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It's that time again - yesterday was one of those frantically busy days, it was utterly exhausting..

Let's start where it began, first..

I am living together with my fiancé almost 2 years now (about 6 months in our own flat). He has PTSD, many hospital stays in the past and a severe trauma because of his experiences in war in the American army. I have mental illness, too which I have to live with and what makes things different for me for that reason alone.
We met in the clinic and we both quickly realized, that we want to share our lives together. I like to remember this early time - not without pain in the last weeks - very much. Of course we were still head over heels in love, but from the beginning of our relationship it was a very special one, not only to me. We both thought that we found the "one" for us. For me our relationship was special because from the beginning there was great trust, great understanding and great conversation. To all of those the last months left their marks. I love my partner very much, unfortunately I am pushed to my limits...

... for better understanding, why, I think yesterday is a good example:
After one week of him remaining silent, being isolated and ignoring me, and telling me that he feels depressed after all (even though he couldn't tell why) today was the straw that broke the camel's back...

Yesterday he told me that he feels a "Todestrieb" (death/suicidal drive), that he feels very bad. After a long shopping-marathon, I needed short time for me, just one short downtime. We had long discussions and after we reached home I told him, that I just go outside because I need one moment for myself, to think about some things. And I did so (which I have never done before). I went out of the city in my car and was standing in the dark, thinking .. I thought about his behavior (to me), which hurts the most. He often told me, that I have nothing to do with his bad feeling, but he also changed his behavior (no hugging, no closeness..). But it hurts anyhow, that he does so - out of the blue, without knowing why.
Anyway, I came home after about one hour - and he wasn't at home (no notice from him, where he is, he did not take his mobile with him..). Instead our dog alone in the corridor. Then it came to my mind what he told me this day and I was terrified, worrying about him.
First I called a friend and she encouraged me to call the emergency or something like that. After not getting hold of someone at the crisis line and after calling the clinic emergency with the same efforts, I decided to call the police. Already after about 20 minutes, 5 police officers visited me and asked me some questions about him. They were very friendly and helpful, they started to search for him immediately. After about 2 hours two of them came to me again and asked some questions again and wanted to start the search with a "Suchhund" (mantrailer). Then suddenly he was standing outside. Of course he was drunk (he is an alcoholic..) and then upset because of 5 police officers standing in front of him.
Because of his trauma he overreacted then. After a discussion with one police man he finally was ready to go with them to the clinic where a doctor should decide if he pose a danger for himself (or others). Of course my first thought (after being relieved that he is well) was, that this situation is not good for him - but what should I have done else?

After he spoke to the doctor in the clinic, who told me, that he is out of danger (not for sure, but as he saw it) we went home. While we were driving home he blamed me for calling the police without understanding (just a little bit) why I was so worried about him,  no comment why he didn't leave me a notice and the nice sentence that it is nothing to me, where he was.

I am at a loss, helpless by now. I gave him the time he needed for himself, I left him alone, now and then I brought him something to eat, brought him sweets, did the chores, cared for the dog and everything else.. anytime in this week I asked him, why he doesn't speak to me and became figuratively a slap in the face with the only thing he said - he feels like inquisition / or "Stasi", because I would be asking the same questions on and on again..

As I said, I am helpless. I don't know how to react "the right way" in those moments. This time I just kept my appointments, did the chores, everything on my own without including him (except asking him, if he wants to come with me and take the dog out yet). The point is I am much worried about his health in those situations, because he doesn't eat, sleep, etc. (and he is not 20 anymore..) and he should not drink alcohol.

After this evening I wonder if I am too much worried about him. On the other hand I know that he had an attempted suicide (few years ago), sometimes he "forgets" to take his medics, he overindulges himself and then yesterday his "Todestrieb".

I don't know what to do, wondering if I could do anything at all.
Furthermore I have to deal with my own problems / illness and have to care for myself a little bit, and I cannot do so on days like yesterday. He is my fiancé and of course I am worried about him (not only in times like these).

The police officer told me that it was the right decision to call them, it was a bit helpful, but his behavior tells a different story..

