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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  • How appropriate that I dressed up as Sally at the haunted house last night, because I was featured as Sally on @liquidcosplay in the same day... Halloween no less! I love love love this costume, and it’s the one that got me started in cosplay and makeup. #halloween #cosplay

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If you've got it, haunt it. Here's @madlikealyce as Sally from The Nightmare Before Christmas. 🎃 Visit her page for more great cosplay!
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#nightmarebeforechristmas #nightmarebeforechristmascosplay #sallyandjack #sallystitches #sallyragdoll #halloween #halloweencosplay #halloween2018 #happyhalloween #EverydayIsHalloween #CreepItReal #repost #cosplay #cosplays #cosplayer #cosplayers #cosplaying #cospositive #cosplaylife #cosplaygirl #cosplaygirls #girlswhocosplay #cosplaybabe #sexycosplay #cutecosplay #womenofcosplay #girlsofcosplay #curvycosplay
  • You would think that I would have done makeup on all of my family at this point, but sadly that is not the case, however, I was thrilled to have the opportunity to do my brother's makeup after the haunt had opened Saturday night! He managed to pull together an incredible maroon clown outfit, and I am really pleased how the makeup looks! I personally like the messier clowns, and it worked well to have brighter pink-ish hues toned down by smudges of black and watering down the paint overall. 
#clown #clownmakeup #hauntlife #hauntedhouse #halloween
  • My first ever zombie for Halloween was a shotgun bride, and although it was a real bridal gown with real shotgun damage, I just used 3 or 4 latex bullet wounds. It was fun, and a great introduction to using prosthetics, but it wasn't really accurate to what I would have had for damage with an actual shotgun wound. So years later, I made up for it by re-creating a more realistic wound of where the shoulder and partial face would have been torn up by the blast. Personally, this is my favorite zombie creation to date! #zombie #zombiemakeup #zombiebride #shotgunbride #zombiecrawl #woundmakeup
  • Ready for my closeup!!! Getting ready for Sioux Falls Zombie Crawl tomorrow!!! #zombie #zombiemakeup #zombiecrawl
  • OK you guys, this is where I love the internet. I created this zombie 2 years ago and had (kind of) forgotten about it until just this week when someone re-created it... and she is on the other side of the globe! Seriously, it made my my entire day/week/month, and reminds me why I love doing this. <3 <3 <3
#zombie #zombiemakeup #zombiecrawl #halloween2018
  • Its GO TIME PEOPLE! T-Minus 7 days to HALLOWEEEEEEEEEEN. Im running on fumes and caffeine, but it is 100% worth it. I love working at the haunted house, and am beyond thrilled about this coming weekend. I still have 2 costumes to finish and 2 zombies to do, plus some donut deliveries (a great fundraiser... friends scared of clowns? Send them donuts a-la-clowns). One more look at this first clown because I was obsessed with this wig from Rockstar wigs... I WILL find a way to use it again in the near future. #hauntlife #hauntedhouse #clowns #halloween2018
  • I had a request to recreate a clown mask as a makeup so it wouldn’t be as hot to wear in the house (swipe to see said mask), and it was quite the learning experience. I made this about a month ago when I was still trying to use the cream paints that the haunt had, though I’ve since decided to buy more of my own water paint to use on my actors. The base here was the basic white clown grease paint, and while I loved the coverage, it felt awful to wear, and it was incredibly difficult to add fine details with cream paint or shadows. So my first and last grease paint clown! 🤡 I still think it’s important to share our failures as well as the successes... this is still far better than what I might have created even just a year ago! #clowns #hauntedhouse #halloween
  • Hey Guys! I've been quiet on Insta so far this October, but its because IM SO BUSY and i'm pretty much in Halloween Heaven. Between finishing my first commissioned costume (its super simple, but I completed foam armor for the first time!!!) and doing makeup at the haunted house, i've hardly had time for sleep... and I wouldn't have it any other way. 
This is one of my first clown practice runs. I tried doing 30 minutes or less, and initially I wasn't planning on posting. Having a few days of the crazed makeup chaos that is getting ready for house open under my belt, I have a new appreciation for what details you can and simply cannot complete in such a short time period, and kind of like the grunge this clown pulled off. Not everything you will create is perfect, but thats how we all learn! #clowns #hauntedhouse #halloweenmakeup #halloween2018
  • I think this barrel look could make a great clown character.... am I going over to the dark side and starting to like clowns?!?! Only time will tell, and there are still 20 days until Halloween! #nightmarebeforechristmas #halloweentown #lockshockandbarrel

@madlikealyce

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