I have seen the darkness, sought the light, and wondered...
The first death by suicide that I remember being devastatingly impacted by was Robin Williams. There had been plenty before that, and there have been plenty since, thus the inspiration, or should I say, sorrowful purpose, of writing this piece. There was something about Robin Williams that reminded me of my dad. Not just the fact that we grew up watching Mrs. Doubtfire together or that Captain Hook was a childhood classic, but he just had this way of being genuinely funny. He wasn't always crude or outlandish, he was just authentically hilarious and tender.
Not long ago, Tim Bergling dies of an apparent suicide. I happened to be with my younger brother, Alex, when I found out. He's a huge EDM fan, and when I broke the news to him, he was shocked, it hurt him. For whatever reason, it hurt me too. I'm not nearly the fan that Alex is, but it was still painful. Just this past week, suicide took Kate Spade. My wife, Lindsey, called me and told me as she detailed her first Kate Spade bag. Admittedly, I didn't think much of it other than the fact that it was the latest in a series of unfortunate events, but then Anthony Bourdain...
I wasn't ready for that. Is anyone ever ready? I suppose not, but this was an individual that I, like millions of others, had invited into my home on so many occasions that it isn't possible to count them all. If there was another celebrity that seemed to be more genuinely invested in the common folk, I do not know of their existence. The way he loved people through food, embracing their culture, teaching about different ways of life, was the kind of love that will be necessary to enact change in a world that is so invested in a culture that loves to hate. I hate it, I hate this epidemic.
OCD runs in my family. Not like your typical person's, "I'm so OCD about _______," comment, but seriously. My brother was diagnosed when he was just a boy. It's not like you just wash your hands 35 times a day or have to have things organized, there are some situations like that, but it's really just a lazy stereotype. OCD is a relentless attack on the battlefield of the mind. My dad and I struggle with it as well, not to the same degree, but it's exhausting. I've been taking anxiety medication to deal with it over the past few months and the difference is enormous. The only reason for that though is because there are people around me that were willing to ask how I'm doing, tell me what they see in my life, and push me to seek help.
Robin Williams once said, “I think the saddest people always try their hardest to make people happy because they know what it’s like to feel absolutely worthless and they don’t want anyone else to feel like that.” That's a chilling reality. So many of us look to things that will bring temporary happiness rather than eternal joy. On a much smaller scale, we do this every day. Social media has conditioned us to keep up with an aesthetic and put on this facade of someone that we really aren't. To the rest of the world we're one person, but on the inside there is another. We want others to be consumers of the person that we wish we were, but every day that made up individual has to come home and live with who we really are, and the two make terrible roommates.
You have to come to realize, on the outside Anthony Bourdain had the perfect life. Everything we strive for. He was world famous, traveled the world, stayed in the finest locations, ate amazing meals, met amazing people, had millions in his pockets, and it wasn't enough. Still, we will read about more tragedies like Anthony Bourdain, feel the emotions of it for a moment, and go back to chasing fame, traveling places to escape our reality, making millions to fund our security, and continually seek to place our identity in things that aren't strong enough to hold up the foundation of who we were meant to be.
I thank God that I have people in my life that cared enough to seek me out, ask how I was, and encourage me to get help, but most importantly, I am thankful to have a relationship with Jesus Christ. We are all children. Whether you know your parents or not, have a relationship with them or not, we all come from someone and are considered children. In Christ, we are children of God, disciplined and celebrated in the context of an unconditional love. It isn't something that can be lost based on our failures or earned through our accomplishments. Our identity isn't a result of anything that we can do, it is solidified through what Jesus has already done. We are sons and daughters of God, not by achieving, but by accepting. We are fully known and fully loved by a God who gave it all to have all of us.
Next time you wonder if you should reach out to someone who you suspect to be struggling, don't think about it, just go for it. Worst case scenario, you strike up an honest conversation. Best case scenario, you save someone's life. Life is a journey through Parts Unknown, but we were never meant to travel alone.
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