Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Thoughts #8 - Charlotte

Photo from  Getty Images Entertainment - Photo by Don Arnold
I moved to Australia December 2008.  I'm still not "in the know" about many Australian celebrities.  Prior to this past weekend, Charlotte Dawson is someone I was aware of.  What I knew:  she was a judge on Australia's Next Top Model, she was a former model, and she was the ex-wife of a former Olympic swimmer surrounded by his own controversies. Also, I knew she was the victim of some vicious "trolling" activity against her on social media.

What I know now:  She was 47 years old, and her lifeless body was found in her apartment on Sunday the 23rd of February; apparent suicide.  This news report gives a good background of her life, death, and problems she faced:  Charlotte Dawson Found Dead After Long and Public Battle with Depression.

As I write this blog, over 150,000 signatures have been added to a petition calling for stronger cyber bullying legislation - Charlotte's Law.

Another article that I feel was beautifully written is this one:  "I didn't know Charlotte, but this is why I cried for her today".

Photo from Getty Images Entertainment - Photo by Lisa Maree Williams

That's the are my thoughts:

I know "celebrity" deaths are not uncommon.  I know everyday there are many non-celebrities who commit suicide.  This story is just one of those stories about a person who was struggling in the public eye, was brutally attacked on social media (that whole 'sticks and stones' saying ain't true; words can hurt...they can hurt a lot), and still she wasn't saved from her own sadness and hopelessness.  It's made me think so much about how we treat others; how flippant, ugly comments hurt; how mental illness is not something to be ashamed of; how treating someone with kindness may help them endure their own burdens; how asking for help when you need it is critical...there's so many lessons to learn from Charlotte's story.

 "Trolls" and bullies have to be stopped. They are hurtful, hateful, damaging, and dangerous. If a grown woman, seemingly successful and beautiful, was hurt so much by such grotesque remarks, think about teenagers and children who are bullied. Think about their coping skills. Think about the damage it does to their self-esteem and what long-lasting effects such words and actions can cause. 

A friend of mine posted this on facebook, and I agree with her words, so I'll share them:  

"I have signed it (the petition) for the simple fact that I think sitting behind a computer and telling someone who was so sensitive and fragile minded to go "hang herself or shove her head in a toaster and eliminate herself from this world is kind of pathetic and cowardly. I have seen people comment on bullying and telling the victim to "harden the fuck up" or get over it. Some of us are not so tough, some of us take things differently. I have also seen comments of "freedom of speech" etc. Yep an opinion is one thing but attacking someone is a complete different story. I know people who have mental illnesses. I know people have felt there was no other choice but to end their lives. I don't want this to be someone I love and care for in the future." 
Being kind is free.  Awareness takes a little thought and a little effort, but is so important.  Treat others with kindness. Think before you speak. Embrace differences. If you need help, ask. 

Two websites and hotlines you can use anonymously -

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Thoughts #7 - Courage

When I was in 7th grade, I moved to a new town and enrolled in a new school.  I had to make new friends which took a little courage on my part.  One girl who reached out to me almost immediately was named Michelle.  I had some sleepovers at Michelle's, and we'd exchange notes like most junior high girlfriends did back then.  Michelle would draw these balloon-type animals and dinosaurs on her notes.  I still have one of those tucked away in my keepsakes.

Michelle was diagnosed with leukemia.  Two years after befriending me, she was gone.  Michelle faced this ugly disease with such strength, courage, and grace - traits that I had not experienced to this magnitude at my tween stage.  It's been over 25 years since Michelle passed away, but I still think of her sweet, yet courageous nature.

The Leukaemia Foundation of Australia annually hosts the World's Greatest Shave, a fundraising event where people color or SHAVE their hair in support of those suffering from blood cancers and brings recognition to the courage needed to face the world with such a disease.  This event has raised over $2 million dollars.  

This year, I know a brave girl who is participating, raising money, and willing to shave her head for the cause.  It takes courage for a beautiful twentysomething to participate and shave her head.  Talia may end up being the hottest bald girl I know!  Please follow this link: donate here on Talia's behalf.  Anything helps - even if it's $10.