‘My PTSD was undiagnosed for decades’ says Northern Ireland veteran from Southsea

0
Have your say

A veteran nearly captured by the IRA while on patrol attempted suicide after suffering with undiagnosed post-traumatic stress disorder for decades.

Former Trooper Terry Beale, 59, served in Northern Ireland during The Troubles after joining the Army in 1975 at 16.

Veteran Terry Beale from Southsea'Picture: Sarah Standing (180547-1474)

Veteran Terry Beale from Southsea'Picture: Sarah Standing (180547-1474)

For years he has battled with PTSD - pushing away his friend and families while harbouring a sense of huge anger.

Suffering from deep anxiety and afraid to leave his own home, he made plans to end his life as his business fell apart - but is now thankful he was able to ‘come to his senses’ and call a friend.

After completing a six-week intensive course with Combat Stress in 2016, Terry, of Portland Terrace, Southsea, has only recently been able to get out his flat without difficulties - always taking service dog Bella with him.

Serving in the Life Guards in 1977 he was patrolling in Northern Ireland once a day.

On the streets wearing just a beret and light armour, Terry was a teenager with 10 months of difficult training behind him - and was given the job of drawing out the IRA.

‘I was nearly captured by the IRA while out there,’ Terry, of Portland Terrace, Southsea, said.

‘It was the plan to draw the IRA out - in Dungannon, County Tyrone.

‘In that year there were more military deaths than any other.’

Talking about his service and the training he went through so young remains sensitive.

‘One of my friends - four of them were in a Land Rover and ambushed and 13 rounds went straight through the back,’ he said.

‘There were no deaths but three of the four went to hospital and two were medically discharged.

But being young Terry said he and his colleagues felt ‘invincible’ at the time - only years later feeling the repercussions of their actions.

It was 37 years later - in 2014 - he was diagnosed with post traumatic stress disorder.

‘We were on the streets and wearing a beret as it’s less aggressive than a helmet - unless we were dealing with a riot,’ former archaeologist Terry said.

‘You’d do one patrol a day of four or five hours - a mobile patrol in the Land Rover or foot patrol in town, or maybe you’d do both.

‘Then there were eagle patrols, which were more stressful because the helicopter would have four men, you would be taken out to a location and the first four men in the group secure the area, the helicopter goes back to get the rest of the men and then you’re the most vulnerable.

‘And then the same when the patrol was lifted back out.

‘Not that you felt it too strained at the time - when you’re young you’re invincible.’

It was only truly years later that Terry felt the effects of his service. He had quit the Army, joined the Territorial Army but left that when that and running his own model kit business was too much together.

But later, and at the time living in Driffield, East Yorkshire, Terry rejoined the TA.

He was on his way to a weekend training session when a chain of event started that led to him eventually being diagnosed.

‘The second time I left was because of PTSD - I lost all enthusiasm,’ Terry said.

‘I got up, got the uniform on, got in the car, got half a mile down the road - then turned back and didn’t go back.

‘I just lost the enthusiasm - that’s when it was starting to really sink in.

‘But I didn’t crash and burn until 2015.

‘I had my own business making model kits and ended up so unwell in the end I thought “there’s something seriously wrong here”.

‘In the past I thought it was my character, I lost one marriage and two long-term relationships.

‘With the training from Combat Stress I could see what I’ve done wrong because the condition I have.

‘I have a fear of emotion, of getting too close to people, to work mates seeming aloof - but it just boils down to the fear of losing people, so you don’t get there in the first place.

‘You look at everything in black and white and if people don’t agree, you would get snappy and have a certainty in things.

‘But it’s sending a knee-jerk text to somebody - permanently.’

Terry managed to get treatment after moving from East Yorkshire straight on to a six-week course with Combat Stress, and then moved to Southsea.

He added: ‘I attempted suicide once and I think I can’t explain it.

‘Really I came to my sense and called somebody, and even now I don’t know whether I would have gone through with it.

‘Even now I don’t fear death. I’m not afraid of dying and - now and again - you wouldn’t do anything to stop yourself dying - but you wouldn’t actually go out and do it yourself.’