Image Source

Today we are talking about a more serious topic than usual: mental health. After the tragic passings of Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain, there is a push more than ever before to open up about mental health. We feel firmly that it is crucial to put away the negative stigmas, and focus on how we can best support those around us who are struggling, and speak up if we need help for ourselves. We are incredibly honored that two inspiring women opened up with House of Harper about their own personal mental health journeys so that we can share their advice with you.

The first Q&A below is with our friend Morgan Hutchinson, the founder of BURU, an online women’s fashion destination that carries beautiful pieces that cater to new mothers. You may have read our Mom Crush interview with her earlier this year. Morgan has been incredibly open about her journey with bipolar disorder and we so admire and respect her for using her platforms to help others.

The second Q&A is with our friend Meg Grant, the founder of Meg Grant & Co. Meg is a talented calligrapher and stylist with an impressive background in luxury brand management. We have collaborated with Meg on many projects including our recent summer produce guide. She has been very open through social media and in conversations with her friends about her own personal struggles with depression as well as losing her mother to suicide.

We want to note up front that everyone’s experience with mental health and specific diseases are so different and personal, so some of these responses may not apply directly to you. For anyone struggling with mental illness please seek professional medical help. If you are having suicidal thoughts call the suicide hotline (1-800-273-8255).

We hope these words of wisdom will be helpful to you in some way, whether you know someone who is struggling, or you are looking for personal guidance on managing depression. Read on below!

Morgan Hutchinson, Founder of Shop Buru

You’ve been very open about your journey with bipolar disorder and how it is one of the biggest challenges in your life. Why do you feel that it is so important to be open and honest about your struggle with this illness?

Morgan: Sadly, mental illness continues to carry an often negative and scary stigma.  I believe it is my responsibility to share a real life example of my disease—a life that with proper treatment and medication is productive, successful and for the most part, positive. Of course there are serious ups and downs, but many times only the down sides are represented. It’s time to change that. It’s time to talk about the creativity and talent that often comes from people living with mental illness.  It’s time to end the stigma. Any small role I can play in this is worth the fear that comes with vulnerability and sharing my story.

You’ve talked about the importance of taking care of yourself so that you can be the best mom possible. How do you find time to check in with yourself and best manage this illness?

Morgan: This is a tough one, and honestly, even though I fully understand it’s importance, I’m not always able to execute self-care in perfect form. Exercise is important, and though I don’t actually belong or go to a gym, I walk everywhere. I take baths. I give myself at-home facials. I drink a glass of red wine and on occasion watch mindless, often bad TV. I date my husband (he’s a grounder for me, and like a medicine in human form). Self-care can be anything you want it to be, and it can be as simple as 5 minutes of quiet sitting on the floor in your closet.

For someone else out there struggling with bipolar disorder or depression, what advice would you give them to manage it so that they can live their life to the fullest?

Morgan: Find the best therapist AND psychiatrist you can—one that truly listens and is open to constantly changing things around until you get it right. I search for mothers…they seem to “get” me faster, less back and forth and more understanding that meds need to change A LOT pre and post giving birth. Also, you HAVE to take your medicine—as directed and consistently. It sounds obvious, but many times when someone starts feeling good, they forget or stop taking meds—ignoring the fact that they feel good because of them. I’m also a big believer in cognitive therapy, but this one takes time to master (hence the importance of a great therapist). I thought it was total crap my first go, and then after a few months—it clicked! And finally, you have to find your people, the ones that love you no matter what. Surround yourself with positive, understanding humans who watch out for you and reach out when they see signs of odd behavior. Accountability can literally be a life saver.

How would you explain what is like to struggle with bipolar disorder to someone who is not familiar with it?

Morgan: I can only speak to my personal struggle, as I was diagnosed as a rapid “cycler”, meaning my ups and downs come on very fast and often move out fast (though not always). But in a nutshell, here it is— I can literally go to bed as one person and wake up as a totally different version of myself.  I’m still me, but a shift occurred. Typically, I’m one of two ways: lethargic and zapped or heart racing and jittery. I feel like I’m watching myself and not actually living the day. I can’t always grasp the consequences of behaviors or I just have no energy to function. It’s not like being tired, it’s like a giant weight was placed over my entire body, holding me down from doing anything. On the flip side, the jittery one,is an overwhelming feeling that my skin is crawling with a physical desire to scratch or pull out my hair for some sense of release (which in my right mind, makes zero sense to me). Beyond the symptoms, the struggle is living with it and functioning like a normal human.  This takes more effort. As a mother, it takes a level of discipline to protect the little humans from being scared, while also being as honest with them as they are capable of understanding. My daughter knows that I take medicine to make my brain better, just like she takes Mucinex for a runny nose.

