DH's childhood trauma haunts him

iVillage Member
Registered: 03-27-2003
DH's childhood trauma haunts him
5
Mon, 06-23-2003 - 1:01pm
Well, technically, he won't be my DH until 7/5, but we've been living together for a year. On Saturday, I truly thought I was going to lose him, and now I am so afraid of what our future holds. When he was 4 years old, he was molested by his black female babysitter. (Now he has a pure hatred for black people, and it bothers me greatly, but that's another story.) He suppressed the memory until he was 15 and his parents got divorced, then when he started remembering, he began using drugs heavily--mainly coke and crystal meth. He tried to commit suicide by slashing his arm wide open, only by the grace of God did he survive. This behavior continued until he was 23, when he decided he didn't want to live that life anymore. He hopped a Greyhound and traveled cross country to his dad's doorstep, whom he hadn't had a relationship with in 7 years (he always felt that his dad had known about the abuse while it was happening and didn't do anything, but in reality, he didn't know until he was told when DH was 16.) It's been over 2 years now, and he's been completely clean and off drugs, but I've noticed lately that he's started drinking more and more to help him sleep, to keep away the nightmares that come every night. Most nights we don't even share a bed, due to his thrashing and yelling out in his sleep. And our sex life is almost nonexistant. We usually only make love 3 times a month. It takes him so long to finish (45 min-1 hour of furious thrusting), and while he's doing that, it's like he's concentrating so hard on just going, that it's like I'm not even there. I feel like I don't even know him sometimes, since we're very rarely intimate in any way, physically or emotionally. On Saturday, he got very depressed and suicidal, and held a butcher knife to his wrist and sobbed that the didn't want to live anymore. Our wedding is in less than 2 weeks, and I feel so lost. I don't know what to do to help him, and us. This is taking a toll on our relationship. He refuses to go to counseling, saying that it didn't help the first time when he was 16. Please help.
iVillage Member
Registered: 03-21-2003
Mon, 06-23-2003 - 9:44pm
It's actually really common to go into crisis mode once you feel safe enough to do so. (Many people recovery memories after they move out or get married, for example.) It sounds like he needs some serious help, though--if he's making suicide attempts and refuses to seek help on his own, perhaps you should look into getting him some non-voluntary help. Have you looked into this?
iVillage Member
Registered: 05-14-2003
Wed, 06-25-2003 - 12:40am
Hi, and welcome to the board. Sorry you're going through this, especially right before your wedding.

I can relate to a certain extent. My husband had a very traumatic childhood, sexual abuse included, but the suicidal behavior didn't start until about a year and a half ago when the emotions started flashing back. Our counselor has determined that he has PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder). It is scary to hear someone you love talk that way. Counselor explained that hurting oneself physically is an attempt to override the emotional pain. He didn't actually get to the point of acting it out, but he was having a lot of impulses that scared me. At first he would tell me about three days after the fact, and it really upset me because by then it was to late for me to help him. He got to where he was telling me while the thoughts were occuring. We took walks while he talked it out, and I have to admit that we had some fights because I wanted to take him to the hospital but he wouldn't cooperate. My first counselor actually gave me "suicide training" on what to do. My husband had to consent to a plan to where if he was having those thoughts I would remove whatever objects he was wanting to use from the house. If it got really bad but he wouldn't consent to go to the emergency room he knew I was supposed to call the police to bodily take him. Unfortunately this doesn't work with him in the moment because part of his trauma involved being taken from his bio mother by the police, so he is afraid of what he would do if they showed up. It's been scary. Fortunately he's stayed in control of his senses and hasn't acted on anything, although I have had to remove knives from the house and take them somewhere else. I've told him that what I am worried about is the ONE TIME he may not remain in control. Fortunately he's able to talk to our counselor and medication has helped a lot.

Sounds like your fiance definitely needs to get some help. He may see it as threatening to his sense of self-esteem (I think a lot of men have a hard time admitting when they need help). He was young when he went for counseling before, and he has come a long way in cleaning up. Now that he's older and more mature, he may be more able to communicate what he's going through, and may be more receptive to counsel. I'm sure you've already let him know that you want to help him and that you love him. Keep reassuring him of your love for him, and keep encouraging him to get help. Maybe for now get him into a regular physician and see if he has suggestions for a prescription that would help, even with the sleep. My husband's sleeping problems and headaches is what started all of this and got him into the doctor. He takes Trazadone for sleep and is just coming off of Effexor for depression (he's been on that for a year and it has made a big difference on the anxiety and troubling thoughts). He also takes Adderall XR for ADHD, diagnosed this year.

