Wedding Woes

You have PTSD. Therapy, LW.

Dear Prudence,

My husband is wonderful and we love each other very much. He also has depression and about two years ago he had several psychotic episodes, during which time he was abusive toward me. I did not leave him because I was aware he was not himself. He has found the right medications and therapist, and is doing wonderfully. He is the best version of himself, and we are actually happy. I, however, cannot free myself of the trauma he caused me. I understand he was not himself at the time, but that doesn’t make it hurt less. Little things trigger memories almost every day, like putting in eyedrops or pressing the space bar when I’m working. I can usually brush them off, but sometimes when I drink, I get angry. He knows exactly how I feel and tries to be supportive, but he is not in the place of helping for he was the one who caused my trauma. I went to therapy for a while and it helped, but I can no longer afford it. We are strictly socially distancing, and I do not want to burden my friends with this. I feel alone. How can I help myself?

—Stuck in the Past

Re: You have PTSD. Therapy, LW.

  • I truly believe that spouses of those with mental health issues also need therapy as much as the spouse with mental health issues does.

    How can you be supportive without being able to accept that things are hard, or in this person's case - previous trauma.

    I watched my mum help my dad and she knows she should have sought help for herself - almost to have someone say "yes, it's hard. You are doing what you can" {validation essentially} 
  • Just because his abuse may have been tied to mental health doesn’t mean you have to stay married to him. 
  • If Prudie answers in real time, this means LW's H was abusive about a year before the pandemic give or take.  So he was only in therapy and on adjusted meds for about a year before they were locked in a house full time together.  I've never been abused, but with any behavior, there had to be an adjustment period.  Also if he was finding the right meds, that was likely a process within itself.  I also can't imagine the pandemic helped anything.  

    I'm also struggling with his mental illness being the 'reason' for being abusive. That's akin to blaming being drunk for saying racist or anti-Semitic things.  

    Separation and therapy should happen, at the very least.  But I'm not sure how you save this if LW can't get past wondering if he'll go back to abusing them. 
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