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Sunday
Jun102018

Seeking Help

I've been wanting to write something about Anthony Bourdain since I heard the news Friday, but couldn't quite find the words. I'm not sure I have them yet.

When I first saw the news alert on Friday, it hit me hard and quick. I can't say that Bourdain was a hero of my mine or that I spent much time looking up to him. But I admired him. Every time he popped up somewhere, I thought: "Damn. What a life. If I ever become one tenth as influential as he is, I'll be a success." He crafted his own path through this world, doing his own thing. He got to a place of success on his own and not just following what others had down before him. I admire that.

He started as a cook, became a chef, overcame drug addiction, became a writer, became a television host of a travel show, which slowly turned into a journalist. I loved No Reservations early on, because it was fun and Bourdain had some great voice overs. I loved it after it turned into much more of a journalism show following their Beirut episode and he continued that in CNN's Parts Unknown.

Bourdain made an effort to show the truth of the countries he went to. The real people, the real culture, the real impacts of war and violence that had impacted the country. It wasn't your basic travel show and it wasn't your basic journalism special on a foreign country. It was it's own thing. It was his thing.

After my initial reaction, another thought hit me: "That kind of makes sense." For a man, whose writing and to some degree his lifestyle, were inspired by Hunter S. Thompson, to take his own life makes a certain amount of sense.

Hunter S. Thompson was 67 at the time, but could feel himself going. He was in pain, he couldn't live his life the way he had. He was done, so he left on his own terms rather than see himself fall further into a life he didn't want to live.

I don't know and we may never know what Bourdain's reason for leaving were, what he was dealing with, or if it had any impact on his decision, but maybe it did. It didn't have to though.

Every story and social media posting following the news have included this number: 1-800-273-8255. That's the number for the National Suicide Prevention Hotline. It's an important number.

But that hotline feels like it's a last minute, Hail Mary pass for those suffering. You don't need to get to that point to seek help. Here's a website that I found very helpful: https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/therapists . It can help you find a therapist or counselor in your area. If you're dealing with depression, anxiety, or even think you might be, or you have a tendency to go to darker thoughts, try therapy.

The website has pictures of counselors, information about them, what their specialities are, what their treatment methods are, and what kind of insurance they accept. If you have ever thought "maybe I should find someone to talk to" then you should find someone to talk to. I have found that a lot more people go or have gone to therapy than I thought before.

It's not a shameful thing. Look at all those listings on the website, if only a few people went to therapy, not all of those people would stay in business. There's two important things to keep in mind about therapy.

First, as a very wise friend told me, you have to find the right one. Maybe you need to go to 2 or 3 different ones before you find one that you feel comfortable with and you have to feel comfortable. I went to one and did not feel comfortable at all and very quickly stopped going. The second one I went to, I lucked out, and she dropped a Seinfeld reference in the second session. That's someone I can feel comfortable around.

Second, going to therapy is not a sign of weakness. It's a sign of strength. I know that sounds a little cheesy, but it's true. You are admitting that you need help, but you are actively pursuing that help to improve yourself. If you were a high school football player and you wanted to get a scholarship to college, but you weren't good enough, you would improve yourself by working out more, getting help from trainers and coaches, listening to advice. None of these things would be considered a weakness, they would be considered a strength. Looking for someone to talk to about what you're feeling is no different.

It's not easy. It can be scary. But realize that whatever you're wrestling with, you don't have. Just take things one step at a time.

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