Thank You Kate Spade and Why Your Death Will Be Important

Earlier in the week, I was shaken to hear of the suicide of handbag designer and fashion icon Kate Spade. The first “status” bag I ever purchased with my own money was the iconic large triangle in black. It was the first time I felt I was an official member of the fashion club. I was 18.


Just the other day, I was thinking about that bag, and how I wished I had saved it. The architectural lines and sleek design were so my jam, and her point of view and aesthetic were so different than the Diors and Guccis (quinceañera gifts from my family) that sat unused in my closet.


That was the first of many Kate Spade bags I saved my pennies for. I even had a chic gray diaper bag at one point. All of them I wore and enjoyed, making them essential pieces (one might even say "building blocks") of what has now become my signature “curated look.”


This entire week I have thought of Ms.Spade, her family, and how maybe this terrible tragedy could have been avoided. I thought too of the school shooters, the bullied, the bullies, the addicts, all of those in our society that could benefit from mental health treatment. The ones that could easily, with professional help, go from silent victim to survivors.


The truth is, our society does not have room or time to actually deal with mental health. It is, after all a silent disease, one that does not discriminate, and is so easy to hide. Who in their right mind would want to be labeled as crazy?


And then it’s too late. And then we forget, moving on to another distraction. Look around, distraction has become our way of life.


I have been in and out of therapy since my parents divorced when I was 26. My entire world was shaken, making me doubt every single thing I thought I knew. I could not be more grateful for this treatment, as it has allowed me to live a full life, organize my thoughts, and be the person I want to be. Without this support, it would be so easy to fall into a trap. I know from my own research and struggle with anxiety and depression that if left untreated, depression and anxiety only worsen, becoming chronic.


Every time I hear about a case like Ms. Spade’s, I can’t help but to sympathize. Some will call her selfish; she left behind a young daughter after all. Some won’t bat an eyelash. The truth is, that untreated, un-recovered? That could have easily been me. It could have been anyone. All you have to do is feel hopeless and lonely for a long enough period of time.


For me, the key to fighting it was early detection and later prevention. Mental health should be treated like any other physical ailment. As luck would have it, I worked in the mental health field at the time, so there was not much internalized stigma;  I was actually open to idea of getting help right away. The hardest part, though, was admitting I could no longer continue to be strong, and that I did not have to do it alone.


As women, we are taught to silently carry all the emotional burden of the family, be "super mom," have a career, and keep a house, all while looking gorgeous and making it seem easy. This alone is enough to make the most level-headed person lose their wits. There is such a high premium on this ideal, which is now even more emphasized by ridiculous social media paradigms, and I want to call BS on all of it. If more empowered women make it okay to not be okay, then maybe we can start lifting the negative connotations that seeking help still has in our society.


People have problems. Kids have problems. Couples have problems. We all know this. Let’s encourage each other to feel that there is safety in getting professional help for these matters. If we are not expected to heal a broken arm on our own, how is it that we are expected to heal our broken hearts and our broken minds?


Ms. Spade, you will be thoroughly missed. You were strong until you broke. I hope your passing can be a wake up call to many, women especially. And to anyone who is sick and suffering, you are not alone.


If you or anyone you know is having a tough time please call The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline number 1-800-273-8255. The Crisis Text Line is 741741.


Suicide is a growing problem in the United States. The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention published a survey Thursday showing suicide rates increased by 25% across the United States over nearly two decades ending in 2016. Twenty-five states experienced a rise in suicides by more than 30%, the government report finds.