A BRAVE ex-soldier who wanted to take his own life after serving in Northern Ireland during the height of the Troubles has praised a PTSD charity for saving him.
Guy Cholerton, 52, became “irrational, aggressive and irritable” when he left the Coldstream Guards in 2011 after 24 years.
The lance corporal, who also served in the first Gulf War, became so low he would regularly talk about death and ending his life.
But he said the “fog was lifted” by veterans’ mental health charity Combat Stress, who carried out eight weeks of therapy on the granddad.
Guy, of Gillingham, Kent, said: “I think the PTSD started around two years after I left the Army.
“My friends and family noticed an aggressive change in my nature so I went to the doctors and got prescribed anti-depressants.
Guy was in the Coldstream Guards
He served in Northern Ireland in 1988
“One day I phoned Combat Stress and we spoke for around 45 minutes. There was a sense of relief like a weight had been lifted.”
He continued: “At my lowest, I found it easy to talk about death and taking my own life.
“My partner found it strange to talk about life and something so fragile in such a negative way.
“I was close to suicide…I felt that worthless that the easiest way out was to just get rid of myself, to remove myself from the equation.”
Guy has praised the work of Combat Stress
After being assessed by a specialist, Guy was sent to meet with a psychiatrist at Combat Stress and underwent group therapy and occupational therapy.
He also was encouraged to do more fitness and become “mindful” during the six-week intensive course.
Guy, who now works as a security officer for BP, said: “I feel like a new person now. The fog has disappeared and I no longer feel low.
“I didn’t want to take away this new life I managed to find.
“I would recommend Combat Stress to anyone – they are life savers.”
What is PTSD?
The first cases of post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) were documented during the First World War, between 1914 and 1918.
Soldiers developed ‘shell shock’ as a direct result of the harrowing conditions in the trenches, and the horrors they had to witness, but it can occur for a number of reasons.
People affected by the condition are often forced to relive a traumatic event from their past, through a series of nightmares and flashbacks.
They may also experience feelings of isolation, guilt, irritability, insomnia, and a lack of concentration.
In many cases, these symptoms have a serious impact on the person’s day-to-day life.
Around 12 in 100 Gulf War Veterans developed the illness, as have many British soldiers who have fought in Afghanistan and Iraq in recent years.
According to Combat Stress, it takes on average 12 years for veterans to seek help with mental health problems after leaving the military.
Combat Stress has seen a 143 per cent jump in calls from heroes suffering with PTSD in the last ten years.
They are now encouraging people to sign up for March in March to raise money to treat veterans suffering with mental health issues.
The campaign will see people paying £20 to walk a total of ten miles this month and post pictures and videos using the hashtag #MarchinMarch.
Robert Marsh, Director Income Generation at Combat Stress, said: “It would be fantastic to see as many people as possible signing up to take part in March in March. It’s the perfect opportunity to show your support for the military community.
Guy while serving in the first Gulf War
“Combat Stress makes a real difference to the lives of thousands of former servicemen and women across the UK with mental health problems.
“Over the last decade we’ve seen a staggering 143 per cent increase in referrals so it’s vital we raise funds to ensure we can continue to provide our life-changing treatment.
“Having the support of the public will make a huge difference to us.”
For more information and to sign up, visit combatstress.org.uk/march.
It comes after a 24-hour helpline for troops with PTSD was set up last week following the tragic suicide death of a soldier who fought alongside Prince Harry.
Warrant Officer Nathan Hunt took his own life on New Year’s Day after telling war buddies he was struggling to cope with post-traumatic stress disorder.
In the wake of his death, his wife Lainey Hunt accused defence chiefs for failing to properly support her husband, who was just 39 when the impacts of war became too much.
The move comes after Melanie Waters of Help For Heroes used The Sun to call for more to be done to help troops suffering with mental health problems.
The free Military Mental Health will be funded by the MoD and run by Combat Stress, and can be reached on 0800 323 4444.
Who are Combat Stress?
The charity is the leading charity for veterans’ mental health in the UK and helps troops suffering from anxiety, PTSD and depression.
Between 2016 and 2017, the charity spoke to more than 10,000 soldiers on their helpline.
The charity carries out a range of free services at treatment centres across the UK – including occupational therapy and a PTSD Intensive Treatment Programme.
They are treating 3,000 veterans and have 6,000 in total on their system.
If you need someone to speak to, contact The Samaritans on 116 123 or visit www.samaritans.org