More Than Your Favorite Handbag


Kate Spade was more than a quirky, yet sophisticated fashion brand. She was a fully realized human being who suffered from depression. In the midst of her death we were flooded with #RIPKATESPADE social media posts full of pictures of her products and few of her face. It bothered me.

Damn. Nobody can take a minute to google this woman’s face?

Seriously, it only takes a few seconds.

You know what’s annoying? Hearing “she had a successful business, but she was still unhappy.” You know what doesn’t care about your successful business having capabilities?

Depression.

Depression, anxiety…mental illness really doesn’t give a damn. It’s honey badger-like that way. I think some people like to categorize mental illness as a “white people problem” or a “poor people problem” and in actuality it’s everybody’s problem. Mental illness doesn’t discriminate—you can’t hide ya kids or hide ya wife, cause it’s taking everybody out here.

Kate Spade was a successful businesswoman who was a mother, a wife, a friend, and a lot of other things that we weren’t privy to because no one is a monolith. We’re allowed to be many different things and among those things is mentally ill. I would have loved it if Kate had voiced her struggles and led a charge to normalize her sickness and the importance of seeking help. I’m guessing she didn’t do that because y’all are some judgmental so-and-sos who would’ve made her struggle harder.

There’d be a mix of condemnation and support, but somehow the condemnation always speaks the loudest. It’s essentially the basis of depression and anxiety. No matter what you do right, that loud mouth of negativity finds a way to cancel it all out. You want to tell someone, but condemnation. You sit and stew and hold it all in until the only way to stop it is to silence it forever.

That escalated quickly, didn’t it?

For some of us with a mental illness (or two) that’s just how fast it moves. I’m grateful that I’ve never truly had the desire or the heart to physically harm myself. When I was a teenager on Paxil, I had suicidal thoughts all the time and it was scary. The medication was making things worse for me instead of better. That was around the time that they discovered that kids couldn’t handle Paxil. I was lucky, but a lot of kids weren’t.

I’m sure that those of you who have encountered me would be shocked to know that I’m a life long sufferer of depression and anxiety. What my mama thought was just “shyness” was really serious anxiety that caused(s) me to overthink every little thing to the point where I was scared to even open my mouth because whatever came out was going to embarrass me. Not just embarrass, but humiliate me.

Word vomit. The tone of the word vomit. Someone was going to mock me and I wouldn’t know how to deal with it. The fear of looking stupid was overwhelming and I’d try to suffer in silence, but would end up embarrassing myself anyway. People didn’t understand me. I didn’t understand me and I knew one thing was certain:

I wasn’t like anyone else. I didn’t know what to do with that. I found a way to blend in when I was clearly made to stand out. It ate away at me. Maybe that’s why Kate created her quirky, yet sophisticated brand. She found a way to stand out and it served its purpose as an outlet for many years. Maybe it wasn’t enough.

Maybe the thoughts of condemnation reared up in her head and started to point out all the reasons why her success wasn’t enough. People were talking about issues in her personal life and condemnation probably didn’t allow her to forget that her successes couldn’t fix those problems. That stupidly loud voice of negativity caused Kate to put a period in her story where there could’ve been a semicolon and a turning point.

It’s speculation on my part, but I get it. I know how quickly it can all go left when things were seemingly going right. I understand that semicolon tattoo project now. Oddly enough, this all coincided with my watching 13 Reasons Why, which…Bruh.

BRUH.

Brethren, it was WILD. We really have to normalize mental illness and be more conscious of the fact that the next person might be fighting a major battle that we can’t see. We need to be more compassionate and a lot of other things that we forget to be on a daily basis. Slow down, reflect internally, remember that not everything needs a response, and someone lashing out at you is very possibly a reflection of their own internal issues.

This, essentially, is my start. I’m starting this open and always ongoing conversation on mental health as I begin my journey to improve my health and wellness. Y’all are free to do this with me by asking questions, holding me accountable when I say I’m going to do something but it may appear that I’m not, or by even reaching out to me with suggestions of activities or products or invitations to do some wellness stuff.

Everybody needs a village and I’m inviting y’all to be a part of mine.

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