How can we best support friends and family members who struggle with bipolar disorder?

Morgan: For friends, I would say that check-ins are important,  Acknowledging the disease is comforting. It makes me feel less crazy in a way. For family, it’s love, understanding, A LOT of patience and time and space (perhaps secretly monitored during manic phases) when needed.

How do you think we can all help to change the misconceptions and stereotypes around mental health?  What do you want everyone to know about this growing healthcare problem?

Morgan: In the movie “Terms of Endearment” with Shirley McClean, her daughter becomes very sick. At a cocktail party, the other guests are literally whispering the word “cancer”. It seems bizarre now as no one would feel ashamed or hush-hush after receiving a cancer diagnosis, but at one point they did. Mental illness should be talked about as openly as diabetes. It shouldn’t only be discussed after a school shooting. It should be talked about when people living with the disease do amazing things—which they do every day. People are embarrassed so they don’t get help or worse, they know they need help, and they can’t afford it. Shame on our government (and media outlets for that matter) for constantly contributing to the stigma with negative stories and a lack of health care options.

With the recent and very public passings of Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain there is a lot of attention on this topic right now.  What do you hope to come from this increase in conversation and awareness around the subject?

Morgan: Honestly, I don’t know. I suppose I hope it’s a reminder than no matter what it looks like on the outside, someone can be breaking on the inside. I hope it reminds friends and family to reach out, to offer support, and to read and understand the illness. We donate a portion of sales to Bring Change to Mind, a non-profit on a mission to end the stigma of mental illness. They have incredible “talking point” tools on their website for friends and family trying to find the “right” thing to say.

Meg Grant, Founder of Meg Grant & Co.

You’ve been really open about your personal struggle with depression and anxiety, as well as sharing the loss of your mother to suicide, which is so incredibly heartbreaking. If someone is wondering how to best support a friend or family member struggling with depression, what would you advise?

Meg: First and foremost, I would like to say that everything I am going to write here is based on my own personal experience and by no means is the only way or the right way to handle any of these matters. I can only expand on what has and has not worked for me from my personal experiences.

That being said, in my opinion, it would be compassion + empathy. There are a lot of facets to mental health, and for those that may not have struggled with it, some aspects can be very hard to understand or grasp. Therefore, it is about finding a way, to see this through the eyes of their friend or family, to best relate to what they are going through. I think another important thing that friends or family can do, is recognize that it is not their job to fix or try and find the solution to their issues or struggles, but rather to be a source of support and understanding through their own personal journey.

For those wrestling with their own depression, what advice do you have to best manage their struggle and live life to the fullest?

Meg: For me personally, who has struggled and lived with and through depression, these are the ways that I deal with it:

Mindfulness/Awareness (being very aware of my state of being)

Exercise/Physical Activity


These are the 3 points of my triangle that help me stay centered and are also good barometers for how I am doing. For example, if I do not workout for 3-4 days, that is usually an indicator to me that something is going on. It has also been crucial to my journey to have a person I know and trust to speak through what is going on.

Why do you think it’s so important to talk about mental health every day?

Pablo Picasso Said “through education comes understanding” – granted he was talking about art education, however I think this is applicable to this and so much more. By talking about mental health, by educating people, I truly believe we will garner better understanding … and as a society, I think one of our greatest goals is to have understanding for all that we do not understand or know: whether that is mental health, religion, sexual orientation. We are human beings and are hardwired for connection, and through understanding we are better able to find connection and see similarities instead of differences.

Mental health is too often misunderstood. How would you explain depression and/or anxiety to someone who has never struggled with it themselves?

Meg: For me, I think one of the things that took me the longest to understand when dealing with my mother is that depression and anxiety, or any form of mental illness, is not a choice. They are diseases no different that diabetes, or any other. The mind is such a complex and enigmatic entity. And though I believe undoubtedly in the power of positive thinking and outlook, for some it is not a choice about how they feel. It is not as easy to say “just look on the bright side.”

With the recent and very public passings of Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain there is a lot of attention on this topic right now.  What do you hope to come from this increase in conversation and awareness around the subject?

Meg: I think it is just that – increased conversation and awareness. I do not want to see anyone living in the shadows of their illness. I want them to find help without prejudice or fear. To have the resources to understand signs and symptoms and a path to seek help and find support. Education!



Thank you Morgan and Meg for your openness, bravery, and words of wisdom!