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

Responses: 110


Updated June 25, 2009

I don't know what to do anymore.?!?

When I was in high school I dated a guy. We got to talk during the time he was gone for the marines, I knew pretty much basic things especially since he was in Iraq. During the time he was gone I had a daughter by someone else. Two months after he came back we reunited and made our relationship official and he is the most amazing guy. He treats my baby as his and my baby adores him. But his PTSD has always been there especially in the beginning when he was barely able to sleep cause somehow he always had nightmares. Then he started getting physical with me and its been about 5 times in the 7 months we been together that he has raised his hand and the last one was in front of my baby. I don't want to be selfish and walk away but I don't know if it would ever change, he is getting help and drinks his meds but he drinks alcohol pretty often. I don't know what to do anymore, my family think hes crazy and don't understand now the don't even talk to me for being with him. Please I need some advice .
—Guest guest071007

Is Love Enough?

I've been with my partner for almost 3 years. We have a 12mth old. My partner has complex PTSD steming from childhood abuse. He is an extreme case. I've read a few of these stories and I can totally relate. My partner believe's that his PTSD does not affect his present (ok then) and I'm the one with all the problems. I'm the one who's "crazy" or "difficult" or "impossible". I find there is a cycle to it. Every 6 weeks or so an "episode" arrises. Any family event will trigger an "episode" also. I too walk on eggshells. I to get called names. I to never know when the "demons" will pay a visit. Loving him, understanding the illness, being his support system is hard to do. Giving without receiving doesn't work. We ALL need love and understanding. We all need a safe place to land. We all need to be comforted. I can love him all I want, but do I do so at the expense of my own mental health? I need to learn how to dialogue with my partner, to diffuse him. HELP.
—Guest GuestLiz

Getting some insight

I have been in a long distance relationship with a man who has been diagnosed 6 years ago with PTSD. He was a State trooper and although he is not in that position any longer he works as a supervisor in a responsible related industry. Everything seemed fine for the first month of our contact. He had planned to fly down to meet me after his last work stint, and called me after getting home...or at least I thought. He was drinking and talking about seeking out danger, was in a bar in a bad part of town. I stayed on the phone until he got back to the hotel....but he disappeared after that and has only texted me a few times in the last few weeks. I feel he is doing the isolating thing, and that the idea of coming to meet me triggered this response. He kept saying he was not worthy and trying to make me leave of my own accord. He texts me that he misses me but will not call or email me. As I see there are many good people here who suffer with loved ones with like symptoms.


My huband can be sweet and wonderful and a split second later so mean. He will call me names and say things that are just so cruel. I almost can't beleive it but I am living it. I don't know what to do anymore...everything is always my fault.

Living Hell

Last year he went in the hospital to have a cancer removed. He was supposed to be in and out. The heavy pain meds zonked him, and it was so bad they tied him to the bed for 20 days. It brought back his PTSD. He's never been the same since. He does not think he has it -- I am just a nag and a bitch. He won't get out of bed and expects me to sit there too. I can't. I have to run the house. He is mean and cruel to me. He needs help badly. I can't mention it or he goes ballistic. I am at the end of my rope. He's been sick for almost 2 years. We don't have a car because he has had an accident with no license or insurance. His answer to everything is it's not his fault. It's mine. I am 58 years old. He is 68. I never thought I'd become a nurse maid to a monster. Any comments would be greatly appreciated.
—Guest sara

PTSD Spouse

My husband also has PTSD from being in law enforcement. We have been married for 14 years. I can really relate to Guest Wendy. I have done literally everything I know how to try and help him, counseling, never going out with friends, being there night and day, trying to lose a few pounds to look better. I work a very high stress job and we have two children together it is very difficult dealing with the negativity and mood swings. I worry I am setting a bad example for my children by tolerating the bad behavior even if he can't help it. He wants to change but I don't know if he ever will. We have been going through the same hell for the past several years and it is a constant roller-coaster ride. I think he is doing better, but that is only because he hides how he really feels sometimes. He can barely sleep most of the time and seems to have lost a lot of his friends. I keep praying and trying to stay the course. God Bless those of you who have been doing this for so long.
—Guest Guest4

iraq veteran

I just want to say that I have been with my boyfriend for 7 years. We got together when he came back from Iraq, he was an army medic. We have 3 children together and he is a wonderful man. But the PTSD caused a lot of problems in our relationship. The first 3 years were so hard and I didn't even know he had PTSD then. He was just diagnosed about 2 years ago. I just thought he was crazy and I myself was going crazy too, trying to deal with his moods. It is very hard to deal with and live with someone that has PTSD. I have thought about giving up many times, but I dont. I have learned to sense his moods and try my best to diffuse any situation that I know will cause him anxiety or stress...anger. Anger isn't so much of a problem now as it was the first few years. I love him with all my heart and will never give up on him. It is a hard road to go but hopefully they will find a cure one day.
—Guest depressed

it does always come back

I have been married for 4 years with a man who was in law enforcement for the majority of his life. He has been diagnosed with chronic PTSD, ( which means, it will never go away) and is actually now disabled and retired due to it. There is not much said on law enforecement and ptds associated with it. It is " their job" and that is it. It is never addressed when there is an " altercation." My husband worked in a prison, which is law enforcement, and never recieved any type of counseling, a little "debriefing", and then sent back to their job. Now I am trying to live with this person, who is as I read someone else say, jekyl and hyde. I never know when I will be called every name in the book, ( not good), or accused of having affairs, or threaten divorce. Then the next day it is like nothing happened, and he wonders why I am "stand offish". It is so hard to switch on and off. I know it is PTSD, but should I excuse it? Should I let it go and compromise my emotional well being. I am so sad.

