Meredith Marks prioritized her mental health after hitting her breaking point last year.
“It was a trying year, there were some pretty dark times,” the “Real Housewives of Salt Lake City” star exclusively tells Page Six, reflecting on the convergence of her beloved father’s death, discord within her famous friend group and a family member’s battle with addiction.
“As you know, I like to disengage. So at the end of last winter, I left Utah,” she recalls. “I didn’t come back here for about five or six months. I really needed time and space to process everything that had gone on — both within my family and my circle of friends and how they handled what went on with my family.”
Marks, 50, fled Salt Lake City for Provence, France, where she “found [her] zen” among the city’s scenic lavender fields.
“It was a very spiritual journey for me. I left. I just needed time to decompress and heal myself,” she says of her time in Europe, free of baseless speculation over the date of her late dad’s memorial service.
“And, of course, therapy never hurts,” she acknowledges. “I just really needed to go and take a lot of time for myself.”
Today, Marks feels strong enough to advocate for those struggling internally by sharing a story that once caused her disquietude off-camera: her nephew Alex Ruttenberg’s experience with substance abuse that came in tandem with mental health struggles of his own.
“My nephew went through a really difficult time that culminated last year, but it started long before. He had suffered from addiction and most addiction issues tend to be tied to mental health,” she points out.
“He had gone to a variety of different facilities to seek help. Ultimately, he attempted to take his own life but we were able to get him the right help for him. What works for one person doesn’t always work for the next.”
The jewelry designer hosted a fashion show last week, produced in partnership with Park City Fashion Week, at Salt Lake City’s Museum of Contemporary Art to benefit the ADR Foundation, a nonprofit created by Alex and his mother, Marks’ sister Myra Ruttenberg, to assist other families navigating the emotional — and sometimes costly — recovery process.
“The goal of ADR is to help others with their struggles. My sister is really working towards finding the right facilities to donate to right now,” she elaborates.
“That’s what her focus is, but she wants to carry it through to where she can work with specific families and give them the guidance to find those places that are the right fit and help them pay for it.”
At Marks’ charity event, Myra thanked her “amazing sister” for spotlighting the “major mental health epidemic” she feels is currently plaguing young adults in America. Alex also detailed part of his “treacherous” path to sobriety and stability.
“My journey started when I was much younger when my parents divorced and I chose to cope with maladaptive behaviors like … lying [and] abusing whatever I could get my hands on. But I’ve had so much support along the way,” he told the crowd, looking directly at his proud aunt.
“And without every single person in this room, I probably wouldn’t be here today.”
He added, “Anyone willing to put in the work for treatment deserves a chance. Almost no one’s going to get it right on their first try. I went to rehab, I think, six times last year. Not every day is perfect, but I still wake up looking forward to the next one.”
Marks’ heartwarming fête saw models walk the runway in her luxe accessories and chic looks by designers August Getty, Irina Shabeyeva and Brooks Marks, the Bravolebrity’s style-minded son.
Later, attendees were treated to a surprise performance by musician Jake Wesley Rogers — who dedicated his song “Lavender Forever” to Meredith and the French pastures that helped her heal.
“It was such a beautiful night and a great reminder that I’m finally on the other side,” she tells Page Six, her voice full of relief.
“Over the new year, I was in Aspen and I went to visit my father’s grave. I feel like that was the ultimate point of closure for me on this whole chapter. And seeing Alex thriving today is obviously a massive positive. It feels good to be through it.”