Anthony Bourdain was a talented chef with exceptional skills in both cooking and writing. He was best known for his books and award-winning television shows on cooking and travel.
While being one of the most influential and successful chefs in the world, Bourdain went through many hardships and challenges behind the scenes as he suffered from drug addiction and mental health problems before dying by suicide in 2018.
While serving as a beacon of inspiration to many, he was someone that people wanted to see try new things and discover the parts of the world that are unknown, even if you didn’t share his passion for cuisine. He brought light to many cultures and their food.
Bourdain reflected on his addiction to drugs and struggles with mental health. They are powerful, insightful and, ultimately, tragic — after all, we lost a good one, and way too soon.
Here are 35 moving Anthony Bourdain quotes about depression, suicide and addiction and so much more.
1. “I’m not afraid to look like an idiot.”
2. “Don’t lie about it. You made a mistake. Admit it and move on. Just don’t do it again. Ever.”
3. “I’m not going anywhere. I hope. It’s been an adventure. We took some casualties over the years. Things got broken. Things got lost. But I wouldn’t have missed it for the world.”
4. “[When I die], I will decidedly not be regretting missed opportunities for a good time. My regrets will be more along the lines of a sad list of people hurt, people let down, assets wasted, and advantages squandered.”
5. “I was disappointing people who would come up to me at bars, line cooks fresh from work, ‘Let’s party, let’s do some tequila shots.’ And then they’d get angry that I wouldn’t do a tequila shot, because if I did a tequila shot with every line cook who wants to come up and high-five me.
6. “I understand what will happen. I want to live. I wanted people to know that, that I’m not that guy.”
7. “I was an unhappy soul, with a huge heroin and then crack problem.”
8. “Well, drugs and addiction are two different things, right? All I can tell you is this: I got off of heroin in the 1980s. Friends of mine from the ‘70s and ‘80s, they just got off five, six, maybe 10 years ago. And we’re the lucky ones. We made it out alive. There are a lot of guys that didn’t get that far. But you know, I also don’t have that many regrets either.”
9. “When I started getting symptoms of withdrawal, I was proud of myself.”
10. “I feel like Quasimodo the hunchback of Notre Dame — if he stayed in nice hotel suites with high-thread-count sheets, that would be me. I feel kind of like a freak, and I feel very isolated.”
11. “I should’ve died in my 20s. I became successful in my 40s. I became a dad in my 50s.”
12. “I feel like I’ve stolen a car — a really nice car — and I keep looking in the rearview mirror for flashing lights.”
13. “Look, man, the only thing that matters is life or death. That’s the edge. Embarrassment, shame, humiliation, I can live with those. I’m used to it. Why hang onto it, though?”
14. “Most people who kick heroin and cocaine have to give up on everything. Maybe because my experiences were so awful in the end, I’ve never been tempted to relapse.”
15. “You see me drink myself stupid on my show all the time. And I have a lot of fun doing that. But I’m not sitting at home having a cocktail. Never, ever. I don’t ever drink in my house. … When I indulge, I indulge. But I don’t let it bleed over into the rest of my life.”
16. “I will find myself in an airport, for instance, and I’ll order an airport hamburger. It’s an insignificant thing, it’s a small thing, it’s a hamburger, but it’s not a good one. Suddenly I look at the hamburger and I find myself in a spiral of depression that can last for days.”
17. “I’m a vain person. I didn’t like what I saw in the mirror.”
18. “I now wake up alone in a lot of faraway places looking at beautiful vistas and doing interesting things. But the truth is I’m alone for most of that time.”
19. “There have been times, honestly, in my life that I figured, ‘I’ve had a good run — why not just do this stupid thing, this selfish thing … jump off a cliff into water of indeterminate depth.”
20. “I’m going to pretty much die in the saddle.”
21. “Travel isn’t always pretty. It isn’t always comfortable. Sometimes it hurts, it even breaks your heart. But that’s okay. The journey changes you; it should change you. It leaves marks on your memory, on your heart, and on your body.”
22. “You take something with you. Hopefully, you leave something good behind.”
23. “Your body is not a temple, it’s an amusement park. Enjoy the ride.”
24. “I love having my teeth kicked in by a different perspective.”
25. “I don’t have to agree with you to like you or to respect you.”
26. “Maybe that’s enlightenment enough: to know that there is no final resting place of the mind; no moment of smug clarity. Perhaps wisdom is realizing how small I am, and unwise, and how far I have yet to go.”
27. “Life is complicated. It’s filled with nuance. It’s unsatisfying. … If I believe in anything, it is doubt. The root cause of all life’s problems is looking for a simple fucking answer.”
28. “I understand there’s a guy inside me who wants to lay in bed, smoke weed all day, and watch cartoons and old movies. My whole life is a series of stratagems to avoid, and outwit, that guy.”
29. “I had other things I still wanted to do. And I saw that I wasn’t going to be doing shit when I was spending all my time and all my money on coke or dope—except more coke and dope.”
30. “Oh, man, at the age of 44, I was standing in kitchens, not knowing what it was like to go to sleep without being in mortal terror. I was in horrible, endless, irrevocable debt. I had no health insurance. I didn’t pay my taxes. I couldn’t pay my rent. It was a nightmare…”
31. “Regret is something you’ve just got to live with, you can’t drink it away. You can’t run away from it. You can’t trick yourself out of it. You’ve just got to own it.”
32. “I ate at Johnny Rockets in an airport once and it opened up an abyss of depression and self-loathing, a spiral of self-hatred, rage, and despair that lasted weeks.”
33. “Loneliness, separation from my daughter, existential despair. I’m on the road about 250 days a year and I stay in a lot of beautiful places and look out the window at a lot of beautiful views, but I am usually alone.”
34. “My love for chaos, conspiracy and the dark side of human nature colors the behavior of my charges, most of whom are already living near the fringes of acceptable conduct.”
35. “Everybody should come here. Everyone should see how complicated, how deeply troubled, and yet at the same time, beautiful and awesome the world can be. Everyone should experience, even as the clouds gather, what’s at stake, what could be lost, what’s still here.”
If you’re thinking about suicide, or are worried about a friend or loved one, visit the Suicide Prevention Lifeline website or call the hotline at 1-800-273-8255.
Tomás Diniz Santos is a writer living in Orlando, Florida. He covers news, entertainment, and pop-culture topics.