Life + Style

June 6, 2018

About Kate Spade

Ugh, I really wanted to focus on other things today but Kate Spade's death has me feeling the need to talk about mental health instead.

As per usual, I am no expert and have zero professional advice to give so please take what I say for what it is - my story - and don't mistake it for medical or trained advice. 

One our of beloved icons - the ultimate happy go-lucky best friend kind of gal - ended her life.  On purpose.  Okay, so where do we start?

Sadness.  Because it truly is so so sad; for her and for her family, especially her daughter, and for those of us who felt a kindred connection to her.  Shock. WTF?  How the eff did someone who sold us carefree happy feel so empty and low inside without anyone knowing? We the people couldn't have known, but what about those around her?  Where were her people? Anger.  How the eff could she do this to her daughter?  To the millions of women who have watched her success rise and bought in to a story about being happy and having it. "she believed she could so she did"

I'm not going to pretend to know anything about Kate's personal story or the details of her life leading up to this tragedy.  Instead, I'm going to use her death as a catalyst to talk about my own journey with depression and hopefully encourage others to share their stories as well.  The more we talk about it the more normal it becomes and in turn allow more people to recognize the signs and symptoms and ask for help sooner and more often.

Rather than reinvent the wheel, I'm going to republish a few excerpts from previous posts on mental health so those who need it can find it all here in one place.  I am fully aware that you being here might be all you've got today and clicking over to two or three more blog posts could literally feel like too much for those who need to read it most.

FEBRUARY 5, 2016

What the heck I've been up to lately.

Long time no see, friends.  I didn't mean to take such a long break away from here I just needed to take some time for myself.  I wouldn't even remotely say it was "blogger burnout" because that implies that this blog is a chore or drags me down or was something that I needed a break from.  And thats not at all the case.  In fact, it's so much more than that.  Somewhere over the last few years I've lost myself.  I lost my center.  I lost my happiness.  I think this happens to so many of us.  Maybe you can relate?

I don't know if it's still called post partum anxiety & depression when it unravels three years later.  I do know that it didn't feel like the commercials you see on tv with the checklists.  It just felt like my life.  I didn't realize I had a problem until I suffered a few debilitating panic attacks last fall and sought treatment.  Part of which included a panel of testing to make sure I was physically healthy.  Apparently I'm not dying.  Apparently it's not "normal" to always think that you are.  Sometimes a mole is just a mole.   So many of us suffer from anxiety and it doesn't always look like you think it does.  Through recovering I'm realizing how far gone I was and just how much better my life can be.  I actually have a few instagram friends to thank for that.  For extending their hands out to mine when I reached out.  I'm forever grateful.  And for a few of my friends here locally who have been helping me steady my step and making sure know I'm not alone by just showing up.  Simply showing up for someone is enough.  And my husband, my rock.  But that's a conversation for him alone.

Sometimes feeling stuck doesn't look like not getting out of bed.  Especially when you have small children who need to be fed and cared for and loved every day not just some days.  Feeling like you could harm your children doesn't always look like a monstrous evil act lurking in your thoughts but a simple lack of confidence in your ability to keep them safe and alive and happy.  I know food allergies have played a huge role in my line of thinking but I think much of it has been lurking around forever.  Mostly rooted in self doubt.  Apparently stress and an easy going attitude aren't mutually exclusive.

So there you have it, OCD, perfectionism, depression, anxiety, panic attacks.  Why the heck am I publicly sharing this?  I'm not worried about the stigma.  There are plenty of reasons you might not like me but I can assure you this brand of crazy isn't it.  That's part of who I am and I will proudly share it with the world.  Because I'm also really creative.  And smart.  And thoughtful.  And a freaking awesome wife and mother.  I love the crap out of my husband and my kids.  And I'm all kinds of full of empathy and love to help others.  And I'm turning into a pretty good vegan baker.  And I make a ridiculously good chicken broccoli casserole.  And I like to read.  And listen to podcasts.  Oh, podcasts are my new favorite.  I have a few favorites I'd love to tell you about.  It's really nice to just sit and listen to someone else without the ability to interrupt or add in your own experience.  I think that's good practice for the real world.  And I could win a Real Housewives of everywhere trivia tournament.  Like, rock it.  And I learned that I could give up wine without even thinking about it but not coffee.  Lord, please don't take away my coffee again.  And I like taking really long walks but still hate to run.  I'm starting to learn that saying, "No, that doesn't work for me" is so much better than saying Yes and then regretting it.  And I used to be really fun and funny and I'm slowly getting that back too.  And I'm good at photography.  And I love to write.  No, more like I need to write.  And I love cute outfits and pretty rooms.  And putting together mood boards.  And imagining all the pretty stuff I'd buy if I won the powerball.  And finding recipes I may or may not ever make.  And blogging.  Yes, blogging.

