Reducing Your Significant Other's PTSD
There are many ways to describe the stress and emotional pain that people go through being a caretaker. Physicians call it the caretaker's syndrome, although it is not a medical disorder. It has other names like Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, Caretaker Stress Disorder, and even Caretaker Martyr Disorder, a rather morbid rendition.
No matter what you call it, you must recognize when your amputation has caused such distress in your significant other that they are overwhelmed by their feelings.
The medical explanation is that it is caused by an increased stress hormone level for an extended time. Caretakers also suffer the grief of seeing the person they love fighting to regain their strength. Caregivers feel their lives have been restricted by the emotional and physical struggle you face as an amputee.
PTSD Symptoms to Look For
Anxiety, fear, and guilt may be common emotions shared by all caregivers. Caregivers first notice their PTSD when they feel their feelings start to overwhelm them.
Caretakers suffering from PTSD often experience flashbacks. It might be a flashback of their loved one returning from a tour missing an appendage for veterans. . More commonly, if the amputation results from an auto accident, the crash's memories are overwhelming for the caretaker as they are for the amputee.
Caregivers experiencing PTSD might find themselves becoming less interested in spending time with friends and family. Guilt, fear, anxiety, and stress lead caregivers with PTSD to want to be alone. Caregiving gets overwhelming when they feel they have less control over their lives as they continue to be there for you.
Caregivers who have PTSD experience an increase in aches and pains. Headaches, stomachaches, and fatigue are just a few somatic results of caregiver PTSD.
PTSD interrupts regular sleep cycles. Caregivers either sleep all the time or in fits and spurts. Night terrors are their worse nightmares. They wake up in a cold sweat and are on high alert for the rest of the night. Because of the trauma that causes PTSD, caregivers mind tries to process the feelings while dreaming. . Because of the intensity, it just leads to exhaustion.
Reducing Your Significant Other’s PTSD
If your significant other shows some signs of PTSD, you must take the situation seriously. You must take control of your behavior and attitude to reduce the stress on your significant other.
It is essential to educate yourself about PTSD. Much has been written about the symptoms, how to help and what does not work. You will have a better idea of what you can do to reduce your significant other's stress. You can learn how to be empathetic and control some of the ways you contribute to their plight. Learning about PTSD can help you be more understanding and clear up misconceptions you might have. The symptoms and the effects of PTSD can be more subtle and less overt but no less difficult for the person experiencing it.
Learning how to support someone with PTSD can help prevent this sense of isolation which often worsens symptoms. Provide PTSD support through listening and showing that you care. Don't do it by trying to pressure the person into sharing with you when they don't want to or by suggesting actions that they aren't ready for yet. Practice being a steady, reliable, and trustworthy presence in their life.
When someone has PTSD, talking about it can be difficult. It can worsen their symptoms, and it can make them relive the trauma. When someone is ready to share with you, they will. However, be patient until that time comes. Pushing someone into talking when they aren't prepared will not help them in the long-term. Everyone with PTSD needs to feel comfortable sharing their experiences in their own time and at their own pace. That pace isn't up to you, even though you have good intentions.
Listening is critical for social support. While you shouldn't push someone into talking, let them know you're there to listen when they're ready to speak. Practice active listening to show you're engaged, but don't try to compare your feelings or experiences to those of your friend. Even if you've experienced PTSD, you don't have to say you understand because maybe you don't know their exact experience. Listening is enough.
It's often challenging for people with PTSD to open up because they fear judgment. They might worry about what people will think of them as far as their experiences leading to the development of PTSD. They may fear that they will be treated differently or stigmatized. You must be non-judgemental. Prepare yourself to potentially listen to difficult or upsetting stories that may provoke you into anger and argument.
It is essential to show respect. There will be a tremendous desire to belittle the experiences or feelings that your significant other may have. Avoid minimizing their feelings or trying to act as if it didn't happen. Saying platitudes like, "it could have been worse, "or in some way indicating that you were a significant other is weak or that PTSD is a personal failing. These statements can be destructive to your significant other's trust in you.
It is essential to learn about their triggers. A trigger can be anything that spurs a fear response in someone with PTSD. It can be something that to you is very ordinary, but it reminds a person with PTSD of their past trauma. Everyone's triggers are unique and specific to their experiences. Talk to your significant other about what causes PTSD symptoms for them. Specific PTSD triggers can be sounds, smells, dates, people, locations, and situations.
It is beyond your control to make someone seek treatment. If your significant other is ready or is considering therapy, you can be encouraging. Research some of the treatment options available for PTSD. Look for treatment providers and programs that specialize in PTSD. Explore the benefits of treatment and, when your friend is ready, share what you come up with. Caregiver's support groups are also beneficial. As an amputee, you must see how much you have control of your relationship.