of years. I work full time and he stays home with the kids, at first because it was cheaper than paying for daycare, but now the situation isnt working. I'm work full time and still am a full time mom and home-maker. It's a struggle recognizing his symptoms and know how he feels ( because I feel the same way) seeing that he is sinking deeper and deeper into himself... he has his full GI Bill (wont use it) he has had employment opportunities (wont work). He has no goals or drive for a better life. I love him soo much and have expressed my worries, anger and frustrations with him. He never knows what to say, he says he doesnt know how to care anymore. He is frustrated with himself knowing how he has been, knowing what he has put me through and still can't pick himself up. I have to know God will take care of him and he WILL get better.
—Guest vet with a vet hubby

Wilderness camps and teen escorts

I was sent to a wilderness rehab/behavior modification program at the age of 17. I was never told I was going to be going and my parents arranged for me to be surprise transported from my house by a troubled teen escort service. I lost my trust and sense of security in the world since that day. In the program I lived with other "students" who had been abused, suicidal, & angry. That staff showed a minimum level of care and compassion. I lost my mind and have 10-60+ triggers a day. Its like my mind is a two lane road. One lane is small and available to process my daily life as it is in reality. The other lane is constantly clogged by triggers & flashback. It's like I live in a dual reality. I wish both lanes were available for life as I knew it. I miss my friends, have lost almost all connection to the And my family. I also developed depression and anxiety that varies throughout the day. Nightmares have been regular for 3 years. I am now 21. I miss feeling loved and cared for. PTSD sucks
—Guest Wilderchild

The PTSD spouse

My husband is in law enforcement and was dx'd with PTSD after working the suicide of a fellow officers 20 year old son. This was after I had to leave my job, home, marriage and everything I knew because he walked out after 22 years with nothing but "you are a very negative person" as explanation. I lost it and couldn't go to work and started having severe anxiety. I moved 2000 miles away to stay with a friend. I had no one else. He is in therapy and wants to get better, I feel like my life is in limbo. My insurance doesn't work well here so I can't even get the help that I need. More and more I am feeling that this is never going to get better. I have days where I think ending the marriage would be best, but the thought of a life without him in it isn't what I want. I'm trying to give him the space he needs to progress with his treatment and still keep myself together. It's not working so well right now. I feel like no one understands what I'm dealing with or even cares.
—Guest Scared


I am a 46 year old burn survivor. I am disabled from the fire. I have PTSD (from the fire and a lifetime of severe abuse) and I am in therapy which is very helpful. Because i am disabled and live alone i have to hire caregivers. The problem I am having is with my current caregiver. She survived the Bosnian War. She has PTSD. She can be very explosive, paranoid, and I never know when she is going to flip out. She has a fit storms off and has left me there to cope with my own reaction to her flip out. She is an awesome person, she would never physically harm me. The majority of the time things are great but when she flips out I can't resolve things with her because she claims that she is a rock and she doesn't have feelings. She on't get help and won't even acknowledge that she has a problem. She is also my best friend and I can't imagine my life with out her. How do you have a rational conversation with a triggered person who is having a trauma reaction when you have PTSD?

My loved Army man

My husband and I where married for one year when he left for Iraq when he came home it was a new man. He explodes easy he had hit me called me names and accused me of many things I havent done. We have two small children. Last week was our breakdown moment my son had been in alot of trouble at school I had a fever and was very sick in the bed when he walked he the door screamning he choked me and my children told him they hated him and wanted him to leave. We went the next day to a VA and he got a little help I know its going to be along road. I just dont know what to do. I hope we can stay together he is my soul mate but Not sure what is going to happen.
—Guest JAcarter

Complex PTSD

I've lived with Complex PTSD for 40 years. I also have been diagnosed with ADHD, Severe Depression and Psychosis. It has been a very long and lonely process and if it wasn't for God I would've ended it a long time ago. All I can say is focus on God, pray to him, ask him for forgiveness if need be. People who haven't suffered any trauma will not understand but that doesn't mean that they should not show compassion. Don't expect any. As a former certified rape crisis counselor, I was appalled at how rape victims were treated. I guess this is why I carry so much anger and have spent most of my life alone. Let me tell you illegal drugs, alcohol and even most prescription drugs do not work other than to turn you into a zombie. Eat healthy, exercise, journal, volunteer, get a punching bag, listen to music, get a pet, go hiking and enjoy nature because its the most beautiful and calming aspect of God's beauty. Remember Satan knows your weaknesses and will exploit them. God Bless Everyone!
—Guest Steve


For me therapy has been a saving grace/ finding the right therapist who allows you to express yourself in various methods -- like journaling was essential. Have you already tried individual therapy at least twice a week? And then perhaps the partner be in therapy of their own? Then perhaps bring the two together-- It has also been helpful for me, to keep a daily schedule of hiking (same time sometimes twice a day) and listening to music with quality headphones. I have been doing this for almost 3 years everyday. I hope you all keep trying to find the answers and what works best - I feel being very creative in what might work is the best and then a combination of things and don't be afraid how silly those creative ideas might be.
—Guest Claire

Paramedics with PTSD

After 10 wonderful years of marriage and two wonderful children -- Within a week, I lost a husband, my best friend, and a lover. I hung in there for another 12 years - nothing changed for the better. We were living separate lives in the same house. I was living with a husband I didn't know anymore. I couldn't live like that any longer - divorced. I refuse to even talk to my ex - no one has the right to put their partner through such pain. PTSD or not. No one has the right to check out on their wife or their wonderful children, and treat them like they don't exist in the same house .
—Guest Sue



Advice about my ptsd?

