Katy Beh Jewelry

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Katy Beh New Orleans

It's the word we never, ever want to hear.


We've heard it a lot these days.

I know way too much about it. It's no secret; contains no shame for me. I talk about it. It's important.

My father committed suicide when I was just 27 years old.

I've also had a major depressive episode (or two) and one in particular where I found myself thinking about taking my life.

Seriously, you ask?


Charles Taylor & Katy Beh, RISD Graduation 1991Charles Taylor and Katy Beh

My Rhode Island School of Design graduation, 1991. My dad was so proud I went to RISD and just a few years later was thrilled I had moved to New Orleans.

After what you've been through? Knowing your son, mother, family and loved ones would never recover because you sure as hell haven't? Well, you hit the nail on the head.

Here's the thing.

Because I know so much about mood disorders, especially anxiety and depression, the moment the horrific thought of taking my own life dared to enter my depressed brain, I KNEW I needed to get help. I literally thought, "Oh my god. I can't believe I'm here, WTF am I doing thinking about this." My depression hurt so, so bad. Hope had left the building. I just wanted the pain to stop. I called my therapist and psychiatrist immediately.

Depression is a disease of the brain.

It's as gross as Alzheimer's. It's as cruel as A.L.S. When the brain is depressed, you become your own worst enemy. Your brain pretty much eats any positive thoughts you might have barely grasped by a pinky finger. It tricks you into thinking you are flu-like sick and that isolation, sleep and disengagement from your daily life will heal what ails you. In fact, what you need is the exact opposite.

I was clinically depressed and didn't know it.

Years of therapy, medicine, mood disorder education, my own dad's suicide and STILL. My depression had such a fierce grip on me I didn't know I was sick. I was convinced feeling awful was my own fault...my own doing and I could read the right book, journal enough pages, walk enough miles, pop enough Omega 3, make enough lists, get on the wagon for a bit and I'd be just fine, thank you very much. I beat my self-esteem to a pulp.

Truth was my brain had been MARINATING in cortisol for about year or more. My regular meds weren't enough to tackle the relentless stressors that were in my life at the time. Too many life changes. A mistake of a marriage. Spinning - stressing - never getting a moment of peace. My daily walks weren't helping. My normally fruitful introspection was killing me.

Cortisol, the stress hormone, can be poison to your brain.

Some call it Public Enemy #1. Psychology Today wrote, "Chronic stress and elevated cortisol levels also increase risk for depression, mental illness, and lower life expectancy...Studies were published...linking elevated cortisol levels as a potential trigger for mental illness and decreased resilience — especially in adolescenceDistress, or free-floating anxiety, doesn't provide an outlet for the cortisol and causes the fight-or-flight mechanism to backfire. Ironically, our own biology — which was designed to insure our survival as hunters and gatherers — is sabotaging our bodies and minds ..."

I am not shy about my experience with suicide.

Survivors - those left behind - never, ever get over it. Ever. It is my oversized baggage. I have paid thousands in excess fees flying with it. My unyielding grief has lead me to be more-than-your-average-Joe educated about the biology behind depression and suicide. Thankfully, knowing so much about it saved my life.

I am a hawk with my son regarding our familial biology and - poor kid - have gone into overdrive since he started high school. He saved my life more or less. I could not, will not, have any role in my son hurting as I have from my father's suicide.

We need to shift our thinking regarding suicide awareness.

Suicide awareness needs to be about us knowing when we feel ending our lives, that is the very sign that WE NEED HELP. If we feel the only way to stop the avalanche of hopelessness and pain is by killing ourselves, we need to know that is the f-ing red flag. No white flags for depression.

We so want to help others out of their holes. We are left in excruciating pain feeling if only we had known. A beautiful life is forever remember by its violent end. It's so very hard to help someone who is depressed. The reality is only they can help themselves. We must know this for when WE might get that ill.

We need to know the signs to help OURSELVES.

We know the warning signs of stroke, heart attacks, and oncoming trains. "If you feel chest pressure...If you have trouble speaking or feel disoriented." Bright flashing red lights, dinging bells and barrier gates.

We need it to know when we begin to believe committing suicide is the best way to stop the pain, we are down TOO DEEP and need to call for backup.

Warning Signs for Suicide

  • If you feel hopeless.
  • If you have thoughts about hurting yourself.
  • If you have thoughts about how you might go about hurting yourself.
  • Run, don't walk and get help.
Your brain is sick. You are depressed.
  • Go to the Emergency Room.
  • Call your doctor.
  • Call a friend.
  • Call me.
It's not you, it's depression and it can kill you. But it doesn't' have to. 
With much love,
Katy Beh Jewelry
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