This 2018 article is being reposted in celebration of what would’ve been Anthony Bourdain’s birthday, June 25th. Please take it to heart…

The world can’t afford to lose any more stars…

With the death of Anthony Bourdain, the world lost one of its most captivating stars. After all, who doesn’t love to eat or travel? Bourdain demystified the world and its many eclectic, challenging and (sometimes terrifying) cuisines and cultures to many of the people who feared it most.

A chorus of “I never would’ve done or tried this, had it not been for Bourdain” would rival the largest ever assembled. But Anthony Bourdain took his own life long before his brilliance was done, and I’m here, against all better judgement to tell you that I’ve suffered from serious depression and am lucky not to be in the same place. Now it’s time to listen.

If you think this article is about me, it’s not. But I am writing it, partly because I’m one of the last people you’d expect to hear this from – and that’s exactly the point. This article is really about you, your friend, your family member or the person who looks too happy, or has too many good jokes for you to ever stop and consider their sadness or internal struggles.

Everyone is a star, in their own right, and we can’t lose another one. Especially those who haven’t gotten to feel like one yet. I spent most of my life as a relative failure and it plagued me. On the surface I was always a happy, generally easy going guy – but internally a storm was brewing.

Now, many wise people would say that any learning experience is far from a failure, but some people get tired of failing before they learn to learn from them. My past failures now pave the way to any successes, however large or small. I was a depressed 20 year old and remained so for many years.

The thought of going the way Anthony Bourdain ultimately chose had crossed my mind in very real terms, on more than one instance. Travel is one of the reasons I’m still here. Had it not been for getting up, getting out, getting on a plane and seeing the world, I’m not sure I would be here.

Travel lead me to my wonderful wife, and a career most people could only dream of. I’d always loved to travel, I’d always had a passion for it, and a desire to see the world kept me alive in my darkest days. I couldn’t die before I had sushi in Tokyo, or had seen the sun set over Camps Bay.

Since Anthony Bourdain’s untimely death, I can’t help but think of the many dreamers out there, who left the world before they were able to experience their greatest days, and never got to see the places and things they dreamed of. I could’ve so easily been one of those people and there’s not a day that I don’t recognize it. I’m writing this because I am one of the very, very lucky ones.

I met a wonderful person, I followed my passions, and I hardly ever have a truly sad day. And I get to travel the world. I think my best days are still to come, and the thought that I came so close to missing out on them is a thought I can’t bare to stay quiet about, knowing some mother, father, brother, sister, friend or loved one could have to say goodbye to someone before their best days.

The world just can’t afford to lose another star. And by star, I do not mean public person. Whether they feel it or not, everyone is a star to someone, no matter how under appreciated they may feel.

To the public Anthony Bourdain was an icon, someone who everyone wanted a picture with, and someone who every guy probably felt some level of envy toward. He was a modern rockstar, but inside, we’ll never quite know what he battled, or if he actually felt the adoration. Last night I was on the train and met someone down and out, clearly going through the worst times. They are the reason I ultimately decided to publish this.

On most days I would’ve kept my headphones on, but they asked me a question and within moments I knew they needed to talk. They needed to hear good news. Had it not been for the suicide of Anthony Bourdain, I probably never would’ve been so engaging. I’ll never know if anything I spoke of made any difference to this person, but that’s not the point. The point is we can’t lose another star, and you are a big part of that.

Don’t be oblivious, don’t ignore what’s around you. Ask people how their days are going. Listen to people when they talk. Plan that spontaneous trip with that friend you miss, or at least send them a picture of that place you always talked about. And if you’re the one struggling, there is so much in the world you just can’t afford to miss out on. Don’t rely on other people.

Make yourself happy, but never ever miss an opportunity to connect with people and let them know everything you’re feeling. There’s too much to see, so many strange things to try and even if you’re not ready or able to do these things today, you will be someday. Tell someone, reach for help and help others. It’s a beautiful world out there.

I take no pride or pleasure in showcasing my life’s struggles or shortcomings to the world, but like I said, I’m one of the lucky ones and I wasn’t always going to be here. Now that I am, I can’t bear the thought of someone else missing out on life and its many wonders. Don’t let another bright star fade away too early. Be the friend, family member or loved one that makes a difference, be the one that makes them wake up again to watch the sun rise.

Thanks for listening. Please don’t let it go to waste.

