Needing Help with Husband's PTSD Flashbacks and Possibility of Violence

iVillage Member
Registered: 01-03-2011
Needing Help with Husband's PTSD Flashbacks and Possibility of Violence
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Tue, 01-31-2012 - 1:14pm

You all know how much my husband and I support and love each other. I've also mentioned that we both have PTSD - mine from family/dating violence and his is combat-related. In someways this makes us more able to understand each other. We've both had our "freak out" flashback meltdown moments in front of each other, but lately his flashbacks are getting much worse. Since his grandfather died, it triggered something for him and he's been depressed and anxious, but now - there are some incredibly vivid flashbacks. In these, he has never laid a finger on me, but he has become incredibly upset at the idea that he might. And, really, I don't know how I would handle it if that ever were to happen. And, now I'm starting to get scared and not be able to handle it as well anymore. We are both just stewing in fear of when the next flashback will happen. He got put on some meds recently, and the xanax and amitriptyline seem to be helping with day to day anxiety, but have actually increased the incidents of flashbacks. His doctor is helping him alot and is tried to pull all the strings she can, but the ptsd specialist therapist can't see him until a month from now.

Also, he's telling me things during the flashbacks that both of us would rather I not know. Any suggestions on (1) how to cope with this new knowledge, (2) how to handle the flashbacks that could become violent and (3) how to get us both to stop worrying ourselves to pieces over when the next flashback will hit.

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iVillage Member
Registered: 01-04-2000

I recomend he find a counselor that specializes in PTSD and share what is going on with them...they will be specially trained to deal with what is going on and be able to help him develop tools to heal from the trama...if you are also having PTSD you too should be seeing a counselor that specializes in PTSD...The trama has registered in different parts of your brain and they are not communicating as they should...therefore the past becomes present and very real and you have no way to decipher what is going on and your fight or flight reaction kicks in because your brain believes this memory is happening currently rather than being a memory of a past event...it is very complicated to explain and understand without the training that goes with it all....but the both of you truly need to get yourselves into counseling.

iVillage Member
Registered: 01-03-2011
Thank you, but we are in counseling individually. The problem is how to cope until he can get into see the ptsd specialist a month from now. Suggestions?
Avatar for cajunharmony
iVillage Member
Registered: 02-28-2001
Is your dh currently receiving services from the VA Hospital? If so, or even if not, since his PTSD is combat related, he should be eligible for services there. Please contact the closest VA Hospital or VA OUtpatient Clinic and see what they can do to help. It might be possible to take him into their ER the next time and get him some immediate help, ESPECIALLY since he is so concerned about injuring you. That is not something I would take lightly, and I'm sure just thinking it is putting him in an even higher state of anxiety during an episode. Just a thought.

Mama Harmony

Avatar for winter2007
iVillage Member
Registered: 06-17-2006
Does he and you exercise? This may sound trite but if you and him can get doing some physical activities (hiking/walking/jogging)..that may help ease his mind. If his flashbacks get to be that it is uncontrollable, ask him to remove himself from the place. Or you take the kids and go visit friends for some hours. Other things to try massages,hypnotherapy,acupuncture..
Do you have pets? HE needs to basically keep active physically..
I dont have any experience with ptsd obviously but just some things to beat depression/anxiety.
iVillage Member
Registered: 01-03-2011
cajun, Thank you. Unfortunately, he was a PMC and therefore does not have any VA benefits. If we could access the VA and other vet services for help, that would be amazing, but nothing existing for those people who perform the same duties as regular military without being in the military. It is definitely compounding the issue with him being anxious about having a flashback. He's at home watching our five year old today, and I finally got a hold of him - he's locked in the bedroom while our son is watching tv in the living room and every time he opens his eyes he doesn't know where he is going to be. I've been so stressed today at work that I've been popping anti anxiety pills. I wish I could just stay home.

Winter, no we don't really exercise lately - it's so hard with the baby (almost five months old). It would be impossible for me to ask him to leave during a flashback because he doesn't even know who I am. He doesn't really see me at all. And, I try to stay out of his line of sight just in case, he thinks I'm someone else. We don't have any pets either. I get the kids away when it's happening, but I can't just leave him alone. He always ends up curled up in a ball on the floor crying - I just can't not be there for him when he needs me. I've been talking to a calm, soothing voice and saying his name and telling him he's at home. I'll describe the climate - like "You're on the floor. It's cold. You are in the bathroom. You're at home. You were trying to go to bed." Things like that. Which seemed to help last night. But, I really wish I could just not hear some of the things he says and talks about when he's in the midst of a flashback.
Avatar for winter2007
iVillage Member
Registered: 06-17-2006

check this out..

http://ptsd.about.com/od/selfhelp/a/flashcoping.htm

some good info there.

By the way, I'd be concerned with leaving a 5 year old alone watching TV while an adult is in a closed bedroom.

iVillage Member
Registered: 01-03-2011
A lot has happened over the last 24 hrs. My husband ended up in the ER last night where he had a full on flashback and pulled all his leeds off and tried to leave. Today, we went to his PCP and he passed out and had a small freak out. This morning, he was passed out sprawled on the floor when I came home. Then, he freaked out hallucinating that someone else was in the house and pulled a knife trying to fend off the "attacker." I'm driving him to a special psych hospital now at the recommendation of his doctor. I'm so scared.
Avatar for cajunharmony
iVillage Member
Registered: 02-28-2001

Oh Chipper, I am so relieved that you're taking your dh to a hospital.

Mama Harmony

iVillage Member
Registered: 01-03-2011
Thank you. It just really sucks right now. He needs to get better and I need some serious sleep and emotional recuperation. I keep expecting him to be here at the house and thinking about things I want to tell him. We've never really been a part a night (except 1/2 a night after I had jasper) since we met. I miss him and have gotten so used to watching over him that I feel like I'm helpless in protecting him. But this morning with the knife was a wake up call that we can't deal with this ourselves. I was scared that he would turn around toward me and thinking I was someone else and come at me. I had one hand on the laundry room door, so I could run in there - just in case. I feel horrible that I thought that. But, lately, things have been so rough and I never know what to expect.
iVillage Member
Registered: 01-04-2000

As hard as it was to do, and as hard as it is to be "alone" right now, what you did was the perfect thing for him...as you come up with those things you would normally say to him and realize he is not there to say them to, write a letter to him telling him everything in the letter that you would have said to him...then you can mail it to him, deliver them yourself when you can visit, or you can save them in a shoe box for WHEN he IS better and gets to come home ...

I commend you on your decision, and because of your choice to put him in the hospital for healing he will get better and he will get to come home to you more complete than he was before.

(((((((HUGS))))))))

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