I’m sitting here in Seattle, overlooking the waves and blue skies in South Lake Union. It’s difficult to think now that this week was a rough one, but it was. When we hear news about celebrities or maybe even people we don’t personally know who are in the throws of depression and anxiety, it takes us back to less sunny days where we’ve watched friends and family members fight that battle. Maybe, we’re the ones embroiled in the battle that will continually ebb and flow throughout our lives.

I appreciate the attention that mental health receives when it’s brought back to the public eye. We need to have these conversations year-round. From the mom who struggles with postpartum depression (maybe even still when her child is five or 15 years old) to the gentleman who finds a glass or three of wine just to take the edge off, we all have a story to tell as we reflect who we are and where we’re going.

Unfortunately, suicide is all too common for those who struggle — a sad reality that we see more often each year. While we may desperately want to help and not understand where to start, we turn to and share the National Suicide Hotline as a way to help. For many, that hotline is a great resource, but let me challenge you with one action item you can take right now:

Check on your strong friend.

You know the one. The one who seems to have it all together, is working a 40 (or 50 or 60) hour a week job and is rocking it. The one who is always active with tons of friends and adventures — too many to count. The one who is taking care of everyone else. The one who you have to ask twice how they are because you know their first answer will always be “I’m fine/great/doing ok.”

Sometimes it’s the strong friends who struggle the most, but you’d never know it. Take it from me — I can say that I’m doing fine and everything is great, but there could be a massive struggle going on in my head and you’d never know. If you ask me twice how I’m doing, I’ll give you the honest truth. I’m not and haven’t been at a point where I’d need to use the National Suicide Hotline, but I can say that it wouldn’t be the first thing I’d reach to if I needed help.
The strong friends are doing their best to keep it all together, and they generally do a great job. Sometimes, however, they don’t. And those are the times when they need someone to ask one question. A simple text or call, or a quick in-person hello where you look them in the eye is maybe all they need to reframe their perspective.

And what’s the worst that could happen? You could hear “I’m really great right now” and you’d know the truth.
In light of the news of Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain this week, my tribe (both old and new) have asked me how I am. They’ve checked on their strong friend, and I’ve tried my best to do the same. I hope you will, too.

Originally published on Medium

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