Dealing with friends or family members who have post-traumatic stress disorder or PTSD may not be easy. Most of the time, they experience anger, irritability, sleepless nights, depression and anxiety. Some people suffering from PTSD may need the help of health care professionals. Facilities specializing in post-traumatic stress disorder have been proven to improve their patients' conditions. If you are dating someone suffering from PTSD, you need to know how to take care of the both of you.
Dating Someone with PTSD
Let love be the foundation
Signs of PTSD will not always show; they will only surface when they are triggered by a memory or even with a simple body gesture. Once you find out you are dating a PTSD victim, make sure you are dating him or her out of love and affection, not out of pity. Being with someone who has PTSD can be really stressful for you especially when symptoms are triggered, so make sure your relationship is backed up by love and you do share some common interests and enjoy each other's company. Don't let your sympathy manipulate you into believing that getting involved romantically with some unfortunate PTSD victim is going to help that person, because eventually both of you will be overwhelmed and a tragic end is inevitable.
Consider having a dog
If you are dating someone with PTSD, then having a therapy dog will be helpful for the recovery of your partner. Not only will the dog bring happiness to both of you, but also give security and comfort to your partner, which can help him or her get over sleepless nights.
Try to accept abnormal behaviors
When triggered, people with PTSD may act irrationally, and you should be ready to deal with them. PTSD patients may suffer from nightmares, headache, dry mouth, muscle aches, repetitive motions, blurred vision, nervous tics, emotional withdrawal or even have difficulty in telling what is true and what is imaginary. On a date, your partner may become nervous, get irritated easily or look really anxious. Just don’t judge or get irritated with them; instead, be empathetic to your partner and try to distract his or her attention with jokes or chitchat.
Be a good communicator
People who have PTSD are commonly victims of rape, or survivors from a war or many other traumatic events. In general, they are not willing to talk about their experiences because they fear that they might experience the pain associated to those bad memories again. So, don’t force them to talk about their past but encourage them from time to time.
Bear in mind that part of the healing process is to let your partner talk about the traumatic event. So, once your partner starts to talk, listen attentively and don’t nag or judge. The more your partner talks about that traumatic past, the faster he or she will heal from it.
Kick off insecurity
People with PTSD may sometimes become jaded and think of the world as an unsafe and cruel place. If you are dating someone with PTSD, it is important to reassure your partner that nothing is going to hurt him or her and you will always be there to offer full protection. In this case, details can go a long way.
You can establish a regular routine like time for meals, minimize stress at home by giving your partner enough private time and space, make great plans for future together, and always keep your promises no matter it is about which movie to watch or about when to have vocation.
Look after yourself
Taking care of your partner who is suffering from PTSD is very important, but at the same time never neglect your own needs. You need to take good care of yourself in order to take good care of other people. You should get enough quality sleep, eat well, exercise regularly, hang out with friends, develop your own hobbies, and know your limits and let friends, family, support groups or professionals to help when necessary.
Let your partner do simple decisions
It will only make your partner feel useless if you always make decisions for him or her, especially on little things. Help your partner get back on track by letting him or her decide on certain things. For example, ask your partner if he or she wants to wear the white coat or blue one. But do not overwhelm him or her with big decisions like asking your partner which house to buy or whether or not you should quit your job.
Manage anger issues
PTSD sufferers usually use anger as an emotion to cover up for their guilt or even fear. Another reason why they get angry easily is because they are constantly dealing with physical and emotional stress and most of the time they are exhausted. When dating someone with PTSD, you should look out for signs indicating your partner is angry, like talking loudly, clenching jaw or trembling fist or body, try your best to remain calm and rational, ask him or her what you can do to help and call 911 if necessary.
Deal with self-destructive behaviors
People suffering from PTSD tend to indulge in self-destructive behaviors, like stuck in depression, addicted to alcohol or drugs, or even trying to commit suicide. On the initial phase, you should talk to your partner, express your concerns about his or her state, and support your partner to get over those behaviors. If things are too serious, you should encourage your partner to seek professional help and back him or her up through the whole process.
Seek professional help
PTSD is a mental illness and when developed to some extent only professionals can help prevent really bad consequences from happening. Experts are trained to handle this issue. They will talk with your partner objectively and tactically, and utilize all needed techniques to help one get over the traumatic past.
But know this, you can't force or coax your partner to accept therapy or treatment. Talk to your partner about the advantages of seeking help and help find the resources needed, but let your partner make the decision voluntarily.