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Garath's lost 18 years of his life

PUBLISHED: 15:00 18 October 2001 | UPDATED: 10:41 03 March 2010

TEENAGER Garath Jones looks like any other man his age as he sifts through old school reports. He is not reminiscing however but trying to trigger something in his memory.

TEENAGER Garath Jones looks like any other man his age as he sifts through old school reports. He is not reminiscing however but trying to trigger something in his memory.

The 19-year-old has no recollection of his life before January this year when he collapsed twice in the same weekend.

Hospital tests have been unable to shed much light on the cause of his collapse but Garath, of Chesterfield Drive, believes it was probably down to stress.

Initially he could not remember anybody or anything, including his own family, but now he is trying to rebuild a new life for himself.

He said: "I lost my job and other things had been building up. I've lost 18-years. I want to tell people that if they are feeling stressed talk to somebody about it, otherwise it's like a ticking time bomb."

The dramatic chain of events started when Garath lost his job. Feeling stressed he visited his then girlfriend in London. It was on the return to Liverpool Street two days later that Garath collapsed.

He was treated in London overnight but released the next day. However he collapsed again and was taken back to hospital and then transferred to Ipswich.

He was eventually allowed back home and has been trying to work out what happened ever since.

Doctors have tested Garath for everything from strokes to epilepsy with no clear results, the only thing he is sure of is that 18-year-long void before his dramatic tube trip.

He said: "I would love to get in contact with anybody who knew me from the past to try and help me remember."

Garath attended Thurleston High School from 1993 to 1998 and before that Castle Hill Junior School, he also went to Boys Brigade and Cubs.

Reflecting on the past he said: "I call this my second life because I can't remember my first life. I am trying to re-establish myself as a person again.

Although Garath is now in a positive frame of mind he admits there have been times when it nearly became too much for him.

He said: "I got to a point where I actually had pills lined up ready to take but something deep inside said no so I didn't do it."

He added: "We are a close family and we have had some great times and I just wish I could remember them.

"The turning point came when out of the corner of my eye I caught the vicar talking to my mum and she was crying. I will always remember that and I realised I had to get myself together."

Garath is now trying to turn his experience into something positive and has even started working at Ipswich Hospital.

He said: "I am now working on looking forward and enjoying life again."

And with the help of his parents, Robert and Beverley, and siblings, Sian, David and Ruth he has been able to look to the future.

"My family have been such a great help through this and we are now very close," he said.

Garath believes the loss of his memory has had a dramatic effect on his outlook on life.

He said: "My dad says there has been a lot of change in me. Before I was looking down a tunnel. My job, my girlfriend, that was all. Now my horizons have been broadened.

"When I see people and tell them that I can't remember them or anything else they don't believe it. They think I got it from the Jerry Springer show or something."

He is now keen to encourage people who suffer from stress to talk to people and he is even trying to translate it into a book.

He said: "I was never good at English at school but somebody told me just to write everything down and it might help.

"The book is called The Lost 18 Years and it will be aimed at a young audience because there is so much stress in the workforce and so many of those people are young."

If you remember Garath from school or any other stage in life please contact the Evening Star on 01473 282361 or email matthew.eley@ecng.co.uk and we will pass messages on.

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