There’s been a lot going on lately in the chef community in regards to depression, anxiety and suicide.
Ever since Bourdain, we have been woke. And this doesn’t begin to touch on all of the chefs who struggle with substances A to Z.
I’ve been lucky to have worked for people who haven’t ran me into the ground, physically and verbally. The stress of a restaurant failing and succeeding are so tight, that the way a person carries it to their staff is almost too much.
I had a hard week following Bourdain’s suicide. Those closest to me saw that.
I was stuck in a deep, dark hole.
I was heavy with grief.
I was thinking of nothing but my failures. My failed marriage. My failure as a husband and partner. Failure as a friend, boss, chef, uncle, son, brother. It seems when the dark pours on you, it is terribly hard to get out from under it. Like a heavy blanket.
The anxiety of a slow restaurant and failing everyone that I worked with was also riding up to my shoulders. The risk of changing our service. Adding loads more overhead and pulling in okay numbers was almost over my head.
I would fantasize about working in front of a computer. Or being like my friends who sit through meetings and explode on the weekends to burn off that office smell. I would think to myself, “It would be so nice to not worry about our walk-in breaking down in the middle of this summer heat.” Only to have it break down a day later.
This work, as I always talk about it, can be so ultra rewarding, and the weight can also be so heavy.
I love the challenge. I love the competition. I love to cook. I love holding myself to a certain level. Some of that stress I absolutely put on myself.
I am lucky to have friends and family who decided to listen to me, and ask if I was okay, because I so was not.
You should check on your strong friends, too.
Open up. Be vulnerable if you can, because it seems we are all overwhelmed with the state of things. It is tiring to give a shit, and to keep giving a shit.
It’s hard to start owning something. It’s even harder to keep it up. That’s the weight of doing something new, and having people respond.
I don’t suppose this is anything new. But it’s new to me.
This is real, though. I think that’s what scared me the most. You have to take care of yourself. You have to open yourself up wide. Maybe that’s how things get in, but it’s also how they all get out.
If you do find yourself reading this, and you need some good words or someone to listen, please reach out. You are more valuable than anything, and I hope you find the strength to see light and goodness and hope.