PSTD with a traumatized life

Hello, I'm a female and I've have been living with PTSD most of my life. I'm 42, married for 18 years, and 3 beautiful teenager's. It's hard but we need the other person to listen, to hear their voice, to hold them. I know, but I have NEVER been involved in any kind of war. Just one trauma after another. Trust me, It's not fun! I have days where I'm happy, and like today I'm down and my world just gotten sucked up by this huge financial monster. My husband, and kids are very supportive and without them, I'd be back to drinking and not caring about nobody, or back in the hospital getting more treatment. (which i cannot afford) So, i mostly stay in my bedroom and sleep, take my meds at night so I'm able to sleep. or if i don't take my meds I'm up for days and pacing the floors, with panic attacks that last for hours on end. It's a hard life, but the more support you have, the better!
—Guest misunderstood

Married to my husband and PTSD

Combat stress, PTS, PTSD, it all runs together. My husband (active duty), I and the military have been married for 21 years. We have 2 teenagers. Through all the deployments, I have never experienced the effects of combat stress as I am now encountering. After a year deployment to remote locations in Afghanistan we now live with the symptoms of PTSD on a daily basis. Mood swings, anxiety attacks, nightmares, isolation from loved ones, feelings of quilt, lack of motivation outside work, self centered, little patience, etc...to add he also sustained injuries from an IED explosion, a traumatic brain injury (TBI)and other injuries. It's stressful in trying to figure out how to cope, to keeping our family balanced. This deployment changed him. Taking care of myself has been the best thing I could do for myself and our family. Use every resource available, understanding=coping. I love my husband with all my heart and I won't give up on him, our love, or our family. You're not alone.
—Guest sam


My boyfriend just got back from serving 1 yr in Iraq. We both knew he had PTSD, and TBI thanks to an IED explosion, so we both promised to communicate to get past it. When he's normal, he's SO WONDERFUL. After 2 months, he's taken to guilting me into being there for him all the time. If I'm there, he's fine and wants me to hold him all the time, but if I have to leave for class/work/family, he has a melt down, and melts down every day until I come back. He'll call me at 4 in the morning asking me to come be with him (I live an hour away). When I try to explain this, he says we'll just sleep in, but I don't know how to tell him I can't sleep cuz he doesn't sleep. He says mean things like, "Be sure to think about how much pain I'm in while you sleep." I feel drained because he won't open up to anyone but me and requires me to make him feel better. I'm his drug I guess. It's gonna be a month until the VA gets back to him with benefits so he can start counseling. What until then?
—Guest KK

Who knows what's around the corner

My husband was diagnosed with PTSD in 1998. His trauma was in 1991. He is ex-forces. We still live with the effects daily and just recently, things have hit an all-time low. At one point, I gave him no alternative but to seek medical help. He went to a counselor who helped him, but then part of his treatment had to stop because of other issues and I feel the barriers that had been broken down, were just built back up again. Just when I thought things couldn't get any worse, our daughter decides she wants to leave the family home because she can't cope with my husbands mood swings. We've talked to her more about his illness, and I think she understands better, however, this has made him decide once and for all to seek more medical advice. We are currently waiting for counseling. I'm just praying that, with medical help, we may be able to move forward. I just want to keep my beautiful family together.
—Guest guest

I feel selfish

I just recently broke up with my boyfriend who has PTSD. He found out he has it only after we separated and apparently has been seeking regular counseling. He kept wanting us to get back together; and said he's getting better - I love him so much it breaks my heart to say I can't go back. I feel I should be there for him in sickness and health but my head questions myself so frequently "Are you sure you're up for this? How long do you think you can keep it up for before you finally break?" I wrote down how I have felt during the few months we were together - in short, depressed and worried all the time if I was going to make him snapped and walk away from us this time. He is the most amazing person when in control... I want to have the faith that he will get better soon. But the question again, how soon... 5, 10 years? Can I survive that long? I feel very selfish to care for my own happiness and choose to walk away. I just want him to get better.
—Guest Selfish

Boyfriend with PTSD

He explained his condition and said it was mild. I did not know anything about PTSD. He became very jealous and paranoid. He also, before I met, him got a girl pregnant and they broke up. He said that he did'nt know if the child was his. He completely shut her out of his life. I couldn't understand that..later did I figure out this was part of the PTSD. He had trouble holding jobs and always had a problem with co-workers. He then started to turn his rage toward me. No matter what I said or did was wrong and annoying. He then started punching walls and trees ect...when he got angry. Then eventually he started choking me, squeezing my arms, and kicking me. I was so shocked and hurt. I couldn't believe this perfect guy was like this. At one point I was driving on the highway and he reached over in one of his rages and choked me.
—Guest jen

A person with PTSD

I was diagnosed two years ago with PTSD. I am not a member of the military but was exposed to four traumatic experiences over a three year period, all of which threatened my well being. I would just like to state that I understand "running for the hills" so to speak however I don't have ANY rage issues and am still caring towards those I love. I do occasionally "shut down" which is basically the "freeze" portion of fight, flight or freeze. I'm not combative, just need a bit of space to myself to recover. For 50 years I was always a positive, upbeat person that smiled her way through the day. I've lost that - and miss it. I am able to retrieve it when I spend time with those I love and who love me. Running away isn't always the best solution at the first mention of PTSD. Regarding the lack of affection some of you experience, perhaps it is due to medication side effects.

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