Actor Rose McGowan echoed calls for a broad conversation about depression and mental illness on Monday following the suicide of chef Anthony Bourdain.
McGowan wrote an open letter about Bourdain and his partner Asia Argento, an actor and friend of McGowan’s.
“To the media and to the random commenter, Anthony would never have wanted Asia to be hurt, I’d like to think he would want us to have the collective conversation that needs to be had about depression,” she wrote. In the letter, addressed to “fellow humans”, McGowan said that neither Argento nor Bourdain, the famous food writer and television host, deserved blame for his death.
“Anthony’s internal war was his war, but now she’s been left on the battlefield to take the bullets,” she wrote. “It is in no way fair or acceptable to blame her or anyone else, not even Anthony.”
Bourdain, whose 2000 memoir, Kitchen Confidential, about the secret lives of restaurant workers sparked a second career as a journalist and food expert, died on Friday in a hotel room in France. He was 61.
In the letter, McGowan said that the pair, who had been dating about two years, “loved without borders of traditional relationships”.
“Asia is a free bird, and so was Anthony,” McGowan wrote. “Was. Such a terrible word to write.”
McGowan described Argento in her letter as sitting across from her; the two were among the many women who accused film producer Harvey Weinstein of sexual violence, and they had corresponded about the process of speaking out.
In the letter, McGowan said that Bourdain had supported Argento through that process, which included being shamed in the Italian media after telling her story about Weinstein in the New Yorker.
“In the beginning of their relationship, Anthony told a mutual friend, ‘He’s never met anyone who wanted to die more than him”, McGowan wrote.
“And through a lot of this last year, Asia did want the pain to stop. But here’s the thing, over their time together, thankfully, she did the work to get help, so she could stay alive and live another day for her and her children. Anthony’s depression didn’t let him.” That sentiment echoed what Argento said about Bourdain in a statement Friday. “He was my love, my rock, my protector,” she wrote. “I am beyond devastated.” Bourdain had sought out help himself, too, but was unable to get what he needed, according to McGowan.
“I know before Anthony died he reached out for help, and yet he did not take the doctor’s advice,” she wrote. “And that has led us here, to this tragedy, to this loss, to this world of hurt.”
As the #MeToo movement began to gain momentum, Bourdain spoke out strongly against sexual harassment, publicly taking on his friends and his own blind spots. Bourdain had also been open about the other darkness in his past: his addictions to heroin and cocaine. “There is no one to blame but the stigma of loneliness, the stigma of asking for help, the stigma of mental illness, the stigma of being famous and hurting,” McGowan wrote. “We must do more and be better. Anthony, our friend, would want it that way.” – New York Times
Read the full text of Rose McGowan's letter below:
Dear Fellow Humans,
Sitting across from me is the remarkable human and brave survivor, Asia Argento, who has been through more than most could stand, and yet stand she does. She stood up to her monster rapist and now she has to stand up to yet another monster, suicide. The suicide of her beloved lover and ally, Anthony Bourdain. I write these truths because I have been asked to. I know so many around the world thought of Anthony Bourdain as a friend and when a friend dies, it hurts. Many of these people who lost their ‘friend' are wanting to lash out and blame. You must not sink to that level. Suicide is a horrible choice, but it is that person's choice.
When Anthony met Asia, it was instant chemistry. They laughed, they loved and he was her rock during the hardships of this last year. Anthony was open with his demons, he even wrote a book about them. In the beginning of their relationship, Anthony told a mutual friend, “He's never met anyone who wanted to die more than him.” And through a lot of this last year, Asia did want the pain to stop. But here's the thing, over their time together, thankfully, she did the work to get help, so she could stay alive and live another day for her and her children. Anthony's depression didn't let him, he put down his armor, and that was very much his choice. His decision, not hers. His depression won. Anthony and Asia had a free relationship, they loved without borders of traditional relationships, and they established the parameters of their relationship early on. Asia is a free bird, and so was Anthony. Was. Such a terrible word to write. I've heard from many that the past two years they were together were some of his happiest and that should give us all solace.
Anthony was 61, the same age my father was when he died. My father also suffered from intermittent deep depression, and like Anthony, was part of a “pull up your bootstraps and march on” generation. The a “strong man doesn't ask for help” generation. I know before Anthony died he reached out for help, and yet he did not take the doctor's advice. And that has led us here, to this tragedy, to this loss, to this world of hurt. Do NOT do the sexist thing and burn a woman on the pyre of misplaced blame. Anthony's internal war was his war, but now she's been left on the battlefield to take the bullets. It is in no way fair or acceptable to blame her or anyone else, not even Anthony. We are asking you to be better, to look deeper, to read and learn about mental illness, suicide and depression before you make it worse for survivors by judging that which we do not understand, that which can never fully be understood. Sometimes we are stuck in the unknowable, and that is where we are now, a massive wave of darkness that threatens to swallow everyone in its wake.
As I watch Asia do her job on set today, I see a pillar of strength who continues to work to put food on her children's table. I see Elizabeth Taylor carrying on filming Cat on a Hot Tin Roof despite her love, her husband, dying in a plane crash. I see all of us who have carried on. Please join me in sending healing energy to Anthony on his journey, and to all who've been left behind to journey on without him. There is no one to blame but the stigma of loneliness, the stigma of asking for help, the stigma of mental illness, the stigma of being famous and hurting.
We must do more and be better. Anthony, our friend, would want it that way.
To the media and to the random commenter, Anthony would never have wanted Asia to be hurt, I'd like to think he would want us to have the collective conversation that needs to be had about depression. Blame is NOT a conversation, it is the shutting down of our collective growth. Which is where we are now. We have a choice as humans, shrink to our smaller, uglier selves, or be better and grow as only true Phoenixes can. I urge you to be that Phoenix.
With great sadness and even greater hope, I remain,
cc: Asia Argento
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