Mad Like Alyce

What It’s Like to Be in Love When You Have PTSD

what its like to be in love with ptsdJust like most mental disorders, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder(PTSD) is just starting to become more widely understood, and I think this is quite apparent in the interactions I have had when discussing it. The first time I mentioned my diagnosis to my brother, who responded in confusion, “Isn’t that only for war veterans?” or when going over a pre-op questionnaire with a nurse who asked if my PTSD was related to military service. I certainly understand why they were confused. It took me years to understand that what I was experiencing were symptoms of PTSD, and many more years before I was able to manage it.

A definition

The official DSM-IV description for PTSD is, “the development of characteristic symptoms following exposure to an extreme traumatic stressor,” and goes on to say, “Traumatic events that are experienced directly include, but are not limited to, military combat, violent personal assault (sexual assault, physical attack, robbery, mugging), being kidnapped, being taken hostage, terrorist attack, torture, incarceration as a prisoner of war or in a concentration camp, natural or manmade disasters, severe automobile accidents, or being diagnosed with a life-threatening illness.”

Even a quick Google search for “causes for PTSD”, shows a quick snapshot in the Google Answer Box:

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) can develop after a very stressful, frightening or distressing event, or after a prolonged traumatic experience. Types of events that can lead to PTSD include: serious road accidents, violent personal assaults, such as sexual assault, mugging or robbery.

Changing perceptions

Even people who are familiar with PTSD can misunderstand how the disorder functions for different people… nothing has made this more obvious to me than loving someone who has survived a war.  My partner is a survivor of the war in Bosnia in the early 90s, and although he doesn’t have PTSD himself, he knows a lot of people that do.

During a recent panic attack, we started talking my way through it, and he said, “I don’t get it, I know a lot of people who have PTSD, and they don’t struggle like this.” (before you get angry, he meant it in a sweet way, as in, he hates to see me suffering). I had two answers for him.

1. Don’t be fooled, we all struggle.

First and foremost, yes, they probably struggle just as much as I do. You just don’t see them. I’m sure 99% of the people I know, even the ones who know me well, would never guess I could be completely immobilized by panic attacks. I’ve just got really good at hiding it. The reason he even “gets” to see me struggle is because I trust him, and I’m able to work through my triggers around him, in the safe space that is our home.

The fact that he sees my panic attacks can sometimes make them even worse. Although I have learned it is so much easier for me to communicate to him when I am struggling, I still sometimes try to power through it on my own. To tackle the monster in my mind before it gets out into the real world where it simply looks… crazy. Sometimes, I simply don’t recognize the trigger for what it is until it has sucked me down the rabbit hole.

Once I am in the throws of a panic attack, it is magnified by the fear that this one, THIS panic attack, will be THE ONE. The straw that breaks the camel’s back and he will realize that he doesn’t want this in his life anymore. I certainly wish it wasn’t in mine, but unlike me, he has a choice. This choice, this possibility that we could once again be alone to face our monster multiplies the fear tenfold, and more often than not, makes things much worse.

2. I am in love with my greatest trigger.

It was a huge shock, both for him and myself, to realize this. Even though my PTSD trauma was years in my past, for me, being in a romantic relationship forces me to face one of my greatest triggers on a daily basis. I know that for many people, relationships played no part in their trauma. In respects to being in love, they may experience some things exactly the same, some things close enough the can relate, and other things completely different. We are all the same, just as much as we are all different… and our perceptions are all unique.

A true love/hate relationship

For me, being in love while having PTSD is the definition of a love/hate relationship. I want to be in a relationship, to truly open my heart to someone, but I hate that the fear of making myself vulnerable makes me cower in fear. I want the joy and excitement of moving in together instead of the dread of losing my safe place. I want to enjoy intimacy, but cannot focus over the screaming in my mind.

I want to get married, to buy a house, to have a children, to grow a family… without being terrified that each step towards these dreams is another obstacle to prevent escape. I want to feel love, but to open up my emotions enough to truly love also opens the door for the demons I try so hard to keep at bay. Its not possible to feel something as strong as love and remain numb to everything else.

Love is a journey

I have read so many articles that have claimed that love is a journey, and this couldn’t be more true for those of us with PTSD. Sometimes, instead of stopping to smell the roses, you first have to show us they are there. Sometimes you will have to push us along, and be patient with us when we slam on the brakes, or even back up a few steps to get the lay of the land. And sometimes, even when we can’t see where this journey is taking us, we can look back and realize just how far we have traveled with pride.

Hello!

