Food, Fashion, & the Pursuit of Happiness
If there are three things I am deeply passionate in this life, they are surely food, fashion, and mental health (among other things, of course). Along my squirrelly (at best) career path, I flirted hardcore with romantic ideas of moving to NYC and working in fashion or becoming a chef more times than I can count. I finally chickened out because A) I love to cook, but on my own watch and for people who are nice, and B) God spoke to me through a slew of convincing nightmares after watching “The Devil Wears Prada.” I’ve never been so terrified of Meryl Streep in my life.
Eventually, I landed where I am today, in the armchair of psychology/mental health. Yet I must say, the beauty and inspiration I find in cooking/hosting, as well as fashion, is something of therapy for me.
You may guess where I’m headed here.
Last week the human race suffered a massive loss. I was gutted upon hearing of Kate Spade’s suicide. Then, Anthony Bourdain’s only two days later? I never had the opportunity to meet them, but somehow, somewhere deep down, I felt connected to them, like we might have been friends. I loved their gumption and their wildly unique approach to business and art, and most of all perhaps, I love that they inspired us to get a little bit outside of our comfort zones and do something remarkable.
After wrestling with sadness, anger, and confusion for a solid week, I think I know why the mack truck of this news hit me so hard: I too, know the desolate, lonely corridors of self-destruction. In the throes of my own crippling depression, self-loathing and a seriously jacked up belief-system pushed me to the edge of this life, photoshopping out any inkling of hope. I didn’t have the rational mind to reach out for help in those times. Thankfully, I had enough people around who did and could carry my frail heart into truth and light.
Left to my own devices though, I’m not entirely sure I’d be here today without them.
I’m certain you or someone you know has had a similar story.
Now, in my rational, healthy mind, I’ve learned to practice (and love) asking for help. Hell, you’d know it all the way in Seattle in less than a minute if I stumped my big toe.
However, the fact is depression can very much be a fatal disease. This logical ability to reach out and “ask for help” simply isn’t baked in.
Last week reminded me why I do what I do. It is why I keep showing up every week to write these silly posts that may never even be read. I don’t care; the conversation must go on. It is why, in the end, you and I must not only hold space for the hurting around us but proactively reach out to those who can’t due to the silencing, eternal trans of suicidal depression.
In tennis, there are these things called unforced errors. They are missed points due to avoidable mistakes. I grew up binging on televised tennis tournaments with my big sister Kristen, who was a tennis champ herself. We bickered over clothes and things a lot, but you better believe, when Wimbledon came around every year, we were strangely harmonious.
Andre Agassi (the crush of our lives as we knew it then) would miss a shot, double fault a serve, or get flustered by Pete Sampras’ clever drop-shot—fair enough. However, an unforced error was simply a waste. Those were avoidable.
I think of suicide as the ultimate unforced error, the ultimate loss. Unlike the game of tennis, you can’t come back and redeem yourself in the next tournament of this life after the loss of suicide. There’s no do-over.
Suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary feeling. No feeling is final. You and I get the math here, yet for Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain, math didn’t matter. I suppose they felt there was no other choice. We shouldn’t judge them or assume to know what it felt like to walk around in their very visible shoes.
I want to leave you with this thought, or conviction really.
Success, fame, wealth, even the pursuit of what we are passionate about and think will make us happy and add value to the world is smoke and mirrors if we are building it from a place of ego. By ego, I mean our false self—who we are when we’re manipulating circumstances around us to make us worthy or significant. This self is motivated by fear and scarcity. When we live out of ego as opposed to a loving presence, we will never be satisfied, even after we think we’ve “arrived.”
I’m an evangelist for doing what you’re passionate about and creating a life you love. I write about this a lot and coach people who are on this journey in my work. You know what though? It’s all a lie if we are not first and foremost convinced of the truth of who we are as opposed towho the world tells us we’re supposed to be. This truth comes from a bigger story, a more profound love.
We must stay tethered to connection: connection to Love, Truth, Healthy relationships, and Community, and to the Authentic essence of who we are if we want to truly be successful—known.
Last week, we lost two iconic industry leaders. They made a final, fatal decision based on only a small, painful part of a much bigger story. For all we know, they “had it all.” That narrative came to a screeching halt.
Depression can feel powerless, like there aren’t any other options. What a terrible, if not convincing lie.
Lovely, you are powerful. You are worthy. You are beautiful. You have the incredible ability to cultivate happiness in the now, without contingencies and red tape. Perhaps best of all, you get to write the next hopeful chapter.
Remember this; you are the ocean. You have complex waves of emotion. They build and break. They crash and wash. They wane. They shine. They move.
They will never overcome the power of your depths though. You are Love.
Love & Gratitude,
P.S. If you or someone you know is battling depression, reach out. Despite it being the opposite of what feels normal or comfortable. It is our responsibility to be the voice and hands of those that aren’t able to use them due to their disease.