I was speaking with a woman the other day that was so upset because her boyfriend, who has PTSD ignores her. After some probing, I came to realize that he is likely �spacing out� or dissociating. This can affect a relationship in that as one partner is tuning out and the other is tuning in. A perfectly normal reaction, but it makes things very uncomfortable in a PTSD relationship.
Dissociation is a huge symptom of posttraumatic stress and it�s very difficult to control. There are some solid physiological reasons for dissociation, but it�s how one partner deal with this symptom that makes a difference in a relationship. The bottom line is that people who have PTSD zone out so completely at times that they are hardly aware of what is going on around them. So, how do you deal with your partner spacing out most of the time? How do you deal with the feeling of being ignored? Education and communication are the keys to this.
When someone who has PTSD is dissociating, it is because his or her nervous system is overwhelmed. Since this is a stress disorder, it takes very little to become overwhelmed. When you notice that this is happening, you need to realize something very important. Your partner is not going to remember what you have said or done at this time. It is not realistic to expect someone who is experiencing severe dissociation to recall conversations or events that occurred while they were in that mental state. Their memory is not going to hold new information at that time.
In reality, he is indeed ignoring you. Of course he is ignoring you if he�s staring off into space and not answering your questions or talking with you. This can be very hurtful until you realize that PTSD produces severe dissociation. This is a symptom, and it�s a big problem for both parties. You have every right to be upset, but you also should to realize that it�s a biological reaction to stress that is very common among those with this disorder.
Now that you know this, you can plan more effectively. When someone is dissociating, don�t discuss things that require decision-making or recalling at a later date, like issues with the house or money issues. You will only become upset and frustrated later when you have to repeat yourself because he doesn�t remember. This is just going to cause a huge fight and make everyone feel bad. Save the things that you expect him to remember for a time when you know that you have his attention. You could also write important things, like house hold list or upcoming money issues down for him to read and think about at a later time. There is nothing wrong with writing a note to him telling him about all of the things that you were going to say. He will still get the message and come back with the appropriate response when he is able to communicate better. Dealing with a boyfriend or a girlfriend who has PTSD can be challenging and confusing at times. Sometimes you have to use a lot of critical thinking, common sense, and flexibility. At times, it is hard to know what will be the most helpful and what will set the person off. Ultimately, education is the key to dealing with PTSD. Once you know what to expect, it is not too difficult to personalize a solid plan that is specific to the person that you love.
Erin Harrington. I hold a BHSM and a MS/P. I have worked in the field of mental health for many years. In addition to being a sufferer of PTSD, I specialize in helping those who also have this disorder as well as the people that love them. Want to know how to manage and minimize the symptoms of PTSD and regain control of your life once again? Are you looking to help someone that you love through Post Traumatic Stress and have the best possible relationship with them? Visit my website below to find out how to bring the joy back into your life.