Chernobyl survivor says watching the first episode of the HBO mini series was 'painful'
“Are you radioactive? Do you glow in the dark?”
A Chernobyl survivor has said that she found watching the first episode of the mini series about the reactor's explosion "painful."
Dr. Janina Scarlet was three-years-old when the nuclear disaster occurred in her native Ukraine.
She said that she was teased mercilessly for having lived so close to the explosion, isolated from her peers in school who said that she was radioactive.
"I don’t remember much about the event itself, but I recall heightened feelings of confusion around the time of the explosion, which transformed into a flurry of worries once we finally found out what had actually happened nearly two weeks later," she told Women's Health.
"We'd been exposed to the radiation for weeks, simply from going outside, drinking the water, and eating raw fruit—all of which were poisoned.
"About six months later, people began to get sick. I was one of those people."
Dr. Scarlet said that she began getting nose bleeds and migraines, fearing that one of them would lead to a seizure that would eventually kill her.
She said that the children in her school, both in the Ukraine and later when her family moved to Brooklyn, would tease her because of her language barrier, and also because of where she had come from.
Dr. Scarlet said that over time, her pain has subsided and she has since learned how to deal with being one of the children from Chernobyl.
Meditation and mindfulness has helped her over the years. As has watching movies like the first X-Men film, which she credits with the realisation that she is a survivor, not a victim.
"Still watching HBO's Chernobyl mini-series is another thing—even viewing the pilot was difficult, painful, and overwhelming," she said.
"Seeing some of the characters being dismissive of the seriousness of the situation while seeing others dying from radiation sickness reminded me of the horrors that many of our people went through.
"I found myself feeling the entire spectrum of possible emotions, including grief, horror, and sadness. I haven't been able to watch more than the first episode so far—but one day, I hope I may have the strength to watch it all."
Chernobyl, the final episode of which will air next week, has received the highest rating for a television show on IMDb.
The mini-series has been commended for its accurate and non-sensationalised portrayal of what happened in 1986 in the former USSR.