Leeds man who suffered 'horrific' PTSD after he was almost stabbed to death says fishing 'saved his life'

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A Leeds man who suffered "horrific" post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) after he was almost stabbed to death says fishing "saved his life".

Andy Beeman, 41, has had complex PTSD since the age of 17 - after he was stabbed with a 10-inch combat knife in an unprovoked attack outside his school. Since the attack in 1998 he had a chronic fear of being in crowds, being approached by people from behind and dealt with crippling anxiety.

Seven years ago, after a bout of kidney disease which left him in hospital for a year, his PTSD returned "with vengeance". However, things took a positive turn when a friend took Andy fishing - a hobby which has now "saved his life".

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Speaking during Mental Health Awareness Week, Andy said: "I had always struggled at school. I was born with a birth defect and was bullied, but the PTSD really began when I was almost stabbed to death at 17.

Andy Beeman, who suffered from PTSD after being almost stabbed to death, says fishing "saved his life"Andy Beeman, who suffered from PTSD after being almost stabbed to death, says fishing "saved his life"
Andy Beeman, who suffered from PTSD after being almost stabbed to death, says fishing "saved his life"

"From then onwards it affected me for a long time. It caused me a lot of issues. If I walked into a busy room like a bar or concert the hypervigilance would make me look around and list the threats in my head.

"I might be okay one day then the next day I'd have severe nightmares and would break down crying. This lasted throughout my 20s and then in my 30s I found out I had another genetic kidney disease. I ended up in A&E, and because of complications I had to stay in hospital for the best part of a year.

"Because of this my PTSD came back with vengeance. I became addicted to painkillers and the trauma came back. Towards the end of that, one of my friends took me fishing. I rediscovered my love for nature and wildlife then.

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"I had counselling in the past to help with the violent attack but it never really worked for me. It just stirred up my emotions. But fishing worked for me. Fishing definitely saved my life. If not directly then certainly indirectly. I've had points where I haven't wanted to continue with my life. But taking myself fishing is a therapy as well as a sport."

Andy fishing with a friend (Photo: LDR Media)Andy fishing with a friend (Photo: LDR Media)
Andy fishing with a friend (Photo: LDR Media)

Andy now fishes multiple times a week and particularly enjoys trout fishing in rivers. Whilst he still struggles with his PTSD, fishing has served as his main coping mechanism and has helped him "work through it."

Andy added: "Whilst I'm a bit more in control of my PTSD, sometimes I do still get to the point where I know I'm not feeling so good. When that happens I just take myself fishing. I can feel really anxious but then as soon as I start it's quiet. I can concentrate on fishing instead of other issues.

"Being outside all day, I then sleep really well at night as well. The fishing community is great. I found a lot of friends as an adult through fishing.”

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Andy is now a volunteer and level two coach at Tackling Minds - a non-profit organisation that promotes fishing as a way to improve mental wellbeing. And he has joined the Environment Agency campaign to encourage people their rod licence as a way to improve their mental health this Mental Health Awareness Week.