a note about last week.

I know it’s been a minute, and I was debating whether or not to even write something about what happened last week, and I don’t know how many people this will reach, but I don’t think I can sit back and not say anything.

That said, I don’t really know what to say.

Losing two beautiful, successful, inspiring, smart, caring, loving souls – whether we actually knew them personally or felt that we knew them personally through their work – was devastating.  And we all have different reasons why. For many, buying their first Kate Spade bag was a sign of success, a proud moment, a treasured piece.  For others, Anthony Bourdain inspired #travelgoals and taught us to be less afraid of the unknown. For all, they showed us that what you see on the surface is only part of the person. That even those whose lives we envy, who we think have it all, might be fighting a battle that we know nothing about.  That a bright smile is nice, but that it’s really a shield, a distraction, a piece of armor put up to hide the truth.

I am devastated over the loss of both of these humans. For various reasons that are unimportant here. But it is my hope that losing them ignites a conversation, a movement - one that lasts more than the length of a news cycle.  I hope that we can finally start addressing the disease that depression is.  That is isn’t just in your head, or something that can be fixed with a better job, more money, fame or opportunity.  That it is not something to be ashamed of, or something to hide from.  That it is something that affects so many of us, in so many different ways.  That just because you can’t physically see it, or touch it, or quantify it doesn’t make it any less real or painful.  That just because someone’s Instagram shows them traveling or smiling or laughing or partying or with friends doesn’t mean they aren’t hiding something. That what we see on the outside is not a reflection of what is happening inside.  That normal lives can be lived on the outside while a person is slowly disappearing on the inside.

Myself, along with many others, posted the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (1-800-273-8255) on social media, shared links to resources, expressed our sorrow, what these people meant to us, sent condolences to their loved ones.  But that is not enough.  We need to change the conversation surrounding depression and mental illness.  We need to normalize the conversation, step away from the fear of admitting we need help.  It doesn’t make you weak, it makes you human.

I know that if you’re suffering from depression it might not be that easy to call this lifeline or to ask for help.  I know because I’ve been there.  I speak from first-hand experience when I say that ending things sounds easier then seeking help sometimes.  But I’m also here to say that it gets better. Not every day, not all the time. But it does.  So, on the good days, talk to someone. Tell them what’s going on. Find a therapist. Be honest, so that on the bad days those people are there for you. So that when you can’t help yourself, someone can help you.

And for those of you that are lucky enough to go through life without fighting this battle, be there. Help. Reach out. Check in. Because really, at the end of the day, we’re all in this together.



**I’m sorry that my first post back is so heavy. I wish every single day for a world that everyone wants to live in and feels valued in. And I wish every single day for anyone’s suffering - be it from depression, disease, socioeconomic status or otherwise – to be relieved. But unfortunately this is not yet the world we live in. So until then, I feel obligated to speak about, question, discuss those things that are often shied away from. No matter how small my platform. A serious backlog of some super freaking great travel experiences coming up next (well, eventually at least), promise.

Jennifer Cook