A daredevil who survived a skydiving accident which saw him crash to the ground from 14,000ft has told how the ordeal left him wracked with guilt and deeply depressed.
Thrill-seeking Brad Guy’s horrified family could only watch as the then 21-year-old plummeted from the sky after his parachute failed to what they thought was a “certain death.”
The adventurous Melbourne man thought the same, and his body and mind prepared for the end.
Somehow Brad made it, and although he was hospitalised and left unable to move for a while, he was considered lucky to be alive by most.
However, lying in hospital bed Brad soon began falling into a deep, dark depression.
Fitted with a neck and back brace and unable to move unassisted, shower or groom himself, Brad was sucked into a downward spiral.
“For four or five months I was just in my room. I wouldn’t even know what time of day it was because the curtains were closed and the door was locked,” he told news.com.au.
“Every time mum and dad would come in I’d just yell at them and tell them to leave me alone. I put myself in this isolation and just kind of wallowed.”
Brad developed an acute self-loathing, and absorbed a lot of guilt for what he felt he had put his family and friends through.
“They were all there so they witnessed everything, and I just felt so accountable for what I’d done to myself and for what I put them through,” he said.
“I think that’s where a lot of the self-loathing was generated. Everything was internalised and I didn’t reach out for help, so it got harder rather than getting better.”
Along with the anger and depression came the triggers and “immersive flashbacks” started to invade Brad’s dreams.
Describing the 2103 accident, Brad says he saw “death right in front of me”, and thanks to nightmares and flashbacks he began reliving that almost nightly.
“The night terrors were pretty much nightly and started off as pertaining to the accident — reliving that,” he revealed.
“They eventually just evolved into watching myself die, seeing my family die or being helpless.”
Brad was reluctant to address his problems because he didn’t want to become a burden on those around him.
He had been strongly encouraged to take up counselling after the accident but didn’t feel like it.
He didn’t want to leave the house and didn’t want to have to make someone drive him to the therapist.
But after his then partner and parents convinced him to go, he never looked back.
“It was really hard and it got harder, but after about the fourth or fifth session I thought, I should keep doing this, it’s the only way,” he said.
“While it was confronting to face my fears I knew the greater good and the outcome was what I really desired as well.”
After finding a psychologist and then psychiatrist that understood his needs, Brad began unpacking what he had been through and gained some understanding of how it had affected him.
He was diagnosed with a nightmare disorder, anxiety, depression and, most surprising to him, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).