Married to PTSD…

What are your first thoughts when you hear military and PTSD? (Give me your honest answers guys)

Post traumatic stress disorder is a mental health problem that people develop after experiencing or witnessing a traumatic or life-threatening event. In my fiancé’s case this trauma was caused by combat. He served in the army for 8 years with 3 deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan.

When Ace and I first started dating I wasn’t aware of his PTSD. We had so many conversations about him being in the army, and in true ignorant land of the free home of the brave fashion, I cracked a joke saying he was “crazy” because that’s what we all think about them right? He didn’t find that funny at all and if you know Ace you know that he don’t mind telling you what he feels. “I am not crazy, but I do have PTSD and I don’t think that shit is funny”…. I felt like an idiot. No, an uneducated idiot. I offended him and I didn’t know what PTSD was! “Imagine being trained for 3 years to hurt hurt hurt and kill kill kill, and after your out no one tells you how to turn the switch off” I’ve never thought about it that way.

In the midst of him preparing for the army he also had a daughter to care for. I asked him how did the army affect his ability to be a father. He was stationed in Colorado Springs when he became a “single father”. His mom helped out with his daughter while he was in basic training, but after that he sent for her to come live with him. “My daughter saved my life and helped me cope with PTSD” The moments when he wanted to get lost in his thoughts his daughter made him snap out of it. He told me so many stories but the ones that stuck are the beginning phases that took place after basic training. What should I feed her? Should I ask her if she’s hungry? Am I cut out for this? What am I going to do when it’s bath time?(his mom was usually there to assist during bath time) He had no family out there just his army family. Ace has always been a figure it out kind of person and that’s exactly what he did. He said I looked at her and said “aight, let’s do it”. Everything wasn’t always a cake walk during this time. He told me a hair story that tickled me and made my heart smile at the same time. The neighbor that usually helped him comb her hair wasn’t available one day so he figured he would just hook up the curling iron and make it happen. Let’s just say after he tried and failed he took her to get her hair braided and kept it braided.

There are two main things that you need to know if you’re in a relationship with someone who suffers from PTSD. You did not cause it and most importantly you can NOT fix them. Prayer, love and support is all you can do! Also, you don’t need to treat them as if they are handicapped. (Big no no) After being checked in a major way I started to do my research. I wasn’t scared of him, I was intrigued. I needed to know what triggers he had, what was off limits, I mean I wanted to know it all. The first trigger I learned was different sounds. If you own an iPhone then you know the classic alarm sound. That was my ring tone and my alarm to wake me up. Ace spent the night at my house and in the middle of the night I got a phone call….He sits straight up in the bed and b-lined to the bathroom and pulled the shower curtain back. I jumped right up and went right after him because I didn’t know what was going on. I turn the corner to find him standing beside the shower with his face buried in his hands. What happened??? I was so confused. He said “That sound”. Huh? That sound is the sound for an incoming bomb…. I felt so horrible, but I made the adjustment and changed my ringtone. We got back in bed and I just held him. My goal was to make sure that he never felt alone again.

The next thing I began to notice was when he was asleep he would mumble some pretty intense stuff. He was having nightmares. Bad ones…His whole body would tense up and he would grip the bed and toss and turn. One night he grabbed me and pulled me close and just held on. The next day I asked him what he was dreaming about and he said he was protecting me. That explained why periodically through the night he would pop up and touch me or throw his leg over me. He’s a protector. He would blurt out stuff like “I’m going to kill you. All of you bastards.” I was never scared and I always felt protected because I know what to do. I knew how to help him snap out of the nightmares. (Honest moment) EXCEPT that one time!!! We were asleep and he began shaking and gripping the bed as usual. He stared saying he was going to kill whoever he was after in his dream and I reached out to touch him and he yanked my hand away. I tried waking him up like I normally do but it wasn’t working. He just started getting louder and I was like nope. I politely got up out of the bed and went to the couch in the living room. I laid there for a couple of hours and that’s when the thoughts started. Could he hurt me? Am I really safe here? I could’ve just ran and never looked back, but I chose to stay. The next day I brought it up to him and I told him I was genuinely scared. He was crushed. ” My job is to protect you, I never want to scare you.” ” I just want to be normal”…..From then on when I noticed he was having a nightmare I would first lay my hand on his head and pray for him. Next I would wake him up by softly calling his name. When he wakes up from nightmares his eyes are HUGE. He pops them open and immediately looks around the room. I just say babe it’s just me and we are at home in the bed. Relax….I made the right decision by staying. He needed someone. The more I prayed the more the nightmares started to be few and far in between. He still has them but the intense ones aren’t as frequent.

