A former policeman who suffered severe post-traumatic stress disorder and tried to hang himself, is still battling insurance companies.
After four days in an induced coma, a former police officer woke in the intensive care unit to the agonising reality of what he had done.
"I hanged myself in the yard of our family home," said James*, who had been medically discharged hurt on duty from the NSW Police Force a year earlier.
"I was found by my wife and young children clinically deceased. The horror they witnessed was indescribable. It's a vision that has occupied my mind for years."
A neighbour, a retired ambulance officer, heard the gut-wrenching screams of James' wife and rushed to his aid. He was resuscitated and taken to Wollongong Hospital.
''Little did I know, each traumatic incident I witnessed, I stored away in my subconscious."
"I was bedded to tubes and monitors in the intensive care unit to keep me breathing; I was placed in an induced coma for four days," James said.
"My family members never left my side, I remained in the coma with uncertainty about whether I would ever recover to a normal state, or stay in a state of irreparable neurological damage.
"I was brought back to life four days later with a second chance, however, the damage my illness caused family and friends left deep scars."
One year later, James is alive, but the life he once knew is long gone.
His marriage has fallen apart and now he has "survivor's guilt" on top of post-traumatic stress disorder.
"I'm responsible for the devastating effect my condition has caused others so dear to me," he said.
"The collateral damage this caused to my family was devastating and it had a severe psychological impact on them and my close friends.
"My wife and children have suffered and required psychological therapy."
James was on a concoction of prescription medication and alcohol, unable to make rational decisions, when he decided suicide was the only option.
He felt "hopelessly locked down deep in depression" with no hope of ever being able to escape. He was frustrated and felt an immense sense of guilt that he had put so much stress upon his family.
"I irrationally justified to myself that I had to end my pain and the pain I had caused my wife and children," he said.
Post-traumatic stress disorder is not about what's wrong with the person, James says, it's about what has happened to a person.
In this case it's about what happened to a young man who swore in 1998 to protect and serve the people of NSW. He was tenacious in seeking the truth and committed to upholding the law.
He expected to deal with victims of crime, perpetrators of crime and human suffering.
"What I didn't expect was the impact that such expectations would have on my psychological health and future," he said.
"From the onset of my career, I was exposed to extreme acts of violence, suicides, homicides and traumatic incidents of significant human suffering.
"Little did I know, each traumatic incident I witnessed, I stored away in my subconscious mind."
James refers to this very secret place in his psyche as his "bookshelf".
"It was the place in which I shelved each incident as a non-fictional book of memories.
"As my career progressed, my bookshelf began to fill with disturbing stories of human suffering and death. These stories are never forgotten."
Without realising it, James' bookshelf was filling to the brim. Room to store away those haunting memories, so he could get on with the job, was running out.
In October 2011, James was the first officer to respond to a domestic dispute.
"Completely unaware and unprepared, I walked into a horrific crime scene. I found a woman dead with horrific stab wounds.
"This was to be my last non-fictional book, however, I had no room to shelve it. A few days later my bookshelf toppled over."
His locked-away memories of pain and suffering flooded his conscience mind.
"I was totally consumed by trauma, unable to sleep, continually anxious and incapable of communicating with my wife and young children," he said.
This was the start of what James terms his "extreme ways".
"I had the sense to recognise that I needed help. Reluctantly, because of my concerns regarding the police culture towards psychological injury, I put my hand up, convincing myself that I wasn't giving up.
"I progressively became worse, unable to explain my thoughts and feelings, growing further and further distant with my wife."
He could no longer live in the moment or interact meaningfully with those around him.
"Neither of us knew how to overcome it. Many admissions to psychiatric institutions assisted in the demise of my relationships. I was distant when present, and forgotten when away.
"Each admission provided limited relief from my condition yet aided what would inevitably be a marriage breakdown."
James also had to deal with the hard truth - that the chances of ever returning to active duty were extremely remote.
Eventually he had no choice but to leave the job he lived for. He had met the definition of having a total and permanent disability.
James made an application through his superannuation scheme for the Police Blue Ribbon Death and Disability payment.
"Little did I know that this application would ultimately lead to my total demise," he said.
As part of due process, Metlife conducted "factual investigation", requiring James to appear before other psychiatrists for independent evaluations.
Private investigators are also called in to conduct what James called "intrusive and relentless surveillance".
"This made me feel like a criminal and that my integrity was being questioned despite the overwhelming evidence of numerous medical reports [and] eight admissions to psychiatric institutions, attesting to how sick I was," he said.
"Being highly skilled in the art of physical surveillance and performing this role for many years, I was able to easily identify the surveillance activities.
"That was problematic in itself as it exacerbated my symptoms, making me hyper-vigilant and imprisoning me in my own home. I became a recluse, afraid to leave my home."
James was constantly on guard.
When he detected teams of private investigators following him, he would entrap them and approach each operative with uncontrollable rage and hostility, even threatening them with their lives.
To this day, insurance companies Metlife and TAL are in dispute about who is liable for James' total and permanent disability (TPD) insurance.
"The matter remains unresolved and my financial future is on hold. I have been robbed of my identity. I struggle to support myself financially and will never hold down a stable and fulfilling occupation.
"I remain dependent on prescription medication. My destiny is unknown."
John Cox, principal lawyer who leads Slater and Gordon's police compensation team, is fighting for justice for James.
"His status as satisfying the policy definition of TPD is virtually not at issue," Mr Cox said.
"The argument causing his ongoing trauma is which insurer has to pay."
Mr Cox said James was "stuck between a legal fight involving two insurers, Metlife and TAL".
"This argument involves which TPD insurer is on cover at the relevant time under the TPD contract.
"James commenced his TPD claim in April, 2012. Based on a failure by Metlife to determine his claim he commenced proceedings in the Industrial Relations Commission to obtain his benefits. He was later forced to join the insurer TAL."
Mr Cox said: "Unfortunately a legal challenge to the IRC's jurisdiction in another matter has meant he has had to transfer those legal proceedings into the Supreme Court.
"I act for many former policemen and women in the Illawarra region who face the ongoing daily trauma, post their medical discharge, of dealing with the unreasonable and at times disgraceful conduct of insurance companies, at a time when these people are often most acutely affected by their psychological illnesses and symptoms.
"James' story, unfortunately, is not unique," Mr Cox said.
"He is just another victim of the broken police TPD scheme, and seemingly one of the forgotten former police officers."
A spokesman for TAL said the company was obliged to gather information from a claimant and to provide a recommendation about the assessment of claims made against a policy.
"TAL recognises the complexity of some claims and works collaboratively with all stakeholders to finalise claims as quickly as possible," the spokesman said.
* Not his real name.
For help and counselling: Lifeline 131114; Suicide Call Back Service 1300 65946