I bought my first Kate Spade purse in 1993. I was 23. It was a big deal! Her brand captured my imagination. I loved the splash of color inside the clean black nylon sophistication. I still have this purse.
I didn’t know Kate Spade personally. Like many of us, I experienced her through her unique brand. She gave people permission to experience bold color. She created fun and variety in what otherwise felt like a dull, dark and stale industry. As her brand grew, the color seemed to overshadow the black framework of my original purse. It became too colorful, missing a level of integration I felt it had in its original creation, but I still admired her.
As I experience this tragic loss and hold space for the darkness to be witnessed, I can’t help but reflect on this fragile human condition. The spectrum of depression: what can be done and what I have witnessed with my clients and friends who have committed suicide.
Suicide - most people are lost on how to be with it, understand it or speak about it. Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in America. It is time we bring ourselves meaningfully to this reality.
The insurmountable suffering which goes into planning suicide is painstaking. I think most people assume it was impulsive, a weakness in character. I believe this thinking is unhelpful and seriously flawed.
I think back to the jumpers on 9/11. The jumpers were engulfed in flames, taking life into their hands, and determining their last moments. Most people hold compassion and horror for the jumpers. I know I have spent time wondering into the unimaginable question, would I have jumped?
I don’t think it is any different for people who suffer from the internal flames of a violent mood disorder. The person is being devoured by flames. We may not see the flames but that isn’t to say the flames are not there. I am reminded of The Scream painting by Edvard Munch. My symptoms are screaming, the landscape, the sky, and the fields warp into this distorted scream but the passersby on the bridge are unaffected. An important investigation for us all to undertake, where, if anywhere, are you being a passerby with someone needing to be heard or seen? What is one action you can take today to extend connection?
Humans need connection, otherwise we contract, withdraw and die. People suffering need a safe space to touch their darkness, share it and be seen. If we as individuals or as a society can’t open the door for the darkness to be aired, the darkness will tangle us by suffocating out all color.
My first experience with suicide happened when I was 8. My father’s two best friends killed themselves in the same year. Financial stress drove both suicides. They thought suicide would leave their families better off. Their suicides were planned extensively in detail. My friends or clients who have taken their life had this one thing in common, it was planned. Some had spent enormous amounts of time planning it, envisioning the experience. Photos were found on a client’s camera of the crime scene staged prior to the suicide happening.
I have worked decades to better under the human conditions, to invite all that is hidden and to judge nothing. I have had to learn to untangle myself from suicide many times. Helping people acknowledge their darkness, compassionately engage the despair in ways which support meaningful connection offers a gentle hand in the journey of humanity. A new paradigm of understanding regarding the healing of despair needs to be thoughtfully engaged by us as individuals and collectively as a society.
I want to remember Kate Spade. People work to forget. I want to remember how to hold darkness in resourceful ways which support color. I want to remember people can be devoured by too much of anything. Remembering is critical if we want to grow, expand and learn. Remembering allows us to hold compassionate space for the suffering and create space for the new. I am saddened by the tragic loss of Kate Spade, I will remember.
Angela McKinney is a national mindset coach, trauma expert and mental health advocate. Her methodology of Untangling provides relief for people who want skills to access freedom. She offers a Masterclass on how to Untangle Psychological Blocks & Launch Life Forward, click here to access the Masterclass
In addition to offering one-on-one coaching intensives and online group programs, Angela partners with medical directors and psychiatrists to build Home programs for individuals recovering from addiction, life changes, and trauma.
Angela’s personal story of evolution has taken her from barely surviving to excelling. She was trapped earning $11 an hour cleaning houses, being suicidal, addicted to self-harm, food, drugs, and alcohol. She found herself living in perpetual traumatic relationships and circumstances. Now she has a thriving business, 20 years in recovery, a meaningful marriage, trauma-free relationships and is a loving mother of 2 wonderful boys!
Angela has been seen in Rolling Stone, CBS, The New York Times and The Fix.