'Getting out of bed I rushed into the living room where I found Eric crouched on the floor. The words that were coming from him were not English. He was giving commands to people on the other side of the world in their native tongue. For a moment I was frozen to the spot. I wasn’t sure what he would do if I came towards him but when he let out a piteous cry I knew I had to do something. “Eric? Eric?” I called his name but received no response. Quickly I moved to switch on the lamp beside of the sofa. Eric had sat down and his eyes were open but it was obvious that his mind was not in that room.
Still unsure of what to do I moved cautiously to sit in front of him so we were face to face and only about a foot apart. When I looked at him, this cousin of mine who had once been afraid to leave the street he lived on, he was crying. He made no sounds, his eyes never blinked. There was just a silent stream of tears coming from him. Before I could help myself my own tears welled up once more as I sat there trying to think of a way to bring him out of this trance he was in without risking the safety of either of us in the process. It hit me suddenly. Elvis. Eric had loved Elvis so much when we were kids. I Can’t Help Falling in Love with You was his favorite tune. It was the one he sang to Julie after our senior prom. I began to sing the first verse softly, unsure of what I was doing. Could it work? By the time I got to the chorus I knew Eric was back. His mind had returned to where he was sitting. As soon as he looked at me I grabbed him and held him tight. I felt like his mother as I wept with my cousin in my arms but I couldn’t stop myself. This is why they sent him out here to me, I thought, because they couldn’t deal with what he had gone through...or what he was still going through.
When I let go of him he looked stunned. He looked around him for a moment as if he was taking in his surroundings and then he spotted his pack of Camels on the coffee table and slowly he moved to get them. Sitting down again he took one out and offered one to me, lighting them both as if he were on auto pilot. “That was a bad one. I’ve never sleep walked before.” He said softly, more to himself than to me.
“What, a dream?” I questioned.
Eric looked at me with the strangest expression. “No, cuz, more like a memory. A lot of us guys are coming back and having these…I don’t know what you would call them…episodes? Anyway, the doctor mom took me to said it’s like a stress syndrome or something. It’s like I go back in my mind to the jungles, ya know, the war. Our minds just can’t let that shit go. Everything we had to do, everything that was done to us, everything we saw in that goddamned hell hole…it won’t let us go. The doc gave me some pills. I took one on the plane ride. He said they would help but so far…” He shrugged. “No one can explain why it’s happening to us and so far no one has been able to make it stop. I guess we’re all just meant to keep fighting until we get fed up and put fucking bullets in our brains!”
“Don’t talk like that!” I demanded a chill running up my spine at the thought. “Maybe you are just not going to the right kind of doctor. You need a doctor for your mind, someone you can talk to that will have answers, you know?”
“Like an analyst?” Eric questioned with a chuckle. “You think the jungle made me crazy, cuz?”
“No, that’s not what I’m…” I stopped when I saw he was laughing at me. “What?”
“You didn’t used to be so damned uptight, that’s all.” Eric took my hand in his and I realized he was shaking. What had that place done to him, to them all? “I’ll be alright. If I lived through Nam I’ll make it through the memories.”'
Here is an article giving an overview of PTSD taken from http://www.ptsd.va.gov/professional/pages/ptsd-overview.asp:
Posttraumatic Stress Disorder: An Overview