Fri07282017

LAST_UPDATEFri, 28 Jul 2017 2pm

[Video] He Fell 14,000ft From The Sky When His Parachute Failed To Open, And Lived To Tell His Story

Pic: Youtube

14,000ft up in the sky and Brad's parachute — and the backup — failed. Remarkably, he survived.

While he recovered from the physical injuries, the ramifications for his mental health almost killed him.

"I thought it'd be a quick fix, I thought, 'Cool, I'll have the braces off and I'll be off the drugs and I'll be back at work and boom, Bob's your uncle.' But it wasn't like that."

Pic: Youtube

It's been a slow four years managing depression, post-traumatic stress disorder and night terrors.

Before the fall

Brad describes life before the accident as "perfect".

He was given a skydiving experience voucher for his 21st birthday, and booked a tandem dive just before the voucher expired.

"We rock up to the airport and — typical of my family — they're all there," Guy says.

"Mum, Dad, my three sisters, my brothers-in-law and nieces and nephews."

The plane ride as they climbed to altitude was bumpy. He grew nervous as the reality kicked in.

"I'm about to jump towards the ground and leave this plane strapped to some dude I barely know," Guy explains.

"I've got sweaty palms and I'm blabbering."

The side door of the aircraft opened.

"I'm on the edge of the plane. I'm holding on for dear life," Guy says.

The instructor had a camera.

"He points it at me and says 'any last words?' and I said, 'yeah, I hope my parachute opens'," Guy says.

The moment the parachute failed

"That six of seven seconds of free fall was euphoric," Guy admits.

Filepic: ABC

"I remember having the biggest smile on my face. I just felt amazing, so liberating, literally nothing holding you back."

But euphoria quickly turned to terror.

"I feel this thrust but it didn't feel as strong as I anticipated. I notice the parachute is out, but it's stuck," he says.

They count down from three and jump.

"I eventually look up again and I see two parachutes, a yellow one and a white one and they're tangled with each other."

The chaos continued as they hurtled towards the ground.

He realised his whole family was watching on.

"The first emotion I can remember feeling was guilt; guilt for bringing my family there because I thought I'd brought them there to watch me die," Guy says.

"I know the minute I hit the ground is the minute that I die. I totally accepted it and I knew that death was coming."

Guy and his instructor hit a lake on a golf course and lay half-submerged, tangled and unable to move — but they had both survived.

"It felt like the planet had whacked me," he says.

Meanwhile, his family panicked.

"They're like 'bugger this' and they start running. My entire family run after me to come and find me," he says.

Guy was taken to hospital with severe injuries: a broken back, torn neck ligaments, cracked ribs and bruising.

"Unfortunately that wasn't the end of it," he says.

"I get home and that's where the next chapter begins. You think things will get easier but it really didn't."

Managing mental health

While his back began to heal, Guy's mental health deteriorated.

"I shut the blinds and closed the door and that was the next four months of my life," he says.

"Just lying in bed feeling sorry for myself, being depressed, anxious, triggered and traumatised."

He secluded himself and refused help. He watched YouTube to pass the time.

The guilt grew, his behaviour became cyclical and the darkness fed itself. He didn't think he deserved support from his family.

"I thought I'd brought this on myself," he says.

Two months into recovery, Guy's mental illnesses, including post-traumatic stress disorder, overwhelmed him.

He came close to suicide, but he knew surviving a horrendous accident must mean something.

"Even though I'm confused and I don't know what that reason is, I might know that reason one day," he says.

"It's scary because I never would have been able to discover the life that I have now."

Four years on, Brad is back to describing his life as "perfect" thanks to a fulfilling job, a supportive boyfriend and his loving family.

Pic: ABC

"It just goes to show you could be at the deepest, darkest depths of despair but you can turn it around," he says.

"It was a miracle that I survived that day but the other miracle is that I'm here. I'm living, I'm breathing and I am killing it — I feel amazing."

Guy wants to use his experience to spread awareness about mental health; he's starting the discussion at home, with his family.

"We're all going through stuff, we just never spoke about it because mental health just wasn't something you would chat about," he says.

"Having mental health issues in a close-knit family, you all suffer … but that's what it's like when you've got a support network, you all carry the weight."

Guy spends his spare time cultivating a community on his YouTube channel, which he was inspired to start after discovering vloggers during his recovery.

"For me it's a cathartic process of talking about my thoughts and feelings and just being able to express myself," he says with excitement.

"Life is there to be lived and you need to grip it and rip it."

- ABC News

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