My experience is my gift – Barry’s story

Ex-serviceman Barry Double has nothing to lose.

He faced death as a paratrooper in his early 20s and again when he tried to take his own life. Thankfully he was saved by a passer-by who saw him walking through the woods carrying a noose and persuaded him not to use it.

Barry has been consumed by his demons for years. Finding solace first in drink and violence and then more recently in cutting himself and self-harming. Time again when life gets too much he escapes to find solace in the woods and parks around Bristol.

This way of life became permanent after he lost his job and couldn’t afford to pay his rent any more. He became homeless, surviving outside or in the relative shelter of a friend’s garage. He finally made contact with Second Step who helped him find a flat in Yate, close to the countryside he loves.

“Even in my flat I used to sleep on the concrete floor; I preferred it to the bed. I often sit in my flat and while I really like it I think to myself how much I miss being homeless and that way of life” he said.

“I used to drink unbelievable amounts, but even once I had stopped doing that after six months in rehab, I still felt angry, and I knew I hadn’t tackled the real problem. It was only when I had a spell in hospital that a psychiatrist realised I was suffering from PTSD. After that my anger and my violence all made sense.”

Barry has always taken a pride in his appearance even when living rough. He has now learnt to control his demons and is hoping to use his experiences to help others. “I have had a lot of therapy, and done a lot of talking. My experience is my gift and I want to use it to help other people.”

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