Traumatised sailor with PTSD was too scared to leave his Portsmouth home for 16 years

Navy veteran Davy Jay and his wife Catherine
Navy veteran Davy Jay and his wife Catherine
Lt-Col Nick Grace saying farewell and leaving the rostrum for the last time at St Mary's Church, Fratton.

Thirty-five years of arm-waving Grace with the Royal Marines

Collingwood hockey side flying high after victory

  • Bomb disposal officer Davy Jay spent years suffering in silence and is speaking out about his battle with mental health
  • Flashbacks and anxiety meant he was too scared to leave his home
  • After seeking support from Help for Heroes, he has been able to enjoy a day out with his wife for the first time in 16 years
0
Have your say

FOR 16 years he was a prisoner in his own home, too frightened to leave it.

Now a traumatised navy veteran from Portsmouth has spoken out about his torment in a bid to help others cope.

Davy Jay on active service

Davy Jay on active service

Able Seaman (Mine Warfare) Davy Jay served in Northern Ireland and the first Gulf War during his eight-year career in the Senior Service.

He risked his life during both conflicts, never sure if his next mission would be his last. He served in the minesweeper HMS Dulverton in the Gulf War.

Leaving the navy in 1995, he was plagued by flashbacks of his service and was eventually diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

But reluctant to seek help, he locked himself away indoors, too anxious to venture outside.

I went from patrolling to being home. I felt like my body was at home but my head was in Northern Ireland

Davy Jay

His condition left him in the depths of despair, at one point even contemplating suicide.

It wasn’t until he approached military charity Help for Heroes that he was given the support he so desperately needed.

As a result, the proud sailor finally plucked up the courage to overcome his anxiety and spend the first day out with his wife Catherine in 16 years.

He said: ‘I was having flashbacks and suicidal thoughts. I felt very depressed.

‘I tried to end my life, I was locking myself away. Letters were piling up on the door but I couldn’t handle any responsibility.’

Speaking of his service, he added that he found it difficult to cope at home after returning from a war zone.

‘I didn’t know who to trust, I was always on guard,’ he said.‘I went from patrolling to being home. I felt like my body was at home but my head was in Northern Ireland. I had no downtime.’

Leaving the navy in 1995 he bounced from job to job as his life fell apart until 1999 when he had a nervous breakdown.

Shortly after this, Mr Jay was diagnosed with PTSD – something he admitted he was embarrassed by.

It wasn’t until he was introduced to Help for Heroes in 2015 that his life began to turn around.

He visited the charity’s recovery centre Tedworth House, in Wiltshire, where he was quickly offered psychological well-being support through the organisation’s Hidden Wounds service.

He enrolled on a photography course run by the charity, creating a new passion snapping wildlife shots.

His wife also received support from Help for Heroes and joined the cause’s Band of Sisters fellowship for loved ones of those who have been injured or become ill as a result of their military service.

Mrs Jay said: ‘I’m Davy’s full-time carer and for a long time I thought I was the only one going through this but I’ve made new friends in similar situations and built amazing bonds.’

She added: ‘Davy and I have always had a really strong relationship, but it’s improved so much. He’s getting his old self back and photography has given him confidence I’ve not seen in a long time.’

Mr Jay is now urging others not to suffer in silence. He said: ‘Don’t give up. Accept it (PTSD) before it destroys you.’

Support is available on Help for Heroes’s website, helpforheroes.org.uk