How to Live With People Who Battle PTSD

It is difficult to live with people who suffer from PTSD. As someone battling this, I understand and can see when others are struggling to find the words, or when they are getting anxious and don’t know what to do. It makes me feel a little bit guilty because I know they can’t possibly have the answer to everything, and there will be times when they will make mistakes. If you are living with someone who struggles and are not sure about how to handle it, you are not alone. It is okay to be unsure of how to react. We see that you are trying and we know how hard it is. There are not many things that you can do besides be patient, acknowledge their feelings, reassure them, and check in once in a while. 

Having patience is so important because it allows us to focus on what we are dealing with. For example, if I’m having a panic attack and I see that the other person is getting impatient with me, I start feeling guilty for making them feel that way. There is already so much going on in our heads, all we need is time to process. Sometimes I get panic attacks without any trigger; it just happens and there’s not much anyone can do except be there and be supportive. It helps me remember that I am not alone. Acknowledging someone’s feelings of fear, sadness and loneliness can greatly help the person remember they matter. This type of stress makes the person feel worthless. Reminding the person how valuable they are and that their feelings are important truly helps. 

Don’t just wait for them to have an episode in order for you to tell them how much you care. It is important to reassure them as often as possible that you love them and they are important. Often we feel as if we are just a burden. Being reassured can help fight panic attacks. Speaking from personal experiences, my panic attacks usually begin with overthinking, making up conversations in my head and then panicking because my brain makes me feel like that is exactly what the other person is thinking. I end up trying to push them away. Being reassured can prevent these thoughts from progressing and give us a sense of calmness. At first, it might seem hard and repetitive, but you will see a change throughout time. 

You’ll see that things get better as time goes on. It’s easy to forget about the situation, but don’t hesitate to check in once in a while. Ask them how they are holding up, how they are feeling etc. Having these conversations can help both of you speak to each other about new worries, concerns and fears. It can also remind both of you about all the progress they have made and all of the great support you’ve shown. This is not about having the right things to say. It is about showing that you are trying and being supportive. 

I understand that this is difficult, especially because you also have your own things to deal with. Sometimes going to counseling could help, for both of you. It is just as important to take care of yourself as well. We do see that you are trying your best. We understand that it is challenging and stressful. We are thankful for you and appreciate every bit of your efforts.