Married to a Veteran: Understanding PTSD

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This article is a guest post from Patience Mason's PTSD Blog. It was republished on PsyWeb.com with permission.

Unfortunately, most of us do not know anything about the symptoms of PTSD, or we think they are defects instead of survival skills. We misunderstand. We take it personally when often these behaviors have nothing to do with us.

I used to think that the things I did depressed Bob instead of understanding that the deaths he saw and the things he endured combined with the lack of care when he got home depressed him. He was called a murderer. When he was training new helicopter pilots and saw the standards lowered because they needed bodies. He had combat fatigue and was grounded when all he had ever wanted to do was to fly. And I thought I was the cause and could control and correct all of his feelings.

It's Not Your Fault

If you are going through a rough time with a veteran, please read the rest of my posts and the free articles at Patience Press. It is not your fault. You didn't cause it, though you may be thinking that, and he or she may too.

You can't control it by being the best little woman, or the best husband, in the world, although she or he may be telling you that if you only did this, that, or the other, he or she would have no problems.

You can't cure them either. The hard and painful work of recovering is something they have to do, even though it is not fair. This will be extremely hard for you because tolerating someone else's pain is very hard.

We want to help. We want to fix, but we can't, and if we try to cheer them up and tell them to put it behind them and forget, we will perpetuate it. If we tell them they are screwed up and to go get help, that can perpetuate it too.

What You Can Do

They need to regain a sense of being in charge of what happens to them, so not following our directions is a healthy choice for them. They don't need directions, but suggestions can be helpful if done with a light touch. That's why I tell people to leave my articles in the bathroom instead of giving them to someone with PTSD. People don't like being told they are screwed up.

Get some support for yourself. One place is Living with PTSD. Another can be Alanon, where you can learn to detach with love.

Just remember: It is not your fault!

 
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