Hi! I'm Alyce.
Welcome to my journey towards living a happier and healthier life while living with PTSD and chronic pain... and never letting it keep me from my passion for Halloween, cooking, and way too many DIY projects... all at the same time!

Costume & Makeup Tutorials

Instagram

  • Good things happen when you leave the apartment for the first time in a week! These must've gotten dropped off when I was taking a nap, I opened my front door to find this gorgeous Halloween bouquet on my doormat from @bkbecker! I just can't get over those adorable bats!!! #ihavethebestfriends #halloween
  • Rose Madder has an ethereal beauty and raw feminine power, however, something is off... something not quite human. The shadows under her skin would be perhaps leprosy, perhaps something worse, and her eyes are rabid with madness. “Don't look at her face! That is not for the likes of you.”
She was fascinated by the texture of the woman's back, her bare shoulder, and the lower part of her neck. The skin was finer than watered silk. But farther up on her neck... Rosie didn't know what those grey Shadows lurking just below her hairline could be, and didn't think she wanted to know. Bites were her first wild thought, but they weren't bites. Rosie knew bites. Was it leprosy? Something worse? Something contagious? 
Products used in this look are: 
Woochie cream makeup in Dead Guy Grey, @mehronmakeup aqua color in white and gray, Light green cream makeup from the zombie color set from Woochie, Eyeshadows from the @tartecosmetics artist palette.
Gold aqua color from the Mehron brilliant palette, @bennyemakeup bruise wheel.
Full tutorial on the blog!
  • One of the reasons I love Stephen King novels is because he illustrates just enough of the character for your imagination to kick in and fill in the horrifying details that make it real and terrifying for each individual. Because this has never before been made into a motion picture I was really excited to be able to make my own spin on how Rose Madder would appear for round 3 of the #StrykingFEAR contest. Check out the full tutorial, now up on the blog, link in bio!
  • Here is my entry for round 3 of the #StrykingFEAR contest. Inspired by the recent excitement around the movie IT, I wanted to create a character from another of my favorite Stephen King novels, Rose Madder. The book is set in the late 80s or early nineties but I would imagine that it would be produced in the style of many of his older movies from the 70s and 80s such as The Shining, Carrie, or Salem's Lot.
This novel is unique to me because it includes elements of Greek mythology which is a different angle for Stephen King, and also because it covers the topic of domestic abuse, and with October also being domestic abuse awareness month I felt that it was very timely. In the book, Rose Madder is an “almost goddess” that saves the main character, Rosie, by showing her how to empower herself and escape from her abusive husband. 
One of the reasons I love Stephen King novels is because he illustrates just enough of the character for your imagination to kick in and fill in the horrifying details that make it real and terrifying for each individual. Because this has never before been made into a motion picture I was really excited to be able to make my own spin on how Rose Madder would appear.
Rose Madder has an ethereal beauty and raw feminine power, however, something is off... something not quite human. The shadows under her skin would be perhaps leprosy, perhaps something worse, and her eyes are rabid with madness. “Don't look at her face! That is not for the likes of you.”
  • Super excited to be entering the #StrykingFEAR Contest! It all started when I came across the round one intro video from @miss_stryx back in August. Suddenly I had a deliciously horrifying idea that has led to an awesome collaboration with @jibclimmer and I was more excited about Halloween this year then I have been for any years prior. Thanks @miss_stryx for the inspiration! Since I had to rush everything because of my surgery last week, I'm still working on editing and will actually be posting the rounds in reverse order. Round three coming up soon!
  • It's showtime!!!! It's been an interesting last week recovering  from my recent shoulder surgery, but in between bouts of falling asleep randomly and mindlessly watching television, I've been able to work on some of the video to tutorials I shot prior to the surgery. These are gonna be coming at you here pretty soon! In the meantime, here is my Beetlejuice from last year which you can find a tutorial for on the blog, both make up and costume! Link in bio.
  • I didn't want to say anything, then... or even now. But what someone else decided to do became a part of who I am now. A part of the damage I will always carry. My voice may have been small while I put myself together. Until I learned that the part of me that I am proudest of, the strength in me to overcome, is something you will never take. #metoo
  • Should have known #fridaythe13th would be the PERFECT day to start shooting my next project. You guys... I can't even begin to say how excited I am to share it with you, but for now, a quick peek.
  • Even in death, #pumpkinspice is life! Zombie walks are popping up all around the country, and if you want to wear your costume early as a "zombie" but don't want to actually damage the costume, this basic zombie is perfect! Or for me, it's a casual October Saturday....

@madlikealyce

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