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Discuss: Life, Death, and Why It’s Never Hopeless

After much reflection, I’ve decided to talk about my struggle with depression and suicide, and how I cope.  I have not made this decision lightly. This topic brings up powerful emotions, so I provided this preface so that those who don’t want to read further aren’t surprised.

I chose to write this post to raise money for the Jacob Wheeler Foundation (501c3).  Jacob’s mother, Lisa, is a valued mentor and friend.  To honor her son’s life, the foundation provides support services and awareness in a community that desperately needs both.  If you can spare $5, $10, or $20, I would be humbled and grateful for your support.

***

In the spring of 2001, I walked out of my college dorm intending to take my own life.  I remember the fresh smell of a sunny, spring day.  It had been bleak and rainy all winter, and on the day I decided would be my last, the weather was beautiful.  Typical.

I had a tumultuous childhood in a hometown where I never felt like I belonged, so going to college was my long-awaited salvation.  But I was doing poorly in school, social anxiety made going to parties and activities almost impossible, and I struggled to cope with the humiliating and heartbreaking demise of an intense relationship.

Every day was a new failure.  Things felt hopeless.  I saw no other way out.

But then, I lived.

In the weeks after, I didn’t know what to do next.  I was supposed to be dead; I hadn’t made future plans.  So I stayed busy.  Fake it, til you make it.  It was the only thing that made sense.  And little by little, things got better.

I have never again thought of taking my own life.  But that doesn’t mean that outrunning “the black dog” is easy.

The past year was very difficult.  When I left D.C., I lost a huge part of my identity.  Law school is a humbling experience.  Living so far from my friends, and spending most of my time alone is difficult.  And after a devastating heartbreak, most days, I cry at the drop of a hat.

I have rarely discussed this with anyone.  But we’re all so quick to revel in our successes and showcase our joys, that it looks like everyone else’s life is so effortless (especially when you’re reading blogs and following social media).  I felt it was important to talk about something real, so we don’t confuse living a life that looks good on the outside with one that feels good on the inside.

61 million Americans suffer from mental illness, and suicide is the second leading cause of death for teens and adults.  So even when it feels like you’re completely alone in your struggle, you’re actually surrounded.  And you’re in pretty good company.

At the risk of sounding like a fortune cookie, no one has all the answers, most people don’t even know the right questions.  But I’ve grown a lot in the last 12 months, and this is how I cope when life isn’t feeling generous.

***

I do one thing at a time, one day at a time.  I make lists and cross things off.  When I feel like I can’t do anything, I do the bare minimum.  I don’t judge myself for it.  Then, the next day, I do the minimum plus one thing.

When I don’t know what to do next, I clean something.  It gives me a sense of accomplishment.  My apartment, car, and closets are spotless.

I find things to look forward to.  The future seems much less daunting when there’s something good on the horizon.  Maybe it’s a donut after work.  Maybe it’s an upcoming trip.  Maybe it’s the hot 3L who walks back from the gym shirtless.  Literally anything will do.

I will fail.  I will try again.  I may fail again.  But I will fail better.

I am honest with myself.  I try to be honest with others.  Sometimes people don’t believe the truth, that doesn’t make it less true.

Some people don’t like honesty as much as they think, but that doesn’t mean they don’t need it.  Sometimes the person in need is you.  Sometimes it’s me.

When it’s serious, I pinky swear.  Living life by a six year old’s rules is the only way to remember why promises are important.

I try to have perspective and be grateful.  I give money to charity.  It’s better off with them than hanging in my closet.

I cry when I need to.  I buy the expensive Kleenex.  You’re never too poor to wipe your tears with the fluffy stuff.

I try to define my life by who is in it, not who is absent from it.  I forget this 100x a day.  I hope that tomorrow I only forget 99x.

I believe in love. I tell myself that what is meant for me will not pass me by.  When that fails, I blast the radio loud enough to drown out my thoughts.  Adele always understands.

I remind myself that tomorrow will be better.  If it isn’t, I just eat another donut and make a new list.

I try to listen to my intuition.  If my heart keeps leading me somewhere, I follow it.  I don’t get caught up in what I’m supposed to do, who I’m supposed to be, or what is expected of me.

I see no point in regret.  Figure out what you would’ve done differently and make peace with it.  Going forward is about next time, not last time.  Last time’s gone.

I set goals.  I dream big.  Real big.  Too BIG.  Dreams come true if you work at them instead of wishing for them.  So don’t dream small, you’re better than small.

And if tomorrow, I wake up and this day-to-day life is no longer what is best for me, that’s okay.  I’ll build a different life for myself.  I’ve done it before.  It’s not easy, but it’s easier than feeling trapped.

I Google the rental price of a cabin on a lake in Montana.  Because when all else fails, there’s always Montana.

And above all, I remind myself that as long as there is breath in my body, it is never hopeless.  So I get up tomorrow and I do it all again.  Because the ability to go on living is a privilege denied to many.

Please donate to the Jacob Wheeler Foundation. And if you’re struggling to cope with depression, mental illness or thoughts of suicide, visit NAMI.org to find support services.

