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Spouses of veterans who suffer from PTSD are reaching out to find others who understand on the Spouse Calls blog. They write to ask questions, to encourage each other, and to vent frustrations. Their stories are hard to hear, but important to share. Here are some of them, in their own words:

My loved one is suffering from PTSD. He is actively seeking help and is doing what he can to get better. He can be very withdrawn at times and can easily shut me out if he felt overwhelmed … I made some research of my own on how to cope and help him at the same time. It made a big difference. It is less painful now that I can understand his behavior better. He is very loving and supportive of me. I let him be alone if he needs to … He too understands the difficulties I have with him. I suffer on my own and I don’t let him be aware of it since he has too much on his hands to deal with already … I will continue to love him and be there for him no matter how long it takes.

— D

My husband was deployed to Iraq … He has PTSD, is getting treatment at the VA … But he is emotionally withdrawn from me, I miss the man I fell in love with. He can get angry for no reason and he will lash out at me, verbally. He knows he has changed he is not happy with it. We have done couples therapy and one-on-one marriage counseling, which has helped … I just feel hurt and miss the man I love. Today is my birthday, normally he would have made a big deal about it, today he did not even wish me happy birthday before leaving for work … I am glad I found this site, to have a place to vent. Thanks for listening.

— M

My husband was in the Army National Guard and served in Iraq. He returned in 2004 and has since been suffering from PTSD. He refuses to get any type of treatment or counseling. Obviously this has been affecting every aspect of our marriage. Just a couple of days ago he told me that he wants to separate for a while and just be by himself. I feel that my world is crashing down. I don’t think that depression and isolation are a good combination. Has anyone experienced something similar? Most of the time, I don’t even know what to say to him. How can I get him help if he refuses any type of help?

— J

That’s a very typical behavior of somebody that has PTSD … Does your husband have friends? Anybody that he relates to? Sometimes they tend to be more open to other people. Why? I really don’t know. It is very difficult to pass that stage of trying to understand every aspect of their behavior. Believe me, I almost gave up. I tried everything for him to open up. I think what helped me the most is just be there, don’t put pressure for him to speak up … Sometimes silence does help. He might start to realize it on his own. That was pretty much my last resort: to be silent. I am so sorry for what you’re going through. I’m still in the process. It does hurt I know. Be there for him and continue to love him. Love is powerful.

— D

To read more from spouses who have been there, and to find links to resources and information about PTSD, go to http://blogs.stripes.com/blogs/spousecalls.

Terri Barnes is a military spouse and mother of three. She and her family live in Germany, where her husband is stationed at Ramstein, AB. Send questions or comments to her at spousecalls@stripes.com.

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