This past weekend was the Out of Darkness Walk to support the American Foundation Suicide Prevention. For the last few years I walked with family members to remember the people we've lost, to help support people who are struggling. We walk specifically to remember my cousin Chris... Facebook reminded me today how long it has been. Too long, but it seems like it just happened too. This year I didn't walk. I signed up and planned to go, but instead I went camping with friends. Back in June when it got bad, when I realized that I was not okay, I also realized that I had to stop pretending that the world was fine. I realized I had to get help... so I did. In September when school started back up I struggled. There was one weekend that was probably the worst it has ever been and I really didn't think it was going to end.
And that's the thing that makes it hard- when you are in it, when you feel the darkness pressing in, when you can't stop your mind from racing and playing the "what if" game, when you start to wonder if you are going crazy, you really feel like it's never going to stop. Then it does. For me, my anxiety makes me live with the constant worry that at any moment I'll slip back into a panic attack, or depression. I no longer know my triggers, so the fear of going back to that place is a tangible thing that I think about at least once a day. Luckily for me I've been fine since early September. I know it's just a matter of time though before I'll be asked to fight again and that's okay, because this is who I am and I've at least managed to find some new ways to cope.
The funny thing about tattoos is that they are a insanely personal thing. People get them for all different reasons- some just like the art, some use them to memorialize, some use them to heal. Some do them for multiple reasons. I'm a bit of a mixed pot. I have a few that I got when I was younger that don't have a ton of meaning, I have a few that are used as reminders of people that have passed. I have one that reminds me of my favorite place in the world (Wyoming), I have my daughters name on my arm. Now I have two that remind me that I will be okay. Most people get it. They don't question my choices and they don't ask for an explanation. There were a few that questioned whether or not I had too many tattoos, they thought that they would lose meaning the more I got. To be honest, those comments really hurt, but I had to realize that I don't get them to please anyone but myself. I don't need people to like them, I don't need people to understand them, I'd like people to be accepting, but I can't control them, so I have to be okay if they don't. At the end of the day I'm happy with my ink and I can't wait to get another one!
The other thing I said I was going to do to keep myself level was to go and have fun. No stress, just fun. Which is why I chose to go camping instead of joining the walk. I'm not in the right place to do the walk right now. Camping was amazing and it was exactly what I needed to combat the stress. We went up to the Adirondacks and stayed at the beautiful Moffitt Beach Campground and then we hiked Giant (we didn't make it to the top- stupid storm) and then in the morning we found a waterfall to go check out and I decided it was a great idea to jump in. It was freezing. It was so cold that it took my breath away. Still, how often do you find yourself in the middle of the woods, at a waterfall with no one else around? I debated NOT jumping in, but that didn't feel right, so I tossed my bag aside and went for a swim. In 49 degree fall weather. In my clothes. We also had the chance to just be silly and relax. Which is probably the most important thing. It was a great reset to take before heading back to work. We also made a video, because that's how we roll.
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by: Chester Nez
The first and only memoir by one of the original Navajo code talkers of WWII-includes the actual Navajo Code and rare photos. Although more than 400 Navajos served in the military during World War II as top-secret code talkers, even those fighting shoulder to shoulder with them were not told of their covert function. And, after the war, the Navajos were forbidden to speak of their service until 1968, when the code was finally declassified. Of the original twenty- nine Navajo code talkers, only two are still alive. Chester Nez is one of them.
In this memoir, the eighty-nine-year-old Nez chronicles both his war years and his life growing up on the Checkerboard Area of the Navajo Reservation-the hard life that gave him the strength, both physical and mental, to become a Marine. His story puts a living face on the legendary men who developed what is still the only unbroken code in modern warfare.