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Trailblazing ex-RAF medic says Invictus Games saved her life after PTSD left her suicidal

A trailblazing former RAF medic whose post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) brought her to the brink of suicide has hailed the Invictus Games for saving her life.

Michelle Partington said training for the Prince Harry-fronted veteran sports event has helped transform her from the person who, barely two years ago, told ITV News how her mental anguish left her terrified to leave home alone.

Michelle, who was the first female RAF paramedic to work on the Afghan frontline, revealed in 2015 she had become socially crippled by PTSD after returning from her third tour of duty.

Michelle Partington described her post-tour mental suffering to ITV News in March 2015. Credit: ITV News

On rare trips out of the house to the supermarket she wore headphones as the everyday noise could trigger panic attacks, while at home she contemplated ending her life.

"I look back two years ago and I couldn't even get myself dressed," Michelle recalled as she attended recent Invictus trials in Bath. "Now I'm in this kit. Amazing."

The former flight lieutenant will find out later in May if she did enough to represent Britain in indoor rowing in September's 2017 competition in Toronto.

The ex-RAF medic performed on the indoor rowing machines at the trials in Bath. Credit: ITV News

Launched in 2014, the Invictus Games sees wounded, injured or sick armed services personnel compete in a variety of disciplines.

Last year's edition in Orlando, Florida, saw Prince Harry emphasise the need to recognise so-called 'invisible injuries', the mental health challenges rarely seen in veterans that can destroy from within.

The royal, who recently publicly disclosed his own private mental health struggles in the years since his mother Princess Diana's death in 1997, met Michelle at the trials as she competed against her fellow veterans to represent her country in Canada.

The pair were seen sharing a joke as Michelle showed off her muscles.

The bubbly former flight lieutenant said she has been renewed by the Invictus competition. Credit: ITV News

Michelle later told ITV News how her life had been forever changed by her experience in conflict.

"For me everyone has left a piece of themselves back in Afghanistan regardless of whether it's a limb or something inside," she said.

"You're spiralling down and I didn't think at the time that there was anything that could pick me out of that hole."

Michelle Partington became the first female RAF paramedic to work on the Afghan frontline. Credit: Michelle Partington

Michelle said the Invictus training goals that got her out of the house and the renewed camaraderie with other ex-military men and women had led her recovery back from the brink.

"I was at a stage where I wanted to take my life at one point," she said.

"I flicked that switch and (the) bottom line is now I don't want to take my life, I want to take it as far as I can do."

  • Any veterans suffering from PTSD, depression or anxiety are urged to call Combat Stress on its 24hr helpline, 0800 138 1619, or visit this website
  • If you are in distress or need some support, the Samaritans are available 24 hours a day on 116 123 or through their website