The news of Kate Spade’s death by suicide saddened me for days.  Then came the account of Anthony Bourdain’s death by the same cause and my sorrow intensified.  Two incredibly talented and accomplished stars were gone from the planet forever.  The loss of their brightness cast a long shadow across my internal landscape.

Several years ago I discovered this green Kate Spade bag at a consignment shop. It has flourished in my bag collection. I have enjoyed the bright color, size, and shape of its high quality leather. I suspect it will always be with me.  This piece of art now has more significance for me, as I realize that its creator will no longer design beauty to be shared by many.

I spent most of my adult life working in the area of emergency mental health.  Most of the people that I saw were either suicidal or floridly psychotic. Their pain and trauma were palpable and the countless stories of their circumstances and their struggles remain with me today.  It was an honor to be present with them during their most intense moment of crisis and attempt to sooth and calm the waters of anguish.  It was a calling of sorts. Creating rapport with someone in distress involves an element of creativity similar to the process of creating an ensemble.

I learned that following through with an act of self-destruction indicated extreme pain and at times self loathing. There are so many factors involved. Judging the actions of someone in pain was not a consideration.  Empathy was my guide. The lack of mental health services and the stigma that comes with a psychiatric diagnosis are barriers to healing.  There are many advocates for those who suffer from depression and other forms of brain disease, but I don’t see policy changing in the near future. A first step would be to create parity in the areas of prevention, detection and treatment for brain diseases such as major depression, bipolar disorder and addiction; which would mirror our collective behavior with diseases such as cancer and heart disease. It’s difficult to feel hopeful. Perhaps the best I can do is create peace within, and encourage other to do so as well.

Photos By Daniel

Floral headband by Louise Green Millinery HERE, vintage floral maxi dress – flea market, vintage earrings and bangles – estate sales.


  1. Judith…you radiate beauty and to hear the words of wisdom and emphathy from your colorful and smiling pictures is inspiring….like being in a garden getting wisdom from the color and beauty there. Keep showing up in your gifted way…from fashion and beauty. Continue to use that light to shine on the darker parts of life….illness, depression, death…all part of the cycle. Shine on, beauty!

  2. Thank you for talking about that which it is difficult for people to look at, and yet affects so many of us. AND, thank you for showing us beauty is not tied to any age, and we can have fun, and take pride in our appearance AND BE CREATIVE no matter our age! I lOVE the colors in these photos and you look BEAUTIFUL!

  3. A wonderful sentiment from the commentator above, and so aptly stated – I couldn’t agree more about the spirit of your writing and photos.

  4. Thank you for aharing your insihgts and wisdom in this post, Judith. We need more people to advocate for those who can’t

  5. I know I was sadden also and never owned a bag of hers or anything else for that matter!I had never heard of the traveling chef!!!
    Sad how success is Not enough and this World of ours just keeps on getting harder to bear.
    I hate the lack of manners and how people say things they never mean.I think it will take another World War for any kind of change to start..She was a Beauty with Flair and am certain she will be missed.Sounds like he was well loved too.

  6. We are in Africa meeting with several tribes. They hunt with bows and arrows, sleep in huts, take care of each other. They want for nothing as they say. They have been the most joyous people we have ever met. They sing when they work to pound corn into flour. We ask them if the are happy, they all say yes. We ask them what is the most favorite part of their lives, the reply “good health”. We all have something to learn here.

  7. I saw a pop star on a (US) talk show who apparently had gone through a mental crisis for some time. He had chosen to speak about it publicly, to try and break the silence around this subject. Big cheers to him.
    I agree you cannot judge people who suffer from it, their mind works so differently. Empathy, as you say, is the way to go.
    I applaud you for having chosen this career. I was advised to study psychology when I left highschool but I deliberately did not. I knew that the stories of the patients would destroy me. I cannot shield myself, I would have taken everything home with me. That would not only have done me in, but it would also have made me a lousy helper. Luckily there are people like you as well.
    PS, very nice new blog appearance you’ve got. Only.. can you fix the comment plug-in in a way that I don’t have to type my details every time I comment? Thanks.

  8. Totally forgot to say that this dress and the fascinator look terrific on you. But you always do.

  9. I apologize for my English, but I understand more in speech, I’m lost in writing … I admire bloa and I love the look and dress, color, nature, creating fashion or other interests can give joy, and in cases of damaged brain need joy it is she who gives meaning to life. I admire this beautiful storytelling and thoughts.

  10. thank you so much for your kind heart and bright beautiful smile. You bring beauty. joy and peace with your deep, kind words. I adore your amazing talent and striking beauty.

  11. Judith, so beautifully expressed, as always. It’s a special gift to be able to give comfort to the mentally ill.
    I too, was profoundly affected by the loss of those 2 creative souls. Thanks for sharing your insights and empathies. Having been surrounded by multiple suicides in my own family, I’m keenly aware of the thin edge that sometimes separates hope from despair. Your artistry exists in many forms. Visually through your ensembles and well as emotionally, through your tender soul and spirit. XOX

  12. Great sadness at the loss of these two talented, beautiful people. Thank you for being a helper.
    You look beautiful in today’s bright colours and flowers.

  13. It is true that our society does so little to help those with mental health issues. My youngest sister is schizophrenic and spent much of her life on the streets due to lack of aid for both her and my parents. It was beyond difficult and worse than anything I could imagine. Thankfully now she is in a group home.

    Your words touched me. I only wish there were more positions available for people like you here in Canada to help those in need.

  14. thank you for your beautiful comments…my daughter is bipolar and refuses to seek help due to not wanting that diagnosis to hinder her future. It’s such a struggle.

  15. I am enlightened by your words that creating rapport requires an element of creativity. Yes, I can now see how it would and I can see how you would be very good in your profession. The deaths were a shock. Yes. This is a beautiful post in every sense.

  16. Having suffered from depression since I was a teenager, any time I hear of someone committing suicide, my heart aches for them and their family as I know what it is like to reach a point in your life where the pain and despair leads you to believe there is no other way out. Anthony Bourdain’s death hit me especially hard as he seemed like someone who embraced everything life could offer, but in the end, it wasn’t enough.
    Services for the mentally ill are woefully lacking – I see it in my neighbourhood where the sidewalks are home to many people struggling with addiction and illness. You are correct when you point out that things would be better if as much money and time was spent on prevention and treatment of mental illness as is spent on cancer and heart disease.

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