Loving someone who suffers from PTSD is difficult mainly because you cannot immediately put yourself in their position to understand their true feelings. Whether it’s a relative, partner or friend this blog will guide someone on how to better communicate and empathize with someone who has PTSD.
Everyone Needs Support
When we think about PTSD, many seem to rely on the stereotypical symptoms that are portrayed in media and entertainment as frantic behavior, manic episodes, and aggressive actions. While this may be the case for some, most of the people who suffer from daily PTSD are not looking for someone to control their reactions but rather to communicate and empathize with the things they may be experiencing. Someone with PTSD doesn’t have to be at their mental or emotional capacity at all times for you to genuinely offer support and guidance.
PTSD From An Outside View
Take a moment and think about what PTSD can look like versus what it should look like. There are countless possibilities of how someone can manage their PTSD, most of which you probably wouldn’t even know unless they were open about their healing. It is important to consider the biases that you may already hold when you think about PTSD because those who suffer from the disorder should never be grouped into one entity. Every individual has their unique way of dealing with and processing their triggers, emotional wounds, and mental barriers. As an outsider with no understanding of the complexities that go into living with PTSD, it is crucial that you can take a step back and remove whatever stigmas you associate with the disorder so you can be truly open and understanding of someone else’s pain. What may work for you during stressful or difficult times may not work for those with PTSD, so recognizing the privilege that you have in the absence of PTSD can make all the difference to someone who is truly hurting and seeking support.
How Can I Help Them?
PTSD is a common disorder that can affect even the most “normal” seeming people. Those who live with PTSD have come to understand their pain at a level that no one else can fully comprehend. When thinking about how and when you can help someone living with this disorder, you must keep in mind that PTSD is not just episodes and extremes. Being there for someone who has PTSD means showing up for them on their good days and bad days, having their triggers in mind when speaking to them, and being conscious of how they prefer to communicate and live. Below are some ways that you can consistently show up for someone who is experiencing PTSD without only focusing on the negatives:
- Celebrating them when they successfully confront something that triggers them
- Allowing for opportunities to openly communicate what stresses or worries them
- Being sympathetic to the triggers that seem “normal” to you
- Considering their mental and emotional state when beginning a conversation
- Keeping their PTSD symptoms in mind when making plans
Loving Someone Takes Patience
Loving someone who suffers from PTSD means putting aside what works best for you and considering how the disorder affects their life from an outside perspective. You don’t have to change everything about the way you speak and live, but understanding that they require additional support in their lives can be the gateway to a more trusting and understanding relationship. Witnessing someone come back from a traumatic experience and try to proceed with their lives despite the pain they may feel should be celebrated. By practicing patience and giving someone with PTSD the space they need to work through their feelings without the fear of judgment or rejection, you are creating a new and greater experience for them to rely on in their healing journey. Additionally, the patience that can be taught through communicating and loving someone with PTSD can be applied to all areas of life, making for more fruitful and enriching day-to-day experiences. If a loved one is struggling with their PTSD symptoms or you are finding difficulty in understanding their triggers, please do not hesitate to reach out to Amy Robbins Counseling where we can prodigy you with the tools and resources you need to understand PTSD.