To say the passing of Kate Spade this week due to suicide hit me hard is an understatement. Kate Spade. Such an iconic brand and powerhouse. With her bright and vibrant designs and cheerful pops of color. She paved the way for a new way of thinking and designing in the fashion world and I always felt like her items, her designs were made just for me. So happy, cheerful and full of so much life. She was someone to look up to for me as a woman where I knew I too can be in charge of my own future.
A few days later, another life was taken by suicide, Anthony Bourdain. Another powerhouse. A man who seemed to have it all. Another soul who I felt like I had a special bond with..now gone forever. I had the pleasure of meeting Anthony a couple of years ago when we were both on the TODAY show. That was such a special day and moment for me, and being in the green room with him, getting my makeup done with him and being on the show on the same day…he has always had a special place in my heart. So hearing the news that he too took his own life…I was in complete shock. I was still trying to process the passing of one of my idols and now this. To say I am beyond devastated is an understatement
Mental Illness doesn’t discriminate
What these deaths show us is that suicide or mental illness does not discriminate. Both of these legends seemed to have it all. Fame, fortune, a successful career, money, a family….they seemed to have it all. It does not only happen to certain people, but it can happen and affect anyone. These deaths gave us a peek into what mental illness really looks like and that it definitely can affect anyone!
Mental Health Matters
Mental health issues, such as anxiety, depression, bipolar, body dysmorphia, eating disorders…these are all diseases. These can all be life-threatening illnesses. What bothers me the most, is that a lot of people don’t want to talk about or address these disorders and diseases as real health concerns or risks. Many people want to blame it on the person suffering, and tell them to just get over it and that they are ok. A lot of people still do not see mental health as a big issue. Well, guess what…IT IS! And we need to start talking about it more!!!
Mental health is invisible to the naked eye. It is a disease that you can not always see on the outside. If you are looking from the outside, you can not always see what someone is going through on the inside. It can be hard to share with people what is going on or to admit we are struggling, thinking it makes us weak or people will not understand and will judge us.
What does someone struggling with mental health look like?
The passing of these two individuals this past week proves that just like everyone else…we never know what someone is really thinking, feeling or what they may be going through. We cannot always tell if someone is struggling with mental health issues just by looking at them. When looking at these two individuals they seemed to have it “all” but deep within themselves, they were really not okay. We all need to remember that from the outside looking in, someone else’s life can appear “perfect” but on the inside, you can never know what someone else is going through…no matter how happy they may appear.
My mental health journey
For me, I have struggled with my weight, and body image issues for a long time. It became so bad that I found myself weighing over 500 pounds and I could not really do anything, let alone leave the house. I felt trapped and hated myself. As I lost the weight, I was left with a lot of loose skin that I was embarrassed and ashamed about for a long time. When I looked in the mirror and hated what I saw even though the weight was gone. I have come a long way since then, but from looking at me on the outside you would have never known that I was struggling with loving myself, my body image and how I looked. You could not see the pain I felt inside and how hard it was for me to love myself.
I went to see a surgeon about skin removal and tried to explain to her how mentally all of this loose skin was affecting me and she told me….and I quote… “YOUR MENTAL HEALTH DOES NOT MATTER TO ME.” From that moment on, I made it my life mission to never want anyone else to ever hear those words. I never want anyone to feel how I felt after this doctor told me that. I don’t ever want anybody to ever think that the feelings that they are feeling or thinking don’t matter. We all need to take mental health more seriously and remember that if you are struggling, it does not make you weak, it is not something to be ashamed of and your mental health most certainly matters!
Struggling with mental health issues is hard
I know it can be difficult for some people to understand just how severe mental health issues can be. I know it can be hard to understand what it is like if you yourself are not struggling with mental health issues. It is easy to judge others, or call them weak or tell them to “just get over it”. The fact of the matter is that just like with any disease, you cannot help it.
You cannot choose to have struggled with mental health issues just like you can not just decide that you don’t have them. You cannot choose to just get rid of it because you do not want it anymore. Recovering from mental health issues is a process, it takes time and effort every single day. Some days will be easier than others while some days may push you to your edge. What we need to remember is that no matter what it is that we are struggling with…we can overcome it.
Mental health issues are REAL!
In the big picture what everyone needs to remember is that mental health issues are a real thing. Depression and suicide are happening more and more and we must find a way to help. We need to be there for people and support one another. These mental health diseases do not discriminate and they can happen to anyone, no matter who you are or how good you seem to have it.
Society has put this stigma around mental health issues and no one wants to talk about them. People feel weak or like they will get made fun of or judged and seen as less because they reach out for help if they are struggling. Many times it seems like people who may be struggling are terrified to ask for help out of fear of what it will make them look like. How can we as a society help this issue? How can we be there to help those who need it when they are too afraid to ask?
YOU ARE NOT ALONE!
More and more people are feeling alone, trapped, stuck, helpless and don’t know where to turn for help. I want to personally bring all of this up to remind you, that you are never alone. I want to remind you that asking for help does not make you weak. Asking for help makes you strong because you are admitting that you are struggling and are working on overcoming those struggles. You should definitely not feel ashamed or embarrassed if you are someone who is struggling. YOU ARE NOT ALONE!
So many people are dealing with mental health issues and never bring it up or talk about it. There are so many people in this world who are mentally struggling in some way shape or form who have reached out for help or needed help in dealing with their mental health. It is time for everybody to stop worrying about what everyone else will think about reaching out for help and just do it.
Let’s speak up about mental health
When it comes to mental health, we need to bring more awareness to it. We need to let people know it is ok to need help. It is ok to ask for help. We need to show those who are struggling that there are love and support for them. We need to show them that there are people who will listen, understand and support them. Let’s bring more kindness and love and patience around this topic. Let’s learn to talk with respect and love for everyone but especially those individuals who may be struggling. No matter what they are struggling with may we give them hope, strength, love and truly let them know that they are not weak, they are so worthy of self-love and respect, and that there is help for them.
Your mental health does not define you
Let’s remember that our illness and what we go through does not define us. Spread love and kindness to everyone. Smile more. Love deeper. You never know what other people are going through, no matter how they seem to appear on the outside! Let’s change the way we see, think and talk about mental health. It is more than time to make some changes and for me personally, I will never stop fighting for this.
For all of those people who left this world too soon, and for Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain, I hope they have found peace. I hope they are not in pain anymore. To their loved ones left behind, I send love, peace, and strength. Let’s not remember them by how their lives ended, but how these individuals truly have impacted this world.
If you or someone you know is struggling with mental health please call the Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255. They are open 24/7 and services are confidential and free. You can also visit www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org