July 28, 2021

E92 Roadrunner, Anthony Bourdain, and Suicide | Trauma and CPTSD Coach Podcast

In this episode, I talk about the impact of suicide and my thoughts on the new Anthony Bourdain Documentary “Roadrunner.”

See show notes: https://www.thinkunbrokenpodcast.com/e92-roadrunner-anthony-bourdain-and/#show-notes

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In this episode, I talk about the impact of suicide and my thoughts on the new Anthony Bourdain Documentary “Roadrunner.” I know that suicide is a hard conversation for most of us to have, that’s not lost on me. I also know that someone listening to this right now might be struggling with their mental health after trauma and abuse. There is no easy way to talk about the pain of the past and why often it can be in the way of our healing journey, but talking about suicide matters because it helps us know that we are not alone. 


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Hey! What's up, Unbroken Nation! Hope that you are doing well, wherever you are in the world. Had a really interesting weekend. Last week actually, the last two weeks have probably been the two busiest weeks of my life and not a bad thing, not complaining. I'm always thinking about momentum and sometimes when you're caught up in momentum, your like pause and like, oh my goodness, I'm going a hundred million miles an hour. That's not always beneficial because sometimes you need to take a break,sometimes you need to relax, sometimes you need to do nothing all day and that is what I did on Sunday this week.

And in that I one of the things I did was I went and saw the new documentary film about Anthony Bourdain called “Road Runner” and it was so incredible that I sat down and I decided to write a piece on it, not a review, not of this is what to expect, or anything of that nature, but just kind of my thoughts, my takeaways, my initial reaction to it. What's really interesting about the journey that I've had, and where I'm at right now with Think Unbroken and life and all the things as it's all predicated on me, being a writer first, and I love to write, I write frequently it's on the blog, I write frequently that, you know, get posted on social media. I really love to write and it's part of really who I am. And I always think of myself as a writer first, which is probably odd to a lot of people when they hear that, because they look at me to go, well, I'm a speaker and I'm a coach and entrepreneur and all those things, but in my heart, I'm a writer first and I think I've always been a writer first. And I took from that film, just don't recall inspiration because I'm frequently inspired, but this understanding of just knowing what it's like to be faced with the darkness of suicide suicidal ideations of this idea of taking your lifeand I sat this morning and I wrote this piece, I got up super early because I was like, you know, I want to sit down and write for a couple of hours, really flesh out this idea of where I'm at before, even before we go the gym, before starting my coaching day, before all the things. And so that's what I did.

And I'm going to step into this episode a little bit differently than I generally do because I'm actually going to read what I wrote and the reason why is because it is constructed in a way that helps me convey my thoughts about not necessarily even just simply Anthony Bourdain's life but about suicide, and excuse me, I have some water if you're watching this, I apologize. So, I'm going to read this to you, and if you're watching, this is probably a boring episode to watch because I'm going to look at this piece of paper in my hand while multiple pieces of paper, my hand. But if you're listening, I want you to think about this for a moment, no matter what, no matter where you are at in your journey, no matter how sad or depressed, or anxious, or lonely, that you feel, there is always support, there's always a way that you can reach out.And I know that's not always the easiest thing to hear. And I wish that I would have had this understanding when I was 25 or when I was 14, and I attempted to take my own life because I just felt like there was so much darkness. I didn't know, I didn't know what to do with it, I didn't know how to navigate the feelings of shame and guilt, and hurt, and the ramifications of the impact of trauma. And we know now looking at the research that people who come from traumatic childhoods are much, much, much more likely to end their own life and I think people misconstrue it and say well it's selfish hurts, this is that and I always look at it as until you're in a place that is that dark, it's really hard to wrap your head around why it's justifiable for some people.

And look, I'm not saying that it's okay, I don't know that it is or it isn't. What I do know is that when you are in this place that it is, so for lack of a better term, lonely and unkind, and the words in your head are just this constant reinforcement of what you're not capable of doing and not believing yourself and saying, well, why, why should I bother then? It's really simple to get caught up in that, and when you get caught up in that, it can overtake you, and that was my experience. And so, sitting watching that last night, it would just, I heard people in the crowd being like, No, that's really selfish and I don't understand why he would do that. And I thought to myself, well, of course, you don't understand because you're not him. And that idea of walking a mile in people's shoes, always makes me think about the truth that we don't understand what's going on in other people's minds, on heads, and even ourselves often were conflicted with understanding who we are. And as I sat and I heard those things, there's thought to myself, well, it's easy to say that until you faced it, until you've been looking down the lack of a better term, the barrel of a gun and go. Well, what the hell is it that I'm supposed to do next and so I'm going to dive into this, I'm going to read this, I know it's going to be a little bit off-kilter from the norm where I'm just kind of like freestyling and having a conversation, but I think that this is an important thing to talk about and because of that, I'm going to share that with you today. So without further due, and if you could bear with me because I even like, when I read the audiobooks, there was a lot of stops and start there, so I'm going to try to do this in a succinct way.

