Another wealthy and famous person is dead from suicide. How much depression or Kate Spade’s mental health played a part is speculative until those closest to her decide whether and how much they want to discuss it. And how much they knew. Someone with depression can be an expert at appearing fine.
She was Emeritus Chair on the Board of Directors for the New York Center for Children, which is devoted to the treatment and prevention of child abuse. I don’t know what her connection was to that issue, whether it was an invitation from a friend, because she was a mother, or out of her experience or that of someone close to her.
The connection between child abuse and mental health is something I’ve spent the past few years thinking about and exploring. Those of us who were abused as children experience depression and C-PTSD. I still startle easily, struggle with sleep and hypervigilance, and have flashbacks. It’s why I’ve written about it and will continue to do so. I’m putting together an outline for my own recovery that I hope will help others. It’s part of why nearly all of my writing, including my novels, are roadmaps to emotional recovery.
“Having it all” doesn’t inoculate you from depression. The most maddening tweets I’ve read in the past couple of hours since the news of Kate Spade’s suicide broke are the ones who declare that she was “selfish.” She was not selfish; she was in pain. If you want to remember her, consider donating to a charity with a mission to treat and prevent child abuse or suicide.
If you’re dealing with the fallout from child abuse, there’s help available. Pete Walker’s book Complex PTSD and its workbook, and Bessel van der Kolk’s The Body Keeps the Score are a good start. There are groups such as Survivors of Incest Anonymous and RAINN. There are trauma therapists who can use various modalities. Check out the medical side with a compassionate psychiatrist. Do your due diligence about therapists, doctors, and groups. Just as pedophiles seek work around children, emotional predators find ways to access abuse survivors.
If I can heal, so can you.
Please send this on if you know of anyone suffering from the fallout of child abuse. Thank you.
Easter reference intended. I finished a draft of my memoir and it’s out to beta readers (think beta testers) until my editor is ready the end of June. Beta readers offer general feedback so you get an idea whether the book works and to what degree. The next phase is rewriting, which I generally enjoy because there’s already a structure. When I gave notes to a new screenwriter recently, I warned them that when you change one story element, you’re changing the story. Changes reverberate through the text so you need to be mindful of what other changes may be indicated. Even though writing is a solitary thing, writing shouldn’t be. Get feedback. Find out what you have before throwing it out into the world.
At the moment, I’m in Chicago watching the snow fall. It’s pretty, but I’m in the minority since it’s April. Snow is still new for me. Chicagoans are over it. I do miss the Pacific Ocean – it’s made it’s way into my dreams….
Annual repost and part of Project 2996
Robert Halligan Profile published in THE NEW YORK TIMES on November 15, 2001.
- Robert Halligan, Age: 59
Residence: Basking Ridge, NJ
Two WTC, 99th Floor
Aon Corporation, Vice President
SHOPPING ACROSS THE POND
To a proud Englishman, America is a country of vexing insufficiencies. Its supermarkets know not of H.P. (House of Parliament) sauce and tins of steak and kidney pie. Marmite, sadly, remains a mystery.
Several times a year, London-born Robert Halligan, 59, a vice president at Aon, an insurance brokerage firm, would cross the pond to stock up on such indelicacies. He would cheer on his beloved Tottenham Hotspurs, visit his sprawling family, including five adult children, and drop by a specialty shop to add to the locomotive steam engine models he had been collecting since his trainspotting boyhood. Every weekend he brought the old country to his wife, Jerrie, and their son, Trevor, in Basking Ridge, N.J., by cooking a lard-loving British breakfast (sloppy bacon, fried bread, eggs splashed with grease) and Sunday lunch (roast, two vegetables, potatoes, Yorkshire pudding).
Yet for someone who clung to his British identity, Mr. Halligan flourished in America, where he moved with Jerri, his American wife. He gardened here, played golf and danced beautifully. He was a kind, solicitous grandfather of 10 with a knack for joke- telling. And here he celebrated the holiday he loved even more than Christmas: as a citizen of two countries, Robert Halligan adored Thanksgiving.
