Being There for Your Loved One With PTSD
Whether you love someone who has been through abuse, suffered some of other trauma, or has served active duty in the military, you already know that helping a loved one deal with PTSD is hard.
But many couples and families deal with PTSD and are still able to have happy, healthy relationships with one another. If you’re here looking for ways to help, you’re already making a choice that shows your love and care for that person. So, I have no doubt that when you work together, you’ll be able to help and support one another over time.
Here are some things I’ve found helpful for supporting someone with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).
Remember: It’s Not About Curing Them
Your partner or family member with PTSD does not expect you to cure them or fix their PTSD symptoms. They are making an effort to work through and understand themselves and their illness, and they need your support to do that important work. It’s not something you’ll be able to do for them.
I know it’s difficult but resist the urge to tell them how to alleviate their symptoms, or to try to prevent anything unpleasant from happening to them. Instead, have realistic expectations for yourself, and let your loved one know you believe in them as they learn, struggle, and grow.
Wait for Them to Open Up
Depending on where you are in your relationship, or how long they’ve lived with you, you may not know what caused your loved one’s PTSD symptoms to develop. That’s okay. They simply need time to become comfortable enough talking about their experiences that doing so does not trigger another PTSD episode. They will share what they are comfortable sharing when they feel physically and emotionally safe doing so.
Give Them Space
Sometimes your loved one with PTSD will need space. They may want to spend time alone, or they may not feel comfortable going to a place you suggest for a date or outing. Giving them space is an act of love and understanding as they take the time they need to recoup from difficult symptoms.
The space for them is also space for you to take part in vital physical, emotional, and spiritual self-care. You need plenty of time and space to recharge, regroup, and care for your own needs in order to be able to help someone else through their difficulties.
That includes things like eating healthy meals, getting regular exercise, and keeping up with your spiritual practice. Spending time in prayer and meditation helps me remember that I am not alone in my struggles, and neither is my loved one. God loves us both, and he will not abandon us in our efforts to love one another.
Get Help When You Need It
There will be times when helping a loved one with PTSD becomes overwhelming, even when you are allowing plenty of time and space for healing. It’s good to reach out for help and support when you need it, and you can find it here.
TheHopeLine offers mentoring for anyone looking for help with tough life issues, including relationships impacted by PTSD. Talk to a mentor today to find encouragement and support as you walk with your loved one with PTSD on their healing journey. We are here for you.
David lived in fear of abuse from his mom's boyfriend. Read his story of how he found the hope to deal with anxiety and PTSD from a HopeCoach.
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