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!

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  • Anybody else struggle this time of year? I’m looking at these lovely sunbeams from my Alice In Wonderland shoot this summer to bring some sunshine to my day. I’ll be doing just fine, then be lying on the couch trying to feel like I can breathe again. I know it is ok, and these increased symptoms will pass, but it’s certainly not fun, especially when I have projects and ideas id like to tackle, but can’t get past this paralyzing anxiety. What do you guys use to help with SADD? #SADD #anxiety #ptsd #seasonaldepression  #winteristheworst #whydoilivehere
  • Halfway done! Still a ton to do, and I’ve learned ALOT already, like how not to sew in an invisible zipper, that I need a seam ripper, and need to invest in real fabric shears. But it’s actually coming together! Having never used a pattern before, I admit I looked at the pile of paper with some skepticism. Also, it kind of matches my couch. 😂 #cosplay #sewing #mccallspatterns #mccalls #mccallscosplay #spacesuit #plussizecosplay
  • Hanging out with mystic while I tackle my next sewing project. I like to think her interest is in hanging out with me, but there is a high chance she just wants the Fritos I’ve been munching... #cosplay #cosplaydog #sewing #mccallspatterns #cosplaymccalls #pitbull #pitbullsofinstagram
  • Bull in boots! It was enough of a battle to get her into them, and she refuses to move anywhere wearing them! 😂😂😂 I was so looking forward to a little dance, but so far she is just laying there looking helpless. Maybe if I get out the peanut butter? #pitbull #pitbullsofinstagram #doginboots #notcoolmom
  • I decided to spring for new ornaments this year and went from hyper colorful to classic beauty with a Gryffindor Christmas tree, complete with Hedwig ornaments! No DIY here (except the jingle bell snitch) just a very content Gryffindor snuggling on the couch enjoying the lights and a glass of wine. #twomoresleeps #harrypotterchristmas #gryffindor #housepride
  • New Christmas gift to myself... the long curly in emerald green from @rockstarwigs ! I’m hoping my ideas for some holiday makeup looks can inspire me to get back at it now that I can finally use my right arm! Any guesses or requests? #merrychristmastome #cosplaychristmas #rockstarwigs
  • The top 9 for madlikealyce! It has been a fantastic year, trying out all kinds of new things and really expanding on my love for makeup and cosplay. Thank you to all of my AMAZING FRIENDS AND FOLLOWERS who have been with me on this journey. I can wait until my shoulder has healed enough to get back to it, I have a whole LIST of things I am dying to try! In the meantime, I’m at least back to writing on the blog, so make sure to check me out there, Link in bio. ❤️ you all!
  • Sick day snuggles. But at least it’s my first day out of the sling! #countdownisover #pitbullsofinstagram #pitbull #drinkallthetea
  • My new favorite IG account... u need to scroll through these posts! #Repost @iamtheswimreaper (@get_repost)
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