It's Been A Sad Week In This World (And I Have To Write About It)
With the passing of Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain both in the span of less than a week, I needed to turn to the blog to let out some thoughts. I am sad that the world lost two wonderful human beings; two individuals with incredibly creative souls whose work is sure to be cherished for a long, long time.
I think we have come a long way in today's society with our views on mental health. We are beginning to recognize it as a global health issue that deserves funding, research, and support from those in power. People have begun to talk more openly about mental illness and those who listen are becoming more and more receptive. Celebrities, who hold a large say in pop culture, are coming forward with their mental health stories and information is being spread in a way as to correct misconceptions and emphasize the facts.
Since I began sharing my journey with the world, I have received a lot of positive feedback. People have reached out to me, thanking me for being so open, and at the same time, others have been sharing their struggles with me. I am so blessed that people have welcomed me with open arms, and I am even more grateful that my words on this online platform have helped both strangers and friends alike.
We have been making progress.
I still stand behind the #breakthestigma movement, but I do believe we are on our way to bringing mental health into the open as a public issue. That being said, there is still work to do.
While we are quite frequently discussing topics like anxiety, depression, eating disorders, bipolar disorder, etc., we are sometimes overlooking certain members of the population. Who would have thought that one of the most influential designers of today's world would feel so sad and desperate that she needed to resort to ending her life? Who would have thought that a world-renowned chef and author would feel a similar sort of desperation?
We need to be constantly changing the way we view mental illness, and the way we envision the people around us - friends, relatives, co-workers, acquaintances. One of the golden rules of social media is to remember that everything you see is curated; filtered in a way as to project a certain image, sentiment, or view.
I can only speak for myself, so I took a look at some of my most recent Instagram posts. Most of the pictures show me, outdoors, capturing some moment in time where the aesthetics look pleasing and the colours are bright. What we don't see on Instagram are the darker times; the moments when I leave therapy with tears streaming down my face because my eating disorder is at war with my rational thoughts. Or the moments where I feel lonely and usually end up falling asleep early because of how miserable it feels to be alone. Or the moments where I'm stressed and overwhelmed at work, or the moments when I am in the grocery store and I am trying to make impossible decisions about food. Those are just a few of my all-too-real moments.
No matter how critical we say we are of the online world, it takes continual reminding that it is not as it appears. The same goes for the people of this world. No amount of fame, fortune, beauty, or success can "take away" one's mental health struggles. Please, don't judge a book by its cover. Everyone has their own demons behind closed doors.
I've been reading a lot online about how those who struggle with mental illness shouldn't be ashamed to speak up, and I think that dialogue needs to be re-routed. Again, speaking for myself, I feel that my mental health issues can be burdensome. Actually, I feel this way quite frequently. I never really talk about my inner struggles because I don't want to bother anyone. I instead isolate myself and don't let anyone in. But the problem with that is I begin to think my problems don't exist, and I am forced into denial. "Everything's great!" becomes my go-to phrase.
My suggestion to you is to reach out to those around you. Show them that you are there, and that you care. A helping hand or a lending ear will not cure mental illness; let's not be naive. But, mental illness is often accompanied by extreme loneliness, so if we can help alleviate that in any way, we need to try. Take a good look at the loved ones around you and be there for them. Let them know that you are always there.
With the deaths of both Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain, I urge you to continue to advocate for yourselves, and for those who are suffering around you. Global awareness and recognition is improving (or so I believe), but the problem still lies in funding and access to resources. The work must go on.
Finally, know that you are not alone. And please, whenever you can, show love to those around you. Life gets busy, and we can't deny that. I don't talk to as many people as I probably should. Let's change that. An "I'm thinking of you" text or an "I miss you" email may go a long way.
Awareness. Advocacy. Funding. Access to resources.
DAILY ACTS OF KINDNESS. CELEBRATING THOSE WITH MENTAL ILLNESS WHO HAVE FOUGHT, ARE FIGHTING, AND THOSE WHO HAVE CONTINUED TO FIGHT FOR YEARS.