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

Responses: 86


Updated June 25, 2009

Wishing for a miracle

I have been married to a man for 20 years who had PTSD from Vietnam. He went into treatment in 2004 and 2006. He's better on medication but if I could give advice to someone who isn't married and dating someone with PTSD, I'd say run as fast as you can. End the relationship before it's too late. Let someone else try and fix them. You can't do it. It is very lonely being married to these guys. You get no affection, rarely a bit of affection, and they are incapable of empathy, remorse, or attachment. It's a confusing and sad life. Knowing what I know, I'd never date/marry another vet with PTSD.

It always comes back

My husband is a Vietnam vet who was diagnosed in 04 and went into a 45-day PTSD program 2 times. He is a lot better since but it still comes back. He treats me like a room-mate. He likes to go on road trips & just wrecked his van falling asleep at the wheel. He has motorcycles and one day I fear I will get a call that he is mangled or dead. I think that things have gotten better but then the PTSD behavior comes back. He's lowered his meds which I'm sure has a lot to do with it. If I had someplace to go, I'd leave. I feel bad for anyone who hooks up with a person with PTSD. If you're not married, end it now. You can't fix this person & you'll live with a self-serving, unremorseful, unempathetic Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde person who you can't ever really trust. Yes, these people are victims but at least we have a choice. I'm 59. I shd have left yrs ago. If I react negatively - get upset at him, I'm punished in some way. These people show glimmers of positive feelings but it's not enough. I'm so sad.

Great Caregiver of Veterans Resource

There are many great caregiver websites out there. One that really stands out is http://www.veterancaregiver.com. They have an online community of caregivers of veterans, veterans, and organizations that support both. I highly recommend you check them out.
—Guest sarahflower

why cant I just let her go

My wife have been married 31 years. She has been diagnosed with PTSD, raped by cousins ages 5 thru 10. Therapy began a month ago. We are split up due to 4th time of cheating on me. We continue to talk and we love each other still even after all this. In researching PTSD, I have discovered my own demons. Any hope rests on my own therapy and hers. My family has fallen apart. My son will not speak to her. My daughter is coping but near breaking. I both feel I should let her go But i cant right now, she means the world to me. She wants and needs my help, but I am not her protector and haven't been for many years. She still continues this relationship with the last loser. Why can't I just let her go. I need to find out.
—Guest timba

Feel helpless and totally crazy

My boyfriend of only a few months has PTSD. I have come to realize it gets worse when he drinks and after drinking. He becomes a different person, I can't reason with him and he can't see where I'm coming from. He is the most beautiful person inside and it makes me so sad to think this illness could affect his life and relationships. With help and support, will it ever get better?

New To This

How can I help my boyfriend. Tell me what can I do when he comes down off of one of his episodes. He normally go into shut-down mode.
—Guest Brenda

It's making me insane.

I wish I knew how to deal with my husband's PTSD when it comes to the care of our baby. She is just over a year old and still wakes up most nights. Although my husband is very sweet and wonderful father during the day, he turns into a total psycho-zombie at night when she wakes us up. I have a full-time job, while he is a full time student. He has been home all summer taking an online class, but due to his behavior, I can't trust him to care for the baby at night. If he's woken up, he stomps around the house, stares blankly like a zombie, curses, jerks her out of her crib (never hurts her, but always makes her cry worse) and generally acts like a wacko. NOT someone I trust to care for my baby so I can sleep. Then he tells me I should go back to bed and rest! Yeah, right!! What mother in her right mind wants Charles Manson taking care of her baby? When I try to talk to him about it, he just argues with me. I'm exhausted all the time and getting extremely resentful. What should I do??
—Guest Amy

Terrified confused on edge

My partner and father to our two little girls got home from a six month tour from Afghanastan a few months ago and just only over the past few weeks has suffered a break down. He has distanced himself from his family and it's so hard to understand why he doesn't want to be around his love ones. At this time, he bursts out in rage and cries just out of the blue and also says he can't cope feeling "like this" anymore and says he can't cope and doesn't want to live anymore. He rings me up in tears telling me to always make sure I tell them everyday that daddy loved them. I'm so scared and stressed and don't know how too cope with this I just wish he could talk to me properly about and try help me understand more so I can help him. This is horrible. I feel I'm losing him. I don't know what to do. I feel totally useless! I just wish everything could get better and just go away. We both are only 25 and have two little girls age four and two and they're picking up that there's a problem and I never want them to feel the effects from this. They're just babies! I just want this to go away and for things to get back to normal. I've never felt so alone in my life and I can't even begin to imagine what's going on in his head. He speaks to friends a bit about what's happenend but it's like getting blood out a stone trying to get him to open up properly to me. He just keeps saying it's not my problem and I'd never understand and I sometimes feel he's being really selfish then feel terrible at myself for feeling that way towards him. I'm so confused. You can't eat or sleep. I just want him back to himself again.

