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Partner with PTSD and IED

Hi everyone,  I am reaching out for some thoughts.  My partner through life events (not military) has PTSD diagnosed earlier this year.  Part of this illness is his explosive temper which I find really, really difficult to cope with.  We can be having a lovely chat and then just out of the blue he will explode over something that may have happened a week prior and he has been stewing on.  He tells me that he is not angry, just frustrated and is totally unaware of the full extent of the episode.  He works away, yes has been able to keep down a pretty high level job, but when he comes home for a few days, even though I am really excited and happy to see him, we end up fighting and because I can not cope, I usually avoid the situation and leave.  I dont really understand what is going on.  It is also really difficult to get clarity on answers that he gives me about the PTSD.  From what I can gather, he is under the care of a psychiatrist, psychologist and doctor.  Should I be asking for access to the psychiatrist, with him, so I can get some answers, like what to expect from this illness, what does the medication do, what is the prognosis? Or do I join up with a support network (these are hard to find for PTSD sufferers who are not military) join an online network (like this one) or do all of the above.  I am very sad as the man I once knew seems to be gone and it is a lonely old place to be without him.


Re: Partner with PTSD and IED

Hi @Aidez  ,

Sorry to hear your going through troubled times. I don't know much about PTSD but I do have my own experience with repressed anger that occasionally comes out in an outburst. 


Obviously in the middle of an outburst it's hard to deal with anything, tempers are up and people aren't exactly open to balanced discussion. Hopefully you don't have to worry about physical threat but if you do then first thing is to guarantee your safety, leave the house, call the police whatever it takes. Work on things in the down time, not when it's too late.

It sounds like your partner has already taken some pretty big steps themself in getting his diagnosis and getting ongoing care and is on meds. Ideally you'd be able to talk to him and ask for permission to communicate with his support team about any specifics he cant answer, this would avoid any loss of trust or him feeling that you are trying to subvert his care/go behind his back.

I think many people avoid having any unpleasant conversations until little things become a big issue(at least from their perspective) and that is a hard habit to break. Really who wants to talk about unpleasant stuff if they can avoid it? If he's open to it then you can try different types of communication, my wife and I have a whiteboard on the back of the bedroom door for messages that we want to get off our chest but don't want to sit in front of the other person and say, gives the other person time to think on and weigh up their reply too rather then in the heat of the moment. It's amazing when you need to condense something down into a couple paragraphs and read it back you often realise how trivial some of the stuff you've been hanging onto is and helps you get better perspective.

Hopefully some others with a bit more experience with the PTSD and IED particulars can jump in and give you some ideas soon too.



Re: Partner with PTSD and IED

Thanks sleepydad.  I appreciate you taking the time to comment and for your advice.  I also would be very appreciative if partners of PTSD sufferers (not sure if this is the right word) have any advice?

Not applicable

Re: Partner with PTSD and IED

Hello @Aidez  and welcome to the Sane forums.  I'm glad you found us here and have decided to reach out for advice and support.  Its very important for partners with any MH issues.  You will find many people here who live with partners with PTSD, but also many other MH disorders.  When it comes to coping with a loved one with a MH disorder, the strategies will be very similar across the spectrum I suspect.


My husband suffers from PTSD, as a result of military service in Vietnam. He also has a very explosive temper, although I have never heard of IED and had to look it up online to see what it meant.  Interesting ...... so thanks for opening my eyes to the fact that such a disorder exists.  Of course some people have dreadful tempers, irrespective of any PTSD or IED.  Anyway ... getting back to the subject.  We fight a lot too, and its so hard ... I hate conflict, and sometimes its triggering for me.  Hubby loses his cool over the slightest thing, and often its almost as though he is picking a fight on purpose, simply for the sake of it. Perhaps he thinks that to explode may help him feel better somehow, I dont know. But I do know that it can be very upsetting and horrible to deal with.  Mostly I will disappear to another room when he gets this way, so as not to inadvertantly inflame the situation. Because he can become quite abusive along with it, verbally, emotionally and physically. He is also an alcoholic, plus has a number of serious physical illnesses, so it gets a little tricky. We are lucky that my husband has a lot of support available to him from psychiatrist, psychologist, a good GP, etc.  He also has a number of really good mates from his Service days and they support each other a lot.  He remains close to his military buddies, which I think is a good support for him, and I am thankful that he has that.


I'm sorry to hear that there are few options for support for a non-military PTSD sufferer.  I actually know what you mean with that, because I also experienced a particularly traumatic life event some 23 years ago which resulted in a diagnosis of PTSD. And I am not a military person either.  The circumstances of what occurred to me is not something I ever talk to anyone about (in my real life) so it can be very isolating.  Its also fairly common for people to understand and sympathise with ex-military PTSD diagnoses, but much less so with PTSD with other causes. This can lead to us keeping things secret and thus isolating ourselves even more.  Personally, I see a good psychologist at least monthly and she encourages me to stay in touch via email and/or phone if I ever need to.  I find that very helpful. I also have a good GP who is aware of my history and is supportive. But other than that, you are right, there is very little else available. 


I think when it comes to supporting your partner, the more knowledge you have about PTSD, the more understanding of it you are likely to become.  It would be helpful if your partner would agree to see (preferably) his psychologist with you present.  It would give you a chance to discuss how his PTSD is affecting not only him, but also the pair of you as a couple.  However I suspect he will be reluctant to allow that.  But its worth trying.  Other than that, are you able to seek support from a psychologist or counsellor yourself?  Do you have a good GP you can sit down and have a chat to?  They may know of other support networks in your local area, or alternatively recommend a suitable counsellor or psychologist.


Yes I can sympathise with you around feeling that you are losing the man you love. PTSD does change people, which is really sad.  And without our loved ones .. yes life can be very lonely.  You will find that your partner may not want to talk about his PTSD or the events around it.  Try to reassure him that you want to help and are there for him any time he needs you.  Dont push though .. there are times that it really is too hard to talk, so try to give him space when he needs it too.  Can I just point out one thing, which is very important. Please ensure your own safety.  If he becomes violent in any way (which can happen) please dont hesitate to seek help. You could also try contacting RESPECT.


I realise much of this is not going to be particularly helpful to you, but I mostly wanted you to know you are not alone in this, and that many of us here do understand.  You ask ... what do I do, join a forum such as Sane?  I think you will find Sane forums to be a very supportive and knowledgable place, with many very kind and understanding people. So irrespective of what other supports you are able to put in place for yourself and/or your partner, I think the Forums are a great addition.  I am happy to talk any time you would like to.




Re: Partner with PTSD and IED

Thanks Sherry your reply is very much appreciated.  I will put the things in place that you have suggested and that have worked well for you.  All I can do is try ...

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