ANTHONY BOURDAIN AND THE CASE FOR BEING LOUDER
I can't stop thinking about Anthony Bourdain. I didn't even watch his show, but over the last few days, I realized what he represented to me - a bold, open, beautiful mess. In a world where everything has to be a repeated replica of perfection, he was not. I related to him in so many ways.
I feel lost 90% of the time and still constantly moving in the right direction. My confidence shrouds my insecurity and fear. I love hard and hate even harder. I wake up most mornings with agony for the day ahead, but by lunch, I'm ready to take over the world, and then by dinner, ready to drink it all away. I love laughing when it's inappropriate and crying at Pixar movies. I have daddy issues, mommy issues, no career or education goals, am a terrible wife, and an always-trying-to-get-there mom. I talk loudly about shit I don't know about and play down my intelligence and wisdom. I'm worthless while understanding I have powerful gifts. I commit to things to watch them fall apart, I commit to things to watch them grow exponentially. I have been broken since I was a little girl, tried to let the world tear me apart, and now will spend the rest of my life trying to pull it all back together.
I make friends with people that are bold open beautiful messes; I love people who are flawed in the most incredible ways. I reach out hard to embrace the other pedestrians strolling on the same dirt path, scattered with busted tree branches and kicking the acorns away. I secretly root for people on social media to find their way and celebrate their successes because in the end, we're all just trying. I want everyone to be happy, safe, and feel supported.
What caused Anthony Bourdain to commit suicide, we’ll never know, but without question, his death has devastated a generation when we needed voices like his more than ever. Over the time since his passing, I keep coming back to the idea that if he couldn’t keep going, then how can anyone? I especially found myself asking this question when, as you can predict, the wave of “stop saying X to people who are suicidal” started. While I understand that depression is a bear, to be against humans who want to offer the only thing they can - their heart - to someone is ridiculous. If we can’t do that, then what are we doing here?
Over the last couple of years, my child told me they were suicidal, a dear friend admitted to writing a suicide note and planning their demise, and most recently, one of my closest friends survived a gruesome suicide attempt. Please don’t tell me that I can’t tell them to reach out to me or that I’ll be there for them. It’s not the time to blame each other for trying, rather we need to focus on being louder to let people know they have support.
My daughter’s therapist once said to me that depression was like a fog. While someone can hear and comprehend what they should be doing, the fog is so thick, they can’t see how to get there. I don’t know if it was the best analogy, but she’s a therapist, not a writer. And obviously, she’s smarter than me because she picked a career that pays.
The support systems for a person suffering from depression can’t lift the fog, but we most certainly can help clear the way, by doing a few simple things:
Be present when you’re with your people (put down the phones and focus) - make time.
Listen and observe.
Do not GIVE advice unless they ask; sometimes they just want to be heard.
Ask folks if they are alright, even when they seem alright, but especially when they don’t.
Let them know that it’s ok not be ok and that having emotions is not “weird,” but human.
Suggest counseling and therapy
Be patient, be kind, be the friend you’d want at this time
This last point is one that reverberated in Bourdain’s messaging consistently - be kind, be humble, be thoughtful, and have empathy.
Bourdain once said, "As you move through this life and this world you change things slightly, you leave marks behind, however small. And in return, life — and travel — leaves marks on you. Most of the time, those marks–on your body or on your heart — are beautiful. Often, though, they hurt."
I believe this to be true and I believe this journey is worth it. I also believe that the world is a better and more interesting place with all the bold open beautiful messes. Mad crazy love to them all.