JCIP #239 – Gary Hayes


In episode 239 of The Just Checking In Podcast we checked in with Gary Hayes.

Gary is the Co-Founder and CEO of PTSD999, which is a charity that was set up in 2015 to support those in the emergency services, and their families, living with Post Traumatic Stress.

Gary lives with Complex PTSD himself and was undiagnosed for many years when he worked in the British Transport Police (BTP) as a Police Officer.

Gary’s journey began when he joined the Army in the mid-1980s and spent many years in non-active service. He then met his wife, who was joining the police force and he was growing tired of military life.

He was encouraged to join himself and he did in 2003, passing through the recruitment process and joining the BTP.

He started by policing football matches in London, largely for West Ham United before then joining a specialist counter-terrorist policing team.

The year is 2005 and sadly, Gary’s policing work coincided with 7/7, which is the biggest and most deadly terrorist attack that has hit London in recent memory.

52 people were killed in bombings on London tubes and buses, with a second failed attack coming on 21/7.

Gary was seconded to the temporary mortuary that had been set up at Charing Cross to identify the victims and spent two harrowing months going through hundreds of body parts, identifying people and notifying their families.

This work had a huge impact on Gary’s mental health and he began to go off the rails, drinking heavily to cope with the horrors of what he saw.

Fast forward to the 2012 Olympics and at this point, Gary felt ‘broken’.

He got into an altercation with a member of the public whilst off-duty and he was suspended from work and given the ultimatum of either resigning or going to a tribunal and risk losing his pension.

Sadly, after 11 years of policing, he made the decision to resign and his mental health spiralled further.

He made a plan to take his own life and came extremely close to doing it. Thankfully, something stopped him from doing it. He told his wife and that moment of rock bottom was the start of his journey to recovery to where he is now and the work he does with PTSD999.

In this episode we discuss his career in the military, police to the work he does with PTSD999 now, PTSD and the mental health state of men like him in the emergency services.

For Gary’s mental health, he was sexually abused by two men in his childhood, firstly a babysitter when he was just six years old and the second was a football coach when he was eight years old.

This abuse had a monumental impact on Gary and were suppressed memories for many years. We discuss this, the suicide attempt he made after resigning from the British Transport Police, the dark and ugly side of mental illness and the recovery journey to where he is now.

As always, #itsokaytovent

You can find out more about PTSD999 here.

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Music: PatawawaStrange

TRIGGER WARNING: this podcast contains a deep discussion about suicide, sexual abuse and the terrorist attack of 7/7, which some listeners may find distressing or upsetting, so please listen with caution.


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