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    124 comments

  1. Sofie says:

    This is great to read. I have heard so many people struggle lately with internal setbacks, and how upsetting it is to compare their reality to what they see from others publicly and on social media. Thanks for putting this in a public place so that we can remember that if we struggle we are not alone.

    I’m sorry to hear about your experience with depression. I hope each day brings you more joy than the last one!

    June 26, 2015/Reply
  2. Ann says:

    As someone who also suffers from depression, I deeply appreciate the honesty and courage in this post – bravo Belle! Unless we talk about it openly, mental illness will continue to have a stigma…which confounds me. We should not treat illnesses below the neck as one thing, and above the neck as another. An illness is an illness, period.

    June 26, 2015/Reply
    • Sarah says:

      To reiterate what Ann said above, as someone who has suffered anxiety and depression for nearly 10 years now, it means so much to have someone be so open and REAL about it. I completely agree with Anne that an illness is an illness and mental illness should not be considered separate from others. Countless individuals in this world suffer from some type of mental illness and they deserve the love & support of those around them just as much. Cheers to you Belle! Sending you lots of good vibes today and always!

      June 30, 2015/Reply
  3. KL says:

    Thank you for having the courage to talk about this topic, Belle. I have a pretty perfect life right now–a loving partner, close friends, and financial freedom to live an upper-middle class lifestyle–but I have struggled for as long as I can remember with suicidal ideation. I’ve never come close to acting on it, probably because I’ve been lucky enough to avoid major depression, yet the thoughts are always lingering, waiting for the stressful moments. So thank you too for the reminder that life is always worth an active decision to keep living.

    June 26, 2015/Reply
  4. Mere says:

    Thank you for sharing your struggles and embracing the human condition. We all struggle but we also all have the opportunity to thrive! Good luck in the future and keep your head up!

    June 26, 2015/Reply
  5. Lisa says:

    Thank you for such a beautiful, personal post.

    June 26, 2015/Reply
  6. Jenn S. says:

    Thank you for sharing, Belle. It’s hard to talk about these things, sometimes, and I think you’re in a place where you can encourage others not to be afraid (as much, at least) to talk, either.

    “I try to define my life by who is in it, not who is absent from it,” hit me pretty hard. It’s such a simple statement, but so true, and so damn hard to simply and gracefully accept.

    Hang in there.

    June 26, 2015/Reply
  7. Shannon says:

    Thank you so much for this. I have been struggling with low-level depression and anxiety ever since I had my kids. Sometimes I feel like everyone is functioning normally but me. It helps to remember that a lot of people are struggling even when they don’t look like they are. It takes a lot of courage to share those struggles with others. Thanks again.

    June 26, 2015/Reply
  8. Erika says:

    Thank you for your honesty and for sharing. I am a mother of 2 beautiful girls and I have suffered “closet” depression and suicidal thoughts since I was 13 and I’m terrified they will have the same problem. I too have my tools to keep me on the straight path…staying busy, crossing things off lists, volunteering perhaps manically, learning new hobbies. But it never goes away. Thank you for reminding “us” we are not alone. I’m so sorry you face these battles. Your blog is a bright spot that I have shared with my sisters and friends. It would be easy to think that behind your wonderful suggestions everything is calm and perfect. Misery does love company…but I’d rather no one had these problems. If I could I’d give you an enormous hug right now for lots of beautiful reasons. Thinking of you!

    June 26, 2015/Reply
  9. Monica says:

    I’ve been a CHS reader for a number of years now, and you are one of the only blogs I still read every day because honestly you keep shit real, so many other successful bloggers become “lifestyle” advertisers, selling a dream that most people cannot realize.

    I can only imagine the difficulty of baring your struggles on the internet where people can be so so…terrible. But for all the people who judge, you will have reached people who are struggling and who believe they are alone and the only ones feeling this way. Thank you for using your platform to throw someone who needs it a line, and reiterating, as sometimes needs to be, that even when things are the darkest they can get better.

    Thanks for sharing.

    June 26, 2015/Reply
    • Curvy CEO says:

      Monica – Off-topic but I totally agree about the “lifestyle bloggers” that are basically just catalogs for all of their sponsors.

      June 26, 2015/Reply
    • mkbrod2 says:

      Monica, I feel exactly the same way.

      So thank you Belle for keepin’ it real, in good times and bad! <3

      June 26, 2015/Reply
  10. Bianca says:

    Thank you for sharing, Belle. Very much needed.

    June 26, 2015/Reply
  11. Rachel says:

    Belle, this is such a beautifully honest post. Thank you.

    June 26, 2015/Reply
  12. Denise Christa says:

    “…talk about something real, so we don’t confuse living a life that looks good on the outside with one that feels good on the inside.”

    June 26, 2015/Reply
  13. Curvy CEO says:

    Thank you so much for sharing this; I know it was really difficult. After having spent many years in DC you know all to well how people only show you their very best at all times. It is a town that runs rampant in “humble bragging” – and all of this leads to people feeling like everyone has it together except them. You have some great strategies for dealing with the ups and (mostly) downs of law school life. I wish I had had that much perspective when I went to law school– one of the benefits of having gotten more life experience before heading to law school. Brava to you!! And I will definitely donate to this fund.

