We all envied the life of Anthony Bourdain, a talented chef, an avid traveler who ate his way around the world and wrote about it. Hearing of his passing was like taking an uppercut to the gut. No one saw it coming. For those who know me, I’ve been a long time fan of Anthony Bourdain for years, it was even on my vision board to meet him one day. He wasn’t a tourist, he was a traveler, he would eat at hole in the wall places where someone’s mom cooked in the back. And you know what? The building looked like a shithole, but the food? It was always fucking delicious. He appreciated the simplicity of life. He was authentic and became a local wherever he went. And we all loved him for it.
He inspired me to look for the hidden gem of any city, to talk to the locals, sit back and enjoy a beer. He wasn’t a typical “travel show host” either. His raw, uncut, potty mouthed attitude was something I admired. Maybe it’s because he grew up in New Jersey and his tell it like it is attitude was comforting in a strange way. He felt like a friend you could shoot the shit with. When I heard of his passing, I thought it had to be one of those celebrity hoax deaths. “You’re lying!!!!” I texted back to my cousin.
I cried. Like snot bubble cried, in my car. I felt like a family member died. And perhaps because my brother attempted many times in the past and is in the chef world. I saw a little piece of my brother in Anthony Bourdain. I was angry. I know how that feels to be on the other end of someone you love struggling with depression and not wanting to live. How dare you do that your family? Your daughter- the one person you said you’re living for, your girlfriend, your friends. Why? His pain is over but is it really? It was only transferred to everyone that knew him. We all hopefully will heal in our own time. But honestly, I’m still angry.
Between Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain, my anger shifts to our culture and society and how we view mental health. It’s been a few months now since Anthony Bourdain and Kate Spade’s death and it’s crickets. Our news media spews how much we need to talk about the mental health of this country and yet we all continue our lives like nothing happened. This isn’t just mental health. It’s any kind of horrid atrocity, we speak about it for a week and then poof it’s gone. Why is that? It’s like when you see a homeless person on the street and continue to walk by like it’s nothing. (We all do it). Have we all become that numb to what’s going on around us? We are all so connected via the media and yet we’re strangers at the same time.
Experiencing this personally with a family member and working in the mental health field. I can tell you, we’re not doing enough. When is America going to wake the fuck up? People are struggling, and being the in midst of the chaos trying to help people, we struggle everyday with the funds and resources. Kids are shooting up schools more than ever before. This isn’t an open debate of gun control but I think everyone can agree something is going on. We need to stop shoving things under the rug like nothing is wrong.
We live in a society where social media portrays a façade that everyone has it together. We know that’s not the case but it’s easy to get swept up in the flashy cars, successful careers, and the jet-setting around the world. Everyone can fake a smile but are people truly happy when the lights turn off, when the cameras stop rolling or when they’re finally at their hotel room by themselves. No one sees that part. We don’t see the Kate Spades going home after work crying her eyes out, we don’t see the Anthony Bourdains going back to his hotel rooms after countless hours of filming suffering with his demons. We see the smiles, the success, we envy the money they have and the people they get to meet or hang out with. Why should they be upset? Right?
We need be humbled quick. Anthony Bourdain and Kate Spade are still human beings at the end of the day. Strip their success and fame away and they are just like you and me. For them, I think it’s worse to struggle with their darkness being in the spotlight because they have to be “on” all the time. We need to stop the judgment and stigma about mental illness because hate to break it to you but it’s alive and well. We need to keep talking about it because if mental health was taken as seriously like how the NRA wants to keep guns, we’d be in a different headspace.
We need to be kinder to people because you truly never know who is struggling. And listen, it’s not to put pressure to be a superhero, we unfortunately can’t save them all but we can try. We need to create communities again, like remember how hippies say, “It’s all about love”? Well, guess what? They’re right. I’m not saying we all have to join communities where we don’t shower and dance around naked. (All the power to you if that’s your thing). But loving each other is the answer for real change. We are fixated on highlighting the differences with the person next to you rather than seeing what we have in common. If we could practice even just a little bit of seeing what we have in common with others, we could slowly change the world.
So, yes, we need to continue to talk about suicide prevention but it starts within ourselves and our own communities. We need to start loving each other and creating the space for people to reach out when they’re struggling without the stigma. I ask of you today, try to see a little bit of yourself in everyone, we are all human and in this together.
Anthony Bourdain’s death makes me angry. But I am also heartbroken like many of us. Please check on your loved ones and your “strong” friends. Some people are good at hiding their darkness. And if you’re struggling right now, please reach out to your family members, your therapist or call these hotlines below.
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-TALK (8255)
If mental health difficulties are leading you to consider suicide or think about death often, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline’s national network of local crisis centers. This 24-hour hotline is available to anyone in crisis and provides free and confidential emotional support and crisis intervention.
Crisis Text Line: Text “home” to 741741
This unique hotline is available via text message to anyone experiencing mental health difficulties or an emotional crisis. Highly trained counselors offer support and guidance to calm you down and make sure you are safe.
If you’re ready to seek professional treatment for your mental health condition, SAMHSA’s helpline and web-based behavioral health treatment services locator can help you find information about treatment providers, therapists counselors, support groups, and community resources in your area.
Photo courtesy of the Kimmel CenterBrowse Front PageShare Your Idea
Read Elephant’s Best Articles of the Week here.
Readers voted with your hearts, comments, views, and shares:
Click here to see which Writers & Issues Won.