Reflecting on Kate Spade

 
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As I reach for my Kate Spade wallet and notice the bracelet I have on is also Kate Spade. One of my favorite - a gold band with a charm of a Bear that says "Mama" on it, my heart can't help but hurt. Kate Spade's untimely and tragic passing is a painful reminder that we never truly know another's burden or the pain that they carry. It reminds me of why I choose kindness, understanding, and non-judgment everyday.

Kate Spade was born and raised in Kansas City, Missouri. Kate was more than a designer; she was a poet, an entrepreneur, a business mogul, and inspired kindenss. Her words spoke to women across generations and inspired positivity, perseverance, and a sense of comfort in their relatability to women everywhere. Kate's bright tokens of encouragement for women chasing their dreams, obviously came from a place of understanding what it feels like to be discouraged, to not feel pretty or put together, and to strive for more. It takes that darkness to fully appreciate the beauty in the world; and it appears that Kate understood this darkness better than we could've imagined.

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My interest and passion for mental illness and design are from my dad. My dad suffered from mental illness and because of the insight I gained watching his trials, I went on to major in Psychology and graduated with a Bachelors of Arts in Psychology, a minor in Sociology, and a emphasis in Multicultural Studies. During my time at Mizzou, I worked at a domestic violence shelter , I volunteered and then worked at the Missouri crisis line , worked with at risk youth, and also spoke at and organized events for Suicide Prevention month and worked with the Coalition of Suicide Prevention as a Peer Advocate for Mizzou's Wellness Resource Center. I met the creator of TWLOHA at a peer advocate conference and heard him speak early on in college. I have always felt connected and able to understand why and how people can be suicidal and I have always felt I could help them. In fact, I have helped friends, my dad, and callers who were suicidal; and truly nothing drives me or feels more rewarding.

My dad was a business owner and interior designer whose creative and sensitive spirit I have always admired. My dad also suffered severe cycles of depression and undiagnosed symptoms of mental illness. I innately understood his pain through witnessing his struggle. It was obviously heartbreaking to watch my dad struggle from the time I was old enough to understand and define depression until he passed away when I was 24. From a very young age, I understood the gift that my dad was giving me in witnessing his disease take over his personality, decisions, and behavior. It hurt me, but I grew from that pain and loss. I appreciate the struggle people go through with mental illness and I know first hand it is very real. I personally suffer from chronic or invisible pain, and like mental illness it is misunderstood, stigmatized, and as result it is often silenced. Listening to Jamie of TWLOHA among other speakers, I was inspired to become an advocate professionally. Being an advocate has truly always driven me, but it never seemed doable until my own chronic health made it the only thing that I was able to do.... funny how the universe works.

“Suicide does not take away the pain, it give it to someone else”

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I'm deeply passionate about mental illness and erasing the stigma around it. I don’t think that my dad’s story is unique. Most people I know have dealt with mental illness, either personally or through a loved one. Many people take antidepressants, feel alone or sad and don’t know why, suffer symptoms of mental illness without a diagnosis, self-medicate, seek therapy or counseling, etc. and all of that is normal and you shouldn’t feel weird if you have uncomfortable feelings. It's important to learn to be with those feelings and sort them out- allowing discomfort for growth and understanding that your disease does not define you can be powerful! You are never alone and the resources are endless! 

“I know you’re trying to fight when you feel like flying”

 

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Like Kanye says, mental illness

Make you have SUPER POWERS

I believe this can be applied to: chronic pain/ invisible illness/general illness/ trials in life/etc.

I have always felt like my disability, although often limiting, actually gave me abilities that others didn’t have (like to understand wtf Kanye is even saying.)

As I researched and read more - I was right (duh) I have a hypersensitive brain. I am innately empathetic, or as I said earlier an “Empath” because I pick up on and feed off of emotional energy. It’s subconscious in many ways. I am in touch and affected by weather patterns. If the meteorologists predicts rain, I can tell you if we’re actually getting rain based on my head and joints. I’m observant of others behaviors and mindful of what they might be projecting. Music affects me on a deeper level, a tone or beat can trigger a migraine and in the same relieve a migraine. Temperature, odors, light, food are all things that affect me differently than someone without a neurological disease. Sensory overload is very real for me.

 

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Between Avicii and Kate Spade’s recent suicides- icons for both men and women of the millennial generation are bringing mental health to the forefront of conversations. Why don’t we talk about these things until there is a tragedy?

Because it’s uncomfortable. I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that I think everyone has thought about suicide, AND I think that’s perfectly normal. I think it’s healthy to have self awareness, to find value in your life, and to understand your impact. Depression and mental illness make those thoughts feel unfriendly, scary, and trap you into negative thoughts.

How can these people who seemingly have it all, still be suffering so much unhappiness inside; with creative outlets, with success, with money, with fame, with family?

What can we take away from that? How can this help people understand mental illness better?

Mental illness does not discriminate. Mental illness is not the result of lack of perspective, or lack of feeling valued and loved. Suicide is not prevented by how rich, successful, fashionable, talented, beloved, famous, whatever you are. Mental illness is a disease and it affects your ability to make healthy decisions.

People with chronic pain are more likely to commit suicide. I think the reason is obvious. Life is hard for everyone but when you add constant and relentless pain on top of it, life feels even more challenging and unbearable. This is another reason why people with invisible and chronic pain are often diagnosed with depression, because it is certainly depressing to have chronic pain that is misunderstood. One of the links between mental illness and chronic illness, at least in my opinion, is that were stigmatized in the same way. The physical pain that is caused by neurological diseases or mental illness is invisible to people who have not suffered in the same way. When I meet another migraineur, we sigh and smile in relief and automatically have a understanding that we "get it", we’re connected. There is comfort in people who truly get what you’re going through. I attribute this mostly to the discomfort that the judgement of people who don't seem to understand that is truly hurtful to us "empaths."

 

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Thank you Kate, from one of the millions you made feel special, understood, and beautiful. I hope that you are at peace, your sparkle and inspiration will not fade!

 

If you are struggling with depression or contemplating suicide, PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE, seek help. You are never alone, and I care about how you feel and that you stay.

 

If you or someone you know is in crisis, call the U.S. National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-8255, text TALK to 741741 or visit SpeakingOfSuicide.com/resources for additional resources

 

I am not a psychologist/psychiatrist, I am not an expert. I am just a girl with a blog who will pretty much talk to anyone that will listen : )

 

GO OUT AND BE KIND TO OTHERS!

 

Extra XOXOXOs,

-Liv

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