Gilbert Ott

Gilbert Ott is an ever curious traveler and one of the world's leading travel experts. His adventures take him all over the globe, often spanning over 200,000 miles a year and his travel exploits are regularly...

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38 Comments

  1. Right on, my friend. I feel that you wrote my story, as well. There are lots of us out there. God Bless you and know you’re never alone.

  2. Nice. I’ve had some struggles too, like most people. At an Imagine Dragons concert last night & the amazing, incredible, awesome lead singer Dan Reynolds took time out during the show to mention his battles with depression. He like Bourdain, has amazing talent, family & success & is at the top of his game. Yet he too struggles internally. You just never know what’s going on inside people. Bourdain will be missed.

  3. This is so true. I have suffered depression and been in some dark places. I got enough courage up to face my demons head on and built up the strength to speak out about it.

    Awareness is key.

    #itsoktonotbeok

  4. Well said! I knew I liked you from the first article I read a couple of years ago. I believe that we meet people for a reason. While some like to tear you apart for being vulnerable and sharing your heart, those with such anger are usually the most hurt, they just show it with anger (which is fear..hiding behind the anger). These are the people that we must remind ourselves, it is not about us.
    Your article has touched this (young ) grandmother who dealt with severe depression as a teen. After repeated traumas I was one who planned her end many times. After marriage, having my two sons and then divorcing, my old friend crept back into my life but I knew ending it wasn’t an option. I was always looking for positive influences music and comedy to get me through another day. I had the pleasure of meeting Zig Ziegler (back in the mid 80’s) and he was like a shining light in a dark storm. A few simple kind words to a single working mother pulled me through some dark days. The comedy of people like Robin Williams, Jim Carrey and Steve Martin, Martin Short and Chevy Chase were my nighttime drug of choice. I only wish I could have had the change to thank Robin before he left this world
    From this I have always tried to reach out to others. Unless I am having an unbearable day myself, if you ever see me on a plane (traveling started late for me) I will be the one that greets you with a smile and asks how your day is. I am the one that will always try to find the positive kind things to say.
    Thanks for sharing your story my travel friend!
    Cheryl
    RIP Anthony, Robin, John, Tyler and the others that didn’t find what they needed or couldn’t feel how much they were treasured in this life. I hope they found piece on the other side. Until we meet again.

  5. Thank you for being brave enough to write this moving piece. There are some stars in my life that I haven’t reached out to that I know are in a very dark place. You have motivated me to reconnect with them. Bourdain’s death had been a big blow. I hope this tragedy inspires some action for those who need help.

  6. A dreamer, a visionary and a great human being. The world and the USA are poorer for his loss.
    Thankyou for having the courage to post your personal sentiments publicly. This reader doesn’t always agree with you but on this…. 100%

  7. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

    From a personal perspective you have touched my heart. And, given my day job as director of time to change, a campaign to encourage everyone to think and act differently towards those of us with mental health problems, that is some feat.

    Look out for our In Your Corner campaign encouraging us all, especially men, to step in if a mate’s acting differently.

  8. Good on you for recognizing that person’s need to talk to someone and just be there for them. You never know if that was the one thing that stopped them from doing something horrible, turned their life around, or if there were just having one bad day.

    Glad to know travel gave you such a powerful reason to keep going. There’s always at least one more thing to see, so keep that in mind the next time the demons return.

    Stay strong.

  9. The best post you’ve ever written Gib.

    I suspect we share the same feeling that we’re supposed to say that flying First Class and staying in 5-star palaces is as good as it gets, when that doesn’t immunise us (like it didn’t Bourdain and others) from feeling shitty or dark from time to time. Thanks for sharing.

  10. Excellent read… gets to the point in a straight subtle way, making all us more aware of the real world some people live…quietly.
    By being more open and concern about others, it can make a big difference, even if we do not notice it.

  11. Thank you. You have reminded me to reach out again to some friends who might need some support. Eceryone needs help now and again and it’s easy to forget. I hope more bloggers reach out like you.

  12. Thanks for sharing Gib! May your bright light continue to shine and help others who need a little more light in their lives!
    So missing AB! Tragic to say the least, but sadly becoming more common.

  13. Thanks for sharing your story. I’ve got a family member in a similar situation. Some days are VERY bad, while others are good. It’s a struggle for everyone to deal with, but we press on trying to find ways to connect and turn things around. And, your story helps to drive home that point even more. I hope you continue to find happiness in life!

