I was driving home from my kids’ swim meet when I heard the news about Kate Spade committing suicide. Unfortunately, I wasn’t shocked.
I say ‘unfortunately’ because my first thought was, “There is another person who, on the outside, looked like she didn’t need help, whose suffering was going on even when she posed with a smile on her face.”
‘Unfortunately,’ because I could relate to the despair and darkness that comes when you believe there is no way out. (I was on top of my pop star career when I sped up my car trying to crash it because I felt I would be better off dead…)
This past week I had several meetings in which I had to give a short summary of my story. As I talked about my own battle with (and victory over) depression and anxiety, I brought up how those who suffer from it usually don’t look sad, ragged and worn out. That’s especially true if you are trying to present a public image of a good wife, mother, church member, etc. It’s unlikely that you will let anyone know of the debilitating panic attacks, sleepless nights, doubts and fears that swarm at you despite the many prayers you pray while begging God to get you out of the chaos.
‘Unfortunately’ also because I’ve heard too many stories of people who had been suicidal, and of those who lost a loved one to suicide.
We need to do better in understanding depression and anxiety, and in taking the stigma off of mental illness…
Following are a few stories that give insight into mental illness:
Alex was 10 when he had suicidal thoughts (read the article here).
Patti lost her son to a suicide (watch her story here) She now has a ministry through which she helps teenagers talk about suicide and come to understand the need for healing before it’s too late.
Please share these links with someone you believe needs help.
I write/speak/coach* on depression and anxiety, so you can always send me a direct email with related questions. (* I’m a trained life coach but not a licensed therapist; I can only coach people, some of whom also need to see qualified medical professionals in order to receive proper medical treatment.) And if you or someone you know needs help, contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255), or text “help” to the Crisis Text Line at 741-74. You can also go online here.
Remember this: love and compassion can change someone’s life… even save it.
Only few days after I wrote this post, I drove my oldest son to pick up a painting he had framed to give it to his girlfriend. He would have driven himself, but he broke his foot. I was feeling a bit down – experiencing a wave of grief, loneliness, slight anxiety over how much was in front of me and how much I had to handle on my own as a single parent – triggered undoubtedly by the heaviness brought on by the loss for Kate Spade’s life and her family.
“What’s new in the world?” I asked my son. “Anthony Bourdain committed suicide,” he said.
“No. You’re kidding. It’s not ok to say that,” I protested. “It’s true, mama. I wouldn’t joke about something like that.”
Bourdain’s death affected me just as hard. Especially after I read an article on Yahoo Entertainment:
The television host also discussed thoughts of depression. In a 2016 episode of Parts Unknown, Bourdain traveled to Argentina for psychotherapy — something widely popular in the country…
Regarding his depression, Bourdain brushed off the public’s response. “I’m not going to get a lot of sympathy from people, frankly,” he said on the episode. “I mean, I have the best job in the world, let’s face it. I go anywhere I want, I do what I want. That guy over there loading sausages onto the grill, that’s work. This is not so bad. It’s alright. I’ll make it.”
As much as Bourdain loved his job — which had him traveling about 250 days a year — he often described life on the road as lonely. “I’m living the dream,” Bourdain told People in 2016. “I have the best job in the world and I’m very grateful for that. And I don’t plan on walking away from that any time soon, I can assure you — but it comes at a cost.”
His marriage to Ottavia Busia ended earlier that year with his schedule being partly to blame. “I now wake up alone in lot of faraway places looking at beautiful vistas and doing interesting things,” he said. “But the truth is I’m alone for most of that time.”
Loneliness and sense of disconnectedness seems to be a disease of our times… And that’s another reason why each of us needs to be “God in skin” – and help to heal deeper, love more and bring love and connectedness to each other.