What Your Loved Ones Are Afraid to Tell You About Your PTSD

Author: IAFF Staff

January 18, 2018

Being a fire fighter or paramedic struggling with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a heavy burden to bear. Maybe nightmares prevent you from getting enough sleep. Maybe you constantly feel exhausted, on-edge or numb. Maybe even little things — like going to the grocery store, driving to work or hearing a child laugh — trigger paralyzing anxiety or all-consuming anger. Amid this internal chaos, it’s easy to feel like you’re out of control, or that you’ll never feel like yourself again.

You might ignore these thoughts and feelings or pretend they don’t exist.  You might think “If I just focus on other things, I’ll forget that horrible call from a few months ago, and everything will go back to normal.” But the more you try to suppress or ignore these symptoms, the more likely they are to persist. Meanwhile, the people who love you the most have likely noticed that you haven’t been yourself. They want to help you, but they don’t know how.

Every day, representatives at the IAFF Center of Excellence take calls from frantic family members who don’t know what to do or where to turn. Many are afraid to tell you what they think or fear about your PTSD. Ironically, these unspoken truths from your spouse, children, family members or friends may be exactly what you need to hear to finally get the care you need:

  • “I can’t help you if you don’t let me in.”
  • “I want to feel close to you, but that isn’t important to you anymore.”
  • “Your trauma doesn’t just affect you.”
  • “The kids and I miss having fun with you.”
  • “You seem so on edge. I feel like I have to walk on eggshells around you.”
  • “I want my partner back.”
  • “I miss going places with you.”
  • “I see your struggle, but I don’t know how to help.”
  • “I’m afraid that you’re thinking about hurting yourself.”
  • “I know you’ve been through a lot, but your family needs you. I need you.”
  • “You need to help yourself before you can help other people.”  
  • “You can’t get better on your own. You need professional treatment.”

Some of these statements may seem harsh, but they don’t come from a place of judgment or disgust. They come from the hearts of loved ones who want the best for you. They are the people who are scared that PTSD, if left untreated, could ruin your life or even drive you to end it. As difficult as these things are to hear, the feelings and thoughts of the people who care about you most may be what motivates you to finally get the help you need, once and for all.

The decision to get treatment is in your hands. Only you can make the choice to begin a professional program and commit to it fully. PTSD won’t go away on its own. You need to address it head on… for yourself and the people who love you.

If you’re struggling with PTSD, you can heal. Listen to your loved ones and give them the peace of mind that comes with knowing you’re getting the care you need. At the IAFF Center of Excellence, you’ll be in good hands. This facility offers evidence-based treatments designed specifically for IAFF members. Whether you’re struggling only with PTSD or with a co-occurring substance use disorder as well, professionals at the Center can help you heal. Reach out to a representative today to learn more.

Medical Disclaimer: The IAFF Center of Excellence aims to improve the quality of life for people struggling with a substance use or mental health disorder with fact-based content about the nature of behavioral health conditions, treatment options and their related outcomes. We publish material that is researched, cited, edited and reviewed by licensed medical professionals. The information we provide is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It should not be used in place of the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare provider.

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