Krista is a US Army veteran. She was deployed to Saudi Arabia and Iraq during Operation Desert Storm. Her specialty was as an Arabic linguist leading to her service as an interrogator as well as an interpreter. Krista’s time in the Middle East was fraught with enemy engagement, including a barrage of scud missile attacks and the constant fear of chemical warfare. The effects of such experiences hardly need explanation.
However, for Krista there was another stressor during her service in the Middle East. As an interpreter, Krista dealt directly with Saudi men. The time was the early 1990s. Back then the Middle East was even more male dominated than it is today. With constant threats and insults, Krista was routinely reminded of that fact. They spoke to her in Arabic so her colleagues did not understand or realize what was happening. Krista kept it all to herself. She became isolated and was essentially alone.
Upon leaving the military, Krista tried to leave those memories and fears behind her. She tried to maintain an image of the perfect life. She returned to school but continued to isolate herself from others. At the same time she was trying to maintain a marriage to another veteran suffering with PTSD, also undiagnosed at that time. Krista focused all of her energy on school and her marriage. It was her way of avoiding her past.
Ultimately, Krista and her husband divorced. She raised her two daughters on her own. The time on her own left space for her untended wounds, which came back with a fury. Nightmares, panic attacks and anxiety forced her into more isolation and a downward spiral. Krista realized that she was suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress – and she needed to deal with it. She had two children to raise and a life that she wanted to live. She finally began to seek treatment. In addition to her PTSD, Krista was also diagnosed with cancer and, shortly thereafter, Gulf War Illness, causing her to feel fatigued and generally sick.
But Krista is a fighter. She is working on her recovery and dealing with PTSD. After retiring from a teaching career, Krista returned to school for another Masters in Outdoor Leadership. She finds that being in nature helps her to deal with her problems better, both physically and mentally. She continues to work on herself and her recovery. While she has a ways to go, she knows her triggers and her reactions, and has made significant progress. She hopes to make further strides walking the Camino this Spring.
Buen Camino Krista – Ultreia et Suseia!