Have had ptsd for over 2 years now, I feel that I don't have any support from family as I have no relationship with parents as they are abusive and I haven't recieved much support from sisters or friends. partly it is that I have become unable to feel any emotional connection to them, also I find it very hard to trust anyone enough to communicate with them as when I try to do it often triggers my trauma.I feel I am alone and I'm not sure where to go can't afford more therapy at the moment. I need advice on how to trust ppl when I feel that trusting them may put me in more danger. eg, the trauma I suffered was a person threatening me with violence, "if" I pissed him off again at any point, this means that I find it very hard to move on and feel like this trauma is in the past because my fear has always been for the future. Also I feel that if he hears of me telling people about what he did, this will piss him off putting me in danger. I cant contact police 4 same reason. help?
—Guest JasF

My Husband suffers from PTSD

I have been married about 11 months. My husband just got out of the Marine Corps and is now using his GI Bill to go back to school. Our short marriage has been extremely tumultuous. When I reached out to his command he ended up being put on restriction, and an MPO was put in place. When I reached out to his family I heard he "never had these problems before me." He is medicated, has been to counseling, we have been to marriage counseling. Nothing helps. The only thing that helps is if I shut my mouth and don't have a voice. He abuses alcohol especially with the medication he is on. He went to AA for a little while, I went to Al Anon. It always turns into "he doesn't have a problem, I made this a problem." In the past year he has broken my windshield and a toilet being drunk. He tells me repeatedly that I am not supportive and do not understand what he has been through. Every single time we argue it resorts to "I fought for your freedom." And I am not allowed to respond?


I am a physically disabled vet who done a tour as a gunner in Iraq. This is so scary to me to read what every else has written and I set hear in disgust about the way I am. PTSD is not nor has ever been a choice of anybody and I can see how scary it is on the other side of the fence. Please remember we mean no harm bad things happen to those who gave all in the line of duty be a cop or military or one of the abused. Pain is all we get to feel even when we don't want it. Even worse the fear felt daily, hell I would rather be back in Iraq if I knew nobody else would be hurt by my mouth. Please remember that we actually did give all when we shipped out and part of us was unable to fit on the plane no matter how hard we tried. One thing I will let people in on I remember we was heading out on a mission just before we left the wire to my right we observed a little girl ( the same age as my 3 daughters) being stoned with rocks the size of my own hand. Our memories are not our own!!!!!!!!!!
—Guest no name

no solution

I can't deal with this any more. I am constantly the brunt of my husbands anger due to a deployment to Afghanistan. Nothing is ever good enough and he constantly thinks I am lying to him when I can't answer a question immediately. I understand whe he was there it was life and death, but this is my life, and my children's life. Don't we deserve better. I have put my own needs on hold for so many years that I have honestly lost myself and don't which way to go anymore. I am at such a loss because I know he is in there somewhere but I am so tired of being sad and afraid of the next outburst. I have ulcers and my health is fading due to the constant state of worry that I am in. He doesn't understand that i am not the one he is angry at, I am moving forward with my life for the betterment of me and my children. I truly hope he realizes what he is up against and reaches out for help. I wish the Army would take more time and effort to follow up with their soldiers so families wouldn't be lost
—Guest wife of first sgt


My partner of 3 years suffers from PTSD from serving in army for many years. I love him dearly but feel hopeless at times. He goes to combat stress for treatment which is helping a great deal. At times I feel I have to walk on eggshells because he will blow for no reason like he did 2 nights ago. He said some hurtful things to me. I hate seeing him like this and I know he hates being like this but I know things will get better. I just wish I had a group to go to even if its just for a chat or blow off steam because I can't do that to my partner. I have to bottle it up which is hard. I'm going through his illness with him everyday and would just love to chat to someone in the same shoes. I sometimes have trust issues with him and don't know why because he does nothing wrong feels like I'm going mad at times.
—Guest suzanne


My ex-girlfriend suffers from P.T.S.D. Any little disagreement would send her running, or she will fight tooth and nail & can't face the fact that these issues are hers. She is 40, educated, a very smart Girl & I love her dearly. I'm not sure what to do as she will no longer speak with me. Some folks have pointed out that they feel she may be narcissistic also (N.P.D.). I'm at a loss as to how to help?
—Guest Ken

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