Last week we lost two amazingly talented individuals, Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain. Kate Spade was one of my favorite designers growing up and still is. Kate Spade was probably one of my first designer purchases. When I mentioned to Justin the other day after her death he first said “who is that?” and then followed it up by “oh is she the handbag designer?” I share this because it goes to show you that if my hubby could get it partly right then he’s heard me talk about her enough to remember a little bit about her and the brand she created. I explained that she designed more than just handbags but that yes, I have a few handbags, a wallet, and all my iPhone cases in the last, I don’t even know how many years, have always been Kate Spade. I also own a number of tops and dresses from Kate Spade too. This top I’m wearing in these pictures is from Kate Spade. I bought it over a year ago and it’s still one of my favorites. While this one is black and white, I love to “live colorfully.” Kate Spade designs have always been playful, yet sophisticated, and any piece I have ever worn has made me happy. It’s so sad to think that the woman behind such a bright and cheerful brand could be living in such darkness.
And then just three days later the death of Anthony Bourdain. A world renowned chef, author, and TV personality. I love watching his shows about travel and food. I know he was an inspiration to so many to get out and experience life. I have a list a mile long of places I want to see and experience that I watched/learned about through him and his shows. He was a person who so many were envious of his life of travel getting to experience all the beauty the world has to offer. And yet, he was struggling with internal demons that were too heavy in the end for him to see enough beauty in the world to stay and live the rest of it out. Though he so eloquently shared that beauty with all of us who watched and followed him.
What’s even more tragic is the people they’ve left behind. As in all cases of suicide, the family and friends are left to try and piece their life together and try and understand why. If we can take away anything from the loss of these two individuals last week it is that no one, no matter how successful, influential, or rich is immune to having a mental illness. You don’t have to be contemplating suicide either to have a mental illness. It comes in many forms and the intensity level can vary drastically.
Have you ever felt down? I know I have.
I wrote about it briefly a few years ago after an article I read really touched me. A young woman who had just entered into college battled with depression and in the end chose to end her life. A young lady who had so much potential and so much to look forward to. I never got to the point of feeling like my life wasn’t going to get better or it was no longer worth living and I am so grateful for that but at the time in my life after a major chapter had come to a close (much earlier than I could have ever imagined) I felt lost and unsure of what the future had in store for me. And that was scary!
Growing up Ballet was my life from as early as I could remember. My goal was to become a professional ballet dancer after high school and so when my dreams were coming true you could imagine how happy I was. I spent a year and a half in Nashville dancing with Nashville Ballet before a chronic injury became too much for me to bare and was prohibiting me from being able to dance. I could barely be on point without experiencing a tremendous amount of pain. I wasn’t able to jump which was honestly my favorite part about dancing. Moving through the air, going from one side of the classroom (or stage) to the other, hanging in midair as long as I possibly could before gravity pulled me down.
Ballet was something I was so passionate about and loosing it was the hardest decision I had to make in my young adult life. It was right before my 19th birthday that I packed up my apartment in Nashville and moved back home. The dream was over and now I had to start over and pursue something new. It wasn’t a good feeling but one thing I know is that I always felt safe with my parents and knew I could share anything with them and they wouldn’t judge me, nor would they force me to do something I wasn’t comfortable with. I had a discussion with my mom, where I had a mental breakdown, right before we were supposed to head out to spend Christmas with our family and I told her I didn’t know what to do next. I was depressed, sad, and not wanting to do anything if I couldn’t dance. After that she sought out some people that I could talk to. When she gave me the list of names of people that were recommended to her for me to talk with I decided I didn’t need to. I guess just knowing that there were people available to me if I wanted to or even the fact that my mom took our conversation so seriously gave me the confidence I needed to start trying to come up with a game plan and set new goals. Or perhaps it was just the act of sharing my raw, real feelings was enough for me to reset and pick myself up.
I also know that I don’t suffer from mental illness. While I experienced a period of depression it was something I was able to get out of. I know that true mental illness is not just something you can just pick yourself up from because you want to and look at the brighter side of things. I know it’s something that can just hit you even after a good day, a great experience, or a memory in the moment you will cherish forever. It doesn’t matter how much joy you have in your life, the darkness will always foreshadow it. As a mother I could never imagine leaving Mason. It is something I would fight tooth and nail for. But, I don’t understand mental illness. I don’t understand how the the light that children bring into your life could be foreshadowed by darkness. That goes to show you just how strong of a disease mental illness is.
Far too many people it seems don’t get the help they need when it comes to mental health. The stigma around it makes it so that some people suppress their feelings and endure an internal struggle which is far too hard to deal with alone. Mental illness is not a sign of weakness. Mental illness is in fact a disease like epilepsy, cancer, diabetes. It isn’t just cured by trying to change your outlook, or seeing everything that is good in your life. It isn’t cured by a change of scenery, a new job, or less stress. You can seemingly “have it all” and still have a mental illness.
May we never pass judgement on another person, always be there to lend a helping hand, a shoulder to cry on, or an ear to listen. Since it takes the person struggling to open up to you, be the person that will make them feel comfortable and “at home” with you so that they have someone to share their struggles with. Be the person you would want beside you in times of need. Be the person who is aware and notices when someone you care for is seeming off to you. Don’t be silent. Ask them if there is anything you can do to help. Let them know you are there for them if they need you. Express your love for them and tell them they’re not alone in how they’re feeling. Let’s try and erase the stigma around mental health and lets all agree that it’s ok to not be ok. And it’s better to ask for help than struggle in silence.
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Thank you so much for stopping by the blog today and for reading this super long post. It is such an important topic that I appreciate you taking the time to read.