This week, our society and culture were blindsided by the fact that mental illness does not discriminate.
We saw these beautiful hyper successful people commit suicide this week. Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain. I passed by Kate Spade’s store the other day, a week or so, before she killed herself and thought what beautiful clothes and purses… so the synchronicity was odd. I never walk by her store.
Bourdain hit me harder, shocked me. Bourdain was an intense one.
I read his book Kitchen Confidential so many years ago and fell in love with his verve for the chaos and joy and the aggravation and overwhelm of the world, all beautifully described in the heart of the restaurant kitchen. He was a brilliant funny writer.
Helping people as best as I can, with compassion, intelligence and awareness, I do see across the board that depression can effect any person, regardless of class, race or gender. You can have the best job, the most amazing spouse, the perfect Brownstone and still be utterly debilitated by depression or anxiety. And the opposite, you can have an awful job, a so so spouse and never feel the weight of mental illness. But those people usually are not in my office…
My clients who are wealthy, who appear to have it all…some of them will state, “I have everything, I feel so guilty for not being able to be happy.” I ask, “Would you feel this guilty if it were cancer or diabetes?”
Depression is an illness.
Whether it be hypomania, a surge upwards amplified with irritability and then a downwards slide into depression, not as high or sharp of a surge as BiPolar but still pronounced. Or dysthymia, a constant low grade depression. Or Major depression… Depression is an illness.
My initial goal is to help them, and you dear reader, gain an awareness that mental illness is an illness, similar to diabetes, similar to cancer,… you need to treat it with trained clinicians, and doctors. Not alone. Bottom line: Receive some kind of treatment for the illness…However, you can. However you need to. And do not stop. Please continue to treat the illness. Some illnesses do not respond to treatment, some do. Keep trying until you find what helps you. And once you are better, go in for maintenance therapy once every few months. Your avenue out of the swamps of mental illness is unique, I encourage you not to bypass any avenue but choose a multitude of avenues, diet, exercise, yoga, mediation, medication or/and therapy, whichever one speaks to you.
And never fuse your identity to the diagnosis. You are not depression, you are not anxiety. An illness is not who you are, it is what you have. Similarly, if you have cancer, you are not cancer. It is an illness you have.
We believe that mental illness is a choice, what a slippery evil slope. Some of the most relaxed people I know, are riddled with anxiety. And some of the most positive people I know suffer under the weight of depression. It is not a choice. It is a choice whether to stay in denial and not continue to treat it. But people do not choose mental illness.
Would we ever sit down and state, he had everything, how did he die of diabetes? Or she had everything, how did she die of cancer? No, because those are illnesses. And so is depression. So is anxiety. Mental illness is an illness. Bourdain and Spade had so much going for them and died via suicide. Yes, they died of an illness, depression.