For #WorldMentalHealthDay, I am sharing something I wrote shortly after Anthony Bourdain passed last year. Mental Health has played a critical role in my relationships - friendships, family, etc. I don’t quite have the energy to provide much of an update, edit, or additional commentary today, but I thought it was worth a share.
June 8, 2018
Every time I have seen Anthony Bourdain’s name on my screen today, and every time someone has posted that new study of the rise in people that have taken their own lives since 99, I have been transported to the grey and rainy Thursday evening of June 15, 2017. Caleb and I were out to dinner, just a quiet evening at the Two Town pub in Tacoma, and I missed a couple of calls from a friend back home in Kansas. I felt uneasy, couldn’t continue dinner without knowing what was going on, so I got up to go outside and return the calls.
Every time in the last couple of days that I have read a dedication post or scrolled past a picture shared of these celebrities that have made an impact on the stigma of depression and suicide, I cannot even register who those people are or once were. Instead, I am sitting in those hard, cold, and uncomfortable chairs at the Two Town, having just ordered my meal, sipping on a well whiskey and water. Wearing my yellow spaghetti strap shirt (that was always a little bit too loose but it was almost summer time so it was nice - $3 old navy clearance) and once again contemplating with Caleb, the Two Town’s odd selection of beers on tap, until I walked out into the drizzle.
Today people are posting about the things these famous people have been known to say, do, speak, and the impacts they’ve left on popular culture. I’ve contributed somewhat in the small talk when people have brought it up verbally, but the truth is that I haven’t felt the sadness that everyone else feels about these losses. Some could call me a hypocrite because I haven’t had the guts or patience to read anything beyond a few words of what I’ve seen countless people post to my various feeds today.
Because ever since I got up out of that uncomfortable seat at the Two Town to answer the phone, I have wished that my phone never rang.
And today I’ve been living in June 15th, replaying the replays of the last time I had a conversation with Kevin. It’s been almost a year that I’ve spent a LOT of energy trying to be strong or cover up how I sad, heartsick, and straight-up bewildered I was by what happened on the day not all that different from today - when I found out that the last time I hugged him, when he put prayer beads around my neck and wished me well in the parking lot of jimmys egg bc we were drinking $1 margaritas or something at a tiny little coffee/poetry shop, was the last time I’d ever see him.
So many of the folks today think they have the answers! They are there NOW for the celebrities who they can only imagine to be suffering so horribly to do “something like this.”
I can’t help but want to yell when I see the reactions or the oversimplification of mental health today.
It is SO EASY to feel sad for someone who is obviously rich and famous and talented and good (especially if they’ve used their status to appeal to people like us) because you think “if their life is this good and they still decided to check out, they must have had a LOT of burden”. It’s EASY to speak up about mental health when it’s trending because you suddenly found out that someone who you think is a badass was actually suffering. It’s easy to think that SOMEONE could have done something about it.
What’s hard? Having and feeling so much love for your friends, family, fans, all people you’ve ever reached - wanting to be there for them and not let them down, while also being tormented so badly that you make the choice to go ahead and do it.
“Tell them you love them because you never know when you’ll get another chance.”
Yo, my rage tells me that all that does is ensure that you don’t have to feel any guilt for letting words go unsaid. Love is good, but it’s not the story. Communicating that love is essential to building our network of people and living out what makes you human. But love isn’t a magic pill that makes that kind of hurt go away.
So don’t think that love is all that you have to do.
Do something hard.
Vote in people that will enact policy that makes therapy accessible.
Vote in people that will enact policy that ACTUALLY takes care of teachers, farmers, and people who devote every waking second of their lives to ensure better lives for others.
Do your research and donate your money to organizations that will use it well.
Donate your time to places that actually provide resources to people that are struggling.
There’s not a ton of stuff much harder than loving someone who loves their friends, their family. But who also took their own life. You can’t stop envisioning what they were thinking in their last moments - when you sure as hell knew that they knew you loved them, and they did it anyway.