    June 26, 2015/Reply
  14. Christina says:

    This took such courage to share, and we’re all better for it. Thank you for your honesty and vulnerability. I echo Monica – yours is the only blog I still read everyday… Thanks for being a real, down-to-earth person. Your blog is a bright spot!

    June 26, 2015/Reply
  15. Sara says:

    Thanks for your bravery in sharing this so we all know that we’re not alone in our struggles and that, on our best days, we should be there for each other while, on our worst days, have the courage to be vulnerable. I’ve experienced some of the things that you write about here, like losing my identity when I had to leave DC and the utter sorrow of losing someone I loved. And I only have the capacity for one day at a time some days. I hope your future days will bring you joy and peace.

    June 26, 2015/Reply
  16. Eleni says:

    Your post brought tears to my eyes. Thank you for sharing your story. Your words are encouraging and inspiring.

    June 26, 2015/Reply
  17. J says:

    So glad you shared this. I have struggled with pretty severe anxiety my whole life but didn’t really understand that it wasn’t just my personality or just me being “type-A” until the escalation of my mother’s alcoholism coincided with my first semester of law school. Everything became too much and I finally realized that it wasn’t normal or healthy or OK to spend every day full of debilitating worry. I began treating my anxiety and six years later my life is different. Thank you for sharing your perspective and, by doing so, encouraging others to be open about their struggles.

    June 26, 2015/Reply
  18. Dakota says:

    Thank you for your bravery in sharing your struggles!

    June 26, 2015/Reply
  19. Emily says:

    Thank you for writing this. I just want you to know that reading your blog is something that I look forward to every weekday.

    June 26, 2015/Reply
  20. Marisa @ enigmarisa says:

    Thank you for your honesty and bravery in sharing. It’s a struggle that sometimes I forget and those days are wonderful. But there are some days that it doesn’t budge, won’t move, and all I can do is just crawl in a ball and lean against it. But always push myself the other direction, lean on others to help get me out of it. I love that it has become less taboo to talk about these things and nice to see someone that seems to have it so together struggles with the same demons I do. Thank you.

    June 26, 2015/Reply
  21. Milissa says:

    WOW! I would have NEVER guessed this about you…thank you for sharing! I, too, have tried to outrun this issue almost my whole life. I was 16 when I drove my car off of a very high cliff and hit the only tree on the way down. I’m a very alive 48 yo today..

    I’ve tried several times since then but when I learned how not to be so hard on myself, as you speak to in your post it became increasingly easier to live each day. I have children now which many days keeps me alive and to not be an example of a quitter to them!

    I admire your tenacity to follow your law school dream!! I have ALWAYS wanted to go. But from one survivor to the next may I say…this too shall pass….and you will be finished with a JD and on to your next adventure.. Thanks so much for this post!!

    June 26, 2015/Reply
  22. Meg says:

    Thank you for using your forum to be honest and open and real. We need more of that in this world.

    June 26, 2015/Reply
  23. Katie says:

    Belle,
    Thank you for this. I have followed CHS for about 3 yrs now and love it, I appreciate it even more after reading this article above. As someone who deals with depression as well, I understand the feelings you have expressed. I have not felt suicidal though I know anyone who says they have never thought their own death is simply not being honest with themselves. Most people around me would never know as I do everything I know how to be holistically healthy and take I take an antidepressant, try to be kind and loving to myself, use healthy coping skills…..nonetheless depression is a lonely place. I am a RN certified in mental health/psychiatric nursing and work in a mental health unit….. So many people struggle with this and not all find healthy coping mechanisms and support. Thank you for sharing this and being so open about it. It’s beautiful.

    Katie

    June 26, 2015/Reply
  24. Caryn says:

    I have been reading your blog for years but have never commented. In fact, I never comment on blog posts. But this post deserves it and more. Thank you for being open and honest in a world that too often hides behind pretty Instagram filters. I lost my step-brother in college to a drug overdose. We will never know whether it was intentional or not. It doesn’t matter. It’s a loss I’ll never fully recover. Mental health is a HUGE issue in this country that not enough people are talking about. I applaud you for using your platform in such a positive and vulnerable way. I admire your courage and honesty. It’s truly amazing.

    June 26, 2015/Reply
    • Amy says:

      I was going to say the same thing. I’ve never commented, but felt compelled to when I read this. Thank you for your honesty, Belle. It’s beautiful, and I have no doubt that there are so many readers who needed this today. Thank you for your bravery, your honesty, and your vulnerability. In the blogging world where everyone seems to have this perfect face put on for the world, realness and honesty go so, so far. Keeping you in my prayers. Thank you 🙂

      June 26, 2015/Reply
  25. Madeline says:

    So poignant and real. Thanks for sharing. It helps to know there are others out there going through the same thing. In addition to your list, I’ve found that nice office supplies help me (another little thing to focus on that makes me happy when I’m not). Also sleep. And sweet tea (I’m more of a southern belle). Keep up the good fight. Hope always wins.

    June 26, 2015/Reply
  26. AB says:

    Hi Belle – I absolutely love reading your blog, and it’s because you keep it real – with the gorgeous outfits that I end up trying to replicate, your honest and thought provoking posts, and just reading anecdotes about your life.
    I’m sorry to hear about your experience. Thank you for sharing this with us – it’s very inspiring.

