Norwich man’s battle against PTSD after near-death experience on night out

Joshua Cooper outside St John Maddermarket church in Norwich. Photo: Sam Harrons

Joshua Cooper outside St John Maddermarket church in Norwich. Photo: Sam Harrons - Credit: sam harrons

It was meant to be a enjoyable night out - but it ended with a near-death experience that would haunt a Norwich man for months to come.

But now Joshua Cooper has spoken movingly about how a mental health charity helped him regain his confidence after a horrific incident in which he was warned he may never walk again.

After drinking too much on a night out on May 24 2015, Mr Cooper kicked a window and sliced his leg open on the broken glass.

He began losing a lot of blood and was not sure whether he would make it.

The 26-year-old said: 'It was the first night of the Radio 1 Big Weekend so I had to wait ages for an ambulance. Luckily a friend was with me and he tried his best to stop the bleeding.

'It looked like something out of a Tarantino film. I severed my Achilles, arteries, veins and nerves. I lost four litres of blood and nearly died outside the St John Maddermarket Church.'

He added: 'I was in surgery for nine hours, spent two weeks in hospital and was told I may never be able to walk again.'

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After spending eight months in a cast, Mr Cooper defied odds and learnt to walk again - but his troubles did not end there.

He soon found himself feeling very down, having night terrors and thinking about death.

Doctors had prescribed various painkillers, which he began using in attempt to numb his feelings as well as his physical pain.

Several months passed before he realised he could not continue this way and sought help from a doctor, who concluded he had post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

'Alarm bells were ringing,' he said. 'I was thinking there was something wrong with me, I'd only heard this term referring to war veterans, so it was a bit of a shock, but at the same time I knew it was a step forward - someone knew what was wrong with me and I could get it sorted.

'The doctor directed me to Mind, an organisation I didn't know much about but I was well up for giving it ago.

'At my sessions I felt very at ease, the counsellor was phenomenal. He went in to great detail about PTSD and as I started to understand it, I began to understand my feelings. After just a few sessions I really did feel like it was making a difference. It felt like a massive weight off my shoulders.'

He added: 'Mind helped me build up my confidence again, I'm now running my own social media business and living life to the full.'

• If something is troubling you, contact Norwich Samaritans on 01603 611 311.