So now that I've taken some time to sort through was brings me joy and what I want taking up space in my head and in my life I'm excited to say that this blog is on that list.  And as much as I want to make it 100% about the pretty I just can't.  I thought for awhile that might be a bit better for me.  To keep it all light and positive.  I need to mix in a bit of the real and dirty and raw in with that even if it's not popular.  Even if it leaves me wide open.  Vulnerable.  I have Brene Brown to thank for that via my very brave friend Katharine.  I wanted to be sure of that before I moved forward.  Writing and blogging helps me look inward which is an important part of my recovery.  I'm excited to use this blog again as a place that brings me joy and connection.  I hope it can do that for you too and that you'd still like to move forward with me!

I feel like this is where I should share some uplifting quote on being courageous or strong or whatever so I guess I'll hop on over to pinterest now and find something fitting.  Although really my husband said it best this morning, "You can't just stay home and vacuum forever."  That sentence gave me the courage to hop back on here today and I hope this post gives you the courage you need today too.

Self doubt.  My life-coach is helping me work though my self-doubt and I know some of y'all are 
interested in what that looks like.  Not just relating to what I'm personally working on but the actual 
process so that maybe it can benefit you as well. Writing down my thoughts brings so much more clarity 
for me than just talking.  Many times I blurt things out and my life-coach responds, 
"what do you mean by that" or "explain that" or "how does that make you feel" and I'm usually not sure 
right away.  My homework each week is to journal what we discussed.  I need time to be introspective. 
That happens for me in the quietness of 5am (I know right, I'm now the crazy 5am lady) in front of my 
computer where I can sit and drink coffee and write and re-write and organize my thoughts.  I've decided 
to share a bit of what I wrote this morning.

I spend a lot of time collecting proof that I'm not good enough.  
I made up my mind when I was 11 that ultimately I wasn't enough (whatever that means) 
and I should stop trying to be.  Middle school sucks for so many and I'm no different.  
Schoolwork gets hard. Friendship gets hard.  I stopped earning easy A's around the same 
time that the group that I desperately wanted to be a part of made it clear that they were in 
and I was out.  "Stop following us around; we don't want you here."  I know shocking talk 

for a seventh grader. But for 20 for years no amount of encouragement and support from 
strangers or loved ones could change my mind about that statement.  Neither could the fact 
that by 8th grade I was in, at least for awhile.  I decided in middle school that other people 
had the power to decide my worth and I never thought to challenge that.  So each time a 
friendship fizzles or I don't connect with someone new or a stranger says something mean 
or I don't get a job I want or I'm not invited to a moms night out or playdate or someone 
doesn't comment on a post I use it as proof of why the entire world doesn't want me around.  
Yes, the entire planet.  Because that makes so much sense, right.

This is why written word is so powerful.  I can think something in my head and accept it for years 
but one morning of writing it down and I find myself laughing as I read it.  Dang.  I'm a thoughtful 
and accomplished grown woman and I've been letting the behavior of a few tweens from the 90's 
affect my world view.  Tweens that I probably didn't even have anything in common with other 
than the same homeroom teacher. Yet so many of us do this.  I'm not smart.  I'm not funny.  I'm not pretty.  I'm not athletic.  

I'm not enough.  I'm fat.  I'm not good at art or music or language.  I'm not a good writer.  
I'm not enough.  We allow ourselves to believe it.  For me it's people don't like me so maybe 
I shouldn't like me.  But just because I think it doesn't mean it's true.

