Effervescent people aren’t supposed to be depressed. People who have the “perfect” family aren’t supposed to struggle. People who have every material item they could want or need aren’t supposed to suffer from mental health problems.
Yet, this illusion has been shattered time and time again, with Anthony Bourdain, Robin Williams, Kate Spade, and Alexander McQueen.
And, most recently, with the tragic suicide of Stephen ‘tWitch’ Boss. Known to many fans for his time on So You Think You Can Dance and The Ellen DeGeneres Show, I came to love watching Stephen — and his wife, Allison Holker — as the hosts of Disney Fairy Tale Weddings.
The duo, who celebrated their ninth wedding anniversary on December 10, made even the most cynical viewer believe in happily ever after, and it was a joy to watch them interact with Disney brides and grooms throughout two seasons.
When news of Stephen’s death broke yesterday morning, I had to read the headline half a dozen times before I believed it.
I had the same thoughts as every other fan, “How?,” “Why?,” “He seemed so happy yesterday on social media.”
But the truth is, despite a society that purports to care about erasing the stigma of mental health struggles, social media remains a highlight reel. And, in a world where appearances are everything, it’s easy to wear a mask long enough to shoot a 30-second video.
Stephen’s death, alone in an L.A. hotel room, has served to drive home the point that no matter how many people surround you — from fans to friends to a loving family — depression and suicidal thoughts create a prison for one.
If someone who was rarely physically by himself in a house with a wife and three bubbly children could feel like he had nowhere to turn, what about those who live isolated lives? I said it yesterday, I’ll say it today, and I’m sure I’ll say it again.
Check on your people, people.
Depression doesn’t choose. It doesn’t pick a convenient time or place to rear its head. It can impact anyone.
It can even take a seemingly joyous man, less than two weeks before Christmas, who had just celebrated his anniversary and his daughter’s third birthday.
This isn’t a normal post for me but some things transcend fun, and if this can happen to the Boss family, it can truly happen to anyone.
No matter what you’re going through this holiday season or at any time, know that you aren’t alone. You matter. Your story matters. So often, the happy ending would never happen without the darkest chapters of a book.
There’s a happy ending out there for all of us. It may not be a candlelit walk down Main Street, U.S.A. in a white dress for you but no matter what your “happily ever after” looks like, stick around to find your happiness.
It’s worth it.
Resources For Depression and Suicidal Thoughts
- Call 988 – The three-digit national Suicide & Crisis Hotline immediately connects those experiencing mental health crises with help from a network of over 200 local crisis centers. 988 went live on July 16, 2022, making it easier for those experiencing distress to receive assistance.
- Call 1-800-662-HELP (4357) – The national helpline provided by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) offers 24/7, 365-day-a-year treatment referral and information service for families and individuals facing emotional distress or substance abuse issues.
- Visit IMALIVE.org – I’m Alive is the first organization in the United States to have 100% of its volunteers trained and certified in crisis intervention. The website offers a free online chat for those in crisis, and provides numerous resources about suicide warning signs and prevention.
- Visit TheTrevorProject.org – Geared specifically towards LGBTQIA+ individuals facing emotional distress, The Trevor Project offers three ways to anonymously reach a trained counselor. Those in need can call, text, or chat to receive immediate assistance by visiting this page.
- Visit VeteransCrisisLine.net – Military veterans face unique challenges when they return home from deployment. The Veterans Crisis Line offers a free hotline and chat for those facing suicidal thoughts or emotional distress. To reach a live counselor who specializes in military crises by phone, call 988 and press option 1.