I watched Roadrunner yesterday, the new documentary about Anthony Bourdain's life rather than death and it reminded me that some people in the audience just don't get suicide. I mean, what's so hard to get? Wow, he is so selfish and I would never do that. Murmur between the sounds of crunching popcorn, and sips of beer from the lips of people who may be just don't get it and never will, and that's not a bad thing. I wish I could say that walked away with a new love and appreciation for Bourdain, but I didn't, and that is because I do get it. And, in all fairness, he's always one of the three people I would want to have dinner with Jay-Z and Freddie Mercury, being the others. I understand why he chose to take his own life and it's that simple. However, in doing, so he leaves behind a world of darkness and melancholy anywhere that the lure of the iconic traveler might have touched. My understanding of his choice selfish or not comes from being in that darkness myself, people will say, suicide is selfish, and I can get that but most people don't understand that sometimes it's the only thing that feels like it will set you free from the torment in your head. It's easy to be dismissive of what we don't understand and call to attention that maybe it was us. Excuse me. See this was somehow it's easy to be dismissive of what we don't understand and call the attention that maybe if it was that we would do it differently or that we wouldn't do it at all whatever it was. I used to think that the idea of suicide was for cowards until I understood the truth. And the truth is that sometimes the darkness overwhelms you, sometimes you succumb to its cold dark grasp and as it pulls you under you can't help but think well here we go again, suicide impacts so many lives and it's heartbreaking. Let's not get that twisted. There is almost nothing more painful than knowing that someone lost the fight with themselves. Suicide happens more than we care to admit, or can handle from getting out of bed to simply wearing clean clothes, and bathing the struggle to exist in a world where mental health is simply meant to be curbed by endless pharmaceutical commercials and 20 minutes on the Peloton is unfair. More so perhaps what is unjust is that as we seek change we know that we will lose more people before we lose less, what's that age-old adage? Oh yes!

Where does one even begin to have an open conversation about suicidal ideations, pain, suffering, loss, guilt, hopelessness, or insert noun here?

Great question! Despite years of my own struggles, I feel like I have some semblance of hope and that instead of adamantly fighting my inner thoughts I've to cuddle up next to them under a nice warm blanket with a notebook. My favorite mount block knocks off that I got at a seedy black alley in a mall in Vietnam and a cup of coffee, Montblanc is a pen, I know someone's going to ask that.

Sometimes I imagine that I'm sitting here in the same way that Anthony did, chains smoking a pack of Marlboro Reds, and writing the Next Great, American Pros. These ideations of mine are obviously from an addictive personality and an imagination that has run amok allowing me to step into potential as I could have anything I never imagined. And so with that, I embrace it and I say, let's see what I can do regardless of the pain and sometimes in spite of it.

Let me insert my surgeon general's warning here. I am not a doctor. In high school, they literally handed me my diploma and said, get the hell out of here.

So on that note, I wouldn't even listen to me. So why cuddle up with thoughts and pains of suicide? Instead of trying to stuff it down and run. And what do I mean by that? Am I saying that I'm Pro suicide? Am I going to attempt to off myself again? Is there any chance I may stumble, my way back into the depths of the darkness? The answers to these questions and many other, I will answer right now.

I tried to think of a witty Bourdain segue, you know, the kind he would rattle off without hesitation, that would make you stop and say; ‘Damn! This guy is good but it's 6 a.m., and I haven't had a smoke in over five years, maybe a pack of reds would ignite my creative flame, but alas, this coffee I made yesterday, and this microdose of LSD that I got a place that I got from a place in Europe, that I can't tell you about, will simply have to do, that's not hyperbole, but instead a story for another day. I used to hide from the pain that I had buried inside suffering was so normative that to be at peace. Almost felt like a misnomer in the narrative of my life. The idea of not having a screaming little voice pitching fireballs inside my cranium at full speed is, to be honest, something I have envisioned, but not yet experienced.

I don't know that the voice ever goes away but we can soothe it by leveraging the mental health support that we are lucky enough to have access to. Sometimes it’s a single call, text, email, meditation, yoga class, journal entry, a session with a coach, deep dive with a therapist, or walk in the sun, which can be the difference between one more day.

