Just about a year ago, Josh Fattal, one of three American hikers imprisoned in Iran on suspicion of espionage, tasted freedom.
But the road back from an Iranian jail cell -- where he spent more than two years -- to life in the United States has left the 30-year-old reflecting about what he and fellow hikers Shane Bauer and Sarah Shourd had to endure.
"It's been quite a year," said Fattal. "I feel way better than a year ago. That's for sure."
He said it's been difficult to recover from his 781 days of imprisonment in an 8-by-13 foot jail cell.
"I'm feeling really good, but it's not easy to transition," he said. "A lot of people experience trauma, but mine was very prolonged, systematic, enduring trauma and it's hard to come out of that."
In an interview with CNN, Fattal described how he and Bauer used to sit in their cell and wonder what it would be like to be free again.
After he was released on September 21, 2011, he said even simple decisions proved daunting.
"We didn't think it would be as hard as it (turned out to) be at all," he said. "Now I have the freedom to turn off the light bulb when I sleep. I have the freedom to sleep with sheets. There's all sorts of freedom to move I didn't have before."
The three Americans were hiking in northern Iraq's mountainous Kurdish region in July 2009 when they were arrested by Iranian border guards, after apparently straying into Iranian territory.
Now back in the United States, Fattal on Saturday organized an "Occupy"-inspired event in Manhattan, celebrating his one year of freedom.
Next week, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is to address the United Nations General Assembly.
"They're probably down on 5th Avenue shopping for some capitalist luxuries," he said, referring to Ahmadinejad's entourage. "And so we want him to bring that stuff to the 'Really, Really Free Market,' " a tongue-in-cheek reference to his anniversary event in New York City's Madison Square Park.
Earlier this year, Fattal traveled to Louisville, Kentucky, taking advantage of an invitation to toast Mohammed Ali at his 70th birthday party.
The boxing legend had lobbied on the hikers' behalf during their imprisonment.
"I told him how much it uplifted me. I told him how buoyant I was when I read (his) words," said Fattal. "When I read about the press conference that he gave ... I then immediately put down the letter I was reading ... and started shadow boxing in the room."
But the former prisoner also recounted darker times, explaining that the memories of his days and nights spent behind bars still occasionally fill his nightmares.
"We haven't really had a chance to explain all," he said, adding that he has plans to publish a tell-all book with his former fellow inmates sometime next year.
He declined to offer further details about his imprisonment until the book is published.