Maybe someone out there knows about such situations, has experiences, advice how to react in those times. Of course I will read in other diaries here, which could help me also.
Certainly I forgot some things to tell here, I did not tell the whole previous history, but maybe someone here can help me, anyway. I would be thankful for any advice, any answer I would appreciate.

Thanks a lot!

StellaSophie

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Comment Preferences

  •  Sometimes you have to take care of you... (5+ / 0-)

    First off you need a local support group or therapist to help you through your own issues and help deal with his. Second HE needs a therapist to help deal with his PTSD and depression. It sounds to me like you need to take care of you a bit, and that's going to be a big part of it. If he cares about you and this relationship he should be willing to see a therapist and get the help he needs both for  himself and for you.
    This is not a situation you can handle on your own at this point.

    "Madness! Total and complete madness! This never would've happened if the humans hadn't started fighting one another!" Londo Mollari

    by FloridaSNMOM on Thu Apr 26, 2012 at 09:49:58 AM PDT

    •  ... and I'm trying (0+ / 0-)

      Yes, that is very true, and because I know this, I have a therapist for my own problems. I just forgot to tell (like I suspected). And what I am more glad about - I could make an appointment for him and he has one, finally.

      The point is, (and I do have professional experience in this area, studied psychology and worked with people who have mental illnesses..) that one thing is what you know about the illness and one very different is, how you react on it, when you are concerned in your private life. I think he would have another idea of my understanding, if it would be possible to deal with it, if I would be his therapist or something like that.
      I assume, he would be surprised. But it's about feelings, offended sensibilities, and the most important thing: conversation (or better the absence of it). It helps, when I am saying to me "he doesn't mean to be so ignorant, cold and sometimes mean, he doesn't know better in the moment) - but that's the hardest part. He seems to think, that I have to know how to react and expects understanding, but without any explanation, not just a word about. And that is simply not possible (we don't know each other that long, that I can read his mind..)

      •  Ok, in this you can't be his therapist... (0+ / 0-)

        you're too close to it. You have to distance that part of yourself a bit. Be his fiance, his support, his love, but NOT his therapist right now. I know it's hard to turn off, trust me, but that may be making things worse in his head right now (causing some resentment/frustration for him). Talk to him, even if you start with mundane things, ask his opinion about things, simple things dinner, dresses, plans..(do you like this, or this better). And perhaps take time to go on a date somewhere you've both enjoyed in the past, maybe somewhere not so crowded and that doesn't remind him of negative things.

        "Madness! Total and complete madness! This never would've happened if the humans hadn't started fighting one another!" Londo Mollari

        by FloridaSNMOM on Thu Apr 26, 2012 at 02:32:30 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  My wife is physically disabled (3+ / 0-)

    and it's bad when I get sick at the same time, because most of the time I'm the one that has to make sure we live our lives when she just can't help.

    My situation is not nearly as tough as yours, psychological problems are harder than physical (me and my wife can't change what our bodies can do, but we can always change how we react to it).

    That said, there is a point where sometimes you have to not just take care of yourself, but get someone else to take care of you a little bit.   When my wife is capable of doing so, I let her know how much I appreciate the respite from having to be the person who "gets things done" and "makes decisions".  When she isn't capable, I sometimes seek out situations where I'm the one being taken care of to feed my emotional batteries.   If you can afford it, dining alone at a sit-down restaurant which has good service is a refreshing change.  You can even let the waiter make the decisions on what you eat, if you want to wallow.   Likewise something like a massage, etc can help.

    A similar strategy is to try to carve out time in everyday life where your partner assures you that they're good for a while, and you're free to do whatever you want.  Hobbies or activities out of the house where you don't have to consider your partners needs can be kind of emotionally liberating.

    Remember, this is from a context where most of your life is shared, where one party in the relationship has to do more of the everyday stuff and where you do some fun/social things together.  I'm not saying go hide from the relationship or withdraw, I'm saying to carve some time out to take care of your own needs, when your partner isn't reliably capable of taking care of you because of their own problems.

    Mostly, I get a lot of emotional energy from my relationship - in many ways my wife is what makes my little successes or failures in life meaningful - talking it over with her, sharing with her the ups and downs, etc.   But I'm a lot more resilient to her "bad times" when I have some space in my life where all I have to consider is my own wants/needs.