Overall, I'm actually pretty confident and content but this certain area has the ability to throw 
my whole attitude under the bus.  Think for a minute, what words or actions hurt you the most 
and which ones easily roll off?  The ones that hurt are the ones you think are true.   Just because 
someone thinks it doesn't make it true.

Just because I think it doesn't make it true.  We have power over our thoughts.  Flip it around.  
I am worthy and I am good enough.  That is truth.  God says it's true.  I don't have to be the best 
at everything but I know I am good enough for that path I'm supposed to be on.
Self-Acceptance.  Not every one needs to be your people.  I actually embrace this gift of 
uniqueness and appreciate it's ability to create a wonderfully diverse world.  I grant that 
grace to every person I encounter.  Why then do I get hung up in thinking that everyone 
needs to understand and appreciate me and if they don't then no one can, not even myself?  
That's ridiculous.  It's time to start being kinder to myself.

One of my favorite sayings of all time comes from our sorority rush (recruitment was the PC term 
we had to use); "her star shines brighter elsewhere."  It means that the girl you took through 
the house just isn't a good fit and you don't want to invite her back for the next round.  Many 
times my star shines brighter elsewhere.  And that's okay.  That doesn't mean my light is broken
or doesn't work.  It doesn't mean I have no light at all.  Maybe it's too bright for this room or not 
bright enough.  Or shining the wrong color or too many colors or not enough color.  Or maybe 
that room just isn't looking for any more stars right now.  Find where my light shines best.  

Find where my kind of star is needed to light up a room.  Those are my people.  Maybe my 
people is one person.  Maybe that one person is me.  Start there.

Screw it, I'm going to talk about Zoloft and Wellbutrin today.  I've tried writing some posts about 
something other than the pretty; Tagg's hospitalizations last year and how they've affected our 
family as a whole and individually, an update on our house/move, why I dropped off the face 
of the earth last fall, how I'm adjusting to my baby in kindergarten, our new dog, etc. but every 
time I go to write I get stuck.  My mind and hands literally levitate off the keyboard and a sense 
of calm washes over me.  Eh, don't worry about that-it's all good-you don't need to think about 
that actually echos in my brain and I get back to looking at what dress I want to buy for Easter 
or whats left on my to-do list.  Maybe it's a sign that I should talk about that-how that calm 
feeling came to be and why taking anti-depressents are the best decision for me right now 
and they've helped me to be in a really good place.

In 2010, I miscarried and then a few months later I got pregnant again.  That pregnancy was 
wonderful. I had a really great and healthy pregnancy but I held myself back from being too 
excited or thinking about it being real because I knew it could all disappear.  My OB 
scheduled a C-Section but the baby came early!  M was out of town, my bags weren't 
packed, and my best friend had to drive me to the hospital.  Thankfully he made it back 
at the 11th hour and they let him in the operating room in time to see them pull her out 
and show her off to me for one of those upside down face to face pictures.  That was 

just after midnight and I didn't get to see my baby again until morning when they brought 
her in under the incubator lights for jaundice and told me I couldn't hold her except to feed.  
Then the pediatrician came in to tell us that she was 99% sure that the baby had a cranial 
deformity and we'd need to see a neurologist.  WTF.  At seven weeks old she had her first 
cranial reconstruction surgery at MUSC for Craniosynostosis and they sent us home with 
springs holding her skull open and a helmet for protection.  Six months later she underwent 
another surgery to remove them and sew her skin back together.  A year later I had another 
baby and I suddenly felt completely overwhelmed and unprepared for caring for these 
two children.

Looking back now, I never really felt any symptoms of postpartum depression after my first 
child was born despite her medical issues and the intense world change after having a baby, 
but with my second child it happened immediately.  The day I came home from the hospital 
with him I was convinced I had a blood clot in my leg that would kill me-of course from a 
complication from my c-section.  I spent 24 hours calling the OB's office, my nurse friends, 
and googling symptoms and survival rates.  It wasn't depression but what I now know is 
postpartum anxiety.  A few weeks later he rolled off the couch and I was convinced I had 

