When we selected October 10th as National Handbag Day 7 years ago, we weren’t aware that today is also World Mental Health Day. Last year, I read some comments on social media of people thinking we were trying to take away from a far more worthy cause, and that couldn’t be further from the truth. There is a place for both of these to be celebrated, and in some ways I find they intersect, hear me out.
World Mental Health Day is an incredibly important day, and hopefully with more people hearing about it and bringing it to the forefront, we will continue to de-stigmatize the discussion of the importance of mental health and mental health treatment. This year’s W.M.H. Day is supported by the World Health Organization (WHO), the International Association for Suicide Prevention, and United for Global Mental Health. Every 40 seconds, someone loses their life to suicide. When it comes to mental health struggles, the best option is to talk to a trusted health care professional to decide the best course of action. But it is also important that when you are on your right path and plan, whatever that may entail, that you take time for yourself to spend time doing things that make you happy and fulfill you.
I’m not claiming that spending time researching, obsessing, and purchasing designer handbags is going to fix anything, but it’s important to celebrate the small, fun things in life while we deal with the larger, more complicated aspects of our lives as well. Finding a safe place online, with like-minded individuals, can only help to make you feel included and welcomed. It’s why we are always striving for commenters on to be nice to one another even if they disagree, and it’s why we’ve had the strictly-followed policy of being kind to others for nearly 15 years on our PurseForum. The rest of our lives can be so hard, let’s turn this into a safe escape.
To many, a designer handbag can be seen as a superfluous, expensive item.
But my handbag is so much more to me.
I’ve touched on this multiple times, but my bag is an extension of me; a vessel for some of the most important things in my life, and ultimately it’s my security blanket.
From a young age, I’ve had anxiety. Not a little worry here or there, but debilitating, crippling anxiety. The kind of anxiety that left me physically ill on the way to school for weeks at the start of a school year. I remember vividly crying on my way to school to the point of throwing up, and my mom encouraging me with the most empathetic, loving, and sad eyes. I started therapy young to help cope with my separation anxiety which started after we lost our house in Hurricane Andrew. Therapy has always been a big part of my life, at different times needing to go multiple times a week and other times as a check in. Bouts of intense anxiety have ruled my life at different points and one of the worst times for me was after we moved to NYC.
My anxiety reached peak levels to the point where leaving the apartment sent me into a full blown panic attack. I needed help, and even with years of therapy and a very open-minded, supportive, and loving family, I felt shame admitting how bad it was. At that point, medication and therapy is what helped me and I will forever be grateful for it. I gained my life back, I started to enjoy the craze of NYC life.
But you know what has always been one of my biggest helpers when it comes to my anxiety? My handbag.
My bag is my constant companion that gives me comfort. It holds every little thing that helps ground me, provides me with comfort, and overall calms me to know that I have the items I may need. I carry a prescription in my bag for anxiety medication in case I have a panic attack. I can’t tell you the last time I used it, but knowing that I have it just in case has always offered reassurance. My inhaler goes with me everywhere even though I haven’t had to use it since I was pregnant with Millie.
Vlad often pokes fun at me for carrying it, as my asthma is a non-issue, but for me it provides some control over a possible situation that has always frightened me. You’ll always find me with a water bottle in my bag and though it’s heavy, when I start to feel anxiety build and my whole body feels warm, sometimes a few sips of water can help calm me.
Snacks? Oh, I have them. I used to panic over the thought of being trapped in an elevator (and I rode many elevators in NYC), so my snack was always an item that I thought I needed. An Emergen-C in case I feel weak, yep, have that too. And since having kids who both unfortunately have food allergies, I always have their Epi-Pens and Benadryl. You see, I know I could get away without carrying majority of these items on a daily basis, but I don’t want to. I like the feeling of knowing that my bag will ‘protect’ me and my kids (their items are actual life savers), and if having that feeling is enough to help get me through some of my harder anxiety ridden days, I’ll take it.
Of course, my bags carry happy items too. For majority of each of my pregnancies, I always had a sonogram or two in my bag. When I would open my bag to look for an item, that little black and white image of Millie and Vaughn brought me such joy. A notebook to jot down ideas for work and life comes with me often as does a polaroid or two of the kids. Each of my bags hold a special memory for me, either to events I carried them to or how I came about adding that bag to my collection.
I discovered my love for bags at a young age and bags quickly became an extension of me and my personal style. I, like everyone, went through phases where I was less secure with my looks and body, and my bag always seemed to help me feel a bit better about myself. I felt more put-together and happy that my bags are able to offer that finishing touch that overall makes me feel a bit happier. When we started PurseForum, I found a community of men and women who have been some of the most supportive people, many turned friends, over the past nearly 15 years. And many other members have found the same. There are still group meetups in different parts of the world, with members spending a day eating, shopping, and talking together with one common thread: designer handbags.
Surface level, many people scoff at us as luxury bag lovers. You’ve heard it too, I’m sure.
‘What a waste of money’ they say.
Sure, to them it may be, but to me it brings me happiness on more levels than many assume. My bag of course is meant to carry items with me from point A to point B, but it serves a greater purpose too, as does this community we are all a part of. So today, on National Handbag Day and World Mental Health Day, I want to take a moment to say thank you to all of you, for making my life better, partaking in this long journey, and helping create a piece of the internet that feels safe for all of us. This business, this community, and these bags have helped me in many ways and for that, I am a better, happier person.