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Learning CPTSD - do any carers have questions?

Hi 🙂


Due to the very nature of Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (CPTSD) I am estranged from all family. It's just part of my puzzle but unfortunately friends too are now very sparse. One thing that is helping along this CPTSD journey is by people asking questions. When questions are asked initially I don't have the answers (most of the time!) but by considering the question asked I formulate words and then try to explain the answer and by doing this it also makes me understand this puzzle a little better too.


So this is my long winded way of saying you and I can both learn from any CPTSD questions you may have. No question is stupid all I ask is that you be respectful. So are there any questions you have that we can both learn from?


Looking forward to thinking about responses!





Re: Learning CPTSD - do any carers have questions?

Hi Liz

thanks for your offer to help. I posted a similar message in the “introduce yourself” forum. I am new here.

I am in a fairly new relationship, less than one year. It is a loving relationship, we don’t live together but talk about it in our future. my partner has a diagnosis of Complex PTSD and anxiety and tends to dissociate. They are on medication for the anxiety which helps a lot.

We go along smoothly for a while, then a (ferocious) defensive trigger is tripped and things erupt and it is (almost) all over between us.... until my partner processes their response, then all is well again for a while...we both really want to address and change this cycle.

i am hoping for help in finding safe ways to bring up and talk with my partner about how the CPTSD impacts on and influences our relationship in difficult ways, without it being interpreted as an attack or as blame for “everything that is wrong” with us.

 My partner has clumsy management of time, apparent forgetfulness of occasional conversations and events, and various other elements of their personalities which leads me to believe they have DID, which they have managed all their life and might not be conscious of, but perhaps this all fits under C-PTSD and more general dissociative disorder.

I have read about and researched this diagnosis and have made a number of adjustments to my behaviour, and this has improved our journey. I also see my partner making effort and adjustments for my needs, so I am reassured. However any suggestions or helpful advice and experience I might learn from, how to gently and safely work towards a more even-keeled life with this fabulous human whom I love very dearly, would be so appreciated.

thanks again, perhaps this is too vast or broad a question. Kindest regards

Re: Learning CPTSD - do any carers have questions?

Hi @TV33

I'm so glad you reached out! First and foremost good on you! In my experience many prospective partners have put CPTSD in the too hard basket so it's genuinely great to see how much you care. If anything I write doesn't make sense please question me on it and I'll try to think of another way to order my words and similarly if anything I say that prompts another question please ask away!

Ok so ....

Triggers: they are the devil themself! In my experience the only may to get help with triggers is professional psychological help, there are just not enough tools in my tool box to fix something that is so complex. The irony of triggers is it has you withdrawing at the time you actually need the most support. Try to think of it less as a cycle and a more of a "it's not linear" progression.

Conversation: The safest way for me to talk about it is when things are going well. It's also when I don't want to talk about it because ... things are going well! Perhaps you could say to your partner. I see this is a hard time for you but I would really like to talk about this at a later date. Even write it down (but communicate you are writing it down). When things are rough the CPSTD brain doesn't think the way I want it to.

Time management: Your partner will need to find a strategy that works for them but that doesn't mean you can't help. You could purchase daily/weekly/monthly calendars or a wall calendar. Start with larger increments of time first - Like what's happening this month. Then progress to weekly break downs, then daily, then hourly. It's a big leap to go from brain chaos to order and your partner may need some stepping stones.

Memory: CPTSD is generally pretty bad. Our brains are trying the forget the bad of the past and it can't work out what it needs to keep.

DID: DID is VERY different from dissociation. Dissociation is a switch off. DID is a switch on to different characters. The difficult part to understand is that the brain is doing DID and dissociation for the same reasons. It's trying to cope however it can. If you want a fictional realistic taste of DID check out "The United States of Tara".

Disassociation: Dissociation is so very weird. I myself only realised I did this earlier this year when I was on holidays and a friends comments made me question myself. For me dissociation is a lights are on but nobody is home. I don't know when one is "starting", I don't know when or for how long I've been in one and I only recently have been able to recognise when I am coming "out" of one.

Please, if you are comfortable, let's continue this conversation.

At the end of the day thank you for seeing your partner as fabulous and not broken and for loving them when they are most likely struggling to even like themselves.

Genuinely hope to hear your thoughts @TV33


Re: Learning CPTSD - do any carers have questions?

@Former-Member this is the thread I mentioned. Wondering if you find some of the information above helpful? 🙂

Re: Learning CPTSD - do any carers have questions?

Yes thank you @-Liz-  it is helpful.  

Re: Learning CPTSD - do any carers have questions?

Thank you @-Liz-  for your thoughtful response, I really appreciate your time and insight. Sorry for my delayed reply, it's been a bit unpredictable this way with fires and the rest of this wobbly life.

I will take your advice and not view my partner's and my interactions as being cyclical: you are right because we come through each time with more knowledge and trust of each other, I hope.

I have considered writing as a less volatile way of communicating about difficult topics, I think I might suggest it and see how they feel about it, if it might be a less triggering way of approaching some things which need sorting through together.

Thanks again for your considered response, and I wish you all the very best 😊

Re: Learning CPTSD - do any carers have questions?

Hi Liz

My partner has PTSD, depression and anxiety and I do have a couple of questions.


What happens during a "rage"?  Are there ways of preventing them? Will they stop? I have noticed when may partner "rages" and this can be quite volatile, he is not there.  After the rage however, he is exhausted, calm, just plain worn out.  It is almost as if the flood gates have opened and he is unable to stop but once the water level is back to a managable level he is better (I was going to use the word fine, but we are not there - yet).  I note he sleeps better, is more relaxed and generally is in a much better place.  Do you have any suggestions how we can better manage this.  Can we induce the rage to get it over and done with in a way that is safe ? 


I have not yet discussed my observations with him.  I am looking for some strategies that might assist before I do.


Re: Learning CPTSD - do any carers have questions?

Hi Aidez, 

It sounds like your partner is really struggling right now, and I can hear that a big part of what is worrying in him and in the relationship is these "rages". That sounds really tough to be dealing with and really scary as well. I can hear you are looking for strategies to manage this as you know he is struggling, but I'm really worried about your safety and your sense of safety in the relationship. 

Please keep reaching out here, we want to support you. But I encourage you too to have a chat with the support services below, as they can support people in the complex situation of experiencing scary behaviour in a relationship:

1800 RESPECT 24/7  webchat

SANE Help Centre (10am-10pm Monday to Friday AEST) webchat 

Take care,



Re: Learning CPTSD - do any carers have questions?

@TV33 thank you again for asking questions! With each question I also gain clarity as I need to formulate words where previously there may have been none. So thank you for your thoughtful and caring messages towards your partner and partnership. Perhaps bookmark this thread and if any other thing comes to mind it would be great to keep the communication open and please don't worry about delays I do not take them personally 🙂

Looking forward to you hopefully keeping in touch 🙂

Re: Learning CPTSD - do any carers have questions?

Hi @Aidez I personally haven't experienced the rage part of the equation but can definitely relate to the what I call "crash".

I am not a medical professional though personally I would NOT engage in non-medical exposure therapy. I once had a friend scare me because he thought that would assist the hyper-vigilance which I can definitively say was a negative experience.

Therapy is often treated as a dirty word and some therapists simply aren't doing their job. Finding the right therapist will take some trial and error. Is your partner and are you both in couples therapy?
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