Suicide, Anxiety and Depression Are On My Mind Today – What I Want You To Know
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I woke up this morning to news that Anthony Bourdain is dead.
And as my brain seized while trying to digest that piece of information, the news was added that he had died by suicide.
It is unthinkable.
Suicide rates are rising in the United States.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, suicide is a leading cause of death for Americans, and one of only three leading causes of death that is on the rise.
Since 2016 nearly 45,000 Americans age 10 and up have died by suicide.
In addition, nearly half of those individuals who died from suicide did not have a mental health condition diagnosis at the time of death. (Source)
There’s a difference between feeling depressed/”having the blues” and having clinical depression. Clinical depression is a condition diagnosed by a mental health professional.
“Almost 18.8 million American adults experience depression each year, and women are nearly twice as likely as men to develop major depression. People with depression cannot simply “pull themselves together” and get better. Treatment with counseling, medication, or both is key to recovery.” (Source)
Twice this week the news has reported the suicides of high-profile personalities.
Today’s news follows on the heels of the news earlier this week that designer Kate Spade died after taking her own life.
The news is awful, truly horrendous. And it feels strangely personal to me.
To understand it in terms of how I received it, you have to know a few things about me.
I have very few “vices” or guilty pleasures in life.
I’m very “vanilla” in that respect.
I don’t smoke, very rarely (very rarely) drink. I don’t have an exciting social life, etc.
But, I do have at least two guilty pleasures.
One is designer handbags, about which I’m kind of a fanatic and a bit of a snob.
There’s not much more that’s as pleasurable to me as the look, feel and smell of a high-quality Italian-made leather handbag.
I’m not talking about those handbags with all the acronyms and letters on them that scream to everyone nearby “See me? I’m the only designer bag this lady knows or can afford, so notice me! Notice me!!!”
I love high-end bags, the ones that are noticed by people who know what they are without all the gaudy bells and whistles and names splashed across them – in terrible taste I might add – and appreciate them because of the high-quality craftsmanship and design.
So Kate Spade is a designer and brand I know and have been familiar with for many years.
Symptoms of Depression
Feeling immensely sad
Feeling down and depressed
Loss of appetite
Seeping too much
Little or no energy
Thoughts of suicide
Feeling at a loss
Feeling empty or worthless
Secondly, in the very weird way that some of us attach to celebrities, Anthony Bourdain was much like a friend to me.
On most any weekday when I can’t get out to lunch (which is most of the time), you’ll find me sitting at my desk eating a sandwich or sipping a bowl of soup and traveling with “Tony” to exotic or familiar places around the world.
I’m a huge fan, and regular watcher of his show, “Anthony Bourdain Parts Unknown”.
I’ve shared his journeys as he ate his way through the most interesting locations and cultures and stories across the globe.
Every weekday, week after week I spend my lunchtime being guided by him to places I hope to see and experience for myself someday.
And his death, his suicide, feels oddly personal to me.
I created this blog nearly two years ago now. It takes up an enormous part of my thinking time and creative energy.
I’m always thinking about where this is going; my life, your lives.
What are we doing?
What are we trying to get to?
What does it mean?
How can this space be made meaningful and how can we live our lives or change our directions to exist in such a way that makes sense and where we can find a place of being happy?
One of the central themes here is always our personal growth and development, self-improvement and of course, change.
And for many of us an integral part of all this, our journey, is dealing with our thoughts, our emotions, and issues like stress and anxiety, fear and depression.
As human beings, the deep dark holes of our psyches aren’t reserved for any one type of person.
We can all experience, at specific points in our lives, the depths of anxiety and despair.
Symptoms of Anxiety
Feelings of panic or fear
Inability to be calm
Shaking or trembling
Feeling tense or nervous
Shortness of breath/Rapid breathing
No matter what you may think, none of us are immune to those dark thoughts and feelings.
And loneliness in a person is something you can never really gauge. The people that to many of us seem to have it all and altogether, can often be those who feel most alone.
So I wrote this post today simply as a gentle reminder to all of us…
Be conscious of yourself, and of those around you.
If you have a sister or a brother or a friend or a coworker that you know is going through something or is immersed in difficult circumstances or dealing with problems or issues, be attentive to their condition and their situation.
If there’s something you can do to help, help.
Sometimes we feel awkward or self-conscious in putting ourselves “out there” even when we’re attempting to help someone else.
Have the courage to do it anyway.
If you know someone needs help, but there’s nothing you know to do or you don’t know how exactly you can be of help, don’t be afraid to ask how you can help or at least to offer to help.
You don’t have to know the person’s personal business, unless they want to share, but you can communicate to them that you care about them or what they may be going through.
Just evidence of your caring may be enough to give them some relief and hope in their situation, or at least it may help them in some way to feel less isolated and not so alone.
I can tell you that whether we’re women living alone, single mothers, married women, mature women, young women – we all have our own set of issues and problems even when (and sometimes especially when) we appear to have it “all together”.
And if you know someone, especially men (who often don’t seek mental health help because it’s not considered “manly”), who would benefit from professional counseling, encourage them to reach out to get it.
Needing help is nothing to be ashamed of. Everyone needs help at some point or other.
The deaths of Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain are terrible and tragic, and there are many people in the world who are struggling with stress, anxiety and depression who don’t have famous faces or names.
If you are one of those, please get the help you need because the world needs you in it. And if you know someone who needs help, refer them to the information here:
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: Call 1-800-273-8255
Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) Helpline: 1-800-662-HELP (4357)
Other posts on this blog that may be of help: