Sunday, October 2, 2011

Triggers and Landmines

Living with someone who has PTSD is kinda like living in a field of landmines. Most of the time, life goes on, like normal. That's when you're walking around the outer perimeters of the landmines. You know they are there, but everything's going okay. Then something happens, you trip into the mines and there's an explosion. That's when he has an "episode". 
My husband's episodes usually consist of him getting angry (or feeling rage) over something. Sometimes, it consists of what I call "shut-down mode".  He pretty much shuts down and just goes through the motions of whatever he's doing. There's no talking, no emotions. No interaction what so ever.
And from my side, I never really know what it is that triggers them. So, that of course puts me into cautious mode. I don't want to make it worse or trigger something again. So, I walk on tip-toes avoiding the landmines. Which I think is a trigger all in itself.  The fact that I'm tip-toeing around. But what else do I do?
I don't know how to react to this.
Especially when it happens in public, I just want to cry. I don't know what to do. I don't know what's going to happen. So, I just hurry and do what we are out for and go so we can get back home. At least at home, we can go separate ways until everything has de-escalated and gone back to normal.  Is this how life is going to be now? How do we deal with this? 
How do I be supportive without being too motherly or overbearing?
And how do I show my emotions without them triggering an episode? Should I pretend I have none as well?

How do we learn to live with this?


  1. I've learned the "look". Then I ask him if he's ready to go. 9 times out of 10 he will say yes. We get home and he does his thing and I do mine. I learned not to take it personal. I can't tell you how many times I did take it personal that he didn't want to talk to me. The more I pushed, the worse it became.

    We decided or I should say I decided a long time ago to think about things when we went places that were crowed, loud and absolutely no fireworks. Over time, Juan learned to trust me when he's in the "zone". We had a long discussion about if I ask him, he's honest with me and on my part, I had to learnd NOT to hover or ask again, once he answered me.

    Just this past R & R, we went to a busy restuarant and it was his first day back. I went in ahead of everyone and asked for a table with a wall to his back without him standing there. It was apparent to everyone in our family because the hostess showed me the table before we were seated. Did it embarrass him? Maybe a bit, but he also acknowledged that I was thinking ahead and trying to keep the family time rolling along without making it apparent.

    All I can tell you is to talk to him after the episode. Discuss if your reaction was ok with him and let him stew about his own reaction. I really did learn to avoid situations for a long time until I would ask him if he thought he could do it.

    I know how you feel so don't ever feel alone. One of the worse things that happened to me was when I approached DMM the first time, I had everyone telling me their DH,FH, and BFs were fine and it was just my DH was messed up. It took me a long time to realize we were not the only people living with PTSD and the anger.

    Hang in there.

  2. thanks Tricia. I'm hanging. But it does feel very alone most of the time. :(

  3. I know it does. When we arrived at Knox and got around people that were taking pills to get up, go to sleep, anxiety, etc. it reinforced to Juan that he didn't want to go the pill way.

    My eye opener was when a friend admitted her hubby knocked a hole in the wall which solidified my feelings about Juan drop kicking a drawer across the room when he couldn't find something he was looking for. That was the first time I realized I wasn't alone as a wive surviving PTSD.

    Just know you are not alone. Hugs

  4. Working through anger and PTSD in counseling can be very helpful and is recommended in most cases. Is that an option for you guys? Some guys are embarrassed but it can be really helpful.

    Hugs to you both.

  5. yes, we're in counseling. He's been getting help since he came back from his last deployment.