    June 26, 2015/Reply
  27. juana says:

    Thank you so much for sharing your story with us. I wish we talked more openly about mental health and shared the tough stuff, not just the snapshots that show our “ideal” selves. You inspire me.

    June 26, 2015/Reply
  28. JL says:

    Thank you for sharing. I’m sure it wasn’t an easy decision. I’ve struggled with depression and anxiety for most of my life, and the three years in law school certainly didn’t help that. You’re right though: living is a privilege.

    June 26, 2015/Reply
  29. Karen says:

    While I have never met you in person, I respect your point of view and trust your character. This is a beautiful, vulnerable, honest post. Thank you for sharing and continuing to take steps forward. You have changed lives!

    June 26, 2015/Reply
  30. Kara says:

    In awe of your strength and courage. Thank you for being you, Belle!

    June 26, 2015/Reply
  31. Linda L says:

    Thank you for sharing, Belle. I hope you know that we all love reading your blog and are inspired by your courage to share with us your thoughts every day!!

    June 26, 2015/Reply
  32. T says:

    I’ve been reading this blog for a long time and have never commented before, but I just wanted to say thank you for bringing attention to this subject in such a brave and personal way. This post was a surprise to me. As someone who sometimes struggles with the blues (a euphemism if there ever was one!), it brings me comfort to know that I am not alone. It also starts me wondering: how many other polished, successful women do I know in my own life who are struggling on the inside? Have I been so wrapped up in my own problems that I haven’t recognized their hurts and struggles?

    It’s good to shake up one’s worldview every once in a while – thank you for this post, as well as for the rest of the blog!

    June 26, 2015/Reply
    • D says:

      Belle, thank you for sharing.

      My dearest friend is a litigator in Manhattan. You’d never guess there are days, weeks, months where he can hardly get out of bed. The grueling lifestyle, oddly enough, works for him, demanding he keep going for his clients’ sake. He’s charming and well-dressed and you’d never guess his struggle.

      I can keep listing my friends whom I know suffer mightily with depression and suicide – the cheerful church secretary, the university student body president, the international flight attendant. So many people whom we’d think have it all figured out, but it’s a mask we all wear to project our best selves.

      “Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.”

      June 26, 2015/Reply
  33. Mary says:

    Thank you for sharing.

    I have experienced low-level depression off and on throughout my life, so it is a subject that has always been close to my heart. Events over the last few years among my family and friends have made mental health a bigger concern in my life and reminded me of my passion to work in this field. You decided to go to law school to follow your dreams. I returned to school last year to become a therapist to follow mine.

    There is such a tremendous need for better education and more awareness, but hearing personal stories is sometimes the most helpful. Thank you for being transparent and vulnerable with your regular readers and the whole internet.

    (The first link in your post goes to the Jacob Wheeler page. The last one for donating came up with a Paypal error message. When I clicked through from the Jacob Wheeler page to contribute, I didn’t have any trouble.)

    June 26, 2015/Reply
  34. Jenny says:

    Thank you. I think the line about feeling completely alone in your struggles, but actually being surrounded will stay with me forever.

    June 26, 2015/Reply
  35. Maddie says:

    “I felt it was important to talk about something real, so we don’t confuse living a life that looks good on the outside with one that feels good on the inside.” This is also something that I, and a lot of us I’m guessing, needed to hear.

    Thank you so much for sharing your story, and your coping strategies. Many of your struggles are so relatable. Suicide has also touched my family last year.

    Wishing you the best. I look forward to your blog every day!

    June 26, 2015/Reply
  36. Isabel says:

    This is a beautiful, honest post. Thank you for sharing with the world what so many of us struggle with internally. Your blog is on my list of things I look forward to when I’m having a particularly bad day.

    June 26, 2015/Reply
  37. SLG says:

    Belle, thanks for sharing this. Depression, suicide, and terrifying loss have been way too much a part of my life, and I so appreciate the fact that you keep it real. Thank you for giving us a glimpse of how you get through every day (I do some of those things too). And thanks for the links to resources on this issue for which resources can be hard to find.

    You touch so many people’s lives through this blog alone — on so many bad days at work, you’ve given me fresh energy to keep going. I hope the days get brighter for you soon.

    June 26, 2015/Reply
  38. Meghan M says:

    I second Caryn and applaud you for using your platform in such a positive way. This post is truly the most beautiful things I’ve seen posted on the blog.

    June 26, 2015/Reply
  39. Elle says:

    Thank you for sharing your story.

    June 26, 2015/Reply
  40. ES says:

    This is so brave and beautiful. Thanks for sharing.

    June 26, 2015/Reply
  41. Jessica says:

    Beautifully written Belle. Thank you for gathering the courage to post this.

    June 26, 2015/Reply
  42. Megan says:

    Thank you, Belle.

