PTSD. Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder sometimes gets labeled the invisible scar because it can affect a person in so many ways. If your Husband’s PTSD gets worse around the holiday time he may also be suffering from S.A.D, seasonal affective disorder. Sometimes mental illnesses can over lap and you are dealing with more than one at a time. First identify, does it just get worse around the holidays and winter? Secondly, ask your husband for his perception of his PTSD, it worse or better at this time of year? Communication is the first step to having a healthy support team and assisting your loved ones emotionally.
If your husband has been in treatment for a while it could also be the added stress of the holidays. If he is used to being the bread winner and the person who provides the holiday joy both emotionally and financially, not being able to do so could worsen normal PTSD symptoms of anxiety and depression, which leads to a slippery slope of flashbacks and panic attacks for some. Taking some of that stress away is helpful along with talking about it and always be sympathetic. As a wife of course you already are, and your heart hurts to see the person you love in such a state, but just remember as he is your rock, you are his.
My next suggestion is no matter if it’s just mild or severe, the holiday season is hard especially on those with mental illness. Maybe add a bit more treatment or possible or talk therapy along with a medication to help get through the season. If you need help affording or getting treatment for your husband, if he is a veteran here are some useful places to start to try and access help that way: http://www.ptsd.va.gov/ and The Wounded Warrior Project. For those suffering that are not veterans there is also help and resources and you can find them through National Alliance for Mental Illness. NAMI: http://www.nami.org/template.cfm?section=find_support . Just know there is support out there, not just for your husband, but for you and your children too. You are not alone and neither is he.
If your husband isn’t the type to talk, I suggest you seek support for yourself because mental illness is draining on those we love and they need a bit of support too. So talk therapy or group therapy with other wives or family member who have someone suffering will help. It may take some edge off of you so that you can relax a bit and that positive feeling can hopefully improve your husband’s mood seeing that you aren’t as stressed by him. And who knows maybe he’ll open up more from that. Sometimes with mental illness, the person who has it can feel like a burden to those around them because they aren’t exactly ‘normal’ and they really want to be. So instead of opening up, they clam up so they don’t burden the ones they love more sad and scary feelings. Try to convey to your husband that he is not a burden due to his condition which will make him have more positive feelings.
Just remember you are not alone. Remind him he is not alone. And if it gets too big, seek a hospital for treatment or call your care provider who is taking care of your husband. Care is key.