In the wake of Kate Spade’s passing, I wanted to drop my two cents on mental health.
Mental health has always been a delicate topic to discuss on: I’ve realized this when naive freshman me signed up to conduct a school-wide investigation on mental health for the high school newspaper. At the time, I was not familiar with mental health besides clinical depression. And even clinical depression for me was manifested in a severe way to a close family friend at my church.
After seeing depression inflict my family friend in both a mental but physical way, my freshman self did not realize that mental health could easily be concealed. Interviewing students across campus, I was shocked that physical health did not necessarily lend itself to mental health. Indeed, to me, Kate Spade and her brand represented bright colors, happiness, bubbly designs and playful prints. But to hear of the passing of a visionary person who I assumed embodied those characteristics due to depression and anxiety revealed me that I and our society have still much to learn about on mental health.
Assuredly, I am someone who falls victim to putting up a persona despite conflicting internal conditions. The strain of having to keep up with such “performance” hit an all-time low this past winter. For a bit over a month, I was constantly downhearted and unhappy. A day wouldn’t pass without a breakdown and staring blankly at the wall. It was difficult time, made even more difficult because I couldn’t exactly place a finger as to why I was feeling the way I was. All I knew at that time was that I was unhappy, unfulfilled, and couldn’t be bothered to do anything.
The whole time I tried my hardest to keep my usual persona: bright, inquisitive, and optimistic. I tried even harder to appear resilient to not only others but to myself as well. And it worked for most, most people don’t know that I had such time this winter. Only my close friends and family are aware and I am infinitely grateful to them. I was and still thankful for those who were perceptive and realized that this Stephanie was unwell. They were all understanding, loving, and most of all patient as I slowly recovered.
While mental health, like any health in general, is a battle overcome by the individual alone, the brunt of that battle can be shared by many. The encouraging nudges and constant comforting words helped me come back to a healthier and stronger self.
To everyone, our lives are precious. Every single one. I pray that you remember and practice this truth.
There’s one quote from my mental health investigation from freshmen year that still stands out to me this day. From my Latin teacher: “Why is there a stigma attached with a psychological illness or disease—in a literal sense, ‘dis-ease,’ un-ease, or not feeling at ease—but not to the physical ailment?”
Allow yourself to come back to ease. And you are not alone – you are surrounded by so much love and support. Tell those who you trust that you are not at ease and in need of their encouragement and help. You are loved and your life is precious. Please remember that.
If you find yourself in crisis, you can call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255.
Sending much love,