beauty

Charlotte Dawson: Rarely is someone so happy to share both strength and fragility.

Charlotte Dawson was almost painfully open and honest about her life and her struggles. She was happy to share both her strength and fragility. If she only knew how much she was admired. If only she knew we were all rooting for her.

At first I couldn’t quite process the death of Charlotte Dawson.

To me, she has always been the perfect blend of fierce strength and human frailty. The thought of her succumbing to her illness never occurred to me, despite how close she’d come, because she was such a fighter. I knew she’d be okay, I just knew it. At first I wanted to believe her death was an accident. I started reading everything I could find about her.

Then my mum rang me sobbing hysterically. “I can’t believe it Jo. I just can’t believe it.” Mum hasn’t cried like this over a celebrity death since Princess Diana met her untimely end.

We spent the day phoning each other every time we heard something new about the days leading up to her death. We weren’t trying to be voyeuristic. We were just trying to figure out how someone who we admired so much could lose touch with how much she was loved, but that’s the nature of mental illness. It disconnects you from what is real and leaves you floundering.

Charlotte Dawson and ex-husband Scott Miller

It is understood Dawson, 47, was found dead in her luxury Woolloomooloo Finger Wharf apartment by a security guard. Her real estate agent rang the building because they couldn't contact her. Friends were already concerned due to her behavior in recent weeks but also because her Twitter account had remained untouched for 18 hours.

Watching Dawson on shows like Beauty and the Beast, particularly when she was teamed up with the late, great Stan Zemanek, and you could only describe her using words like bubbly and fierce. She was hilarious and didn't hold back. Remember when she stepped in for Jodhi Meares to host the live finale of the first season of Australa's Next Top Model?

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Dawson was a natural on camera and had nerves of steel. She pulled it off brilliantly and continued to be an important part of the show until just recently when she was reportedly dumped from the new lineup. I've since read that it may have been her decision to move on and take on new challenges.

Friends have reported that Dawson was clearly 'struggling' in the days leading up to her death. She'd been down before and had even survived an attempt on her own life in 2012 after becoming overwhelmed by Twitter trolls.

Her obsession with strangers who delighted in tormenting her online was one of the clearest reminders of her inner demons. Most people would just turn away from such vitriol, would block the offenders and move on with their lives. Dawson chose to fight back, exposing herself to the worst aspect of social media these days - strangers who enjoy targeting the vulnerable.

Dawson's sister Vicky has spoken out since the death of her sister. "We're absolutely devastated," she told The New Zealand Herald.  “We miss her terribly and that’s all we want to say at the moment.” It is expected that Vicky and her other sister Robin Barclay will travel from Auckland to Sydney to accompany Dawson's body back to New Zealand.

I really hope Charlotte Dawson's legacy is strength through adversity, smiles through pain and her campaign to out Twitter trolls.

Finally, she has the peace she was searching for.

If you or someone you know is struggling with depression or mental health issues please call Lifeline on 13 11 14 or the Suicide Call Back Service on 1300 659 467.

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