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What if I fail? How Kate Spade Suicide made me take a close look at my mental health.

Scrolling through my Facebook newsfeed I stopped on a picture of a bright eyed , smiling Kate Spade. Sitting in a red chair , wearing black with a pop of some yellow, a handbag and shoes behind her. I paused. It was a USA Today article written by Kirstin Powers



In it she writes “ John Draper, director of the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, who happens to be my future brother-in-law. “What people don’t really know is that there is research that shows the media can reduce suicide,” Draper told me. “What creates a contagion effect is when the media focus mostly on the suicide and the way the person killed themselves. If people are more open about talking about coping through suicidal experiences, and the media highlight those stories, the evidence is very clear that this has a very positive effect on getting people through a suicidal crisis.” 

She goes on to share her own personal experience, then challenges readers to share their own...


One of the reasons I started this blog was because I was constantly getting signs to share my story. I have struggled a lot this week with Kate Spades death, and here is why...

I am honest about being a survivor of a suicide attempt... in reality that word should be plural. My first attempt was freshman year when I was 15. I had a plan and a time frame, but my mother figured it out and I was hospitalized for 30 days in the adolescent inpatient at our local psychiatric placement for children who’s parents are wealthy or are lucky with really good insurance. I learned zero coping skills but spent the day’s with other kids playing pool and swimming. And my nights on the phone in the "day room" with friends. Everyone chalked it up to me being an indulged brat and that I was fixed and we could go on with life...


Almost exactly a year later I got into a violent fight with my mother. My step father was out of town which was common, and for whatever reason she was angry and came after me with a vengeance... I had at this point turned to drugs and alcohol pretty heavily to get through life and just wanted out of the house to self medicate.. she wasn’t letting me out the door. I locked the bathroom door and proceeded to take every pill in the medicine cabinet... We often went to Mexico to pick up medication so there was A LOT. Later the Dr would tell me I took hundreds of pills... I started feeling groggy and she came to tell me that my step father was on the phone and wanted to talk to me .. SUPER WEIRD . He never ever called and talked to me. I remember him asking me what was going on, and the room starting to get blurry . I dropped the phone and could hear my mother saying how I should win an academy award for best actress..... next memory is waking up briefly while my stomach was being pumped... I went back out because then my next memory was being taken in a wheelchair to the Kids psychiatric unit at the hospital... it was 2 days later .


I spent 90 days this time. Again , no actual coping tools but I was able to voice some feelings during family therapy , and get out some anger during something they called “

Psychodrama “ ... I also started attending AA, NA, & CA meetings which I enjoyed. It’s not that I loved using, but I loved being numb. So attending groups was probably the most therapeutic thing for me during that time. I went home right before Christmas time... ironically that next Christmas I would give birth to a beautiful girl. And she would be my reason for holding on to my own life.. Years ticked by, I added her sister and her brother to my reason for living, and would always think “ if I can’t do it for myself, then live for them “ Dark times came... I struggled with drinking and prescription drug addiction. But I always kept it together just enough ...


Then dealing with a child with extreme mental illness who I watched pull the rug out from under my family day after day and as much as I fought to fix it I couldn’t... old thoughts creeped in... I went back to some self harming behaviors, always careful to make sure no one else could see the cuts.. I started dreaming about ending it, fantasizing about not hurting so much anymore.. so I’d make a plan in my mind..Having a plan brought some peace, it’s a dangerous game.


I started with behaviors our family therapist calls passive suicidal behaviors... such as not wearing my seatbelt, and driving fast through the canyon. Doing things that I secretly hoped would result in the loss of my life without having to take it myself...

Hubby caught on and talked me into going on an antidepressant medication... it saved my life...


I was of the “ oh I’ll just eat better, exercise, rub these essential oils on myself “ and get better camp.. those are ALL great things! BUT sometimes we need more help.. PLEASE I am literally begging you, if you are struggling, consider talking to someone about medication. It does not have to be forever. I no longer take it. But it was there when I needed it, to calm my brain so I could learn all the tools I could to help myself in other ways .. and if you do need it forever ... THATS OKAY ! It helps you stay here, and that’s what matters . If you are someone that tells others that all the need is yoga or fresh air , or insert whatever .... OMG STOP IT ! Seriously .. stop it. This shaming crap needs to stop RIGHT NOW!


Do I still struggle ... Yes... louder for those in the back YES! A few years ago after coming out the worse years of my life, I decided to get a tattoo... and yes I’m Mormon ... if you have an issue, please feel free to discuss it with me . It’s a topic I speak on a lot. As I sat in the chair of a tattoo artist who is like family to us, I stared out the window and gave every surge of pain a name.. a memory ... as if to say, “ I acknowledge that this happened but it’s time to let it go” .... it was a very healing experience. I picked a lotus flower. Because you see... lotus flowers grow through the darkest of muck with only the hope and faith that there is sunshine when the push through.. I got it on my left wrist... in the place I have since I was a child grabbed and dug my nails into to escape surges of pain. Physical pain is so much easier then mental anguish to deal with... so here it will always be as a reminder that no matter what mud and muck I find myself , there is always sunshine when I push through.


Now why did Kate Spade choice to end her life affect me so much. Well see.. our family has been touched by suicide more times then I care to count. And always we reflect and perhaps see something that lead to that moment. We are coming up on the first anniversary of losing Chester Bennington to suicide... working in the music industry in Arizona, I knew Chester when he was young and starting out. We all celebrated his success, but most of all I celebrated his sobriety and honesty about it. And it shook me to the core when I had to accept that he just couldn’t win the battle of his own inner demons. But at least I knew that they existed...


Kate Spade is a very popular name in our home. As the mother to 5 girls , I have many conversations about fashion. As a high school graduation present to one of our daughters , the Kate Spade store in Las Vegas helped my husband set up a special surprise for her in store. We all wear and carry Kate Spade products. A lot of the reason is because her designs make us happy. They are whimsical, and bright and fun. We have watched interviews, and read stories about her and fell in love with her story and passion... We were excited about her new project named after her daughter...

And then the story broke... if this woman who seemed to have it all, could not hang on for her beautiful daughter THEN WHAT IF I FAIL ?!

What if I reach a point where living for my children isn’t enough?! Old negative thought patterns started creeping in....


But I learned this week that I will not fail.. because I have a support system that won’t let me, and most importantly that support system includes myself. I have made a contract with myself , and put a plan in place to always keep myself safe.

Even in the darkest of times.


I won’t fail because despite how honest I am, and how positive and upbeat I seem. I have family & friends that will call bull$@!t on me.. friends that will check on me, and call me out if they think I’m faking ...


So if you take anything away from this... CHECK ON YOUR STRONGEST FRIENDS! Ask the happy ones, the successful ones, the positive ones how they are.. TRULY ARE. And let them know that you are there for them. Really and honestly there for them if they need to talk. The people who need help the most, sometimes, look a lot like the people who you think don't need help...


And if you are my friend and reading this, please know that I love you and would never judge you for struggling. I am always here to listen ...



And if I don’t know you in real life , read that line above... I am always here if you need to talk....


Much love,

Kelly