Spade, Bourdain Again and Again

By: Duncan Robinson

Late on a Friday night a few of weeks ago, I read of Anthony Bourdain’s passing. I was gutted. I spent days wanting to pen something to explain the feelings of depression. Trying to figure out a clear description for the cloud, the weight, the grind, the sadness and the isolation.

How do you explain easily how a man who is brilliant, talented and gifted finds himself at a place that death feels like the one and reasonable option. I just don’t think you can.

My connection with Anthony is non-existent. We both do Jiu Jitsu, and love food. I was a big fan of no reservations. It felt like the first non-bs food series I’d ever seen and I loved it.

I have even less of a connection with Kate Spade, although I’ve given my wife a Kate Spade bag, an epic, great, gorgeous handbag, that makes me smile every time I see it.

I remember reading a bio on Anthony and thinking this guy has had a hard life, but to find himself where he is now, is a real testimony to his character and strength of resolve. When I learn of his relationship with Asia Argento, I thought here are two people coming from a broken and tumultuous past who have found love, purpose and hope.

Asia’s insta post was a real insight into the character of Anthony Bourdain, who for all intents and purposes was unanimously loved in the Jiu Jitsu community.

“Anthony gave all of himself in everything that he did. His brilliant, fearless spirit touched and inspires so many, and his generosity knew no bounds. He was my love, my rock, my protector. I am beyond devastated. My thoughts are with his family. I would ask that you respect their privacy and mine.”

So how does depression get you to this point?

Firstly celebrity doesn’t protect you from depression. It more than likely enhances it. If all you want to do is feel normal, happy and live a normal life, celebrity is going to stand in the way of that. Celebrity enhances isolation, separation and exclusion. There is a reason why celebrities have big houses in isolated communities with small groups of friends.

Secondly the entertainment industry is filled with relentless rejection. There is a constant reminder around every turn that something is lacking, something is missing, or you just aren’t right. All the interviews that I’ve conducted with semi-famous people only confirm that the experience of rejection is heightened the more famous you become.

Thirdly, depression could be chemical, spiritual or environmental. It could be a product of some of these, all of these, it could happen as a result of any combination at any time. There is no predicting when it might happen and how it might strike you.

In Australia there is roughly 65,000 attempts at suicide a year. The push up challenge #22KILL was a result of a campaign to highlight in the USA the 22 veteran suicides that happen every day.

I once heard suicide described as a bomb blast. It hurts the people closest to the detonation, with a gradual reduction in carnage the further away you move. It’s ugly, messy and unpredictable.

Each day roughly 10 people wake up and make the decision to take their own lives and successfully do it. Roughly 180 people wake up with the same motivation and fail. They won’t ever get the same media coverage as Anthony, Kate, Chris Cornell or the 28 other celebrities that have committed suicide in recent history.

RUOK is a great initiative. It’s Okay not to be Okay is a great initiative to be aware that people deal with this every single day.

Indulge me for a moment…

I work the best job, I’m a radio host and get to sit on a microphone and talk to thousands of people every morning. To a small select group of people in Australia I’m a F-Rated celebrity. I’m also reminded almost daily of how awesome my job is and how special it is to be in this position.

It doesn’t stop depression from affecting me. It doesn’t mean I don’t have days where I literally want to lie in bed, cry and do nothing. It doesn’t stop the feelings of melancholy from interrupting my awesome days. I have had weeks sitting in a fog, pretending to be happy and knowing inside I was really hurting.

Here’s what happened though.

The right people at the right time checked in on me…

My wife is a rockstar and I share with her regularly about how I’m tracking and I’m open with where I’m at mentally and what state I’m in. She knows the difference between cranky tired Duncan, and depressed miserable Duncan.

I was open with my colleagues about my struggle. They check in on me regularly and know the signs. My co-host Sam and my producer Ally are legends and I’m open with how I’m feeling.

I’m in an amazing Church community that checks in regularly and cares for me. It also requires that I be open and honest with how I’m feeling which requires the need to be vulnerable.

Depression drives you towards isolation, so I surround myself with community. People who remind me I’m LOVED, I have PURPOSE and I’m CHERISHED.

If we had known, we would have surrounded Anthony with Love. If we had known, we would have embrace Kate, or Robin Williams or Chris Cornell right!? The mother of Assumption is the great tragedy of the moment. The 22 soldiers daily would have been embraced with love, steering them away from a tragic decision….if we had know.

All this to say, there is a community of people around you right now. Not all of them are doing well, and very few feel like they have it all together. It’s winter, people feel the weight, take a moment and phone a friend and give them some encouragement and check in.

Depression doesn’t care about success or celebrity, it’s an indiscriminate witch. Check in on your strong friend, and remind them they matter and you care.

Article supplied with thanks to Duncan Robinson.

About the Author: Duncan Robinson is a radio host, pastor, husband and father of two.