    June 26, 2015/Reply
  43. Alie says:

    Thank you for sharing this! I often get caught up in the destructive trap of seeing someone else’s life online (or sometimes in person) and envying that they seem totally put together and have a perfect life. I struggle with PTSD and it’s easy for me to get down on myself about how I’m “messed up.” It helps to connect with others and learn from others’ strength to remember that mental illness isn’t my fault, although I have the power to choose how I handle it. Thank you!

    June 26, 2015/Reply
  44. Yael says:

    Thank you for sharing. You are stronger than you know!

    June 26, 2015/Reply
  45. LH says:

    Thank you for sharing something so deeply personal. Your blog is one of the few places that still keeps it real, and this post only demonstrates that more.

    Thank you for having the strength to show us that sort of authentic vulnerability.

    June 26, 2015/Reply
  46. Addie says:

    I’ve been reading your blog since I moved to DC in 2012 and I’ve been struggling with anxiety since middle school. I was able to switch from daily antidepressants to Xanax on as as needed basis a few years ago and I no longer experience debilitating panic attacks. But I recently realized that my anxiety isn’t truly under control, I’ve just learned how to function when I’m freaking out internally. I have a family history of anxiety and depression on both sides and even as a child I was a worrier. So it’s probably never going to go away completely. But I’m working on being kinder to myself and hoping to get to the point where I experience less frequent bouts of irrational fear rather than simply coping with them. Best wishes to you Belle and thank you for bring brave enough to share this.

    June 26, 2015/Reply
  47. Loyal Reader says:

    <3 <3 <3
    Belle, this advice is fabulous – and you are fabulous!!

    June 26, 2015/Reply
  48. Whitney Gibbs says:

    Thank you for sharing, Belle. When days are dark, know that there are a ton of ladies out there that you bring a ton of joy to. I look forward to your posts each day and talk about all the smart things I learn from you.

    Know that talking to someone can help to. Therapy worked wonders for me.

    June 26, 2015/Reply
  49. Rebekah says:

    What courage to write this post! I’ve loved blog for many years, often relating to your goal-driven personality. Now, I have the utmost respect for you as a person. Thank you for being a voice of honesty and humility in the world of rather intimidating social media.

    June 26, 2015/Reply
  50. Sade says:

    Thank you for writing this & sharing your story.

    June 26, 2015/Reply
  51. Chris says:

    I needed to read this today. It’s encouraging (or, maybe not *encouraging*, but… something) to know that someone as accomplished and successful and together as you has struggled with this as well.

    June 26, 2015/Reply
  52. J says:

    Wow. Thank you for sharing this Belle. It is incredibly powerful. Unfortunately so many of us hide depression from others so it becomes a solo struggle. I think the isolation and having to pretend that everything is fine with your life make it so much harder to overcome. When I was a 1L many many years ago I went through a deep depression and almost dropped out of school. It got better but I did drink a lot during that time and bottled so much of it in. It was finally when I told my family that I was leaving school that I got the advice and guidance that I needed. My sister had felt the way I was feeling too and it made me feel like I wasn’t alone and I could get through it. So I stayed in school and graduated but then depression creeped its ugly head again during my bar studies. It was an incredibly dark time in my life and it lasted over a year, but I opened up to my friends, cried a lot and finally saw a therapist. With time, I was able to climb out of it. I am in my thirties now and have excepted that no matter how good my life is, sadness will always be a part of my life, but I can not let it take me to that place again. It is a struggle that will just have to be a part of me. Again, thank you for sharing this.

    June 26, 2015/Reply
  53. PS says:

    Needed to read this today. Thank you.

    June 26, 2015/Reply
  54. Ashley says:

    I’ve never posted on your blog before, but I (like others) felt compelled to do so today. Thank you for putting yourself out there. I know your story will help others. Sending love to you!

    June 26, 2015/Reply
  55. Amy says:

    Thank you for writing this.

    June 26, 2015/Reply
  56. Abby says:

    Thank you for this post, Belle. You are a bright light in so many of our days.

    June 26, 2015/Reply
  57. Sarah says:

    Thank you for sharing. I pulled out the good Kleenex after reading your post. You are an amazing woman and I always enjoy your blog and hearing your perspective on life. You generously share your time with readers, and I hope you know it makes a difference in our daily lives. I was recently laid off and am struggling to make sense of things right now. Job searching while unemployed is another way to feel your identity being shaken. It’s helpful to hear others open up about their struggles.

    June 26, 2015/Reply
  58. E says:

    Thanks for sharing your story. It’s so powerful for people to know that they are not alone, and to have something to hold onto to remind them that things can, and will, get better.

    June 26, 2015/Reply
  59. Blaisan says:

    Thank you for sharing. I am going through a rough time right now, and the cabin on a lake in Montana seems very appealing. However, reading your post made me feel better and less alone. Thank you again. Sharing does help others.

    June 26, 2015/Reply
  60. Annie says:

    Thank you for sharing.

    June 26, 2015/Reply
  61. Emily says:

    Thank you for sharing, Belle! Real honesty and authenticity are rarities in our culture today — and we need more of it!

    June 26, 2015/Reply
  62. AR says:

    In tears while reading this. Thank you for your honesty and not giving up.

