Loving someone with PTSD can be rather challenging. Take it from someone who knows. I have dealt with PTSD myself off and on. It is hard enough for us, imagine what it may feel like for someone who does not have it.
You may feel like you are walking on eggshells around the person. One minute the person is loving and the next they are destructive. You may have to do more around the house. Certain jokes may not be okay to say around them. Someone with PTSD is haunted by what they went through 100% of the time. This is true for some of us who have dealt with our issues. We still feel like we are living in the past, being haunted by the past.
Here are some tips for those of you in this situation, based on personal experience.
1) You do not have to talk about everything. In fact, some of us prefer it. We prefer that someone is just there to listen and accepting of the situation. Not everyone wants to talk about it. Sometimes talking about a situation may make it worse. Keep this in mind. We are not like you. You may feel okay with talking, but we may not. It is simple for us. Be there for us and everything is fine. Hang around and comfort, even in times of distress. This is how someone with PTSD can see the person cares. Pressuring us may only make the matter worse.
2) The next thing you do need to do is be compassionate. Listen and hear what they have to say. Do not be condescending to us. We will not react well to it. Do not make threats to us. Do not tell us “it can be worse”. We will not react well to this statement. Do not get pandering to us. Your loved ones trusts you. Invalidating any kind of feeling will result in them becoming more closed off. This is not what you want to happen.
3) The better thing to do is create a routine. Make the person feel safe at home. Eliminate stress as much as possible. I realize that eliminating stress 100% is not going to happen. However, you do have to create a safe place. Those with PTSD like to feel safe. It is important to us, especially since there was a time when we did not feel safe. When your loved one tells you they feel stress, listen to them. Hear what they have to say. Take the necessary precautions to get rid of this feeling. It will make for a happier home life and relationship.
4) There are going to be triggers. You will need to get acquainted with as many of them as you can. Triggers are what sets off the event once more. These triggers can come in the form of a person, place or thing. Take note of what triggers your loved one. Triggers will cause a flashback. This puts your loved one back there once more. Please be mindful of this tip. This is not a joke by any means.
Triggers can be internal and external. Understand what triggers are more violent than the rest. Talk to your loved one about these triggers. The more you know about what causes the flashback, the more you can work to reduce it.
5) There are going to be moments when your loved ones will face outbursts and violent fits of rage. Some people get more extreme than others. It is important to remain calm. Do not touch them or grab them. This is going to cause them to feel threatened. This may cause a flashback. You do not want this to happen. It can put you in danger, as well as your loved one.
Your safety is just as important as theirs. Please take the necessary precautions in case something bad happens. This happens in the extreme cases, so be on the lookout. Give him/her space if they feel overcrowded. People with PTSD are going to feel more overcrowded than others. Leave them be. Hang around them when they want company. Leave them be if they prefer to be alone. It is that simple.
6) You need to set your own boundaries. This will take its toll on you. I speak from personal experience. It is important that you make time for yourself. Merging your life into your loved one’s full-time is not going to be healthy. You need time away to deal with this. This is not going to be sunshine and roses. There are going to be plenty of dark moments.
You need to create your own boundaries. Speak up when something is too much for you to handle. Do not feel you have to take this all on yourself. This can be carried over to you. Do not assume you will not catch this. The more involved you are with the PTSD, the more likely you are to develop your own symptoms.
Handle yourself accordingly. Take care of yourself. Remember you are not alone.