“Anthony was open with his demons, he even wrote a book about them,” McGowan, 44, continued, adding that in the beginning of his relationship with Argento, “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,” she remarked.
Continuing, McGowan said that “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.”
In the open letter, McGowan also opened up about Bourdain and Argento’s “free relationship.”
“When Anthony met Asia, it was instant chemistry. They laughed, they loved and he was her rock during the hardships of this last year,” she wrote, adding that the pair “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.”
Continuing, she remarked, “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.”
The TV host and chef began dating the Italian actress in 2017, after she appeared on an episode of Parts Unknown filmed in her hometown of Rome. She recently directed an upcoming episode set in Hong Kong, and Bourdain would often consult her for her rich knowledge of music and film when putting together the series.
While Bourdain was shooting for Parts Unknown in France before his death, Argento was spotted holding hands with another man in Rome, according to TMZ.
The actress then asked fans of Bourdain to “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,” she wrote.
McGowan went on to implore anybody reading her open letter to “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.”
She also urged anyone who might be considering suicide to seek help. “We need you here. You matter. You exist. You count. There is help a phone call away, reach out,” she wrote.
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Speaking with PEOPLE, French prosecutor Christian de Rocquigny previously said there was no evidence of violence in Bourdain’s death.
In an interview with the New York Times hours after the news of Bourdain’s death, his mother Gladys Bourdain said she had no indication that her son may have been thinking about suicide. However, following his death, she spoke to Ripert who told her that “Tony had been in a dark mood these past couple of days.”
If you or someone you know is considering suicide, please contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255), text “help” to the Crisis Text Line at 741-741 or go to suicidepreventionlifeline.org.