    Maybe this will help some.  It won't help with the kind of fear, when your partner seems liable to both do damage to himself and won't talk to you.  But the kind of strength to endure that doesn't come from nowhere, and won't exist if you don't have a chance to have something positive in your life.

    When things are bad that I can't control, a tactic I learned from a friend over 20 years ago sometimes helps.   She did household chores....because they're something you CAN succeed at, where you have a little victory with each success, where your environment is less chaotic and you can point to something you did that made a difference, however small.   Little worries eat at you too.  So when you have a big worry, doing things like cleaning the dishes in the sink, paying the bills, sorting the laundry, shopping, whatever....they help.

    •  talking it over with her, sharing with her the ups (0+ / 0-)

      and downs, etc. - this is what you wrote and this is exactly what I miss. I understand that now he is not in the condition to do so, but also if he would be, he doesn't speak. On the contrary - he often said "maybe I should just shut up and there would be no problems" - and the more he does so, the more I feel the distance between us growing.

      Maybe the strength consists of doing things for oneself, although one knows that the partner feels bad. When I imagine that I would take care of myself, doing things which you suggested (and which I think are good suggestions - perhaps I try this with the dinner - thank you :) - I would have a bad conscience (I'm having fun as he feels depressed etc..)
      Perhaps this is wrong, but I feel that I am just at the beginning of finding my way through this. I have to find my strength (again, which I lost anytime), although I survived or better because I survived nearly 20 years of being oppressed and abused from my dictatorial mother.

      Yes - I agree with you and your friend - doing things one can control while (bad) things happen you can not control, may be helpful. It is just a few days ago, that I thought I should spend more time with my hobbys.. and maybe that's another way on which I can be distracted from mulling over him / us.
      Thank you so much!

  •  Your love is wonderful (3+ / 0-)

    Your love for your friend is a wonderful thing and is blameless.  But you can not fix his PTSD or his alcoholism; those he must address himself.

    Both PTSD and alcoholism alone are associated with an increase risk of suicide, so I am not suprised your friend say he feels like killing himself.  The best way for your friend to avoid killing himself is to address his drinking.  You can not do this for him; he must do it himself.  He may choose not to, which is sad considering your love for him.

    You can tell your friend how you honestly feel, your love, and your fears.  Your feelings are true, and real, and there is no harm in saying what is real and true.  You can add that if your friend loves you he can best show it by not killing himself and addressing his drinking, and if he feels no motivation to do this for himself, then he can do it out of his love for you.

    You can not fix your friend, and your efforts to try and take care of his problems for him are bound to fail, and leave you feeling guilty ("I didn't do enough"), and exhausted, and crazy.  As an alcoholic, your friend is likely to blame you for your failure to fix his problems.

    Your situation is difficult, but not hopeless.  His outlook will likely change in a big way if he could stop drinking.  You need to insist on this for your own mental health

    "The fool doth think he is wise: the wise man knows himself to be a fool" - W. Shakespeare

    by Hugh Jim Bissell on Thu Apr 26, 2012 at 10:24:40 AM PDT

    •  also your comment has touched me (0+ / 0-)

      thank you so much!

      This lightens the darkness in my mind a little bit.
      But I am also frightened about your suggestion - just to talk to him about my feelings etc. In the moment I am not able to do this. Too much offending words were spoken, and that is only half the truth. The other half are my experiences in trying to speak with him, which too often went wrong. I am not just feeling me but also him getting colder, he just doesn't listen to me (and this were his own words).

      You mentioned his drinking - that is the first thing he does, when I am not at home. I must admit that he doesn't drink very often, he deals with it and mostly has success, but the situation ( I am just a few seconds away from home and the first thing he does, is going in a bar and drinking) leads us to a declining confidence. I wish, he would understand this, at least...

       

      •  Drinking destroys communication (0+ / 0-)

        Drinking and drug use destroy communication; this is one of the first things that happens with problem drinkers: they stop talking to their loved ones, and their loved ones fear talking openly because it could lead to more angry feelings.