You have to be willing to make adjustments and be understanding when you are dating or married to someone with PTSD. My Fourth of July’s will be different. We spent our first Fourth of July together and it was HARD. I knew that he didn’t like the fireworks but I never asked him what he usually did on that day. He liked to stay at home with the tv up loud to drown out the sounds of the fireworks. Since I didn’t ask him of course we went out and of course we drove through a whole fireworks show. With every crack he would duck and the lights did something to him. I just randomly started talking to him about any and everything. Something to get his mind off of what was going on around him.

You will learn to be patient and compassionate. When he has his moments it is my job to make sure he doesn’t stay in that place for too long because it is easy for combat veterans to slip into a dark place. There is one day out of the year that he needs space because he lost a friend and combat buddy and he witnessed it and could do nothing to save him. On that day I do not try to lift his spirits because he expressed to me that he needs that day so I give him his space.

Ask questions but don’t be too pushy, NEVER ask if they have killed someone or shot someone. (Just don’t) When they are ready to open up you will know it, understand that you can’t fix them, be a shoulder to cry on, be a great listener, and most importantly be supportive. Know that they are some of the most LOYAL individuals I have ever met. If they say the rock with you they mean it. Your family will become their family. My life hasn’t always been so perfect and I have baggage so I can’t knock him for his past and PTSD is something he can’t help. It gets better everyday and I’m so grateful to God for the growth and progress.

-P-

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21 thoughts on “Married to PTSD…

  1. I’ve never comment on your post but this one I felt compelled to. Everything you have said about PTSD is so true. I have a son that was in that 1st and 2nd tour to Iraq. It’s been almost 20 yrs and he is finally getting the help he needs. It took him this long to realize it. With PTSD you just have to let them be sometimes and I commend you. It’s a life time battle and you guys will be ok. Thank him for his service and God Bless. Sorry not good at blogging just showing a lil love and support.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Porcia,
      God made you just for Ace & that’s why he loves you so much. I remember saying how u were so different & that you knew how to deal with his PTSD. That’s amazing because true enough it sounds scary when you’re uneducated about it. Keep praying & being his peace during those times. God bless y’all.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I love so how transparent you are and how I can related to your stories. Thank you Porcia for letting us inon your life. You never know when someone is going through similar things and your advice helps out.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Im so grateful that you shared your story with us my fiancé suffers from ptsd no hes not a veteran but he’s suffered from alot of things that caused it he also had nightmares he had episodes where I wasn’t sure if i could handle everything that he had gone through but i thank god i didnt leave i wanted to but god stopped me and i listened to what god told me to do i just started to talk to him conversations led him to open up to me after i bought a journal for him to write letters to his son and father who are deceased but familiure thing is that his father was a veteran but i bought him the journal to write letters to the both of them next thing god spoke to me and told me to pray for him which i started doing now i pray morning noon and night sometimes four times daily he was having really bad nightmares and i just started covering him with prayer little by little he hasnt really had any especially the bad ones but he’s open up to me more i give him really tight hugs i hold his hand rub his head and just press his hand against mind or press my hand against his heart to let him know that im here and that I’m never going to leave him so far things have been really good i cant complain and i give thanks to god that he stopped me and turned me around and blessed me to be a blessing to someone else in needed and to be apart of someone else’s testimony your story helped out alot thank you and congratulations to you and ace may god bless your journey and your marriage much love 💕

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I know in my heart that you two are made for each other, you are so patient with Ace and it is wonderful how you are helping him with the PTSD. It takes a strong woman deal with PTSD that Ace has and you are doing it in such a loving way. I believe God put the two of you together knowing that y’all will help each other. Take care of each other and y’all’s wonderful family. Praying y’all’s life is full of love, happiness and understanding.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. As a psychiatric nurse, it touched my heart reading your post. It is great that you used this week’s blog to educate others about PTSD. Sharing your story will help someone to be more understanding and patient with their loved one who may be dealing with PTSD. I can tell you that not many people take the time to educate themselves like you have done. Kudos! Thanks for sharing!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I commend your support and love you’ve shown your fiance through this because so many don’t get this. PTSD is not a disease that goes away but it is a disease. It’s an illness like no other and often time people suffering from it are treated as if they have the plague. I, too am a sufferer and my husband walked away so it makes my heart swell with pride you see a fellow sufferer have the support they deserve. You two will go forever through the grace and mercy of God.

