Please, Keep Going.
Two weeks ago, the world was rocked as fashion designer Kate Spade and chef, writer, and traveler Anthony Bourdain lost their lives to suicide. To say that I was shocked is an understatement. It is interesting how things in life that can knock you out of your normal routine.
When I heard about Kate's death, I was in a coffee shop here in Lisbon desperately searching for a job. While I had little to no connection to Kate Spade (I never made enough money to have my first Kate Spade bag story), she represented to me someone who had become successful being herself. As that was exactly who I desired to be, particularly at that moment, it was shocking to know that the success that hadn't brought her happiness. Nor had it provided her the will to keep moving forward.
A few days later, Anthony Bourdain was gone too. This one was more personal because I spent the year before I moved to Spain I inhaled every episode of both his shows "No Reservations" and "Parts Unknown." He was a writer, traveler, and food lover, whose life of apparent success hadn't saved him either.
Now, I don't pretend to know how or why these people chose to end their lives and I don't want to be in any way dismissive of their pain or struggle. But I do find it interesting that in such a short span of time two people made it painfully obvious having appearances of a successful life was not enough to encourage them to keep living it. As someone who is still struggling to "make it," it reminds me that financial stability and fame won't bring me the happiness that I so desperately desire.
Then, this morning I clicked on this video. In it, a Youtuber that I love and admire told the story of how he almost lost his wife to suicide the week before. While his channel is mostly a comical and light-hearted view of fatherhood, he and his wife have also chronicled their struggles within their marriage and in particular with the wife's depression.
When this video first came across my timeline, I thought that it was an old video that I hadn't seen before. But as I watched, I realized that this video was new. That this woman who I had grown to have such affection for over the past year hadn't thought that she had become too much of a burden to her family. She decided that they would be better off without her.
While my heart broke for this family, I couldn't help but feel a bit touched at the level of love the husband showed for his wife. It was something that I had never seen before. And I started to think about...social media.
I'm going somewhere with this, I promise. While I got to learn about Anthony and Kate through mainstream media sources, I only know of this little family through Youtube. And in many ways in our culture currently, social media has taken over as the primary form of presenting a happy and successful life. And I really thought this family had "made it." Through their social media, I watched as their lives evolved from a struggle to pay bills to apparent success. I watched them move from an apartment to a house. I watched their daughter grow up. I saw their apparences on television. They also represented a new more attainable form of success.
And yet, it wasn't enough.
So, I hope that as you watch me traverse the globe, I hope that you will feel inspired--not invalidated. Remember that no matter how cool somebody else's life seems, remember that it is up to you to decide how to define what makes you happy. We are often taught that happiness if something that will just "happen" when we achieve society's view of success. But the struggles of these people make it clear that that is not always the cake.
Take care of yourself. Take care of your mental health. Remember that no matter how amazing someone's life seems on the outside, you never know what they are going through.
Be good to yourself. No matter who you are, remember that you are loved and your life is valuable. If you are going through it, remember it is called going through it. You will make it to the other side.
So please, keep going.
National Suicide Hotline Prevention Hotline