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Caroline Flack – The Fear Factor

Caroline Flack’s suicide has sent shockwaves around the internet. It confirms that we should never allow our externals to define us. By all appearances, Caroline had everything to live for – fame, beauty, love, friends. Yet, it clearly was not enough. Perhaps she allowed her troubles to overshadow all these positives, and she reached the point where she felt she had no choice but to kill herself.

Caroline was entertainment magic. From the co-host of CBBC, co-host of X-factor, winner of ‘Strictly Come Dancing 2014’, performer in West End musical, ‘Chicago’ and host of reality hit show ‘Love Island’, her obvious charisma and infectious laughter lit up a room and won her legions of fans.

Yet, the manner of her death begs the question – on what paradigm did she base her life? Did she compare it to a merry-go-round with constant amusement, or did she see herself as a ‘clown’ in a comedic production? Speculative as it is,  a clown has a limited shelf life when accusations of physical abuser begin to surface. Suddenly, the laughter stops and the work becomes unsustainable. She stepped down as the host of ‘Love Island’ and was not fired,  suggesting that the mounting pressure of the bad press and negative social media commentary had become too much.

Despite the fact that her boyfriend, with whom she continued to be in a relationship, wished to withdraw the charges, the Crown Prosecution Service  decided to forge ahead with the criminal trial. She had pleaded not guilty to the charges of assaulting her boyfriend.

Like all entertainers, she wanted her audience to feel good not badly. The one who brought the sunshine was suddenly shrouded in shame. No doubt, that was what she thought.

This unfortunate aspect of Caroline’s life put her under the glare of the media spotlight. She magnified the looming court case in her mind to such an extent that it became a monster which threatened to destroy everything she had worked so hard for all her life.

The truth is that even if Caroline had been convicted, she would have risen from the ashes to fight and win another day. This one incident did not have the power to define her life, unless she permitted it to. There was so much more to Caroline that one moment of weakness or misjudgement. Unfortunately, she was so busy grappling with the monster whose primary weapon of torture was fear, that she could not see this truth.

But will she be remembered for all her many acts of public performance which brought the feel-good factor or  for her final act of surrender which has left us feeling so sad? That final act was never in the script. Even Caroline could not have envisaged that her life would end so tragically.

The clue of what may have driven her over the edge is the date of her suicide. Valentine’s Day holds a lot of expectations for a lot of people. They either feel blessed by ‘Cupid’ or terribly let down. It was the day after Valentine’s Day. Unable to communicate with her partner and sweetheart due to the court’s restraining order, and missing him intensely, she sunk to the depths of despair.

Perhaps the findings of her inquest, and in time, the revelations from those who knew her and communicated with her in her final weeks and days on this earth, will help to shed light on what drove her to this fatal decision. Until then, as survivors, we would all benefit from bearing in mind that there is always a way through the seeming quagmire of the challenges we face in life. We just need to hold on for one more day.

Being Bi-Polar: the case of Kate Spade

The shocking death of Fashion designer, Kate Spade, on 6 June 2018, has meant that the world has lost a creative talent; her family – a wife, mother and more. The medical examiner has ruled that her death was by suicide – this heightens the tragedy of the loss of one so young for at 55, she was still in the prime of life. Our thoughts and prayers are extended to her family and friends. 

What has emerged in the news is that Kate was battling the demons of manic-depression. One of my friends and mentors suffered with this condition. I witnessed how she could be by turns, superhumanly energetic and productive and able to get by on a few hours sleep whilst also full of crippling self-doubt and despair…. 

Her sister has reportedly claimed that her suicide was not a surprise to her because she had noted her fixation on the news coverage of Robin Williams’ suicide in 2014.

She left a suicide note in which she reportedly begged her daughter not to blame herself. Of course, Kate spade loved her daughter, but her psychological pain was simply too intense and her judgement too clouded, to avert her final and fatal decision. In time, we hope, her daughter will figure out that it had nothing to do with her, and was all about her mother and what was going on in her head at that time. Sometimes we let ourselves down by thinking we have to have it all together all the time.

It is always better to let go of an image rather than reality – the reality of being alive. If you look at the central themes of her fashion creations – handbags and other accessories – it is one of optimism and fun. Yet, her reality must have been very different.

Her sister claims she did not seek the help she so desperately needed for fear of sacrificing this brand image which had made her famous. What the world can never tire of being reminded of is that celebrities too can have problems, as do we all, yet still bless the world with their talents. But her sister’s claims have been challenged, and we will never know whether or not she was in treatment.  

Perhaps, this is a wake up call to challenge our assumptions that certain privileged people have it all, and the others do not. The stark reality, as brought home to us by this tragic death, is that no-one has it all, and that we are all simply doing the best we can.