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“How The Real Housewives Franchise Saved My Life” by Happy Hinds

By July 22, 2022July 25th, 2022No Comments

Art by Maya Herdigein

“Words are like a rorscach,” as Crystal Kung Minkoff would say. A ‘rorscach,’ is an inkblot test that is subject to psychological perception. The name “Real Housewives,” symbolizes a lot of different things for a lot of different people. Some would say that it’s almost like an inkblot test. For me, it is a symbol of the resilience of my life. The vibrance and power of all of the ‘Housewives’ is undeniable. In times when I needed to be reminded of my own power, I could always just pick a city and get inspired. As women, we are often taught to be smaller, in every way, and it is the women that dare to go against that constant directive that show us how much is possible when we step into our truest energy and grow into ourselves. I have learned priceless lessons from watching the women on these shows. My life has grown in exponential and beautiful ways but I will always be grateful to ‘the Real Housewives’ franchise for keeping my spirit alive.

‘The Real Housewives’ franchise seems to have either a love or hate relationship with everyone. They either say, “I’m obsessed! Who’s your favorite housewife?” Or they’ll say, “I don’t really look into that stuff. Don’t they yell a lot?” For the record, to those questions, I say, ‘I’ll never tell,’ and ‘absolutely!’ I think that there is just so much wealth and drama on the shows that a lot of people feel that it is foreign territory. But the people that love ‘Real Housewives’… they swear by it. They will watch every week, every city, and follow every single housewife on Instagram. Actually? Now that I think about it… that’s what I do! The franchise has been able to build such a large following because of die-hard fans like me. There are people all over the world who have social media accounts dedicated to ‘Housewives’: drawings of them, quotes by them, screenshots of their facial expressions during scenes… the list is endless. People feel very connected to the ‘Housewives’, and really feel almost like they are their ‘spirit animals’, in the way of being their spirits personified. And honestly, can you blame them? There is something about watching the women in these cities that makes you feel at home with yourself.

Art by Maya Herdigein
As women, what do we have without our sense of self? In 2017, I had my first manic episode. I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder when I was fifteen years old, and had hypomanic episodes every now and then, in high school. But that only manifested itself in the way of losing a few hours of sleep and a hyper mood. I had always complained about insomnia, and I have always had a bubbly personality, so the symptoms that I had during my hypomania weren’t really seen as abnormal to the people around me. This time, at the age of nineteen years old, was completely different. I went days without sleeping, I exercised constantly, and most unfortunately, I didn’t treat the people close to me very well. I didn’t know what was going on with me; I just knew it felt overwhelming. I wanted to communicate it to the people around me but I didn’t even know enough about what I was experiencing to have a clue about what to communicate to them. I was hospitalized after months of psychological symptoms. I just remember waking up in the hospital, after being stabilized, and not being able to remember any of it. I checked my phone and saw that I had blocked over seven of my closest and dearest friends on Instagram.

The aftermath of my being stabilized was extremely lonely. None of my friends that I actually hung out with were speaking to me. A lot of them, for reasons I had no awareness of, which wasn’t their fault. I went from hanging out with my friends all day, every day, and all night… To going full days without speaking to any friends at all. My three best friends in the entire world were all, simultaneously, not on speaking terms with me, and I don’t even think they were aware of each other’s commonality. I thought about them all day, every day, and all night. The manic episode was so bad that I just happened to be in a conflict with all of them around the same time. In the aftermath, I would go on a date, and get in my car, so excited to call my best friend to tell her about it, then I’d remember that she was refusing to talk to me for reasons that I couldn’t remember, and afterwards I would recall that this was the same case for the other two people that I was dying to call. Pretty soon, I rediscovered ‘Real Housewives’. I immediately loved it exponentially and watched every city’s show, every week. It brought me all of the laughter and love and community that I missed so much. In a way, this was a good thing. And in a way, it reminded me of what I was missing.

Art by Maya Herdigein
What is great about the franchise is that no stones are left unturned. At all! Take it or leave it. In Teresa Giudice, you have the friend that says everything she’s thinking, and whom everyone knows you should never confront about anything, ever. Luann de Lesseps is the friend that is completely confident in herself, and needs no outside validation, to the point where you need a break from her sometimes. Ramona Singer, of course, is the friend that is super problematic but you love going out with because you can be social together and she will definitely dance. Erika Jayne, undoubtedly, is the friend that always looks good regardless of the occasion and will stick up for you regardless of what you’ve done. No explanations needed. Chanel Ayan is, hands down, the friend that you go out to dinner with because you had a bad day and need to laugh. Kyle Richards is effortlessly the friend that you have a sleepover with and have a venting night. Nene Leakes doesn’t even have to lift a finger to be the funny friend that ‘reads’ the people who have wronged you and makes you feel better about them not being around. In a time when I missed the personalities of all my friends, watching these women interact was like a safe haven.

Art by Maya Herdigein

Like most people, reality TV couldn’t solve all of my problems, confusingly. So I went to a lot of therapy… three times a week. I talked about all of the things I wish I could remember, and about all of the things I would say if I could speak to the people that I couldn’t, and asked how long is long enough for me to be mad at myself for things I have no recollection of. My therapist had to listen to me rant on and on for three hours per week. But I got it all out. I healed. There was something about constantly watching powerful women that made me want to be happy enough to be powerful again too.

Art by Maya Herdigein

Fast forward to now… I have my life and myself back. And my friends too. It took a lot of therapy, and hard work and inspiration. And apologizing. Lots of apologizing. And definitely ‘Real Housewives’. I never thought I would be as happy, confident, and motivated as I am today. I owe a lot of that to the ‘Housewives’. The most important lesson I have learned from this franchise is that life throws things at everyone. No one is too pretty or too rich or too famous to be pushed down by life… but what counts, and what makes us who we are is what we do after we’re pushed. I genuinely did not think that I could ever be happy or successful again. But I am, now, and I have ‘Real Housewives’ to thank for a lot of that. As Lisa Rinna would say… “own it!” I really have every single ‘Housewife’ to thank. For showing me what’s possible when you show up as yourself.


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