Sometimes you have to be a little tough when it comes to this. It's okay for him to know that you're alarmed. It's not just affecting him, but you, too. For your peace of mind he needs to seek assistance. I know that for me going through this really threatened my sense of safety and security. I told him bluntly one time that there were a few things I wasn't interested in: One, becoming a young widow; Two, explaining to our children why Daddy tried to hurt himself, and Three, explaining why Daddy was dead. When I said that I think he realized how hard it was on me. I made sure he knew I wasn't angry at him for his feelings, but when he was like that and would refuse help THAT would make me mad. He needed to get help not only for him, but for me and our kids.

Hope some of this was helpful; sorry to ramble about my own situation, but if you can get anything out of what I've gone through I'm anxious to share. Please come back here often and let us know how things progress.

Hugs, Heidi

HeidiRose

co-cl, Sexual Abuse Healing Board

iVillage Member
Registered: 03-27-2003
Wed, 06-25-2003 - 10:01am
Heidi, thank you for your post. It seems like you know exactly what I'm going through. I want so much to get him help, for him, and for our relationship, but I just don't know how. We have no health insurance, and can't afford to pay for counseling ourselves. Not only is our emotional relationship a wreck, so is our sexual one. He has a hard time "finishing" the act, sometimes it takes hours, and he has to concentrate so hard that it becomes not fun for either one of us. When he was about 18, he was put on Trazadone, but it made him sleep for 18 hours at a time, and made him groggy when he was awake. He also has ADHD, but isn't on any medication for it. Due to his previous drug history, he is reluctant to put any kind of drug into his body, which is why he's "medicating" himself with alcohol. When he's not in those suicidal moods, he seems perfectly fine, and doesn't want to talk about any of it. I want us to be able to move on from this, but I just feel so lost and out of control.

Thanks for listening, and offering advice.

Crystal (cmjones311@yahoo.com)

iVillage Member
Registered: 04-07-2003
Wed, 06-25-2003 - 5:13pm
First while i'm hesitant to recommend other computer boards, on MSN is support boards that are co-es abuse support and male based abuse support boards. i myself am a member of the co-ed boards as i believe victims ae victims bottom line. Having once been suicidal i do not know about having your hands forced. While there is argument on both sides, i think trust is an issue and it is neccassary to explain that you will search for help for him on your own only if he will not and is aware of it. As you seem to love him very much i'm sure you would never hurt him purposely. I can only really reiterate what Heidie said. The PTSD is an issue for me and i think the lack of diagnosis in many victims is a barrier to getting well. Good luck to you and your husband. My thoughts are with you.
iVillage Member
Registered: 05-14-2003
Wed, 06-25-2003 - 7:43pm
Crystal, You're welcome! I'm glad to know that perhaps something I have to offer can help.

A few thoughts on medication: Trazadone is a very strong drug, usually not given unless other sleep medications have been tried and not worked or stopped working. Usually imipramine or amitriptolene are prescribed to begin with. It may be too powerful for his body, or the dosage may have been too high. You might want to ask him if they tried anything else first. Also, regarding the AD/HD, some people are worried about the medications for it being addictive. The medications are closely controlled, and they don't produce a "high" for folks who have AD/HD, like they would for other people. Adderall has been a godsend for my husband, who also had horrible, horrible chronic headaches and we went through every medication there is for them. Turned out it was AD/HD related; people who have this have to work so much harder to concentrate and filter out the extra noises and other stimuli around them that is is normal for them to become exhausted mid-afternoon and/or get headaches. The adderall helps with the filtering process for him.

The reason I mention the AD/HD again is because it may be playing a bigger role in your dh's struggles than he realizes. It concerns me that he is drinking as an alternative to medication, because that is extremely dangerous. AD/HD runs in my family. I believe strongly that my grandfather had it as well as PTSD from World War II, and he was a raging alcoholic. He drank to deal. It ruined his life and caused a lot of sorrow for my grandmother and their kids. I would hate for you to go through that.

If you would like to look into this further, I am also a cl on the Adults with ADD/ADHD board--my name there is cl-iheidi66. Feel free to drop by, I know you'd receive a warm welcome there as you have here. We have lots of significant others of ADDers come by there. Just click on the link below.

http://messageboards.ivillage.com/iv-bhgenadd

In the meantime, I know how frustrating it is to not have medical insurance. We've been there. Sometimes there are counseling services available through churches, etc. I'm not certain of how many services are out there; maybe others here can help supply more information on that. Perhaps you could call your local hospital and see if they have suggestions for suicide and/or PTSD support groups.

Hope today's a better day! Love, Heidi

HeidiRose

co-cl, Sexual Abuse Healing Board