I’ve been mulling this over for a week now, in an attempt to compose my thoughts. I have always felt that words spoken in the moment are often too emotional, too unfiltered, but I do feel that they should be heard. Last Tuesday, when I heard about Kate Spade I was saddened and taken a back to say the least. Why? What happened? What was she going through? From the outside, one would assume that she had it all. An amazing fashion career, a happy marriage, a beautiful 13 year old daughter a wonderful life in the New York social scene, but underneath it all, she was just like the rest of us, fighting internal battles and dealing with emotions that sometimes overcame her. After my initial shock wore off, I said “she must have suffered from depression” someone doesn’t just take their life on a whim, it’s probably something that she struggled with, contemplated, time and time again. I thought about saying something but I didn’t know where to start. But when I woke up on Friday morning only to learn about Anthony Bourdain, I knew it was even more urgent.
As sad as it may be, suicide is more common than we think, especially now, in 2018. Suicide rates have skyrocketed in the past 20 years, in fact, it is now the 10th leading cause of death in the country and I can’t help but think that social media is a contributing factor. Yes, my own industry. People scroll past lust-worthy images on their Instagram feed and they can’t help but think “why isn’t my life so perfect? why aren’t I traveling the globe? why aren’t I perfectly made up like a barbie doll with a 25 inch waist?” I’m writing this post because I want you to know you are NOT alone. My heart was heavy reading about Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain because mental health disorders are something that hit close to home for me. As much as I am a fashion blogger and an “Instagrammer”, my life is not as perfect as the glossy images might make it seem. I struggle with my own insecurities and I too, have been guilty of comparing myself to the images on my iPhone screen. But it’s not something that I am surprised by, I come from a family that is no stranger to mental health disorders. My mother has struggled with depression and anxiety for years and unfortunately, it has taken a physical and emotional toll on the people that I love most, in recent years. Growing up, her manic/depressive tendencies were part of her charm, she was always high energy and the life of the party, but lately, it seems that it’s beyond her control and there’s nothing that anyone can say or do to make it better.
A few moths ago, I had the pleasure of speaking at my dear friend, Sarah Pendrick’s, “Girl Talk” network conference at Loyola University. We spoke to 9 sororities on campus about everything from “mean girls” to work-life-balance and what to do after college. During our panel, we allowed the students to ask questions about anything and everything that was on their mind and do you know what the reoccurring theme was? Mental Health issues. One after the other they stood up to talk bouts of depression, body insecurities and overwhelming anxiety. They talked about times when they were in need and times when they helped others, and by the end of the day our hearts were heavy and happy at the same time. Why you ask? Because there was an open dialogue about something that is plaguing our nation, especially our youths, and we were standing up as women to support our friends, our sisters.
Too often on social media things are glossed over. We put our images through 10 filters and 25 apps and then we post it and make people “envy” our lives. Some people are in this industry because they crave the validation (and they too are battling their own demons) and some people are in this industry because they love the creative process. But no matter which end of the spectrum you are on, it’s important that we all acknowledge that there is a mental health crisis in our society. When a hurricane rolls through the U.S. everyone is so aware of the crisis but when 50,000 people a year are choosing to end their own lives, our society seems so silent and unaware. Just because a storm didn’t wash all of those people away at once doesn’t make it any less real or any less of a tragedy.
If you see a friend who is struggling make extra time for them. Smile at strangers and be kind to people. You never know what internal struggles someone is dealing with. If you are at a low point, surround yourself with people who lift you up, people who want to see you succeed. It may seem hard now but if you keep pushing forward you will get through it and be stronger than ever.
My heart goes out to the families and friends of Kate Spade & Anthony Bourdain and to anyone who has lost a loved one to suicide.
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