Very much like most of the world, I was saddened by the departures of Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain. I did not have the privilege of knowing them, but their vision in this world had an impact upon my life in a meaningful way.
This past year, I longed for a sleek, stylish, professional, computer bag with a pop of color to reflect my personality. Kate Spade was the brand I chose because this accessory made me feel like an empowered woman who could conquer the world. It's funny how a product can elicit such an emotional reaction from within. Before purchasing this purse, I set a goal for myself, accomplished it, and then rewarded myself with this exceptional prize. I carry this purse with pride everywhere I go because of it's functionality and the way it makes me feel.
Anthony Bourdain enhanced my appreciation of travel, food, and culture through his authentic prose. I tried to emulate his journeys through my own love of travel to less frequented destinations. The first episode of Parts Unknown in 2013 struck a particular chord; I was about to embark on an extended trip to Myanmar and this episode was my first glimpse into the people and culture of this country. I watched this episode with great focus, taking notes about what I planned to experience upon arrival. I was so excited to follow Anthony's footsteps in Yangon - to try the same tea shops, markets, and to see the same sights as he had seen. I watched this episode before and after living in Myanmar - and his accounts of the country were spot on, so accurate for the time period. His curiosity and honesty for the places he visited were so authentic that I was immediately drawn into seeing the world through his eyes.
These two individuals clearly had a tremendous impact upon our world. As outsiders looking into someone's life, we think they have it all because of the fame or the impact they have had upon us. We tend to put certain people on a pedestal, and we see them as super human. The truth is that they are human just like the rest of us, with obstacles and moments of vulnerability. Chances are that people you idolize in your own life are just as human as you are too.
WHAT CAN BE DONE TO COMBAT MENTAL HEALTH ISSUES?
If you are in a place of helplessness:
Believe that you are NOT alone: Your family and/or friends are available to listen whether you choose to believe it or not.
Get up and get moving: stimulate your senses and boost your mood by going for a walk, listening to your favorite music, or eating a mood boosting meal
Make a conscious effort to spend time with people: Find time to volunteer for a cause that interests you or find a support group that aligns with what you are going through.
Practice relaxation techniques: Try yoga, deep breathing, meditation. Think about what relaxes and calms you down, perhaps its playing with a pet or journaling. Everyone is different - take one small step to think about what makes you happy or used to make you happy.
If someone you know is in a place of helplessness:
Use your instincts. If you suspect something is 'off,' be direct and ask the person if they are going through a difficult time. Let them know that you are there to support them and to listen if that is what they need.
Schedule times to see this person or schedule regular check-ins
Offer or encourage this individual to spend some time with people or to find something that interests them / gives them purpose.
Encourage them to get help - and let them know that asking for help is NOT a bad or embarrassing event.
These topics tend to surface in the limelight when a tragedy is covered by the media. Let's not lose sight of this issue even if it is not covered on the news. Be mindful of yourself and those around you. Your ability to be compassionate and to empathize are more impactful than you think.
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