    June 26, 2015/Reply
  63. Kate says:

    Thank you for sharing! The resiliency and coping skills that you’ve shared are brilliant. Your blog is one of the most authentic and useful things on the internet. Thank you so much for all you do for all of us! It feels weird to gush to a stranger on the Internet and I’m sure it feels weirder to receive the praise, but it’s all true.

    June 26, 2015/Reply
  64. Cathy says:

    Thank you for sharing your story. Shame and vulnerability researcher, Brene Brown says that “owning your story is the bravest thing you’ll ever do.” So again, thank you for your bravery in the face of vulnerability. If you have never read Brown’s books or watched her TED talks, I highly recommend them.

    June 26, 2015/Reply
  65. Erin says:

    Thank you for this honest and touching post. Suicide has touched my life and so today I have made a small donation to the Jacob Wheeler foundation. Thank you for raising awareness about this important cause.

    June 26, 2015/Reply
  66. Christine says:

    Thank you so much for this post. It’s so generous of you to share your struggles with all of us. I too have struggled with depression at various times in my life, including an especially difficult period when I didn’t want to wake up the next time I closed my eyes. I got professional treatment, including medication, and overtime I’ve also practiced hard at being happy. We can tell ourselves that having X will make us happy, but it doesn’t actually work that way. It is always possible to find reasons to be happy, and it is always possible to find reasons to be unhappy. We have to constantly make the decision between the two, but as with any skill, it gets easier the more you practice and the harder you work at it.

    June 26, 2015/Reply
  67. Jennifer D says:

    Greetings Belle – Thank you very much for writing, and eventually sharing, this post. You have obviously touched many of your readers. Your last sentence, “Because the ability to go on living is a privilege denied to many” … that’s the statement that rang so true to me. Best always, Jennifer

    June 26, 2015/Reply
  68. Leah says:

    Thank you.

    June 26, 2015/Reply
  69. Kayla says:

    Thank you for such a beautiful post. Depression is such a hard thing to live with and so often misunderstood by those who have never experienced it.

    Be kind to yourself. Thank you for sharing.

    June 26, 2015/Reply
  70. Steph says:

    Thank you for sharing; I admire the courage it took.

    June 26, 2015/Reply
  71. Emily R says:

    Thank you for sharing this.

    June 26, 2015/Reply
  72. Nicole says:

    Belle, thank you for your honesty and bravery in sharing this with us.

    June 26, 2015/Reply
  73. W says:

    Just come out of my psychiatrists office. He told me if I exercised more, I’d live 30% longer. I don’t think he understands I don’t want to live longer. Just till tomorrow. And of course, exercise sounds easy until you realize that getting out of bed is a victory. Then he tells me that the drugs I’m taking will give me dementia. So I’ll live longer, but not know it. Sounds great.

    My best (or worst) bare minimum was buying new clothes, because I couldn’t deal with washing the ones I had. It got me though another day and I have no shame or regret. Anyone who thinks I should, well that’s their problem. This is survival baby.

    On bad days it means nothing to be told you’re brave, and special and mean so much to so many people. On bad days, just breathe. But on good days, you are brave and special and mean so much to so many people. If you have a new post, it’s the first one I read. I have referred many people here, and I watch your journey through law school with a bit of ‘I knew her when….’ pride.

    Thank you for sharing, and letting me know that another of the strong, brave, smart, amazing women I know hurts as much as I do, and is taking one step forward at a time despite that. Because if you can, I can.

    June 26, 2015/Reply
    • K says:

      What a horrible professional! I hope you are seeking out a new psychiatrist because you deserve someone who will listen to you and be aware enough to know where you are in the spectrum.
      Like I said, you deserve better.

      June 27, 2015/Reply
  74. J. says:

    This was so incredibly beautiful and just what I needed right now. Thank you.

    June 26, 2015/Reply
  75. Taylor says:

    I’m currently going into my third year of law school, and the past two years have been the most depressing, anxious, and darkest years of my life. Everyone wants to be supportive but it’s an environment where confidence is worth so much, and any fragility makes you look like a liability to an employer. Thank you for posting this, for making people aware that even the most confident and strong people struggle.

    June 26, 2015/Reply
  76. Jules says:

    Thank you for sharing in such a raw, beautifully written way.

    June 26, 2015/Reply
  77. sbe says:

    It is challenging to be honest…especially in this world with everything all out there on social media! Thank you for being brave enough to share your story and your struggles. With love from Montana…

    June 26, 2015/Reply
  78. GF says:

    Belle–you have been an amazing role model for me over the past few years of reading your blog, because you are a strong, no-nonsense, independent woman. I had no idea about your personal past. I am grateful that you chose to press on and become someone for me to aspire to. Know that you have touched many people’s lives with your strength.

    June 26, 2015/Reply
  79. Nancy says:

    This was beautiful. Thank you so much for sharing, Belle. I have similarly struggled with depression in the past and it’s really meaningful when someone shares their story- it makes the bad days feel a little less lonely. I just wanted to let you know that I think you’re incredibly brave and strong and that you’ve touched more than a few hearts today.

    June 26, 2015/Reply
  80. Sally says:

    Thank you for this honest and wonderful post. I hope sharing lightens your burden. As someone who has been through the meat grinder of law school, trust me, you will survive and it will get better. Reading your blog always brought joy to my days when I was suffering through classes and exams!

