This week has been a difficult one with the deaths of two notable public figures: fashion designer Kate Spade and celebrity chef and travel aficionado Anthony Bourdain. It has been reported that both succumbed to suicide.
These stories are just a couple of examples of the dark and disturbing reality that surrounds us and yet is so easily overlooked.
Depression, anxiety and mental illness are very real and do not discriminate. They can be silent and deceptive killers. No amount of fame, fortune and success can release you from the prison that is your own mind – and these two tragedies, sadly, are reflective of that.
It’s easy to portray yourself a certain way in front of others, the camera, on social media, etc, but you truly never know what demons a person might be going through behind that smile, completely unbeknownst to those around them.
Let us take a moment to remind ourselves of what the power of love and kindness can do for those need an added dose.
Spread the love – Show your loved ones how much you care. If you’re in a tiff with a loved one, get over it. No matter what they might have done to wrong you, irritate you, upset you; allow yourself to calm down enough about the situation to get past it as soon as possible. It’s always worse when you hear about someone passing and their loves one were in conflict with them or held some sort of grudge. That feeling of regret can stick with you for years. If you have a family member or friend that you haven’t seen or heard from in a while, consider reaching out to say hello and maybe grab a coffee. You never know who might be itching to talk to someone, until you make the effort. People that suffer from depression and mental illness can feel as if they lack any self-worth and are unimportant so your extension of love and and light, no matter how small you might think it is, could move mountains for a person in such a dark place.
Reach out with good intentions – I know it’s easy to get so wrapped up in our lives that we simply forget to check in with loved ones, friends or acquaintances, but when you do get that downtime, just ask them how they are doing. Be kind and mean well no matter how close you are with them. The gesture won’t always be reciprocated, but your greatness will only shine through by not letting that bring you down. You would have done your part and that’s all that matters. I’ve written about this before, but try not to automatically assume the worst if you haven’t heard from someone in a while. I know many people who rarely reach out to see how I’m doing, yet seem to be happy to hear from me when I reach out to them. And from years of experience, I’ve come to realize that some people are just like that – they don’t do the reaching out but rather need others to check in with them first before they ask how you are. It’s a mere difference in personality and for the most part, never to be taken to heart.
Plus, everyone has their own way of dealing with their problems and a person’s apparent standoffishness likely has nothing to do with you at all. They could be going through their own struggles and while it’s easy to think badly of someone for seemingly ignoring you, oftentimes, they are actually waiting to hear from you. They might be eager to get something off their chest, but just need that added push to allow them to open up.
I recently read Candace Cameron Bure’s Book Staying Stylish and she said something very profound in one of the sections:
Allow yourself to be vulnerable with the people close to you and allow them to help you.
This resonated with me because it reiterated the fact that asking for help does not make you weak, but rather it makes you stronger for acknowledging and accepting the fact that you need the help.
Don’t sweat the small stuff – Remind yourself to lighten up. It’s easy to get upright and stressed out over small things with all the challenges of everyday life, but an argument over who is going to do the dishes, why you left the cap off the toothpaste or why someone got a parking ticket are quite petty in the grand scheme of things and should never warrant unnecessary friction. As the saying goes, pick and choose your battles and save your energy for when it’s really needed.
Compliment, just because – Extend a kind compliment to a loved one, a friend, or a stranger (depending on the context, of course). Again, you never know what battle someone is fighting, and a polite comment about their nice shoes, or their cute dog, could do wonders to brighten their day. The simple act of kindness and extending someone well wishes can have powerful, lasting effects.
As Mark Twain stated, “the best way to cheer yourself up, is to try and cheer somebody else up.”
To anyone who is suffering from mental illness, please know that you are not alone and that you are loved and cared for.
Here is a link to the LifeLine Canada Foundation which includes various ways to get in touch with someone for immediate support in Canada and abroad.
My condolences to the Spade and Bourdain families and to all the families around the world that have lost a loved one from the struggles of mental health illness.
To those reading this, I appreciate you. God Bless.