Another tragic instance of fame and fortune being no prophylactic against sustained human misery.
The travel host Anthony Bourdain … died on Friday at 61. For the past several years, Mr. Bourdain hosted the show "Parts Unknown" on CNN and was working on an episode in Strasbourg, France, when he died.... He killed himself in a hotel room.
Mr. Bourdain was open about his past addictions and penchant for alcohol in his writing, and described his struggles with cocaine in the 1980s.
News reports are silent as to the details of Bourdain's death, but it's far from journalistically reckless to assume that the scourge of drug and alcohol abuse had stalked him once again.
Public projections of personal success are poor indicators of good mental health. A college professor once somewhat close to me struggled with alcohol; but he cleaned himself up via detox and rehab centers. Then, one night, he drove to his ex-wife's house, entered her bathroom, and blew his head off with a shotgun. An exceptionally successful and quite wealthy vice president of a major Kansas City bank, whom I knew and admired, ended his life in the same way.
I sometimes tremble at the thought of how close I once was to a similar fate. More alcohol than drugs in my case, but both were quotidian plagues in what was my altogether miserable existence. Days on end of no food, only booze, and a body so wracked with neurological eruptions (commonly known as "the shakes") that only a stout drink at 4 or 5 a.m. could return me to any semblance of tranquility — from there, countless more drinks until the inevitable blackout. These horrors were less binges than a way of life; they'd go on for weeks, I'd clean up, convince myself I could handle it better, and then I'd reenter hell. Years on end, this was.
Then, my urge for self-destruction simply stopped. I had met my second wife, and with that, I rather sublimely lost my drive to drink myself to death. I did however re-experience the horror in my second marriage (which of course caused ghastly troubles), but that, too, dissipated almost overnight. Although I still drink, I no longer have any desire to overdrink. I never lived through any one-day-at-a-time routine; the urge just vanished, almost miraculously. There is no question in my mind that had I not radically curtailed that which plagued me, today I'd be dead from either cirrhosis, a brain hemorrhage, or suicide.
I thank whatever physiological force or metaphysical forces pulled me away from certain destruction. It's a damn shame Mr. Bourdain wasn't as lucky as I.