Lewis' Story

In January 2008 I joined 4 Rifles and specialised in driving Mastiffs, Jackals and Bulldogs, which would be essential to operations in Afghanistan.

I was eventually deployed to Helmand Province in October 2009. I was 20 years old and what I encountered would change my life forever.

My battalion came under repeated attack – casualties were high and the pressure was intense. But it was the constant threat of Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) that took the greatest toll on me. It was like playing Russian Roulette: you never knew when it would be your time.

One particular incident shook me to the core. A good friend had taken my place on patrol while I stayed on base. We got news that he was in deep trouble. I drove the medical team the two kilometres at high speed to where we found him: he was still alive but so badly injured by an IED that they couldn’t save him.

A month before my six-month tour was due to end, I was sent home to complete a mortar course. During this time another of my good friends died: I felt helpless and ashamed of not being there to help. I left the Army later that year, in December 2010.

In the summer of 2011, my life began to unravel: I suffered from depression, nightmares and flashbacks. My emotions and behaviour became erratic and my personal relationships were badly affected.

I went to see my GP who referred me for counselling but I didn’t take to it at the time.

It was only in 2013 that I saw a TV programme about a traumatised Veteran that Combat Stress had successfully helped. I recognised the same set of symptoms and picked up the phone to them. I’m now beginning to turn my life around.

I came to Tyrwhitt House for a couple of weeks. That’s when I was diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). I then did a PTSD intensive treatment programme.

I’m a lot calmer now. I still have to rely on my tablets to help with the depression but I do feel like a new man. I’ve got some confidence and a bit more go in my life.

I feel like I’ve got a lot to be grateful for. I’m so glad I found the courage to pick up the phone. I don’t think there’s anyone else out there who could have helped me like Combat Stress.

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