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  7. Very Interesting!!!! Enlightening!!! You taught me some things!!!!!! Also we have some deep thinkers in our Families!!!! Thanks for the Military Insight on Soldiers!!!!;

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I am so happy to read this post. I am a wife of a retired veteran that also suffers from PTSD. We have had a long journey through dealing with things, but understanding them and not making them feel alienated is definitely the key. I can’t say the journey has been easy and sometimes are better than others,but we are moving through it all one step at a time. Thank you so much for this post and sharing this journey.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Wow I really enjoyed reading this post, it was so eye opening. Thank you for opening up and sharing. I like how you took time to educate yourself on PTSD. May God bless you as you continue to be his rock.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Thank you so much for this. My boyfriend was in the military for 17 years and he has PTSD. You are so right. Until I met him I didn’t understand, but now, I’m there and I’m not going anywhere. I plan to research more and attend support group meetings. Thank you so much for this.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. I have never commented on a post before. But this one really hits home. My boyfriend was in the military for 24 years and has PTSD. We don’t live together and our relationship is long distance and it is very difficult. The things that you mention in your post I have experienced first hand. I never knew anything about PTSD until we meet, before I started reading articles on this condition, the mood swings, non-communications for days or weeks at a time drove me nuts. Still do at times but I am trying to understand it all. Not sure what the future holds for us. But I will continue to pray.

    Thanks so much!

    Liked by 1 person

  12. First tell Ace, I greatly appreciate his service. Your blog are awesome, it’s like what ever I may be dealing with you seem to touch on it. I’ve had several traumatic health issues and suffer from PTSD, it takes a strong person to handle all that I deal with. I’m truly blessed and thankful for tge awesome Man God blesses me with. I’m praying for you and your family. Keep being who God called you to be.

    Like

  13. Great education on PTSD Porcia. I must admit my own guilt and ignorance on this subject , when I was first introduced to Ace and was made aware that he had PTSD my first thought was he’s crazy. As a father I’m a protector and very territorial when it comes to my kids (adults) so wasn’t sure about him. But after sitting and having a conversation with him and having him educate my prejudging ignorant self and realizing that our government teaches our soilders to be come machines while on the battlefield but does not do nearly enough to reaccimate them to civilian life. I am now making and have made some adjustments to welcome my (son-in-law cuz) (new ring tone) to the family . #dontbeignoranteducate PTSD.

    D Mann sr

    Liked by 1 person

  14. My late uncle was a nam vet and we were told at a young age to NEVER talk or ask him ANYTHING about it. He was well into his 50’s before he sought help. I would advise that he seeks help and the free assistance he can get. You don’t have to be military to have PTSD either. I was diagnosed with it after my mother passed. I was her only child and I still live in Mo with no blood family while her family is from Marshall & Longview Tx. It is real. When I hear death, my kids go on lockdown, I picture them in their casket even how the service will go. My mind does not handle death well and I have to take anxiety meds to calm it. Too many First 48 episodes will have me paranoid. I give it to God but I also use natural common sense and take what I need until fully delivered. Praying for you all.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Thank you for sharing your story. My husband has PTSD as well. He retired after 20 years which included 11 deployments, yes 11! He’d get home and go right back out to all the hotspots Iraq, Afghanistan, Iran just to name a few. We struggle daily with his PTSD which has now invited Bipolar Disorder due to poor coping skills with PTSD. Nobody understands how much the wives go through to keep our vets safe and taken care of. The anxiety filled days we have, sleepless nights, walking on eggshells, being hypervigilant at every noise, person, EVERYTHING! There needs to be so much more education to the world about this life we live

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