        I urge YOU to get help - you need help in how to cope with living with an alcoholic, and you need to learn about PTSD and how that impacts your friend (f'instance, problem drinking and PTSD go hand in hand because alcohol is a great depressant - it softens the mental anguish of PTSD).

        Much of what you are experiencing now is very common in families where there is a problem drinker: talk of suicide, your fears of upsetting him, his going out to drink when you get home, the feeling you are both getting colder.  This is all typical when alcoholism is happening.

        You have not caused your friend's PTSD or his alcoholism.  Nor can you fix those problems.  These things are truely beyond your control.  

        What is within your control is how you behave with him and without him.  You can say to your friend:  "I love you.  I am very scared thinking you are going to kill yourself.  I am very scared the alcohol is making everything else worse.  My wish is for you to stop drinking.  I am not willing to watch you poison yourself, or to aid you in killing yourself slowly with alcohol"  These are difficult conversations to have, especially with someone you love.  You can check at your friend's treatment center to see if there is someone who can sit with you and your friend to help with this difficult talk.

        Many recovering alcoholics have told me that it wasn't until their loved ones and family kicked them out of the house were they then ready to stop drinking.  It may seem terribly cruel, but for some, that is the best way to reach them.

        I am sorry to hear about your troubles.  I wish for you courage to face these problems and peace of mind despite them.  These things you can have, no matter what the circumstances.  Keep writing, you have the makings of some great articles.

        "The fool doth think he is wise: the wise man knows himself to be a fool" - W. Shakespeare

        by Hugh Jim Bissell on Thu Apr 26, 2012 at 02:32:40 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Yes, you have to take care of yourself, first. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    FloridaSNMOM

    Part of the self-destructive cycle of depression can be pushing away those who would provide love and support.

    When everything seems dark, it is difficult to distinguish someone in your life whose love is a point of light.

    It is very difficult to do, but very important to realize one's own limitations in taking care of someone else.

    Keep yourself as well as you can so that you can continue to help your friend.

    He is lucky to have you in his life, and it is my hope for you both that he will become able to realize this and express it to you.

    The important and difficult job is never to find the right answers, it is to find the right question. For there are few things as useless–if not dangerous–as the right answer to the wrong question. -- P. Drucker

    by The Angry Architect on Thu Apr 26, 2012 at 11:10:51 AM PDT

  •  Assuming you are still in Germany, (0+ / 0-)

    for starters I would wonder how well he can truly communicate his issues to either you or health providers, and if, in addition to everything else, a sense of isolation is a contributing factor.

    •  Of course I am "still" in Germany (0+ / 0-)

      why not?

      To me he doesn't even talk - so the answer is easy to find: obviously he can not communicate his issues. I don't know how well he can do this to his health providers, but I assume he succeeds in overcoming the difficulties better than with me. (at least I hope so)

      I would say that not only isolation, maybe even more sleep deprivation, no social contacts, avoiding everything which belongs to "normal life" are contributing factors.

      But what should I do - force him to eat..etc.? - I am just not able to do this, this isn't me.

      What would be your advice?

    •  yes, of course I am "still" in Germany, (0+ / 0-)

      why not?

      To me he doesn't even talk - so the answer is easy to find: obviously he can not communicate his issues. I don't know how well he can do this to his health providers, but I assume he succeeds in overcoming the difficulties better than with me. (at least I hope so)

      I would say that not only isolation, maybe even more sleep deprivation, no social contacts, avoiding everything which belongs to "normal life" are contributing factors.

      But what should I do - force him to eat..? - I am just not able to do this, this is not me..

      What would be your advice?

  •  You did the right thing (0+ / 0-)

    He told you he felt suicidal, and then he disappeared.  If you hadn't called for help, and the worst had happened, imagine how you would have felt then.

    PTSD with alcoholism is an awful combination.  It does kill people.  And unfortunately love alone isn't enough to fix it.  You're right, your relationship is different, and much more challenging, than if you were his therapist.  Keep taking care of yourself, forgive yourself for not being a magic cure, and I hope he is able to accept the help he needs.  All you can do is make it clear that you love him, but you won't be blamed for his anger and depression and substance dependency, which you'll support him being treated for.

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