David Chang, the founder of the Momofuku restaurant empire, has for decades battled periods of depression, manic episodes, and suicidal thoughts.
Caused by his Bipolar 1 disorder, the disease, he writes in his memoir Eat a Peach has “shaped me in so many ways”. Bipolar disorder causes dramatic shifts in mood.
In the last year, it has affected 2.8 percent of Americans. Symptoms include mania (feeling elated and invincible or irritable and angry) and major depressive episodes.
Chang has decided that since he “has been able to help quite a few people find help, sharing his story would be an opportunity to do that on a larger scale”.
Recently, the Ugly Delicious star endured enormous stress after being forced to lay off hundreds of workers and close two of his 16 restaurants because of the COVID-19 pandemic. This has led to ugly outbursts and losing his temper often to the person he loves the most, his wife Grace.
“It hurts to know that even my wife, the person I love with all my life, can still be in the crosshairs of my illness”, he says.
The road to recovery has been a long one. In high school, he tried seeing a counselor but didn’t feel justified in doing so because: “I didn’t know any other Asian people who saw therapists”.
After graduating from college, Chang felt the problem might be an American one so he moved to Japan. It was there that he began to fixate on suicide.
Returning to New York, Chang would put himself in dangerous situations because he didn’t want to dishonor his parents by killing himself, although he wanted to die.
Finding the right doctor online finally gave him the courage to figure out what he was experiencing.
He opened Momofuku Noodle Bar in 2004. It made him one of the most celebrated chefs in the country – but didn’t take away his demons.
Fighting mental illness is a battle that must be fought with the right people, including doctors and loved ones. Medicine is very important as well, but the right people are key.