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Chef David Chang Opens Up About His Depression and Losing Anthony Bourdain: "It's So Hard to Ask for Help"
Chang hopes to take the stigma out of depression in the wake of his friend's tragic suicide.
Friends and close colleagues of Anthony Bourdain are opening up about mental health in the wake of his tragic death by apparent suicide in France on June 8. David Chang, the famed New York City chef who recently relocated to Los Angeles to open his first West Coast restaurant Majordomo, hopes that his candor about his own history of depression will keep people with similar outlooks from feeling ashamed, or forced into keeping it hidden.
"I thought the best way to honor Tony would be to talk about my own struggles with depression," he said in the introduction to the latest episode of The Dave Chang Show podcast. "I recorded it by myself, like two days after I found out that Tony died. I apologize if you're a regular on this podcast and you find this s--- too dark or too self-indulgent, but if it makes any of you feel a little bit better for seeking help for your own struggles, then it was worth it. I think it was what Tony would want me to do."
Anthony was a friend to all who enjoyed watching his television programs and like an uncle to him and many others in the business, he said.
"The cool uncle, the sage, the oracle, the person that would dole out advice — in many ways he's been my mentor and my North Star, 'cause he trailblazed a path that would not be available to me otherwise. I am in great debt to him, I miss him so much."
"We all need help, even those of us that think that everything is going great," he said. "It's so hard to ask for help." He acknowledged factors like the high cost of health care that can get in the way. His employees at his restaurants in Canada and Australia never have to worry about the costs of trying to get mental health care in those countries, where the government takes care of it, unlike restaurant workers in the United States.
David revealed that when he started his restaurant empire, he didn't look beyond 10 years of business because he didn't think he'd be around after about the age of 35.
“We were not going to be around in 10 years," he explained. "We weren‘t going to be around in 10 years because I was not supposed to be alive. I made almost every decision like it was going to be a one-way ticket.”
He hopes by coming forward to talk about mental health, he can encourage others to get help.
“One of the good things is that this is going to not make talking about this kind of stuff so embarrassing and so hidden," he asserted. "The one thing I really suggest to you, if you haven’t had any help yet, or if you’re trying to find help, or if you need help, is don’t lose hope. You have to hope for a better day.”