  14. Thank you for sharing. Glad you are around for your loved ones and your daughter.

    There are many people who struggle with depression, and this story emphasizes how important it is to not underestimate the power of reaching out, reconnecting, or simply saying something nice to people around us.

  15. I greatly enjoyed watching his shows but let’s not make him a saint after his death. Outside of depression which most likely led to his suicide (which I wouldn’t wish on anyone and that isn’t the intent of this post), he was addicted to many things (drugs, cigarettes and likely alcohol) plus he was brutal on people he didn’t agree with or considered “beneath” him. Yeah maybe Rachel Ray and Guy Fieri are more cartoon characters than great chefs (although I wouldn’t consider Anthony a great chef just a guy that wrote a legendary book about the food industry and parlayed that into a career on TV) but you just DON’T go out of your way to demean and ridicule people.

    I miss his shows and his death was tragic but he was, in many ways, a bitter, mean person that many don’t miss. Sorry

  16. Great article. as I recover from Covid-19 I have been feeling depressed too. and travel was my one great joy. I don’t want to repeat what others here have said but I do want to mention something else. I’ve been reading your blog for some time now and I’ve noticed that your writing is evolving in an exciting way. No longer are you simply one of the group of frequent flyer bloggers like One Mile at a Time or View from the Wing. To put it in a travel vein, I think you’re heading someplace more interesting. There are after all only so many articles one can write about how to snag an upgrade or check out this amazing deal. I look forward to seeing where your writing will take off to next. Like Bourdain, your audience will grow. Good luck. I’m glad I found your blog.

  17. Brilliant article and thanks for sharing.

    In the UK they say one in four of us will suffer a mental health crisis during their lifetime and I certainly had mine about 15 years ago. That dark period lasted almost two years and it wasn’t until I worked out a lot of stuff in my own head that things slowly became better.

    I think for me, the key is ‘it’s ok to feel ok’. Personally, I always set what I know now to be unrealistic expectations of myself. To be the best at all I did, to be liked by everyone, to be happy all the time. It was unsustainable and the key for me was being comfortable with just being OK and to allow myself to have my down moments without giving myself a load of grief about it.

    I think people in the public eye really struggle with that notion of just being ‘ok’ and often the ego or the ‘false self’ takes over the real person. To the point where some public people lose touch with who they really are and what is really important in life.

  18. As celebrity deaths go the suicides of Anthony Bourdain and Robin Williams left me the most contemplative. Neither easily made sense from the outside looking in. Neither looked to be at low points in their lives, but who can really tell. After Bourdain’s suicide I watched a lot of his reruns. They somehow seemed different seen in the new light.

    There is a Joe Diffie song (who recently died of COVID-29 complications) “Ships That Don’t Come In”. Your line “Everyone is a star, in their own right, and we can’t lose another one. Especially those who haven’t gotten to feel like one yet.” brought his song to mind. Check it out if you don’t know it.

  19. Gilbert. You wrote this so intimately. I have grown true respect and love for your work, at a much deeper level, beyond just a travel blogger.
    I’ll be following you even more closely from now on…

  20. Thanks for this Gilbert. Keep reposting this on Bourdain’s birthday. I derived so much joy from watching his travels over the years, and I’ve had countless incredible meals out as a result of his recommendations.
    I lost a friend to suicide in December. It’s still raw, and it still hurts that I saw a post that he wrote saying he’d had a crap day, and I didn’t find the time to reach out straight away. We kept talking about meeting up, but just didn’t get round to it.
    Make time, get in contact with that friend you haven’t seen in a while, check in on your friends if they’re having a tough time.

  21. The greatest gift my mom gave me as a kid;
    “you will meet some people who appear to have everything a person could ever want, but are still unhappy. You will also meet people who appear to have next to nothing, but find joy in everything. The secret is this – you are the one who determines whether you’re happy or not”.

    For me it was like flipping a switch, and at 64 I see people that were never as fortunate to have heard that message.

  22. AC I don’t think Gilbert was making Anthony into a saint? This post is about Trying to recognize signs of suicide and depression that we may see in our friends, family and others. I followed ABs life closely and certainly didn’t see the animosity and hate you described. He had distinct political views, far different than my own, but he is entitled to that as we all our. He embraced different life styles and philosophies and he WILL be missed by MOST!

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