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sanari's avatar

How do you deal with a spouse who is suffering from PTSD?

Asked by sanari (485 points ) June 24th, 2009

I only want tips from people who have first hand experience, please? He’s a Marine and he spent time in Iraq and Afghanistan.

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12 Answers

lillycoyote's avatar

I’ve forwarded your question to someone I hope can help you. He hasn’t been on fluther in a while so I don’t know when he will get back to you, hopefully he will but I didn’t want you to think that no one cared. Check back.

sanari's avatar

Many thanks~

YARNLADY's avatar

I suggest you also try the support groups listed here

My sister has it, because of being attacked and stabbed. She lives in a group house with other women, and takes medication.

Darwin's avatar

I have only had friends with PTSD, but I live with a child who is bipolar and there are some similarities. One big one is that you need to take care of yourself or you can’t help him. Make sure you eat right, exercise, get enough sleep, and can be away from him sometimes during the week.

He may also need medication and therapy. You can help him by helping him remember to take his meds and keep his appointments. You might even want therapy or a support group for yourself.

This site has a list of things to keep in mind, and this site is a first person account of what it is like to suffer from PTSD and what the writer found was helpful to him.

Also, if he talks about ending things call the VA Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1–800-273–8255. Take him seriously.

Here is a link to the military PTSD Manual for Vets.

sanari's avatar

Thanks so much everyone. * tears in eyes *

basp's avatar

I have nothing to offer as far as experience or knowledge with PTSD, I just wanted to say I hope the best for both of you.

RedPowerLady's avatar

PTSD can be a scary monster. Therapy can be very important.

It can also be very important to just put it out there and say that it is okay, this behavior is normal and adaptive. It was developed because at some point it was helpful. I know in my community understanding where the PTSD is coming from and being able to say it back to someone else is personally validating and thus helpful.

Also just getting those fear experiences and anger out so that one doesn’t have to hold onto them.

Another suggestion is to use the body to help yourself out. It takes practice but these things could become second nature and thus helpful. Cycling and Swimming are great for anger which often comes with PTSD (boxing etc.. is not actually helpful). Rubbing ones feet on the ground gently as to give yourself a foot massage is very helpful for bringing oneself back to the present or keeping oneself in the present which is often a difficulty for those with PTSD.

It is also very important to allow yourself to be angry with having to deal with this. But not angry at the person because that could make things worse. You can also grieve the loss of your husband before he experienced such pain. Realize that you aren’t causing this and this isn’t about you because sometimes it can feel that way.

Knowing as much as you can about PTSD and it’s triggers is important as well.

Having said all that I really do believe that therapy for the PTSD sufferer (and possibly for the family) is necessary. And a support group for you would be very helpful so you can get real-life help from people who are going through the same thing as you. Sometimes it’s not help but validation.

I do not have a husband with wartime PTSD but many people in my community do suffer from PTSD and I have some counseling education and experience.

Supacase's avatar

@sanari I am so sorry. :( My first husband has PTSD from a traumatic childhood event and he later joined the Army which I think made things worse. I feel like I really need to think things through before I give any advice because it is such a difficult situation, but I wanted you to know that I am thinking about you and will be back tomorrow to comment.

gooch's avatar

Communication is important. He needs plenty of exercise and peer counciling. Time alone is not the answer many of my guys often alienate themseves so we notice that and work our way in he needs you more than ever. Try exercising together you will begin to talk about stuff. I am a firefighter and that is how we are taught to cope. Do a little google on CISD-Critical Incident Stress Debrifing/Disorder

marinelife's avatar

My compassion to you both for having to walk this difficult road, which has no quick or easy answers.

My brother-in-law was a medic in Vietnam. I remember my husband and I going to a County Fair with my sister and her husband. Fireworks went off and my brother-in-law hit the deck, which in this case was the dusty ground in the middle of the fair. It was shortly after we met him, and I think it was really hard for him to have that happen in a public place. Another time, we were on a picnic and he got one of the recurring bouts of malaria he is subject to.

There is a lot of good advice above that I would like to echo or add to:

1. PTSD can get better. Hold onto that thought.

2. It won’t get better quickly so brace yourselves for the long haul.

3. Remember that it is not your fault.

4. Remember that it is not his fault.

5. PTSD will not just go away or get better by itself, nor can someone work through it on their own. That is how marriages break up and addictions are born. Make sure your husband agrees to get help and to stick with it.

6. You get help too. You need advice and support and people to talk to other than your husband.

7. Do not feel bad if he cannot talk to you about his experiences. This is one of those things that have to be talked through with people who have that shared experience.

Please, both of you, take care. I am sorry that his service to our country has cost him and you this price.

sanari's avatar

Thank you Marina. I have been building a support network just like you mentioned. I have two valuable gems in that fold – women whose husbands had PTSD 20+ years ago. One of the husbands explained this to me:

7. Do not feel bad if he cannot talk to you about his experiences. This is one of those things that have to be talked through with people who have that shared experience.

So I felt less crappy. I have a ton of patience, so now I just have to talk with him and see if he is willing to take this long hard journey with me.

Thanks again.

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