Northampton mum explains why she had to leave The Island after massive storm triggered Iraq flashbacks
A former Northampton soldier whose appearance on Bear Grylls' The Island gave a shocking insight into the effects of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, says she has no regrets about going on the show.
Mum-of-two Hannah Campbell, 32, was forced to leave the Channel Four reality programme, which pits a group of people on an uninhabited island with limited supplies, after just eight days when a huge storm hit the Panama coast.
The former corporal, who lost her lower leg in 2007 when a mortar exploded underneath her in Iraq, suffered a relapse of the Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome which has dogged her since then.
But the Northampton woman says she has no regrets about going on the show as it has enabled her to talk about her condition for the first time in years.
She said: “I was devastated to have to leave - of all the things I would have to come off that island for, I didn’t want Iraq to be the reason.
“It made me feel like Iraq was getting the better of me again.
“But it made me realise I need to talk about my trauma more. I had told myself I was fine for so long, it made me realise I probably wasn’t.”
Hannah, who lives off the Wellingborough Road in Northampton, left the army in 2012, but has suffered with PTSD since 2007. She was in a wheelchair for three years before having her leg amputated, which means she now wears a prosthetic leg.
While serving in Iraq a guard room she was in was struck by a mortar, which came through the roof and exploded beneath her.
She was trapped under the rubble of the building for two hours but remarkably survived.
The huge storm which hit the Panama coast while Hannah was filming The Island just before Christmas triggered flashbacks of the horrible event and also left her feeling “phantom pain” in her lost limb.
“It was the sounds, the smells, the sand,” she said. “For some reason it set off every sense in my body, I couldn’t switch it off. It was like seeing what happened in Iraq in a series of flashbacks.”
Hannah said she felt “ashamed” after being taken off the show and admitted she cried when she saw the episode on Monday.
But now with time to reflect, the brave former soldier is turning the experience into a positive and is working to set up the Hannah Campbell Foundation to help other women with PTSD.
She said: “The feedback I got from the show has been amazing, people have messaged me saying they have PTSD but until now no one has been interested in my condition.
“I think it is still something which isn’t talked about enough.
“Since leaving the island, it has really just focused me on what I want to do with my life now.”
Hannah completed the London marathon just a year after having her prosthetic fitted in 2011 and said she was a big fan of The Island, having watched previous series.
But it wasn’t enough for her to just stay as a viewer, Hannah applied to go on the show in 2015.
“I just thought to myself that if I could go on to that show I could prove there was nothing else that could hold me back.”
She said her first day on the island was tough, when the participants were dropped off by boat and forced to swim to shore - not so easy with a prosthetic leg.
Living with no supplies had been challenging as hunger began to kick in.
“But I was enjoying myself believe it or not,” Hannah said. “There was really a few moments where I stood there and thought, you know what, I am just happy to be alive.”
The Island with Bear Grylls is on Channel Four on Monday nights at 9pm.