Another suicide

suicide, depression
Anthony Bourdain. Image from Wikimedia Commons

Woke up to the sad news that Anthony Bourdain killed himself, also by hanging as Kate Spade, Alexander McQueen, L’Wren Scott, and Robin Williams all did.

Another. As a professional reminded me yesterday, it’s not the depression that’s the dangerous point as much as it is that moment on the way back up that they have the energy to act. And we cannot always tell when someone is struggling with mood and depression. Many have learned to hide it well.

Bourdain was open about his addictions and his dysfunction. Kat Kinsman even moreso:

But your customers, your diners, your readers — they can never know. It would ruin the illusion. Seeking help for depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, OCD, addiction, not only is it a financial impossibility for people who often don’t even have access to basic healthcare — let alone mental healthcare — it’s stigmatized. We’re stopping each other from seeking help, and that’s got to change.

We don’t judge if a pancreas doesn’t produce enough insulin or if the immune system is dysfunctional. But the brain? Oh how we judge. And once again, the ignorant and self-righteous will take to social media to pronounce judgment and call suicide a “selfish act.” It’s not. Full stop.

As with so much other violence, how much will be enough for us to do something? We can start by ending the stigma once and for all around mental health. A talented psychologist told me if someone is determined to kill themselves, they will. That is true. It’s also true that those who have survived things like jumping off the Golden Gate Bridge said they changed their minds after they jumped. Let’s do everything we can to show that we’d like to keep them here until natural death. We can begin with understanding mental illness, destigmatizing it, and kindness… always.

Rest in peace, Anthony Bourdain.

 

The Link Between Child Abuse, Depression, & Mental Health

 

depression, mental health, mental illness
Photo by Ben Maguire on Unsplash

Another wealthy and famous person is dead from suicide. How much depression or Kate Spade’s mental health played a part is speculative until those closest to her decide whether and how much they want to discuss it. And how much they knew. Someone with depression can be an expert at appearing fine.

She was Emeritus Chair on the Board of Directors for the New York Center for Children, which is devoted to the treatment and prevention of child abuse. I don’t know what her connection was to that issue, whether it was an invitation from a friend, because she was a mother, or out of her experience or that of someone close to her.

The connection between child abuse and mental health is something I’ve spent the past few years thinking about and exploring. Those of us who were abused as children experience depression and C-PTSD. I still startle easily, struggle with sleep and hypervigilance, and have flashbacks. It’s why I’ve written about it and will continue to do so. I’m putting together an outline for my own recovery that I hope will help others. It’s part of why nearly all of my writing, including my novels, are roadmaps to emotional recovery.

“Having it all” doesn’t inoculate you from depression. The most maddening tweets I’ve read in the past couple of hours since the news of Kate Spade’s suicide broke are the ones who declare that she was “selfish.” She was not selfish; she was in pain. If you want to remember her, consider donating to a charity with a mission to treat and prevent child abuse or suicide.

If you’re dealing with the fallout from child abuse, there’s help available. Pete Walker’s book Complex PTSD and its workbook, and Bessel van der Kolk’s The Body Keeps the Score are a good start. There are groups such as Survivors of Incest Anonymous and RAINN. There are trauma therapists who can use various modalities. Check out the medical side with a compassionate psychiatrist. Do your due diligence about therapists, doctors, and groups. Just as pedophiles seek work around children, emotional predators find ways to access abuse survivors.

If I can heal, so can you.

Please send this on if you know of anyone suffering from the fallout of child abuse. Thank you.

What’s brave?

brave, metoo, child abuse, rape
Photo by Leio McLaren via Unsplash

Another predator is exposed. This time it’s Harvey Weinstein. Stars are making statements. Some of these are thoughtful and reflective. Glenn Close says she’d heard the rumors and writes, “Harvey has always been decent to me, but now that the rumors are being substantiated, I feel angry and darkly sad.” Her entire statement is worth reading in the link above.

I’m having a difficult time with those who say they’re shocked. Harvey Weinstein’s behavior was an open secret in Hollywood and, sadly, not unusual. If someone working regularly in Hollywood is truly shocked, it shows they don’t notice those around them who are not in positions of power. I would ask them going forward to notice the expressions and postures on set, especially of women and children. I hope the way this is breaking wide open helps identify other predators, including the pedophiles, on film and TV sets. And the predators in other workplaces around the country.

Given the statistics of child molestation – depending on the source, 1 in 4 or 5 women (and 1 in 6-10 men) – and the number of Weinstein’s victims to date, it is likely that a percentage were molested as children. My issue with the language gushing over the bravery of the women coming forward is this: the victims with child abuse/incest in their background who do not come forward are also brave. Bravery for them, particularly after being re-traumatized, is what anyone else might consider “normal functioning.” Getting out of bed in the morning can be an act of enormous courage.

So yes, kudos to those who’ve come forward. We need them, especially Rose McGowan, Angelina Jolie and others who have the clout to amplify the message. But let’s not forget those who’ve been hurt beyond measure who can’t or won’t go public out of self-protection, not so much for their public safety or career as for their own mental and emotional well-being.

  They are no less brave. 

Regarding the courage of the abused child, watch this interview: Arthur Miller totally got that about Marilyn Monroe: start at the 4:22 mark for the entire answer and 5:53 for the meat.

When the Access Hollywood tape came out, I had nightmares and recalled one incident in particular that I’d locked away in a closet in my mind. When I heard the audiotape of the NYPD sting of Weinstein, another came back. I am far from the only one. I’m seeing dozens of others on social media saying the same thing. It is a profoundly painful and disturbing experience to have these things resurface unbidden. These predators do not only hurt their victims, they affect most everyone else who has been molested and/or raped.

This is why I am writing my memoir. If you want to support that effort, you may do so here.