I was walking into work the other morning. Stopped at a red light, I glanced at my phone, where I read, “Anthony Bourdain dead of apparent suicide.” I screamed out loud, “NOOOO!” This isn’t a person I know or have ever met. But he hung out in my living room and took me to places I’ll probably never travel too. I was devastated. Shocked. And, just so sad.
Earlier in the week, I was in the office when I read the news, “Kate Spade found dead in apparent suicide.” I had a similar reaction, grabbing my coworker Carolyn and wanting her to read the headline too…as if to prove to me it wasn’t really true. But it was. I came home and visited my beloved Kate Spade handbag. The next morning, I gave myself an extra spritz of my Kate Spade perfume, aptly named, “Walk on Air.” Again, this was not a person I’ve ever met or knew, or loved—but she “knew” me and was part of my life.
So, I got to thinking. Here are two successful, amazing, talented, passionate people who seemed to “have it all.” And now, they are gone. Because of the demons in their head; the sadness, the fears, the worries, the isolation, the pain. Despite the life they curated for themselves, the pain couldn’t be stopped.
Talking about mental health shouldn’t be like climbing a mountain–dangerous, perilous, adventurous, awe inspiring. But, it kind of is.
We have to stop stigmatizing talking about our mental health. We have to stop thinking of people with mental health issues as less worthy of life and love. We have to stop living in the shadows hoping to pass as “happy enough.”
And, before any of you get worried, I’m ok.
I am OK and I have mental health issues. (I said it!!! I climbed the mountain!)
I have struggled with depression and anxiety for most of my adult life. I work my ass off to feel ok. What has worked for me? Medication, puppies, knitting (it’s my meditation), travel/time away, and yes, some therapy.
But, even with all of that, the nights of staring at the ceiling with my thoughts racing are endless. The worry about my future and being alone consumes me. The dark places are numerous and scary. On the surface, on my Instagram page or my Facebook feed, things look pretty good. Great job, loving family, wonderful dogs, amazing friends. All of that is awesome and I’m blessed. But, I’m still sad. I’m still worried. I’m still lonely. I’m still anxious.
But many people with mental health challenges are NOT ok. You probably don’t even know they are struggling.
Be their sherpa. Help them make that climb.
It’s ok to ask someone about their mood.
It’s ok to worry.
It’s ok to talk about it.
It’s ok to own it.
It’s ok to ask for help.
You (we) aren’t weak. You (we) aren’t crazy.
You (we) are worthy and you (we) are loved.