And you who had the honor of her evening …

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I’ve been thinking about this post all day and I’ve been wondering whether or not I’d write it. The title here is from Leonard Cohen’s “Alexandra Leaving,” a song that, like so many others, breaks my heart in the most beautifully devastating way.

Kate Spade. I think many of the women I know who are my age-ish have at one point been familiar with her wares. I knew very little about her; I was gifted one of her handbags in the early-to-mid 90s and I wore it proudly, always aware that I was handbagging out of my league.

She killed herself this morning. And of course the social media-verse is full of “WHY?!?”s … and that is a valid question. The answer, I’m certain, is fairly complex. When we try to distill the why’s of suicide into explanation we fall short of the bigger picture which, more often than not, is my old friend and foe depression. Family things may well have been happening, business things may well have been challenging, but what drives someone to take one’s own life is rarely quite so tangible. “But she had …!” and “But she was …!” don’t apply. I am not diagnosing her, I do not know that she was clinically depressed, but I do know that some variation on depression plays into many suicides.

And I also know that depression does not care whether you are young or smart or famous or rich or beautiful or powerful or none of the above. Depression, like cancer, chooses its path quite democratically, and while there are things one can do to stave off both, there are no guarantees.

I know what it’s like to feel alone while surrounded by people, to feel stuck despite options, to feel empty when the judgmental voice inside tells you you shouldn’t. And I know the value of facing these possibly tamable demons and coming out on the other side.

If you are reading these words and you feel empty, alone, despondent, suicidal, please know that there are resources available to you. If you need to, reach out to me. Ours is a very challenging existence. As one of B’s photos from Love City says, “Don’t jump. Somebody, somewhere, is waiting to love you.”

Very few things are insurmountable. If I can help you to realize this, I will.

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2 thoughts on “And you who had the honor of her evening …

  1. Here is my reply.
    It is very true that depression is an equal opportunity disease. It is insidious and the pain of mental anguish is horrendous.
    However, let’s be honest. It is a lot easier to be very rich and depressed than to be poor and depressed. A rich person has options: they can travel to serene beaches, afford apartments with glorious river views, and take advantage of treatment centers like Silver Hill. Cost is never an obstacle in their lives because money fills a bottomless pit.
    A poor schnook who is depressed has to get up every day in what could be some roach and bed bug filled apartment, stand on his weary feet for a minimum wage at some crummy 9 to 5 job, and he cannot afford to change his basic situation. The way he handles his depression is determined by his “sick days.” He cannot afford luxurious mental health sanatoriums. He is “stuck.”
    This is why the “average” person has a problem feeling sorry for Kate Spade, who left behind a young daughter. They cannot relate to a woman who had 150 million dollars and inner demons because they have the same emotional agony and struggle on top of it just to pay the bills.
    Please do not block me for my opinion. I enjoy reading your very eloquent and beautifully written pieces.

    • I would not block you for your opinion. I hear what you are saying. And yes, it’s true, while money can’t buy happiness, it can certainly facilitate treatment. I think the bottom line here is that some people *equate* money with happiness and so can’t fathom depression affecting the rich and famous, period. And in some cases, even with treatment, the sufferer may feel strongly that the world — and their kids — would actually be better off without them. Which is never the case. I know when I went through my bouts of depression, I was incapable of feeling joy, even sitting on the beach playing with my toddler nephew; it is an insidious beast that takes over everything. Thankfully I was not suicidal, but having lost friends and children of friends to it, I have empathy for anyone who suffers that much. I hope you are well, and as always, thank you for reading my words.

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