I was born without the fanboy gene, but I was a fan of Anthony Bourdain.
News of his death hit me hard, and like millions of others around the world, I feel like I lost a friend.
It’s almost unbearable to think that he’s not out there somewhere right now, waiting to tell us about a new adventure. But he’s gone, and the world has a palpable void.
Of course, the question everyone is asking is “why?”
How could the man whose tagline was, “I’m Anthony Bourdain. I write, I travel, I eat, and I’m hungry for more,” take his own life?
It’s been suggested that depression drove him to suicide. I can’t speculate on that, but I do know the construct of a depressive episode.
Though they vary in length and intensity, there is a beginning, an end, and in between, a nadir – the lowest and darkest place.
We tell people with depression and mental health issues to “get help” or “reach out,” but when you are at the nadir and the gloaming comes, perspective and rational thought abandons you. The only thing you can do then is to hold on.
To suspend all actions. To avoid making a life-altering, or sometimes, life-ending decision. To wait until Aurora comes to part the darkness.
It’s likely he waited there many times before, but this time she came too late to save him.
It’s hard for an optimist like me to put a positive spin on death. On some level, it’s insulting to even try. But what choice do we have? Life goes on.
Bourdain’s death – along with Kate Spade’s before him – has brought to light the mental health problem we face as a country. Hopefully, it means more awareness and a better chance for those who need help.
But as individuals, we can do more.
We can remember to be kind.
That you can never know someone else’s state of mind. That the people we interact with every day – in person or online – may also be at their own nadir.
And that just a little bit of kindness can help bring them back into the light.
Anthony Michael Bourdain: 1956 - 2018