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| By Wellvyl Media Editorial

Anthony Bourdain and Kate Spade, how their suicides taught me about speaking out on mental health issues as a fitness professional

In the morning of Kate Spade’s death, I woke up unusually late and the first thing I did was check my Instagram feed for daily motivation. I stumbled on a quote, “Check your strong friend” and I suddenly felt insignificant. I wished more of my friends could check up on me every once in a while.  Not saying that this is a job requirement for them to do this, but I do often think that they could at least once in a while call and/or text to see if I am alright. I am human. It means so much for me to get more hugs, some form of thoughtful communication on a daily basis. Like damn, what happened to my friends? Then again, I could have done better communicating too.  After all, it’s a two-way street.

My story is not unique. For me, I was amazingly close to my grandparents before they died. When I lost my grandfather a month before Christmas last year, I fell into a mournful, hopeless pit of despair once again. What makes matters worse is, I was a personal trainer at a top-notch gym. Fitness is an industry where personal trainers are discouraged to talk about politics, religion, sexuality and basically anything that would deviate the conversation away from training. However, I am also a hypersensitive photographer, whose grandfather was a portrait photographer back in Nigeria.

Long story short, I’ve done a lot of amazing things, but I am also flawed.  Sometimes, I keep a lot bottled up and remind myself that “this too shall pass” for my high levels of stress and anxiety often comes back to haunt me. Frankly, there are lots of people in the fitness and wellness industry that can relate. This week showed me how depression, anxiety and suicidal thoughts do not care how much money you have or your successful career. Age, sexual orientation, and education or class are also not spared. Anthony Bourdain and Kate Spade have dream jobs most people would kill for, but suicide prevailed; they both left behind daughters, families and millions and millions of avid followers.

We don’t get to exempt a top fashion designer and a man who got to travel all over the world while eating worldly cuisines as a career from the jaws of mental health issues; they are people. It’s a huge problem to think how some people strongly feel people would look down on them if they admit if they are struggling with depression. It’s a problem to think that depression is a temporary thing, something fleeing, never to come back again, so why bother sharing? When you see someone who needs help, is there, listens to their cries for help, you can truly save a life. Little things really make an experience monumental. At the end of the day, we truly don’t know what is truly going on with a person, despite how much attention they get. Mental illness and mental issues are ongoing situations, but there are several solutions I personally vouch for and also stray away from.

For example, I find that suicide hotlines, from experience, can be a bit triggering and generic in questions; not to be replaced with being a supportive friend to a loved one with depression and anxiety.  Spending much time on social media impacts our mental health, especially when comparing our lives to others. If anything, stop focusing a lot of time in front of the screens and seek out social events, nature, and virtually an outlet and/or community to spend your time with.

All in all, never forget that you are worth it and don’t forget that someone does care about you.


More stories about mental health here.

Stories for the soul in search here.