When I see distress rising in his face, I can reach for his hand, but I remind myself not to feel offended if he stays silent. That first time we heard fireworks while inside a souvenir shop, our carefree time quickly turned anxious. Once we were outside and able to see the source of the noise, we could enjoy the display together.
With Wayne, no amount of comforting conversation was going to replace the comforting sight of a harmless fireworks display. But everyone with PTSD is different. In these times, physical touch from her partner can be comforting: While this means communicating with each other, it can often include talking to someone else as well. On more than one occasion, Wayne and I went to counseling.
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But both of us showing a willingness to try spoke volumes about our commitment to each other. My perspective on PTSD and other mental health conditions has changed significantly as a result of our relationship. There are huge challenges, but there are also threads that come together to create a silver lining.
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Regardless of what he says, I think others find him reassuring. I know I do. In fact, when I was writing this piece, he sent me a list of resources he wanted me to be sure to include and posted on social media a reminder to anyone reading that he was available should they need to talk. To be honest, this is a lifelong struggle for me, even still. In truth, PTSD is less about the nature of the trauma than it is about the size of its impact. Yes, the DSM-5 does give specific criteria when it comes to the trauma itself, but the definition is much broader than most of us imagine.
People with PTSD are of all genders, ages, races, professions, and relationship statuses. Talk to your health provider or a counselor about support groups in your area. If possible, go together. Frustrations at being unable to do this will likely only get in the way. Instead, come alongside them and learn how you can best support them. There are resources available. There are specific hotlines or anonymous chats for veterans , people who have experienced sexual assault or rape, those who were subjected to child abuse, witnesses to violent crimes, and more.
The Top 5 Realities of Dating Someone With a Mental Illness
Jessica is a San Francisco-based writer, editor, and rare-disease patient advocate. PTSD can affect anyone who has undergone a traumatic event. Read more on how to cope with it. Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing EMDR therapy is an interactive psychotherapy technique used to relieve psychological stress.
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Dating Someone with Complex PTSD: Healing and Growing With Your Partner
PTSD patients may suffer from nightmares, headache, dry mouth, muscle aches, repetitive motions, blurred vision, nervous tics, emotional withdrawal or even have difficulty in telling what is true and what is imaginary. On a date, your partner may become nervous, get irritated easily or look really anxious. People who have PTSD are commonly victims of rape, or survivors from a war or many other traumatic events. In general, they are not willing to talk about their experiences because they fear that they might experience the pain associated to those bad memories again.
Bear in mind that part of the healing process is to let your partner talk about the traumatic event. The more your partner talks about that traumatic past, the faster he or she will heal from it.
The Top 5 Realities of Dating Someone with a Mental Illness
People with PTSD may sometimes become jaded and think of the world as an unsafe and cruel place. If you are dating someone with PTSD, it is important to reassure your partner that nothing is going to hurt him or her and you will always be there to offer full protection. In this case, details can go a long way. You can establish a regular routine like time for meals, minimize stress at home by giving your partner enough private time and space, make great plans for future together, and always keep your promises no matter it is about which movie to watch or about when to have vocation.
Taking care of your partner who is suffering from PTSD is very important, but at the same time never neglect your own needs. You need to take good care of yourself in order to take good care of other people. You should get enough quality sleep, eat well, exercise regularly, hang out with friends, develop your own hobbies, and know your limits and let friends, family, support groups or professionals to help when necessary.
It will only make your partner feel useless if you always make decisions for him or her, especially on little things. Help your partner get back on track by letting him or her decide on certain things. For example, ask your partner if he or she wants to wear the white coat or blue one. But do not overwhelm him or her with big decisions like asking your partner which house to buy or whether or not you should quit your job. PTSD sufferers usually use anger as an emotion to cover up for their guilt or even fear.
When dating someone with PTSD, you should look out for signs indicating your partner is angry, like talking loudly, clenching jaw or trembling fist or body, try your best to remain calm and rational, ask him or her what you can do to help and call if necessary. People suffering from PTSD tend to indulge in self-destructive behaviors, like stuck in depression, addicted to alcohol or drugs, or even trying to commit suicide.
On the initial phase, you should talk to your partner, express your concerns about his or her state, and support your partner to get over those behaviors.