broken his neck.  When I carried him down the stairs I could picture myself accidentally 
throwing him or both of us down or dropping him-like from an arm spasm, not out of anger 
or wanting to hurt him.  I now know those were intrusive thoughts, part of OCD tied to 
anxiety.  As he grew and his needs grew bigger, specifically keeping him safe from food 
allergens, my OCD and anxiety grew as well.  I was constantly worried and overwhelmed.  
I checked labels over and over again, washed my hands religiously, refused certain foods 
in the house, spent countless hours on websites and forums looking to learn information 
or a secret clue to keep him safe, I dreaded taking him out of the house at all for fear I 
would accidentally contaminate him and cause an allergic reaction that I didn't feel 
prepared to handle.  He was sick a lot and every cough made my heart race.  Was is a 
cough or was he dying?  There was no in between in my head.  Fast forward just a few 
years; nebulizers, tonsil and adenoid removal, severe food and environmental allergy 
diagnosis, emergency department visits, hospitalizations, an asthma diagnosis, and the 
normal struggle of raising a three year old and a four year old had me feeling completely 
overwhelmed and isolated.

Things peaked on Halloween night 2016 when I thought I was dying.  I had chest pains, I 
couldn't breathe, my heart was racing, I was clay, my hands were numb, I couldn't control 
my leg and it was shaking, I felt an impending doom and knewI was having a heart attack 
or an aneurysm from a blood clot.  M called 911 and I left for the emergency room in an
ambulance.  I begged them to drive faster the entire way there.  My heart rate was over 
150 when my normal is super low, like 90/70.  This was no joke.  Obviously, I didn't die 
that night but it happened again about 10 days later only this time I was convinced I had 

developed an anaphylactic allergy to diary and had M drive me to the Hospital where I 
begged a non-convinced physician to give me epinephrine so I wouldn't die.  Obviously, 
I didn't die that night either.  What I experienced were panic attacks.

In addition to the tests they ran in the Emergency Departments, I followed up with a 
physician for a full medical work up which all concluded that I was healthy as a horse.  
Whew.  That was news to me.  I began taking a small dose of Zoloft to help with the 
Anxiety and OCD I had been experiencing.  (I had no clue I had anxiety or OCD at the time).

So like I said, I started on 50mg Zoloft and over the course of a year worked up to 125mg 
where I still am today.  This was the first time I had ever taken an anti-depressant and I totally 
got lots of side effects that lasted about two weeks.  I was a exhausted in a way I've never been 
before or since and slept almost non-stop for two weeks.  I felt like I was on drugs.  I can't say 
that I hated it, I just went with it and enjoyed the high.  I felt floaty and in my head, and would 
get these peaks of adrenaline that if I rolled with, felt amazing but scary if I resisted.  I felt hugely 
emotional and fragile.  I found a completely random song in my iTunes that calmed me down 
and I listened to it with earbuds on repeat around the clock.  To this day, when M sees me with 
earbuds in he asks if I'm okay.  A reader sent me a podcast of a pastor describing his own Panic 
Attacks that I would lay in bed and listen to over and over again.  (sadly, its not available anymore) 
Another reader reached out and asked if she could call me because she knew what I was going 
through and hearing a real persons voice is a lifeline.  I had a few more waves of panic over the 
next few weeks that would hit me out of nowhere like a wave of heat similar to when you get the 
spins and leave me feeling scared and worried.

I learned to breathe through it. To poke the bear. To hug my children and breathe slowly. To get on 
the floor and stretch over my knees so my head was below my heart.  I continued to see my doctor.  
I started doing yoga and quit caffeine and alcohol for a time.  I read and listened to as much as I 
could find on depression, anxiety, panic, insomnia, OCD.  I started seeing a life coach and began 
to allow myself to be okay with not being able to handle it all.

Then, about a year ago Tagg almost died.  Twice.  Two times in two weeks I saw my baby unable 
to breathe and his body shutting down.  This is no exaggeration on my part.  He was rushed from 
one emergency room department to the PICU at a larger hospital by a Pediatric Intensive Transport 
Unit after a severe asthma attack that did not respond to albuterol or traditional treatment.  Less than 
two weeks later he was back because of an anaphylactic reaction to cashew.  Previously his allergy 
was to dairy, egg, and peanut.  You can read more about that here.  I have yet been able to finish a post 
on The Asthma Incident.  Maybe one day I'll be ready to tell that story.  To say the two incidents above 
were traumatizing is an understatement.  But because there is little to be read on Moms who might have 
PTSD after watching something really shitty happen to their kid I was blissfully unaware that I was living 
in any state other than Planet Thank Your Lucky Stars And Be Grateful He Didn't Die.