The worst thing we tell ourselves is that we are alone. There are 8 billion people on this floating rock, chances are someone else is going through or has been through what is happening in your life and keeping silent as at times to your own peril. This isn't to shame you about not talking about your pain, but simply to have you think about what if. I think about the impact of my mother's suicide attempts and how whilst in the developmental state, I learned to cope with the fact that some people are crying for help and others attention and how that understanding shaped the conversation I had with myself, about stepping into that white light by my own hand. I would be remiss, not to note that fact. And this is not to be taken lightly that her mother and her father tortured her mentally, emotionally, and physically, and their parents before them.

Generational trauma, begets, generational trauma, and I am yet another statistic of those who have been hurt and those that have found support on their way to the other side. Look, it is an inconvenient truth, that child abuse can make a person up to 50 to 200% more likely to kill themselves. I get it. Why? Because I tried to kill myself at 14 and again at 25 scary words to write, but as I sit here comfy, my arm over the shoulder of that little voice. I simply listen and say we gone be alright. I'll never say that, it's easy to write about things like this because it's not, I don't know that it will ever be easy to talk about wanting to end your own life, still, the truth is that I know that I'm not the only one who has had these thoughts and my hope is maybe the small dare I say an homage to one of the people I admired in the world the most, maybe a gateway for whoever is standing behind me to seek help.

No one wants to talk about mental health at scale because then we have to heal and scare away the sponsors. There's nothing worse for the bottom line of big pharma than people who are healed and doing the work.

Now, let me be clear before another keyboard warrior attempts to cancel me.

I see a great value in prescription medication. I myself have dabbled, a time or two, but knowing the efficacy rate of most, SSRI is a measly three to five percent depending on the study you read. It's hard to validate the 37 commercials, I just watched while trying to indulge my desire to see people get a golden buzzer on my favorite guilty pleasure reality TV series, are prescriptions a solution for suicide? Maybe, but most likely other measures can serve as greater.

I think about the creepy crawlers, that hide all around us, especially the ones in our heads, and how the difference between life and death, for some of us is the person on the other side of that door or most of them their reflection in the mirror. It's impractical and irresponsible to say that I may never attempt suicide again, and I know that as a leader in this space people will tell me it's impractical and irresponsible to even write that, but I don't care. I don't want to hide from the reality that it happened or that it pops up in my head from time to time.

The truth will set you free, right? But more importantly, the truth will make you understand what is happening in your life, because of the thoughts that you are having.

I never anticipated my mental health journey would lead me to this moment.

Still, I get swept up by the mouse drum of my seemingly desperate desire to create a massive impact on the world by having hard conversations. Suicide is a complicated conversation and I applaud those like me that have non figuratively looked down the barrel of a gun and more so, I hold dear in my heart, the space for those that didn't get to see the other side. I could create a laundry list of the top 10 things to do when you are thinking about killing yourself. But you have Google and I don't know that a diatribe of that nature would suit anyone. The only thing that I do know is that battling the painful memories, emotions, and voices begins with acknowledging that you might need a little help and that you can't like us to walk this journey alone. Going to try with a little help from my friends, I think that was one of those 1950s invaders, with their awful, boy band - and catchy licks. that sung that. There's no part of this journey that I can deem to be easy or straightforward and to be fair, I don't know that it ought to be. When we walk up into therapy call the crisis or suicide prevention hotline or pick up the journal and bootleg luxury pain, we are doing the work. I understood something in the last few years but has been more impactful than anything else and it's this, why fight that's invisible when you can invite it over for a conversation?

Having an open conversation about suicide is often The Road Less Traveled, but every day we are paving the road, putting up street signs, and those annoying yet melodic, life-saving rumble strips, keep us from driving off the side of the road knowing that we are in a mental health renaissance, for lack of a better phrase is enthralling. But because maybe we don't have to keep this conversation to ourselves, we can create change, but unless we as individuals reach out for support, even though or perhaps, in spite of the fact that we feel alone, then we can build a framework for keeping our hands at 10 and 2 and moving forward in life, even if it's only one mile per hour.

I want to save this and I'll leave it here cut this episode to the end.

Sometimes literally the difference between life and death is reaching out for helpand if you're in a place in your life where you feel like the darkness is overtaking you, I invite you to reach out to me or reach out to someone to ask for help and support.

I'm not saying that suicide is the right or wrong choice for you.

I'm just saying have a conversation about it before you make a decision.



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Michael Unbroken


Michael is an entrepreneur, best-selling author, speaker, coach, and advocate for adult survivors of childhood trauma.