    June 27, 2015/Reply
  81. Zoē says:

    I’ve never commented before but thank you for sharing and for your honesty. And hang in there..

    June 27, 2015/Reply
  82. Heidi says:

    Thank you for this brave and moving post! I read your blog for a few years but like other people above never written a comment till today. Mental health and loneliness are matters that should be talked about more. Your blog is always brings on a smile for me, thank you for keeping it up during law school!

    June 27, 2015/Reply
  83. Sam says:

    Belle,

    Thank you so much for sharing.

    As someone who struggles with bipolar disorder, I can’t tell you how much it means to have someone public-facing come out with such a person story – thank you. Thank you for helping break down the stigmas we face. And know that you’re not alone – ever.

    All the best,

    Sam

    June 27, 2015/Reply
  84. Wanda says:

    I needed to read this today. Thank you.

    June 27, 2015/Reply
  85. Sunny says:

    Belle – Your story sounds so much like so much like mine and I admire your bravery in sharing it. Words aren’t enough to express how meaningful it is to hear someone else talk about their struggles. After reading more about the Jacob Wheeler Foundation and the tragic epidemic of suicides in the Butte community, I was motivated to honor your bravery and make a donation to support their efforts.

    June 27, 2015/Reply
  86. K says:

    Just donated. Thank you so much for sharing this. I know it’s extremely difficult to be vulnerable like that, particularly in the DC/politics/policy world, but every person in my world who has opened up about their challenges has made a profound impact on my life. And it’s helped me open up (in smaller ways, so far) to those around me who need someone to tell them that they’re not alone.

    June 27, 2015/Reply
  87. Jenn says:

    Belle,

    Thank you for sharing your story with others. So many people are struggling with depression and feelings of hopelessness and self-doubt, but no one ever talks about it. As someone who has gone through a similar experience in the past, I know that the most powerful thing someone can share with another person is to say: you aren’t alone in this. Thank you for giving others that gift.

    June 27, 2015/Reply
  88. Angie says:

    Thank you Belle for sharing your story and reminding us (not just in this post but in your weekly posts) that there’s a real person behind the fashion and beauty adventures. As many people have already said, it’s easy to forget that so many other smart, ambitious, beautiful women struggle with the same issues I do.

    June 27, 2015/Reply
  89. S says:

    I cannot find the words to say how grateful I am for you sharing this. Thank you.

    June 27, 2015/Reply
  90. Barbara says:

    Belle, you are incredibly brave to share so deeply with us. You have my support and well wishes.

    June 27, 2015/Reply
  91. Dara says:

    You have completely explained how I have felt for the last 10 years. That weight sometimes is too hard to bear, bu God only tests us in order to have a testimony. Thank you for sharing your heart with us Belle! I appreciate your blog 🙂

    June 27, 2015/Reply
  92. Dara says:

    but*

    June 27, 2015/Reply
  93. Leila says:

    Belle, thank you for sharing and being real, when so many of us on a daily basis try to filter our lives and surroundings. Depression is real; it affects everyone, whether in having it or being a friend or family to one who does. But the more I hear/read people discuss it, the more others can understand, identify, sympathize, and know it’s far more normal than one may have perceived, on either side of the situation.

    For what it’s worth, you are loved. Everyone who reads this is loved. And on a much smaller note, your work is appreciated. Your contributions are appreciated. As is your style. But that’s a form of self-expression too, you know. Bravo.

    June 27, 2015/Reply
  94. Nancy Wachs says:

    You have done more good today than you will ever know. You are very, very special! Thank you!

    June 28, 2015/Reply
  95. Sarah says:

    Thank you so much for sharing this personal part of your life. I have been a longtime reader of your blog, loving that someone understood the balance of being a woman and a professional in today’s world. Thank you for your honesty and willingness to break the stigma.

    June 28, 2015/Reply
  96. Gabby says:

    This was beautiful, and brave to share. Thank you for having the courage to talk about it and remind those of us with similar stories that we’re not alone, and that tomorrow is another day.

    June 28, 2015/Reply
  97. Jennifer says:

    Brave post. Depression is way too common to be stigmatized as much as it still is, and I rarely tell anyone about my own struggles.

    June 28, 2015/Reply
  98. Sara says:

    Thank you Belle, for writing this. One of the best sayings I’ve ever heard is that you shouldn’t compare your inside to other people’s outside, but so often, especially on the internet where things tend to get quite superficial, we do. Reading through the comments here it is clear that so many people struggle daily with feelings of anxiety and hopelessness, but work through those feelings any way that they can. Thank you Belle, for helping us connect.

    June 28, 2015/Reply
  99. ak says:

    Thank you so much for sharing this. I identify with it quite a bit. I admire you for being so real and brave in this and in general.

    June 28, 2015/Reply
  100. Spiritmom says:

    This is brilliant. You didn’t just write about depression, you gave suggestions on how to deal with it. I’m looking forward to sharing it. You’ll make it, Belle. You are a strong, capable woman admired by many.

    June 28, 2015/Reply
  101. ellie says:

    thank you for taking the time to write and share your experiences with depression. your online presence is inspiring, i believe your honesty will lift up others who experience depression.

