PTSD- Riley's Story- Creative Collections Blog


PTSD is a serious mental health disorder affecting everyday people. You don't have be a war veteran to suffer from it. For Riley, PTSD is just another aspect of life. This is Riley's story.

The beginning's of PTSD

"It’s hard to pinpoint the beginnings of my Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). When I was 8 or 9 I started noticing symptoms that pointed towards PTSD. I seemed too young to be affected by it so I just ignored it. At this age, it was primarily caused by an abusive, narcissistic parent.

The abuse began when I was only two three, only verbal and emotional. By the time I began primary school, the physical abuse had started. My parent would blame rough play with siblings as the cause of my injuries. My injuries were usually bruises, cuts or welts so nothing was ever investigated. The abuse led me to fear this parent but my fear amused them.

I began to have flashbacks to bad instances of abuse which was generally triggered by smells and certain places. This lead to insomnia, anxiety and a keen awareness on my parents mood and intentions through listening to their footsteps. I then began experiencing panic attacks and was in a constant state of ‘fight or flight’ at home. This lead to worse abuse because my parents thought I was over-reacting.

By the time I was a teenager it had got to the point where I started involving myself in destructive behaviour to manage the pain, a symptom of PTSD. The destructive behaviour lead to me being drugged and raped in my own home by someone I thought was a friend. I was 14. My abusive parent was aware of what had happened but chose to do nothing to stop. They told the police and doctors I was a liar when I tried to report it. This exacerbated my PTSD and caused me to be at my worst.

PTSD has affected my life greatly

I developed an addiction to sex and drugs to cope with what I was feeling and experiencing. The addiction was largely due to backlash from the abuse at home and my rapist telling everyone at school what had happened. I felt alone. All of this coupled with the PTSD, caused me severe emotional distress.

PTSD has hugely impacted my life over the years. I have lost family because of it. My siblings and other parent were aware of the abuse but made the decision to not stand up for me or assist me in any way. This put a large strain on our relationship. It is at the point now where my abusive parent and I are close, only because I am terrified to cut contact. I am afraid that cutting contact could lead to more physical abuse.

I suffer from severe flashbacks and have a lack of trust in friends of the opposite gender as well as acute depression and anxiety and I am with family.

My life is full of regret because of the childhood I never got to experience and I believe I have suffered a stunted social development as a result of the abuse. I have never been able to maintain friendships, especially as a child and I never learned how to manage friendships or relationships. In terms of friendship with the opposite gender, I have a skewed view. I assume that they only want a sexual relationship from me. Through the years, I have left myself open to hurt frequently, especially by those I thought I was close to.

Despite knowing about the PTSD and the symptoms of it, I am unable to change it. It flares up and isn’t easy to deal with, particularly when I attempt to do something outside of my usual social routine.

How I cope

Animals have helped me through a lot of tough situations. I had a childhood friend in a dog who recently passed away of old age. I now have a kitten who has stepped up to the plate. The unconditional love that animals provide me, give me a safe place to vent and ground myself whenever I might have a flashback, intrusive thought or urges to harm.

If I am out or without my pet, I enjoy sitting outside or by a window and meditate. Nature can help to recentre thoughts and refocus on the task at hand.

Self-care days are so important and a major part of my routine. A typical self-care day consist of  long bath or shower with an intense skin and hair care routine, and cuddling up under a weighted blanket to watch some of my favourite shows from my childhood like Pokemon.

Medication is not an option for me because of pre-existing health issues and therapy is very expensive. Finding way to manage my PTSD at home became a necessity. I definitely do not discourage the use of medication and therapy where they can be accessed.

Speaking about PTSD

A common misconception with PTSD is that only those that serve in a military position may have it. This is not the case. Anybody can have PTSD. The reason someone has developed the disorder does not matter. What matters is being supportive and understanding to those who disclose that information about themselves because it isn’t easy to tell someone.

For those people out there who do have PTSD, you struggles are valid. Whatever experience that caused this does not define who you are. The PTSD does not define you. You are your own person and you are so brave to be able to be in a constant battle with your own mind on a daily basis. If you don’t have a support system in place, I highly suggest that you do. Find a trusted person, or an animal friend like I have, and confide in them. Create a self-care routine that works for you. Find out what makes you happy and do it."