SO scared and confused

My Husband of seven years has suffered from PTSD from the day we met. He did a lot of things and saw terrible things while serving in our armed forces. I never have seen him for who he thinks he is, only for who I know he is. The roller coaster ride has been getting faster but not lasting as long. This I believe is because he is finally getting help and he is healing. it is so hard for me to make him see how much I love him. He regularly believes I have had an affair. I never would do that. This man is my hero, my lover my best friend and my soul mate! There are no local support groups in the area for the PTSD caregiver. People just don't get it.....He is on meds and sees the doc every two weeks. We recently went through me being scared he was gonna kill himself( thank god he did not), to his lack of eating and cutting himself. Now the accusation of infidelity. Help?! If there is anyone out there who is or has experienced this please, lets talk. Feeling heartache. I love him so much
—Guest socalgal

Guest RuthO

I too am dealing with a man with PTSD. We have been married 7 years. I knew nothing about PTSD, but am learning plenty. What is just so hard is the lack of any, and I mean any affection whatsoever. It was there when we were dating, but when the vows were said, man it was over. I fight feeling used. I fight being neglected. If I speak with him about it, it only makes it worse. It seems he does all he possibly can to make sure he does not appeal to me; makes sure I am upset enough to not want any affection. I just don't get it. He will let me hug or kiss him...but he has yet to ever do it to me, just because. It is so hard to believe they love you when there is no communication or affection. He is just so absorbed in the tv...has to have it on even when he is not watching it...Anyone got any answers here? He is 75, I am 66. Life is so short to waste it like this. I keep myself busy, but would like to feel like I am wanted and not just a maid, who takes care of the house.
—Guest GuestRuth

PTSD is not fun

But it helps when you know you have it and can work on doing something about it! Mine became apparent after a brutal assault that result in a traumatic brain injury. So kind of got a double whammy with that one (oh happened on the day I found out my Mom had terminal cancer!). No one at the hospital or my first couple therapist really mentioned it. I didnt know why I couldnt sleep at night, started drinking ALL the time, lacked focus and no initimate relationships. SO what I did was find a therapist who did know PTSD and made a career change, in Nursing school and focusing on others care has made a huge difference. I still have residual effects and can be a bit paranoid, but when I recogonize I have learned to talk myself down.
—Guest Jet City Jim

It is not always husbands

My wife has PTSD and all the above applies with only a change in gender description. Her Ex threatened her life several times, stalked her both in and out of the marriage, etc, etc. Real piece of work... It is very hard to be accused of infidelity when you go to/from the grocery store, have lunch w/ a business associate, take the dog for a walk - not kidding. Affection.... Yea right, if I don't touch her, I mean hug, kiss, stroke her hair, we would not touch at all. Sex? I have a vague memory of something called sex, can't quite remember what it was it has been so long. I think that I am coming to the breaking point -- she won't take her responsibility for getting/staying in treatment. She wants to control it (i.e. nice "clean" procedure like taking out a mole - not the messy "see what presents today" and deal w/it moment by moment). She gets frustrated that she is wasting time, etc. There is NO alternative that I am aware of. Time, messy cognitive therapy, and work.
—Guest Not-that-guy

What helps us...

My boyfriend has PTSD. He acknowledges he has it, and on the good moments, I let him know that its easier for me to be understanding if he reassures me that he is making an effort to change. I tell him that its not something he can help and that it feels like he has a shell of anger with this great person on the inside. The anger is superficial and as long as you keep that in mind it helps. My family doesn't understand him like I do, and their ignorance to the condition causes resentment towards him. That is also something I'm dealing with. Hoping for the best!!
—Guest brittany

Losing my mind

My husband recently was diagnosed with PTSD and if I have the slightest reaction to his erratic, scary behavior (which he can't help), he tells me I am treating him like his parents did: isolating him, blaming him, etc. I love him and have been with him 22 years. He has been hospitalized 5 times during that time, lost 3 jobs, has no friends, is a shut in and haunts me whenever I go out about where and how long I will be gone. Can anyone help me? I love him and need to help him but am exhausted.
—Guest lydia yehling

Been Married Almost a Year

I'm currently married to a wonderful man who just happens to suffer from PTSD, I'm very understanding of his disorder. Some of his symptoms would be always having to be armed -- he always thinks people are out to hurt him or harm him. He doesn't sleep well at night and he has nightmares. My husband developed his PTSD from his tour in Iraq 5-6 years ago. Luckily he educated him self about the VA benefits he has a right to -- it took him a while but he's now fully compensated by the VA for his disability. I feel I live with him just fine. I try to listen to what hr has to say. I tell him he's safe here with me. I can't see myself getting annoyed with his disorder because I've educated myself too much, perhaps, on the subject and I understand why he is the way he is.

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