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Resources, Recovery and Inspiration 


Christmas and OSI's like Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and Complex PTSD do not go together well. Combine that with it being winter and Seasonal Affective Disorder comes along to exacerbate the symptoms, and you have a serious potential for negative consequences on decision-making influenced by sadness, grief, and anger. OSI tends to cause people to cover their true feelings of anxiety and depression by showing a happy face. For those dealing with PTSD, Christmas becomes a painful period with the stress of working to cover up their pain and look 'normal'. The result when covering up feelings that isn't successful can be tears, rage, shame, fear, guilt, and panic.

To deal with the Christmas season, you need to have the tools to plan out your strategy:

Choose What You’ll Do

Give yourself a sense of balance and control by making a plan, choose what you want to do or need to do then choose how long you have to or intend to be in that place.

Create an Exit Strategy

Not everything goes according to plan, and so you need a plan for before panic sets in. To stay calm and keep your mind at ease, having an exit strategy for when you have a panic attack or need a moment to breathe and calm down can help keep your calm.

It’s not your job to keep everyone else happy

To manage your PTSD with some effectiveness, remember that you need to develop a limit on your interactions and activities. You cannot keep everyone happy and so saying no and avoiding places and events that will set back your healing is not a bad thing.

Be Realistic

One person cannot attend every Christmas event over the holidays and should not be expected to. If you are getting overwhelmed, put yourself first and pull back on some commitments. You need self-compassion and need to take care of yourself.

Get Some Alone Time

Spending time alone isn't always just about avoiding stress, sometimes it is that time alone that can give you the energy to exist each day. Schedule time to be by yourself if your Christmas schedule is busy.

Don’t Think Ahead

Thinking about an event can add to the anxiety in one's mind, stick to thinking about one thing at a time as much as possible and one can have that much more of a chance at a peaceful mind this Christmas.

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Build your knowledge of PTSD Have you heard that knowledge is power? It is, but only if you know how to apply it. Understanding more about post traumatic stress disorder will help you support your partner. You will have more empathy when their PTSD symptoms are triggered. And you will be better positioned to live in the moment together. Reach out for your own support Psychological trauma therapy is vital to successful ongoing management of PTSD. We know it helps the outcomes for both PTSD and PTSD relationships. However caregiver burden is common in PTSD relationships. And the supporter almost always benefits from having their own professional support too. Learn how to be supportive without enabling Everyone only wants the best for their loved one with PTSD. We hope that love will conquer all. But unfortunately love isn’t all it takes. And sometimes our love can lead us blindly into the vicious cycle of enabling. It’s so important to know the difference between supporting and enabling for the best balance in PTSD relationships. Set some healthy boundaries Creating boundaries might seem like a selfish thing to do. But without them, you’ll soon find yourself feeling angry, resentful or exhausted. Healthy boundaries are all about choosing to live according to your own core values. They are not about restricting or punishing your loved one. Make regular self-care a priority Caregivers are so accustomed to directing all their energy and attention towards their loved one, they often forget to look out for themselves. Self-care is about reserving some of that love and compassion for yourself. Allowing regular time for self-care not only restores your peace of mind, but keeps you healthy too. Connect with others in PTSD relationships Talking with other people on a similar journey can be very comforting. When you find and connect with others who truly get it, the relief and encouragement you gain is very valuable. You could find local support groups for PTSD partners, or search for communities online.

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Average divorce rates in most Western countries hover around the 50% mark, however the divorce rate for PTSD relationships may climb alarmingly to around 70%.

Yes, you read that correctly. Only about 3 out of 10 marriages will survive long-term once PTSD enters the relationship.

Disheartening, to say the least.

But when you consider that many cases of PTSD go undiagnosed, and that rates of divorce do not include de facto or other relationship types, then accurate statistics of any kind are virtually impossible to calculate.

And divorce only tells part of the story. It’s really only the tip of the iceberg. Do we honestly assume the remaining 30% of these marriages happy and healthy amidst the challenges of PTSD?

The damage that PTSD can wreak on relationships can be extensive, especially when help and support is not available or accessed.

And many of us will struggle through, barely uttering a word.


What first comes to mind when you think of PTSD relationships?

It’s likely to be the type you’re already involved in. Or perhaps you’re automatically assuming, because of all this talk of divorce rates, that a discussion on PTSD relationships is only relevant if a couple is married?

Wrong. PTSD relationships take many different forms, and all have their own unique obstacles.

Read on to see where your relationships fits:


Whether your partner was diagnosed with PTSD before you met or after, committing to a ‘forever after’ as a PTSD spouse can change the dynamics of your marriage. Many spouses will benefit from seeking their own support network and building their knowledge about post traumatic stress disorder.


Similar to a married couple but with one key distinction. Those who encounter PTSD during their engagement may be more likely to question whether they’re ready to commit to a partner with PTSD. The partner may or may not be accepting of their PTSD diagnosis or receiving treatment, making the future uncertain.


More casual PTSD relationships, and those still in the early stages, will usually be somewhat buffered from the full effects of PTSD. The person with PTSD will often try to push aside their worst symptoms for the sake of the budding relationship. And the early ‘honeymoon effect’ also helps to overshadow most of the confronting signs of post traumatic stress.

Ex (with children)

Your intimate relationship may have ended, either before or after your partner’s PTSD diagnosis. But with children to consider you still need to maintain an ongoing effective relationship with your ex partner. Your children will also need guidance and support in navigating their own relationships with their PTSD parent.

Ex (without children)

Generally more straight forward than a PTSD relationship that breaks down when children are involved. There still may be mutual friends, colleagues and social groups to negotiate if you have separated from your partner with PTSD. There may also be shared property or investments to work through together.


Depending on the cause, those who have a parent with PTSD may likely not have any memory of their parent without a psychological injury. Their parent’s PTSD symptoms will be viewed as normal personality traits. Younger children are at risk of blaming themselves for their parent’s PTSD symptoms and episodes. Adolescents may struggle against their boundaries. And once grown, adults may seek their own support and gain more awareness of their parent’s PTSD.


Your child with PTSD may still actually be in their childhood or they may already be a grown adult themselves. With children and adolescents, your role as their parent is to not only love and support them unconditionally, but to ensure they have regular access to the best professional support. For adult children, your role will still be one of love and support.


Sibling relationships vary greatly, not only family to family but also due to differences in gender and age. A person with PTSD may lean heavily on a close sibling for support, or possibly not even disclose their diagnosis with an estranged sibling. With limited information, a sibling with PTSD may display symptoms that could be taken out of context and damage the relationship even further.

Extended family

Extended family encompasses all those who are often, but not always, slightly more removed from the day to day issues of PTSD relationships. Examples include grandparents, grandchildren, aunts, uncles and cousins. The amount of information offered by the individual about their PTSD will ultimately determine the effects on this PTSD relationship.


As with any PTSD relationship, a platonic friendship can encounter issues when a person is struggling with PTSD. The support and compassion offered may differ depending on the genders involved. And some PTSD problems, such as alcohol abuse, may be difficult to navigate in certain friendships, particularly those between men.

Stay tuned for our next installment where we are covering key issues of PTSD and Relationships!!

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Our mission is to inspire hope and contribute to the continuous well-being and recovery process of Veterans and Front Line Protectors across Canada.


We seek to empower and encourage them to strive for recovery through peer and professional support while creating greater public awareness.

We at OSI-CAN do not see PTSD or Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder as a Disorder, we see it as an Injury you can recover from.  If you are suffering from the symptoms of an Occupational or Operational Stress Injury, then a PTSD or PTSI diagnosis is not required to get our help

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