I deleted Facebook from my phone. Yet I couldn’t escape it. It was on Google. On Instagram. On my mind.
When I saw the video — a human form shrouded in a pristine white sheet, being wheeled out of building 850 — I lost it. I curled up smaller on my black beanbag. The tears wouldn’t stop. A hard lump throbbed in my chest. It creeped up my throat, choking me.
A flash of clarity. This is why articles carry that warning, “The following post could be potentially triggering. You can contact the Crisis Text Line by texting ‘START’ to 741741.”
I’ve always brushed off that warning. Now I wish I heeded it.
I didn’t expect this reaction. I don’t know Kate Spade personally. I don’t have one of her eponymous handbags.
I message my best friend 8,500 miles away. I message another friend in another country. Their replies do not make any sense. Their words couldn’t pierce the thick grey haze weighing on me.
I count each breath. Long on the exhale, deep in the inhale. I count to seven when I feel the overwhelming urge to uncurl my legs and crawl to the medicine drawer, safekeeping its cornucopia of antidepressants, anti-anxiety and sleep aids promising instant, permanent relief.
Let time pass. Safely.
I stay curled up on the floor. It keeps me grounded. I try to “surf the urge.” But then remember that usually increases the urge for me.
You’re weak. You’re worthless.
You’re in distress now.
I reach up and grab my coping box. I look at the photos of my smiling daughter. What a thrilled smile. A life-happy smile. The lump in my chest swells. I feel its dark weight roll up my shoulders and down my elbows.
No one cares about you.
Breathe. You got this. Take your time.
I rummage through my box: the perfumed purple pillow to remind me it’s OK to comfort myself, the ring of wooden beads spelling “let go,” the five ACA chips I earned in three months. I clutch a smooth chunk of hematite. As I flip it through my fingers, I try to recall its properties. Does it heal pain? Absorb negative energy?
I’ve wasted too much time. It’s too late. Just like Kate Spade.
It makes sense you’re triggered now.
A sliver of green catches my eye. Inspire, I scribbled on it last winter. I switch on the speaker and swipe the screen to my Inspire playlist. Tap Shuffle.
“The Journey” by Lea Salonga floats up. I deliberately replace thoughts of pills with the song lyrics. What a journey it has been… You bet. I’m exhausted. And the end is not in sight… Really? I want it to end now.
Rachel Platten’s “Fight Song” comes on. Wrecking balls inside my brain… I hold on to each word. I will scream them loud tonight… I will scream! Tonight! My power’s turned on… I feel a current of strength. It charges up my fingers, amplifies in my chest. Deep breath now. I’ve still got a lot of fight left in me.
I get up. Walk to the bathroom. Brush my teeth. Wash dirty breakfast dishes on the sink. Vacuum Mika’s fuzz as they skitter away from me, elusive dust bunnies. Chores done. Deep breath. You got this.
“Move a muscle, change a thought,” the clinician’s kind voice whispers in my head.
I listen to Sara Ramirez’s cover of “The Story.”
You see the smile that’s on my mouth. It’s hiding the words that don’t come out. And all of my friends who think that I’m blessed. They don’t know my head is a mess. No, they don’t know who I really am. And they don’t know what I’ve been through…
So why don’t I tell them? Why don’t I write my story?
I slump on my beanbag, notebook and pen in hand. I start writing.
Kate Spade’s story triggers me since I’ve been thinking of suicide this past week. There, but for the grace of God, go I. Like her, I’m a mother of a 13-year old daughter. Her struggles were on a different scale, but they resonate with me: financial troubles, relationship issues, mental illness …
Like her, I started writing… but I didn’t write goodbye. I couldn’t. Not yet. Perhaps never. Please, never.
And so I gather the words. I name the fears. I describe the sensations. I write the thoughts. I write with hope that someone will read this and understand. Someone will get it. Life is a struggle for over 450 million people in the world (and more undiagnosed) with mental disorders. Though I feel alone, I am not.
Our scars may be hidden. Our faces may wear smiles. But we are in real pain.
Please don’t wait till we’re gone. Reach out now. Tell us you care. Show us we matter. Most of all, be kind. To everyone.
You may not know the demons we’re fighting, but make no mistake, we are fighting. We are fighting to live. We fight to keep going.
Just like Kate Spade did.
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