Depression doesn't hit me like it does in the commercials.  I don't get sad and I don't have trouble 
getting out of bed.  I don't feel hopeless or lose interest in the things that I used to enjoy.  You want 
to know why?  Because depression tricks you into thinking that the only reason you accomplished 
nothing more than getting the kids to school was because you are lazy and incapable of being productive 
like normal people.  Because you are not normal and you don't have value and the world is probably 
happy you didn't show up pretending like you matter.  So you stop showing up.  See what happens there?
Depression lies.  Tears and sadness might be easier to identify than a slow numbing of yourself.

Like I said earlier, I continue to see a physician on a regular basis to monitor my physical and 
mental health but last August I had to squeeze in a quick appointment to get a refill on Zoloft before 
I ran out and the only available slot was with a PA.  I don't know what it was about me that made 
her hesitate after we were done and ask if there was anything else I wanted to talk about and I 
don't know what it was about her that made me blurt out "I think I'm depressed" but she did and I
did and it changed my life.  On her suggestion, I started taking Wellbutrin along with Zoloft.  

Wellbutrin for depression and Zoloft for OCD and Anxiety.  I'm quite the cocktail :) I didn't 

experience any negative side effects this time around.  But its has completely lifted my depression 
and helped to squash my ADD.  I am able to be productive and focus for the first time, maybe ever, 
and be proud of what I've accomplished  and not afraid of what I didn't.

These are not miracle drugs, and they don't take away anxiety or sadness.  I'm not numb to feelings 
or emotions but there is a steady and constant grounding that wasn't there before.  For example, 
when Tagg coughs, my first thought is still ohmygod is he dying? but almost immediately the rational 
voice in my head takes over, No, he's fine. and I'm able to calmly asses the situation.  I no longer need 
to look for validation from others because I am truly able to find happiness in myself.

I realize this was long and wordy and really had no clear point but I don't want to over think it or go 
back and delete it.  See, I still have to do the work, a miracle drug wouldn't have let me stall all morning 
to push publish ;). I'm not an expert or a professional, this is just my story and I guess I just wanted to 
say that if you're on anti-depressants or suffer from mental health issues or recognize some of yourself 
in my words, you are not alone and there is no shame in talking about it or getting help.  I'm here for you
 if you ever want to reach out

Depression and Suicide doesn’t discriminate. If you ever find yourself feeling alone or unable to 
manage your life I want you to know that you can always contact me — I’m here and I care — 
and if you are thinking about or googling ways to kill yourself — 
the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline number is 1-800-273-8255 and the 
Crisis Text Line is 741741. #mentalhealthawareness — I know asking for help is an almost 
impossible task when you really need it. Find a therapist. If you know someone who is 
suffering offer to find them a therapist and drive them to that first appointment. 

Remember, those who need the most help are usually the least likely to ask for it.


  1. Wow - I can hardly imagine what you have gone through with your babies. The day to day stress related to a serious food allergy must be exhausting. I appreciate you being so open and honest with where you have been and that you have found a solution that works for you. Thank you for sharing.

  2. Julia-I stumbled upon your blog today. I really relate to all that you’ve shared. I feel like you are reliving my early days of marriage and parenting. Been there. Had the miscarriages, the stress the doubt....and diagnosed with RA , grief after suddenly losing my mother was what led me to anti depressants. I was so relieved that they had a positive effect for me. I remember wishing that I had started taking them when I was 13–I feel like I would’ve had a much better life. I have been taking them for the past 12 years. Tried to do without them once, not a good idea. My children are older now. I have been reflecting, trying to figure out why I still feel uneasy all the time. Like you, I am very creative, smart...I feel like I have what it takes to do whatever I set my mind to. I troll Pinterest daily . Hit all my favorite blogs and make list after list of all my cool ideas. Yet, here I am,standing still while all these other creatives are out there living my life. The life I wanted. I never considered that wat I might need is a good life coach. So thank you for that. Going life coach shopping tomorrow


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