Kate Spade New York was the first brand I truly fell in love with. It was a brand that understood my needs and I felt an immediate connection to Kate Spade herself. The brand is full of life and color and I am continuously inspired and empowered by the little messages found on dust bags and coffee mugs. My first Kate Spade was a tan handbag that I purchased for myself when I landed my first digital position. Before I checked out, I grabbed a pink glitter wallet and the pair made me feel professional and fun simultaneously.
On the afternoon of June 5, 2018, I was sitting in the doctor’s office when I read ABC News’ alarming headline: Fashion Designer Kate Spade Found Dead in Apparent Suicide. I was shocked. I was sad. I was hurt. It was at that moment that I realized the connection I felt to Kate was deeper than a love of glitter and pink and functional yet stylish handbags. We both suffered from mental illness and we both kept it to ourselves.
I have been living with generalized anxiety disorder, panic disorder and social anxiety since childhood. During episodes of my panic disorder, suicidal thoughts would creep into my brain as I felt out-of-control and hopeless. I have been on medication since high school however, I have never regularly talked to a therapist or sought help outside of medication.
According to sources, Kate didn’t ask for help or talk to a therapist either. While her reasons might have been different from my own, I realized how common it is for us to go about life like everything is okay because that is what is expected. Therapy is expensive and often difficult to attend or find. Most offices are only open during normal work hours and insurance doesn’t always cover counseling or therapy.
I often feel that there should be the equivalent of Alcoholics Anonymous meetings for adults dealing with mental illnesses. Could you imagine what would have happened if Kate had access to confidential meetings that offered support and assigned her a sponsor? It might not have changed her story but there are plenty of times I wish I could talk to someone without having to take off work. Just imagine feeling anxious, alone, or suicidal and getting help without paying an arm and a leg for it.
Sure, I know what you are thinking. What about the free suicide hotlines or why can’t you sign up for an online counseling program. Well, suicide hotlines scare me because I am not suicidal. There isn’t a depression hotline, or anxiety hotline or post-traumatic stress disorder hotline; if there is, please contact me immediately because I would love to support and utilize those programs. Also, online counseling programs are expensive, my anxiety sparks just thinking about paying those costs. There are free social networks for those who have mental illnesses, but every program I have tried is full of judgement or unhelpful advice like “take a bath,” or “I have that too so you are not alone.” People have good intentions, but good intentions aren’t always based in research and science.
Kate’s death is still impacting me. Every time I see her picture or a Kate Spade handbag, I feel a pang of sadness and grief. I didn’t personally know Kate, but I feel like we were, and still are, connected. Suicide, depression, anxiety and other mental illnesses are common throughout the world, however we still do not treat them like other medical conditions. Instead, we post crying face emojis and talk about how selfish she was for leaving her young daughter. We should be focusing on how we create a world where individuals aren’t suffering in silence because getting help is too difficult, expensive, time-consuming or shamed. It’s time for us to fix our lipstick and attack the way the world views mental illness, like Kate would have wanted us to.
Author: Samantha Hall
Author Bio: I am a native Floridian with a passion for rescuing animals, raising awareness for Mental Health and being a valuable member of society. My husband and I share our home with three cats and a dog. When I am not developing websites for work, I enjoy reading, crafting, photography and writing.
Link to social media or website: Instagram @swhall14