I.J. Sarfeh - Medical Fiction

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.

Posted by ijsarfeh on December 24, 2012 at 1:35 PM
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The tragedy of Newtown is sure to leave many unfortunate souls not only grieving, but suffering from PTSD. Since I know quite a bit about this debilitating disorder, I decided to write a series of vignettes about it, if only to help those who seek help.

Here is my personal encounter with PTSD:

I was six years old, wandering the streets in our Tehran neighborhood,when I saw a crowd of people silently standing in a circle, not moving. Curious, I wiggled my way to the front. A horrific scene loomed before me. A heap of crumpled metal, once a motorcycle, lay beside a man. He was sprawled in the middle of the road, blood and brain matter oozing from his head.


I felt sick.

That night, I couldn’t sleep. Images of the dead man kept popping into my head, and I was frightened, worried my parents would meet the same fate. Oh dear God, how I wished my eyes had never seen such horror.

For two years I had recurring nightmares in which my father was the man with the broken skull sprawled on the road under a halo of blood. I didn’t tell anyone about my fears, afraid I’d be mocked for being a sissy. After all, boys were strong, in charge of their emotions, unable to fear; unable to feel pity.

On my eighth birthday, a family friend came over and invited me out for ice cream. She steered me toward the closest shop on the same street where I had witnessed the tragedy. As soon as we walked onto the street, I started crying uncontrollably. The friend, Mrs. Farrah, put an arm around my shoulders. “What is the matter, child? Why do you look so frightened?”

I shrugged.

She knelt down before me. “Talk to me, Iraj. Please!”

I pointed down the street. “I—I don’t want to go there.”

“Why not?”

“I—I don’t know.”

She stood up, grasped my hand, but I pulled away and ran home, sobbing all the way.

The images of the tragedy are still etched in my brain.

And I still have a morbid fear of motorcycles.

They call it Post Traumatic Stress Disorder: PTSD.