    June 28, 2015/Reply
  102. KLF says:

    Thank you. Just thank you.

    June 29, 2015/Reply
  103. Mary says:

    Thank you for your honest and brave post. I suffer from an anxiety disorder and this really helped me.

    June 29, 2015/Reply
  104. Debbie says:

    Thank you for being so honest about this! My husband fights depression and I am learning so much about it and can never really understand but I am trying. Depression sucks.

    June 29, 2015/Reply
  105. EL says:

    I’ve read this over and over. Thank you.

    June 29, 2015/Reply
  106. Julie says:

    It used to be that I was trying to ‘be a little bit more like Belle’ for your incredible style, intelligence, and drive. From now on, I’ll try to be a little bit more like you for this as well. If I felt tears well in my eyes when I was reading your words, they definitely overflowed when I saw the comments section and read how many other women struggle with depression on a daily basis.

    Today I’m going to turn up the Adele, slap on an outfit I feel good in, pretend my heart isn’t broken, write my one billionth cover letter, and plan a long weekend trip with my girlfriends I probably can’t afford because damnit, I need it. Thank you for the inspiration.

    Sending you all hugs today.

    June 29, 2015/Reply
  107. SS says:

    Thank you very much for posting this. In doing so, you helped me and many others.

    June 29, 2015/Reply
  108. Niki says:

    Thank you Belle, for sharing your story.

    I was diagnosed with depression almost 15 years ago and attempted suicide because I didn’t get into a good law school and thought my life was over. It wasn’t. Then, I survived on 4 mg of Ativan a day IN law school. I managed to do well, but it wasn’t easy. Then I worked in a large firm and I drank myself to black out status almost every night. Now, 5 years after I left that firm, I am happier than ever and off medication.

    Thank you for sharing your coping techniques – they are quite useful and helpful. I do want to encourage people who are gasping for air to consider working with a mental health professional as another coping technique (apologies if you mentioned that and I missed it). I have been in therapy for 15 years (on and off, but mostly off) and even though I am happy and the healthiest I have been, I still go once a month. Finding a good therapist (and, when appropriate the right medication) can be like finding a lifeline.

    My thoughts are with all of you who are dealing with depression and anxiety. It’s not easy, but you are worth it.

    June 29, 2015/Reply
    • Niki says:

      Whoops! Meant mostly “on” in re: therapy.

      June 29, 2015/Reply
  109. Amanda says:

    Thank you so much for sharing your story. Developing coping skills [that work] has been one of the most difficult challenges of my adult life in dealing with depression. Your words speak to those techniques and I’m glad to see I am not alone.

    June 29, 2015/Reply
  110. KG says:

    Big hugs, lady. Here for you if you need me.

    June 29, 2015/Reply
  111. Katherine says:

    Belle – As someone who has struggled with OCD, depression, and anxiety disorders – while in the high-pressure DC environment for college and my subsequent career – I greatly appreciate your willingness to step out with your story. It is courageous for you to take that step, and you are helping people by doing so. Thank you.

    For anyone who is experiencing thoughts of suicide – please, please reach out to the caring responders at the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. 24/7, confidential, they are there to help you through whatever you are going through: 1-800-273-8255.

    June 29, 2015/Reply
  112. Rachel says:

    Thank you for sharing, Belle. I always appreciate hearing the truth from you in the small things (no one else is as brutally honest with product reviews!); hearing your truth about the big things is especially refreshing in a feed full of perfect facades. Good luck to you, and keep up the excellent work. Your audience is wide and varied; your thoughtful sharing may help someone somewhere feel less alone.

    June 30, 2015/Reply
  113. MA says:

    Belle, I have been following you for years (!) now. This post is courageous and truthful. Thank you.

    June 30, 2015/Reply
  114. Anna says:

    Thank you so much for sharing this. I’ve been reading your blog and I really admire not only your fashion sense, but you’re professional advice. I’ve been struggling with a relapse with depression and anxiety, and it was so helpful to know someone who is obviously very successful, driven, and put together struggles with the same thing. Reading this gave me so much hope that I WILL get better. Thank you again!

    July 1, 2015/Reply
  115. Sarah says:

    Thank you for this. I suffer from anxiety and depression and even had a brief hospital stay for it a couple years ago. I never told my parents or my friends about it because I am still so embarrassed. I used to live in DC but moved away also and it is so hard being far away from friends and family. I have a wonderful husband and two sweet dogs but I still feel alone a lot of the time. I think there’s a light at the end of the tunnel for all of us, but it can be really hard to see that when you’re in the middle of it.

    July 7, 2015/Reply
  116. ABA says:

    I’m catching up on my blog reading and just read this. Thank you for being incredibly brave and for writing about this. This is a courageous and honest post!

    July 16, 2015/Reply
  117. Lauren says:

    Even though I’ve been reading your blog for years, I somehow missed this post when it first aired. Thank you for linking it again after the news of Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain. This is a really powerful read, but I’m sure it was beyond difficult to write. Your willingness to share your story with this community that you’ve built is brave and beautiful!

    June 8, 2018/Reply