Anthony had influence so many people’s lives all over the world, including mine. When I read of his suicide, I was not surprised. I understood.
As food and culture fans, Gary and I used to watch his work. In fact, I blogged about it in one of my posts, Shawarma, which now when I revisited it, turned out to be one of the last TV programs that Gary and I watched together, 2 days before Gary passed.
Depression is everywhere. Depression is a continuum. Every day, one decides how one wants to act that day. Those who are religious hold on to the belief that it’s a sin to take your own life. For those religious and still contemplate suicide, it’s a struggle. For those who aren’t religious, their struggle becomes more real, as in, there is “no life after death”. Regardless, you decide what action to take every day.
I denied my depression for the longest time because for the longest time, it drove me. I was afraid that when my “self-diagnosis” is made official, others will perceive me differently. Worse still, I’ll victimize myself. I finally put my pride aside and sought help when I was burned out at work and needed time off to recover and spend more time with Gary. Again, in retrospect, it turned out to be about 6 months before Gary passed. The antidepressants helped regulate my emotions and therefore helped with deciding what to do every day, and it helped with my interaction with Gary. Yet, I didn’t like the feeling of being dependent on medication. It didn’t seem to make much difference after Gary passed. So, a year after his passing, I weaned off my antidepressants. I’m fully aware that my depression wouldn’t disappear overnight, I knew I had to actively do something about it. More so than when I was on medication. I consulted with my therapist and doctor so that we are accountable to each other. The last time I contacted my therapist was more than 3 months ago.
Those who knew Gary well knew that Gary was suicidal. We talked about it and even had a plan for when “the day” comes. That day never arrive. Instead, he decided against it when I asked him again in the last year of his life, seeing him suffer, and telling him I will be alright if he wanted to. He lived life his fullest to the very last day of his life.
Truth is – I am, too, but I just don’t have the guts to act on it. Furthermore, small little things still tickle me every now and then. Like, I’m in Japan right now, and here are the little things that I made me smile:
- heated toilet seat. Especially in the middle of the night. O. M. G.
- the decor of this hotel would easily be considered outdated by many. Classic wooden side tables with push buttons from the 60’s or 70’s. Golden light stands. Classic light pink bathroom wall tiles, toilet and bathtub. But the point here is that, the whites of the grout is white, and the pink is pink. It’s clean. The style is intentional. In other words, I see quality.
- listening to Stevie Wonder’s “Lately” played using steel drums, supported by a live band, while having udon and porridge for breakfast. Why did it tickle me? Because we’ve come so far as a world. Stevie, the electric guitar, the drums and the bass are American, steel drums are from the Caribbean, and to hear this in Japan, in addition to having the best quality udon and porridge for breakfast, that I’ve not had in years? Let me describe a little bit of what I meant by quality here. They have at least 3 different tongs at the buffet for different purposes. For example, the porridge condiments are presented in a classical black and red sectional tray. The tongs for picking up porridge condiments is small and slim, with a smaller head, as though they’re subtly reminding me that, “Hello, they are condiment – I only need a little of everything.”
Yet, it was only last night I was in a drunken stupor even though I made similar observations of how cold soba is served and how the remainder broth is drank, along with tempura served with hand grated wasabi, with a glass of Kirin fresh from the tap.
While many parts of Japan are indeed clean, I also noticed the stench of alcohol the moment I walked into the JR train headed towards my hotel. Cigarette butts, empty beer cans, and plastic wrappers can be seen on the ground every now and then.
The beauty of life is that it is unique to each individual. The beauty of death is that it is unique to each individual.
The APA defines it as: Depression (major depressive disorder) is a common and serious medical illness that negatively affects how you feel, the way you think and how you act.
Feel: worthless, guilty, painful
Think: Cognitive dissonance, analysis paralysis, resentment
Act: to numb or dissociate from the feelings and thoughts above
Prefixes to the word “Act”
over: too much
Generally, I maintain a healthy lifestyle and act logically and reasonably. It’s a discipline I’ve learned from my strict upbringing. Grief and depression is inevitable as we grow older. In fact, the effect of grief and depression accumulates, if I’m not careful about keeping up with the balance of emotions overtime.
In learning the definition of depression and deconstructing it, I applied that to my life in the context of Bourdain’s news. At the end of the day, it’s my action that determines whether I live another day. Well, unless an accident occurs, under which it’s beyond my control.
In-act-ion is always the first to happen upon an unexpected event due to the cognitive dissonance – or what some geeks like me call, “Does not compute”.
Then the re-act-ion to the news is “How does this relate to me?” Most likely it will come in a negative form because “No news is good news”. The human nature is such that we are usually attracted to “Bad news”. So based on this logic, every time I hear a bad news like Bourdain’s, I re-act negatively by getting reminded of the feeling of being worthless, guilty and/or painful.
It’s ok to react to the news negatively. It’s natural. In fact, the definition of the prefix “re-” in “reaction” is a reminder that “it” has happened before, whatever “it” is. But as I become older, I’ve learned to not over-re-act. I have also learned to only inter-act with people who are healthily supportive of me especially when I’m vulnerable. Otherwise, I’d rather be alone, which many depressed people tend to do. In these times, I mindfully remind myself that I cannot de-act-ivate my act-ions.
When I’m alone, I eventually get bored of my inaction and start to inter-act with my environment. “Inter-” in this case, helps me go between being alone, to being with other people again. So I start interacting with my computer (typing, reading). When I’m hungry, I eat. (Well, I’m still working on that). I interact with my ducks. Eventually, I visit with friends.
Good things come to those who wait are patient. Mindfulness is an act of patience, a practice of micro-patience.
(Added after someone posted, “What made celebrity suicide so special when there are 22 veterans who commit suicide every day?”)
It’s a damn good question. For me, doesn’t make a difference. Every death, suicide or not, is just another reminder to me about the two absolutes in life – Life and Death. I had the honor of playing for a service member’s funeral when I was serving in the US Army as a musician. He did not commit suicide. He was killed right outside of base (Fort Bragg, NC), due to an altercation outside a bar. He served 2 tours in Afghanistan. He was 21.
I can keep going…
My point is, “What does comparing deaths, celebrity or not, mean to you (the poster)?” I think that’s a more important question to answer.