The Journey Is Not Over
Content Warning: this blog mentions suicide and contains personal experiences and stories of personal hardship. The purpose is to destigmatize mental health and to embrace, love and empower young people. CNAY is proud to provide young leaders agency in narrative sharing and empower them in sharing their truth.
“Blog” kinda, not really
I survived twice and decided to make it worth it.
Unfortunately, my story isn’t unique. My story is similar to thousands of youth across Indian Country. I struggle with depression, anxiety, PTSD, and I am a suicide survivor. Mental health was never something that was explained to me. It was never something I could freely talk about. So, I decided we need to talk about it, we need to have these hard discussions so that we don’t lose any more of our people.
I was inspired by this article my mom had shown me about a veteran walking long distances to bring awareness to suicide rates in the military and to PSTD. I thought to myself, “I can do that. I can do that too and get people talking about mental health.” The project went through many different phases before I finally decided to walk from one end of the Hopi Reservation to the other. I walked a total of 70 miles starting in Moencopi, Arizona and finishing at my family home in First Mesa, Arizona.
“Mental health was never something that was explained to me. It was never something I could freely talk about. So, I decided we need to talk about it, we need to have these hard discussions so that we don’t lose any more of our people.”
I walked for 3 days, and I dedicated each day to a specific group that all have places in my heart. My first day was dedicated to the armed forces, active-duty military, and veterans. A big part of the reason I do the work that I do is because I have seen the PTSD and struggles of my loved ones who have served in the military or armed forces. So, I wanted to honor them and remind them that they are not alone and have a support system ready to help them. It worked out well as I ended up walking along the Hopi Code Talkers Highway.
My second day was dedicated to the LGBTQ+ community. As a proud member of this community, my coming out and not being accepted was a big component that affected my mental health and was a struggle for me to overcome. I wanted to let others in the LGBTQ+ community know that they are safe with me, that they have a safe space to be themselves and hopefully encourage others to be as supportive and loving to our relatives.
My final day was to honor life and remember those gone too soon. This day was really a release of all the emotions I felt as I walked and talked with people along the way. To send out big virtual hugs and love to everyone struggling and everyone who are support systems.
There were over 60 teams and 100+ individuals who registered to participate virtually. Altogether at the end there were 2400+ #MilesforHealing. I wanted something to commemorate this as well so I reached out to a local family-owned business, ‘Honyoutink’, to see about printing some shirts so people could show support in other ways. Sunflowers are my symbol for my own healing journey, so I told their in house designer Dwight Honyouti, “Just include sunflowers, a semi colon and ‘The Journey Is Not Over’, the rest is up to you!” He did not disappoint! The design of the shirts was so beautiful and stood out.
It all came together wonderfully, I had my family serving as my relief vehicle when I needed to rest, my community who showed up to walk with me, the people online supporting and most importantly the conversations that began in homes, clans, community and across Indian Country.
The Journey Is Not Over.
Honyoutink and Lexie have teamed together once again to relaunch “The Journey Is Not Over” in support of Suicide Prevention Month and her efforts.