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Loving someone with PTSD

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  • Loving someone with PTSD

    I hope I'm placing this in the right forum and that someone might be able to help me. I've read what I can find on the internet regarding PTSD but I'm looking for some input from those who may have been diagnosed.

    I'm in love with a FF who is going through therapy for PTSD. I want to help but realize that there are limitations on what I can do for him. I am supportive and understanding when he needs his space however I am concerned with his inability to keep his anger at what I would call a "manageable" level when we have disagreements over small things. He gets very angry and uses language that he eventually apologizes for. He says things that he later admits he never really meant but obviously the scars remain for me.

    Many times, I will suppress expressing my own feelings out of concern for him and his mental state. Its like walking on pins and needles and he says he doesn't want me to do this. However, its the only way we can maintain a somewhat happy level.

    Does PTSD ever go away? I know memories linger but is this something that is cureable? I know that I am not the source of his anger but rather the outlet but it is so hard to not take these things he says personally despite the apologies. Can anyone give me any tips on things I should say or do to help get through these rough times?

    Thank you for taking the time to read this...

  • #2
    I'd like to add that his PTSD was the result of recovering children's bodies at a house fire that was over seven years ago and flared even worse with recovery work he did in Louisiana after Katrina.

    Its amazing how little information there really is out there regarding PTSD as a result of work as a firefighter. It seems there is quite a bit for police and non-emergency related situations.


    • #3
      Loving the living

      Let me begin by saying that you are in my thoughts and prayers. My wife and I will be holding you both in our prayers.

      Traumatic stress leaves a long lasting change in brain chemisty. At the present time there are some medications which can be helpful. I would direct your attention to the International Society for Traumatic Stress Studies web site at www.istss.org. This website can give you some information on drug/counseling therapies so that you can gain a better understanding of what is out there.
      Anger issues are quite prevelant in PTSD. Some ways of helping this are: exercise (go on a hike or long walk that will get the heart pumping for 30-45 mins) make sure there is no intake of caffine/tobacco and if he is taking any medications make sure they are not the casue of moddiness or irritablitly. Perhaps a good outlet for anger would be boxing/punching bags. Remind him to give a good count to 10 when he feels angry. Be sure to discuss with his counselors these outbursts. Communication with the counselor is always a good thing. Maybe set up a time to meet with the counselor.
      I'll close by saying that you are a real trooper! Be sure that you get your "stuff" out on the table about this with someone you can talk to. It may be difficult to find a support group, you may be able to find out how to start one yourself with other family members who are dealing with this in your area. DON'T GIVE UP! Check with the counselors to see if a support group is available and if not how he/she could help you get one started.

      Please feel free to email me and let me know how things are going!
      [email protected]

      Chaplain Mike

      "Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified, do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go." Joshua 1:9
      Last edited by mikethechaplain; 03-17-2006, 11:01 AM.


      • #4
        another suggestion

        I would also suggest if you are in phoenix, to check with the Phoenix Fire Dept Chaplain to see what resources they have. They might know of something specifically within the department to help you out. You both will be in my prayers.
        Chaplain Arthur
        Mundelein FD Chaplain


        • #5
          Thank you both so much for your advice and prayers. I've honstely never loved some one so much. I WANT to make things in his life more manageable... no obligation... its just natural.

          I have been reading on the website you suggested. There is some interesting information on there. I feel that the PTSD he suffers from (as well as other firefighters, EMS and cops) is very different from some of the other causes. Emergency workers suffering from PTSD choose to put themselves at risk whereas someone who has been abused or been through a natural disaster are non-voluntary victims.

          He used the punching bag on last shift and ended up with swollen hands and bloody knuckles. I could handle the physical side of it but knowing they are the result of the emotion just tears me up. They have increased his medication but it makes him so sleepy. OY! There are so many sides to this thing.

          Again, thank you for your support. I'm certainly not seeking a medal for loving a man who gives me so much but your words were very much appreciated.


          • #6
            Another one praying for you.

            You will also be in my prayers. I would add that the Creator is the one who can give the best peace in all situations. So read the book of your faith what ever it is and know that others are keeping you in there prayers.

            Chaplain K.M.
            Converse Vol. Fire Co.


            • #7

              I just saw this and felt the need to respond even if late and hope you read it. I don't speak froma firefighter standpoint but rather from a military one having served twenty years and in Vietnam. I have seen PTSD remain in a dormant or even subdued state for many years and then become a problem and then there are those whose PTSD came out early. I have been through the counseling and have learned that it never really leaves but that you can gain control of the emotions. The key is to be able to recognize the feelings and emotions coming on as well as learning what triggers them. Once that is accomplished it is a matter of taking an appropriate action to keep the emotions and feelings in check and release them appropriately. It,s not easy and it takes a lot of brain power and faith to get a handle on the situation when it is so much easier to just let go with the inevitable anger. It's also easy to say I'm cured when really having a support group or friend who understands is also key to maintaining the control. Us guys have our peculiar ways of not showing emotion outside of anger and not trusting anyone who has not been there or walked the walk. I wish you and him all the best and let him know that you can't do it alone.


              • #8

                I know what your life looks like, I know the problem, I also know that if you are alone and you don't talk about it, it won't go away. I don't want to go in the details for now, but I think I can help you and your husband... No merical though

                lvwrench is right once you diagnose with PTSD you have to learn to leave and cope with it, it is like Alcool even after 10 years dry, no problem you are still an Alcoolic...

                But, there is always a but...

                I know that the USMC are working on a program on the Canadian Model...

                I can send you documentations, we can talk about it and I also can refer you to PTSD victims... Send me an email.


                [email protected]


                • #9
                  As a full-time fire Captain, fire dept. chaplain, and an ordained pastor - let me first tell you, I've been there and done that. That being said, first order of business is that you and your firefighter are covered by prayer me and my family - here at my department, my home, as well as my church.

                  Secondly, you have to be in prayer for your firefighter. Jesus taught his disciples that whatever they ask for "in My name" will be given to them. PTSD is an illness. And according to Acts 10:38, we know who is responsible for all illnesses. We may not have all the answers to the "Why would God let this happen?" kind of questions. You need to pray boldly, outloud, in Jesus' name" tocome against this spirit of infirmity called PTSD.

                  If you do not already belong to a Bible believing, Holy Spirit praying church - then find one. They will be a resource for continued encouragement, and support.

                  Finally, find out if a critical incident debriefing or diffusing was offered for your FF when he was demobilized from the Katrina incident, or when he returned to his home station. Find out if there is a county or regional CISD team that can be contacted. These teams have professional as well as peer support members who can offer valuable help.

                  Captured by Grace,
                  Captain Ken


                  • #10
                    My thanks to all of you for your responses, PMs and emails. I am honestly amazed that so many folks reached out to me. I've looked at many of your links and spent alot of time reading the information there. Some of it I have found useful and stored in the back of my head.

                    Each day seems to be a challenge and although I am willing to accept it, once in awhile, it seems to consume our relationship. I tell him all of the time that I'm in this for the long haul, and I honestly mean it. I only want to understand the behavior and any triggers that I might unintentionally pull.

                    Above all, I know he is a good man and that he loves me. That is what gets me through.


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