OPED: They had it all, or so we thought
Having everything means nothing. Having every success you ever dreamed of means nothing. Having great wealth, fame and the freedom to do what the rest of the world only dreams about means nothing. Loving and being loved means nothing.
Is this what we learned this week when two of the most successful Americans, Kate Spade and now Anthony Bourdain — so familiar to us all that they were like friends we didn't know — killed themselves despite earning everything we have been taught to consider important?
Yes — for some.
What we learned for sure, and need to understand, is that depression is as real a disease as cancer — and can be as potentially lethal — even though sufferers often go to great lengths to hide it. You can't hide cancer for long. You CAN hide depression until it kills you.
Bourdain's friends, like many of Spade's friends, didn't see it coming.
"I was just speaking with him last week," said Sasquatch Fitness owner Claude Joly, who had met Bourdain at Renzo Gracie Academy where both practiced Brazilian jiu-jitsu. "All seemed very well."
"(Anthony) mentioned he was doing lots of traveling, but everything was good. Then again, I know he'd had a difficult life," Joly said. "Growing up, he abused drugs. But he cleaned himself up, and he was just a really nice guy."
Joly is in shock, as are all of Bourdain's friends and millions of fans who lived adventures around the world through him on CNN's hugely successful "Parts Unknown."
And perhaps that's what's hardest for all the rest of us to understand. How, if you've achieved the American dream and overcome the impossible, could you still be so unhappy that you would feel the need to end it all?
Both Bourdain and Spade had won honors from their peers and were shining examples for anyone aspiring to greatness in their respective fields. Each had gone through and overcome hard times and both talked about how we should never give up.
Until they both did.
Both Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain had split from their spouses in recent years. Spade had been living apart from her husband and business partner, Andy, for 10 months, while Bourdain and his ex-wife Ottavia Busia, a chef and MMA fighter, broke up two years ago.
Both had daughters at the most vulnerable ages — 11 and 13.
Kate had spiraled into depression before her husband had moved out — even though they still were together as a family for all intents and purposes. But she couldn't get past it and even left her young daughter a terrible suicide note implying the death wasn't the girl's fault, and telling to ask her father for an explanation.
Bourdain and his ex were also proud of keeping their family intact, even if their marriage wasn't.
Though Spade couldn't move on, Bourdain — who'd had what his ex called "a very unconventional marriage" — had found love with another Italian, actress Asia Argento. In fact, just a few weeks ago Bourdain and Argento posted loving selfies with each other on their Instagram accounts.
His read, "Just a perfect day. You made me forget myself."
He forgot himself perhaps, but he apparently couldn't forget his pain — whatever that pain was that drove him, like Spade, to kill himself.
And like Spade, Bourdain reportedly hanged himself and was also found by his best friend — Spade by her housekeeper and best friend, Bella Cariaga, and Bourdain by his dear friend, French chef Eric Ripert.
Both of these bright and shining stars were also deeply loved by those closest to them. Thing is, for those suffering from the demons of depression, including the brightest and most accomplished among us, sometimes love isn't all you need.