AN ex-soldier turned author has spoken of how writing helped him cope with post-traumatic stress disorder.

Anthony McNally, who served in the Falklands War and in Northern Ireland, said writing down his thoughts was his "salvation" from the mental scars of conflict.

It has led him to writing a series of novels inspired by his life featuring an ex-SAS soldier who lives in Cumbria as the main character.

Mr McNally developed PTSD fighting in the "short but brutal" Falklands War in 1982 aged 19 after seeing many of his comrades killed in action.

While working in air defence in the conflict, he saw an equipment failure result in the deaths of 50 soldiers.

The 56-year-old, who lives in Ulverston's Sir John Barrow Way, said: "I blamed myself not the equipment.

"That led to the PTSD - but in those days we didn't know what it was

"Then you dealt with it by going home and getting drunk.

"There's not as much stigma now."

Mr McNally then left the army but later rejoined to go on tour in Northern Ireland.

He said: "It was then that I first knew I had symptoms of what would later be diagnosed as PTSD.

"Other soldiers said they could hear me screaming in the night.

He realised in the 1990s that he had the condition and sought the help of a counsellor.

He said: "I was advised by a counsellor to write down thoughts and feelings to help. I wouldn't admit I had a problem.

"Everything poured out - and then I got the diagnosis."

He spent a year in hospital after attempting suicide in 2012.

"You think you are all right one minute but then you are not," he said.

Mr McNally channeled his experiences towards writing fiction and poetry.

He wrote a book called Still Watching Men Burn recounting his life and follow it up with a series of novels including a character based on himself.

He hopes to complete his third entry, which heavily features Barrow, this year.

He described PTSD as a "normal, human reaction" and said talking about it was the best way to help ex-servicemen and women.

He said: "I shot down two aircraft.

"It was only years after I thought about the pilots inside as human beings with families.

"I'd rather have PTSD than feel like a machine. It's good that violence bothers you.

"It means you are human."