My morning has been totally thrown off-kilter after hearing on CNN that perhaps my most beloved modern commentator/writer/adventurer Anthony Bourdain hung himself last night in his hotel room in France.
For all the pain in my own heart, I can only stretch out my most aching condolences to his friends and family, Eric Ripert, Zach Zamboni, Tony’s young daughter, and more. It is not hyperbole to say that Tony touched the lives of billions in one way or another. Through direct and indirect action, through his writing, his travel, his irreverent humor and more.
He fought addiction to cocaine and heroin. He drank and smoked too much. He was cranky and sarcastic and quick to judge on the one hand, and deeply kind, respectful and forgiving on the other.
And Tony was sick.
Tony was sick the way SO MANY PEOPLE are sick. With depression, anxiety, mood disorders that lie to us in the most convincing way possible as they fuck with our everyday experience and muck about in our brain.
And I’m gonna say something here that may surprise and upset you: (now the swearing, and stick with me)
Fuck crisis lines.
Fuck phone numbers.
Fuck posthumous platitudes and well-meaning empathy.
Every time I read those classic responses to suicide, they feel like another round of “my thoughts and prayers are with the victims of the latest mass shooting” …. ok, now can we address the issue?
“If you’re in crisis, call ” … yeah, and if your leg is too infected there’s always amputation motherfucker, but what about DOING SOMETHING FIRST?
Mental health is health. It’s your body, my body, my mom and sister and best friend’s bodies. Our brains? Yeah, they live in there. They’re PART of the body. We still, for all our bold words and evolved worldviews want to pretend on a deep and abiding level that it’s somehow just up to each and every one of us to, you know, just… make it work.
“Just … look on the bright side!”
“…. don’t be so selfish.”
“Oh calm down.”
“You think YOU have it bad? What about….”
You know what? You, anyone reading this who has any number of these mood disorders. Bipolar, Depression, Anxiety, Compulsive tendencies, etc. I don’t want you to call when you’re in crisis. When you’re in crisis, you fucking can’t call, you’re in CRISIS. It’s too much work just to breathe/get up/move…
I don’t want you to be in crisis,
I want you to call -NOW-
This morning/afternoon/evening/whenever you read this. I want you to get a professional you work with on a regular or semi-regular basis. I want you to evaluate your mental health just like you would at an annual physical with your everything-else-health. Maybe you just need the mental equivalent of 3 days a week on the treadmill and some stretching! Maybe that’s “all” … but it’s still fucking work and to be healthy you need to do it. Maybe your body simply doesn’t make the brain’s equivalent of insulin and you just freakin need some drugs too, man. They’re NOT A CRUTCH. If you DON’T make the proper neurotransmitters, for the fucking love, GO BUY SOME and deal with your disease.
And you know what else? I want you to talk about your drugs. Your mental personal trainers. Your new anti-depression cortex-crossfit routine.
I want you, and me, and everyone to normalize dealing with mental health.
My parietal-personal trainer? His name is J. He’s fucking awesome, and he’s just the right balance of pushing and protecting. He makes me stretch and he makes me work and he makes me really dig into those mental muscle groups that you don’t remember are there. You know the ones, those ones that ache after a good workout? He’s not sure if I may need some greymatter-glucosamine right now, so he and my other doctor (whose name is Lloyd) keep in touch, so that if my mental blood numbers are off, we can tweak it.
Cuz if you do things like good brain work and good physical work, you can sometimes make your body create more of those mental blood chemicals… but not always! So yay for modern fucking science.
You know who else in my family has a mental personal trainer?
… everyone. Seriously. My spouse, my partner, my spouse’s partner. My daughter, my mother, my sister… because depression and anxiety and bipolar runs around in our family (and apparently in my in-laws and loves)
If you have a mental fitness routine, I would love it if you would comment it here. Talk about it on your social media. Brag about the number of sessions in a row you’ve done, the string of days you’ve made good decisions, the general overall well-being of your brainmeats my friends!
Then. When you know your body, you keep in touch with your brain health, you have a plan and you work on it, and the people around you KNOW about it… then? You have a chance to really beat that shit.
And for fuck’s sake, call for help. Call now, start now. Tell your friends, your family, your kids about it (in age appropriate ways)
And yes. If you can, and you’re feeling the crisis come on? Please.
… please call. I’m literally typing this through tears, I’m not fucking with you. I am going to miss Tony so much. And Keith. And Robin. And other friends of mine and minds that we’ve lost because we don’t want to talk about diseases we can’t see.
So despite all I’ve said, here’s the number again: 1-800-273-8255
… you can text with them too: http://www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org/GetHelp/LifelineChat.aspx
I love you all. I’m terribly sad. I am totally going to do some reps on the grief response machine with J next time.
Please. Keep reading, keep writing, keep listening…
… make sure YOUR story goes on. For me. For your loved ones.