John Nichol For Mail On Sunday
PUBLISHED: 27 January 2018
"My experiences have also made me a much more emotional person and tears can flow at the simplest of triggers such as Remembrance Sunday, when I recall the friends I have lost. In those moments I take solace that at least I understand what is happening to me – the processes of PTSD and how it shows its teeth."
John Nichol was beaten by Hussein's henchmen and paraded on Iraqi television, with his picture flashing across the world
Twenty-seven years ago I was shot down over Iraq, captured, tortured and forced by Saddam Hussein’s henchmen to appear on television to denounce my actions as an RAF officer.
Images of my bruised face flashed across the world and became a lasting image of the horrors of the 1991 Gulf War.
As a prisoner of war, I felt like the most insignificant, terrified human being on Earth.
The memories of my abuse and brushes with death are still with me. Dealing with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) has become part of my life.
For this reason I am backing The Mail on Sunday’s campaign to improve mental healthcare for serving troops, including the introduction of a 24/7 helpline.
I feel the pain of those worst affected by PTSD. As someone who has experienced it myself, I understand what they are going through and the confusion they can face. I can be enjoying a perfectly normal day or night when a sensory stimulus, or trigger, fires me back into my past.
For me it is primarily noise – loud bangs, fireworks going off, trains going past, all these sound like the Coalition jets that flew missions over Baghdad attacking several of the buildings we were held in.
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