Ehtesham U. Raja of Clifton, NJ was 28 years old when he died in the World Trade Center. He’d gone there for a conference and was in Windows on the World. He was a 1996 graduate of The Fu Foundation School of Engineering and Applied Science at Columbia. He had his MBA from Goizueta Business School at Emory. His nickname: Shamu, from his friends in Pakistan.
His parents, Raja Aftab Saeed and Begum Asmat Fatima, donated the land for the Arifwala Hospital, a 40-bed facility, fully equipped with diagnostic and curative services, inaugurated on January 19th, 2009. The hospital is dedicated to their son, Raja Ehtesham Ullah, who lost his life on 9/11. All medical equipment was funded by LRBT America. We have also pledged to fund the hospital’s annual operating budget. (note: the hospital is in Pakistan and fights blindness)
From the Emory Goizueta Memorial site (Ehtesham Raja ’98MBA):
“He was a very kind, caring, compassionate, loving, and intelligent person,” says his mother, Asmat Fatima. “He was respected and admired by those who knew him. His talent and sense of humor made him standout in any crowd. But it was his loving and caring attitude that always made me proud.”
Raja, born in Lahore, Pakistan, worked for TCG Software in Bloomfield, N.J. After graduating with a bachelor of science in industrial engineering from Columbia University in New York City, he worked as a security engineer at Citibank on Wall Street, then, according to his Goizueta Business School application, he returned to Pakistan to work for Citibank Lahore, take the GMAT, and apply to business school.
“He was in the best years of his life,” says Fatima. “Everything seems to be going in his favour. After years of dedication and hard work he finally achieved this status. He had all the plans to pursue his career in finance. He was full of hope for his future.”
Raja also enjoyed sports. He was a swimmer and played cricket, squash, soccer, tennis, and polo while at Columbia.
A memorial service was arranged by TCG Software. “They were proud to have him working for them,” his mother says.
“It is still very hard to believe that he is missing and lost forever,” she continues. “I have to be emotionally strong as Ehtesham has a younger brother, who is at a very impressionable age.
“[Ehtesham] knew life and lived life. His time was limited but in that time he touched so many people. . . . May peace be with him now and forever. He will stay in our hearts and memories forever.”
Rest in peace, Mr. Halligan and Mr. Raja. Never Forget.
3 years ago. He’s helped so many of us with depression, etc.
When I was in grad school, Marcos McPeek Villatoro gave an amazing lecture on mental illness and creativity that I wish had been recorded. He’s talked about his own diagnosis on NPR. The room filled and soon overflowed and that was the moment I discovered that most of the people around me either had a mental illness or a family member with it. Quiet, hard-working creative people coping with various storms in their brains or those of a parent, sibling, child, or partner. My mother suffered from depression and, while I was a teenager, Valium addiction. I grew up with her threats of suicide, was the one who attended the family support group at the “pain center” (back then, a…
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The essence of my memoir in poetry.
Mother of All Bombs
flesh from bone
my life or theirs.
to a family intact
shake the feeling
that in an
it could all
By Noriko Nakada
Noriko Nakada writes, blogs, tweets, parents, and teaches middle school in Los Angeles. She is committed to writing thought-provoking creative non-fiction, fiction, and poetry. Publications include two book-length memoirs: Through Eyes Like Mine and Overdue Apologies, and excerpts, essays, and poetry in Lady Liberty Lit, Catapult, Meridian, Compose, Thread, Hippocampus, The Rising Phoenix Review, and Linden Avenue.
Happy to announce that The Green Bench is Short of the Week on the LA Shorts Fest site and a Staff Pick.
If you have not had a chance to see it, you’ve got one week before it goes back behind the password curtain! We have more festivals to hear from this year before we make it freely available.
Hearing from a lot of writers that they’ve had trouble working with all the political stuff going on. I have gotten to the point of shutting a lot of it out so that I can focus. I’m not saying it’s good or bad – it’s what works for me at the moment. I am making progress (at long last) on the memoir and kind of holing up, hoping to finish soon. Thankfully, I turned the corner from the pain of writing about trauma into crafting the narrative and writing is getting fun again as I gain space between memory and text. Whew! If you want to help me, please consider donating to my Patreon site.