Arise: Guest Blog from Rai Reid
We’ve been proudly working with Rai Reid over the last year and in this inspiring guest blog post for PTSD UK, she shares her personal journey of healing from Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (C-PTSD). Through music, meditation, and mindfulness, she discovers powerful tools for relieving C-PTSD symptoms. Rai’s story serves as a beacon of hope, reminding us that self-compassion and creativity can lead us to a place of self-understanding and inner strength.
“In 2019, I was invited to attend an ACES (Adverse Childhood Experiences) workshop with Birmingham City Council. A friend had arranged it as she knew how much I was struggling to understand the effect of my traumatic childhood on both me and my life. I knew my brain worked differently to other people, but I was just not sure why. On the surface, I was highly functional but emotionally and relationally, there were issues. I could never understand why I was often told I was my own worst enemy when to me, I was trying my best in every situation.
I ticked 9 of the 10 adverse experiences that would affect both the mental and physical health of a child. That was when I first learned the term CPTSD. This was the first recognition that my childhood had indeed been a factor in my development. I left feeling relieved that there was more than likely an explanation for the way my life was unfolding.
I believe my CPTSD was initially formed when I was around four years old, I have had suicidal tendencies since the age of 12. There were many times I was taken to the doctor. When I was 20, I was prescribed antidepressants. They made me feel worse and the second time, I took an overdose. That was the last time I accepted anti-depressants. I was also told that I might be ‘manic-depressive’ which I knew I wasn’t because I didn’t have the highs. All ‘joy’ had disappeared from my life as a child. There were no highs. I felt misunderstood everywhere I turned so I learned to stay well away from the doctor.
I gravitated to yoga at around this time which I immediately felt the calming benefit of, and I eventually trained as a yoga teacher when I lived in London in 2011. It became a practise that has helped me greatly over the years and I love to teach others.
I continued running into walls through a rollercoaster life; with turbulent relationships, being part of the hidden homeless community, sleeping on sofas, spare rooms, hotels while working. I struggled to maintain a regular yoga practice, look after myself, I was always moving… cities, countries but always meeting blockages or turbulence, without knowing how or why these things kept happening to me, piling more PTSD events on, year after year after year.
I had loved to sing, dance and act as a child and it was always my dream until my CPTSD helped to cause so much self-doubt and self-hate that I was my loudest critic throughout every performance and eventually had convinced myself that I wasn’t good enough. In 2014, a miracle happened. I had moved from London to Barcelona and started singing again. I was given an opportunity to write an album which was an amazing experience and became a therapy for healing. I cried a river whilst writing those songs but as much as this was a release, I still did not know about CPTSD at that time.
It took another seven years and more failed and abusive relationships for me to understand fully and finally start researching CPTSD, the root causes and the symptoms. And WOW! I suddenly began to understand myself. The scariest symptom by far, is dissociation. If you have dissociated from childhood, it is highly likely that you don’t even realise. How could you when you don’t know any different? I have kept diaries for the best part of my life, and they have been a great tool for remembering events, a lot of traumatic happenings that I worked hard to push from my mind, so that I could continue with life. I started piecing together the story of my life, the actions of others, my reactions, the misunderstandings. I had always struggled to verbally express myself, in arguments, I would get tongue-tied, over-emotional, it came out wrong and I was usually attacked by the other party. This was ALL part of my C-PTSD. I realised the days, weeks, sometimes months that I had sat alone, spaced out, numb, in a head fog…. this was explained by learning about dissociation.
As I was taking this journey of my timeline, my emotions fluctuated as I realised how many times throughout my life, I had forgiven those that had abused me whilst finding it hard to find self-forgiveness and seeing myself as the child that I had been.
My second album ‘Arise’ has been written over the past nine years. It documents my journey from traumatic childhood, through abusive relationships, healing through nature and spirituality into finally feeling self-love and self-compassion, both of which I struggled to understand in earlier years.
I was awarded a grant from the Creative Arts Council England to record ‘Arise’ and help to raise awareness of C-PTSD through my story. I used live musicians for the album and decided to make it female only as women are underrepresented in the music industry. I have released three singles to date and will be releasing at least three more singles before the full album release.
I feel passionate about spreading awareness of C-PTSD after a lifetime of searching for answers. If I can help others see what might be going on within themselves, shine a light through all the darkness that I have encountered, then my journey and struggle has been worth it.
Music, movement, meditation, and mindfulness are four key tools for helping relieve symptoms of C-PTSD and although the journey of healing is for a lifetime for some, these tools along with all forms of creativity, make it a much happier trek.
I was 42 when I finally started understanding myself and finding that self-love, self-compassion, and self-understanding that I had searched for, for so long. 38 years of blind suffering, now I am only blinded by the huge ball of light at the end of the very dark tunnel. I hope that my story will help others to recognise within themselves how much the little child inside needs you to see them, hold their hand and become their best friend.”
Find out more about how music can help people with PTSD and C-PTSD here.
It’s important to note, that while choosing your PTSD or C-PTSD recovery path you need to address both the symptoms and the underlying condition. NICE guidance recommends the use of trauma focused psychological treatments for PTSD and C-PTSD in adults, specifically the use of Eye Movement Desensitisation Reprocessing (EMDR) and trauma focused cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT).
Please remember, these aren’t meant to be medical recommendations, but they’re tactics that have worked for others and might work for you, too. Be sure to work with a professional to find the best methods for you.
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Treatments for PTSD
It is possible for PTSD to be successfully treated many years after the traumatic event occurred, which means it is never too late to seek help. For some, the first step may be watchful waiting, then exploring therapeutic options such as individual or group therapy – but the main treatment options in the UK are psychological treatments such as Eye Movement Desensitisation Reprogramming (EMDR) and Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT).
Traumatic events can be very difficult to come to terms with, but confronting and understanding your feelings and seeking professional help is often the only way of effectively treating PTSD. You can find out more in the links below, or here.