Mark Pinto is a San Jose State University student getting a master's degree in photography. He was also an officer for the Marine Corps during the Gulf War. As part of occasional series, "What's Your Story," we hear how Pinto is using photography to help heal trauma that resurfaced more than 20 years after the Gulf War. Reporter: Shuka Kalantari
"About two years ago ... I started to experience anxiety, bouts of anxiety. And it was completely unusual for me. And it was unexplained, I didn’t have any ... I couldn’t understand, there was no consistent triggers. It would just suddenly hit me, I would become anxious.
I felt like I wanted to stay in my home. I felt like I wanted to be away from everybody. I wanted to be isolated. I really wanted to be isolated. I didn’t want to see anybody ... in my case these crazy thoughts would come into my head like, 'Is the world crazy? Am I crazy? What’s going on? Why is this happening?’
The anxiety becomes worse, and depression began, and eventually it led to full blown PTSD, which went all the way back to the war 20 years ago. And that’s why I ended up going to the VA for psychological treatment.
When the anxiety started, I didn’t even go back to the war. I never once thought that this could be caused by the war. I thought it could be caused by exhaustion...or looking towards the future and starting a new, you know, getting my Master's degree. And then what next after that? Those seem more likely than the war which was so far separated from me in time.
I knew the one thing that brought me joy, the one thing that I could find sanity in, was the order of nature. This natural, beautiful order of nature. And I knew I could find that through the lens of the camera.
I was living in Mountain View and there’s a lake at the end of Shoreline Drive called Shoreline Lake, and there’s egrets that eat fish there and it’s an amazing place to watch. .... I can just get out of my car and within a quarter mile or half mile I’m sitting on a bench and right in front of me this four foot or five food egret is hunting or fishing. And with my lens on my camera I can see, I have this beautiful window to witness some really amazing things.
The relationship between the spiders or insects, the birds, the fish, and my place in all of that is what brings me peace. Maybe it gives me a sense that I do have a place, you know? And maybe all of us need to find that. Reassuring that in spite of the craziness that’s going on in the world – and there is craziness that goes on in the world – that I do have a place in this world."