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USA TODAY SPECIAL EDITION

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HEALTH & HEALING After years of serving in Iraq, Nigel McCourry experienced such severe posttraumatic stress disorder symptoms that he thought of taking his own life.

MIKE BELLEME/SPECIAL TO THE (ASHEVILLE, N.C.) CITIZEN-TIMES

‘IT’S NO PARTY’

MDMA-assisted psychotherapy helps veterans with PTSD By Patricia Kime

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HE SUNNI TRIANGLE IN Iraq in 2004 was completely hellish: Nigel McCourry’s Marine Corps’ unit, 2nd Battalion, 2nd Marines, saw at least four members die and 154 wounded in engagements from Mahmudiya and Fallujah to Zaidan. McCourry, then 23, was a lance

corporal assigned to a weapons platoon. After a roadside bomb exploded near a vehicle he was in, he felt “distinctly different” — experiencing bizarre nightmares, survivor’s guilt, insomnia, intense anger and anxiety — changes he thought would go away but eventually became part of him. He sought medical help, was diagnosed with a personality disorder and booted

from the Corps. It took seven years before he received his actual diagnosis from the VA: post-traumatic stress disorder. “It was a burning in the back of my brain that would flare up whenever it wanted to,” McCourry said. “I drank a lot of alcohol. The only way I could fall asleep was to basically pass out.” CO N T I N U E D

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VETERANS AFFAIRS 2017  

VETERANS AFFAIRS 2017