#IwillLive – My Story
As Suicide Prevention Month comes to an end, UNITY wishes to thank everyone for participating in the #IwillLive photo/essay contest. Kiana Factor, Sioux/Creek/Comanche and a UNITY youth, shares her story about struggles many youth face. She hopes her story will encourage Native youth to celebrate life.
When something bad happens, you have three choices: you can let it define you, let it destroy you, or let it strengthen you. We all have had our good and bad days, but what matters most, is what you learn and take away from those days that makes you stronger..
At a young age, you never really know how to deal with the different situations life throws at you. In my twenty- four years, I have had my fair share of depression. When I was 16, I fell in love for the first time. It was during my sophomore year in high school, we were together for about a year and a half, and at that time, a year and a half felt like a long time. After we had moved on, graduated, and went on with our lives. We never really kept in contact, as is the case when a relationship ends. Then one night I received a random phone call from him. He asked how I was doing and where I had decided to go to school, and I asked him the same. It was when we had hung up that I began to wonder what was really going on with him and his life. I hadn’t tried to contact him after that to find out more, but I wish I had.
I had just moved into my own apartment and was getting ready to move on with my life. When I started scrolling through my Facebook newsfeed. I was in shock and didn’t know what to do or think or how to react. My ex-boyfriend had taken his own life. I didn’t know if I should cry or not. Then I thought to myself, this can’t be real, I couldn’t believe what I was reading. Then I started getting calls from friends to check on me and I had a friend come over. My mom called checking on me and she suggested that I shouldn’t be alone at the time, and that I should go and stay with her but I decided to just stay at my friends. Later in the evening, the day he passed on, I attended a small gathering planned by his family to reminisce about all the good times that friends and family had with him. When it came time for his funeral, it felt as if it all hit me in the worst way possible. I didn’t want to say good-bye. I forced myself to go to the funeral and his burial, even though I was more heart-broken than when we had broken up. Watching your first love being laid to rest, at only 18 years old, is something really hard to overcome because you never quite forget that first-love feeling.
You will always have a different emotion for different situations. The older you get, the better you learn how to control your emotions and not let your emotions control you. In more recent years, I have let my depression control me. When I was twenty- two years old, I had my first child, a little boy, on November 3, 2014. I was the happiest woman in the world. I had a little family at twenty-two years old. A mother and father with a little boy, what more could I ask for? Then things started to change. My son’s father started to not be around so much anymore, so I eventually left with our son. I let him live his life as he wanted, but it broke my heart to see that I didn’t have my little family anymore. I started to let the break-up control me. I was letting the emotions of being heart-broken control my life. I had left my son in the care of my mother because I knew he would be safe there, while I tried to find myself again. At the time, it wasn’t a positive approach, but I needed to come to terms with who I was or wanted to be. I had realized that I had let the emotion of depression get to me and decided I needed to find the Kiana that I knew I was.
Once I had admitted to my wrongs of what I had done, I gave it to Tunkasila (the Creator). I had found my motivation to become the mother that I knew I could be. I began coming back home when my child’s father had also started to come back home. We both wanted to be a family, but we had already done so much damage that we didn’t know how things were going to work out. We sat down and talked about what we wanted and what we needed to change for the better. Our relationship is so much stronger now than ever before. When I look back on my life, I see a lot of mistakes that I can’t change and I can’t do anything about now, and yes I do have regrets, but I know that everything happens for a reason. I can only look forward to the future and hope and pray for the blessings I have, and will have in the future, and learn from the lessons of my past. I never admitted to being sad, or for anyone to see me sad for that matter, because I like to make everyone happy and see the smiles on their beautiful faces. We all have to face challenges in life, but its how you deal with them that make you a stronger person.
Once I had come to terms and admitted my wrongs to the creator, I felt more relief than when I would go play soccer or basketball or just writing my feelings in a journal. There are people out there that share a similar story with you and can relate and can help. When you think about taking your own life because you think no one cares or because you think it will take your pain away, think again. What you’re really doing is just giving your pain to someone else. This is why suicide has become an epidemic among the youth. Once one person passes along their pain to another, that person can’t bear that pain so they continue the cycle of handing struggles and pain to the next; like a domino effect. To all of my Native youth, remember that you are so loved, and sacred; you just have to remember your worth.
According to National Indian Child Welfare Association (NICWA), an estimated 900,000 youth have made a plan to commit suicide during their worst or most recent episode of major depression, while 712,000 attempted suicide during such an episode. News of Native youth who have taken their own lives has become very common in Indian country, but what are we doing to help fix the struggles that they are dealing with? In my experiences, it all starts within the home. As adults and parents, we need to listen to what our children are dealing with. In this generation, situations are becoming harder for the young ones to deal with because they do not know how to find the help they need. There should not be one reason that we can’t help our younger generation. We don’t know what they’re dealing with and how much they might be hurting. When a child asks for help, please, help them in any way possible.