For anyone living with bipolar disorder, finding something to balance that chemical imbalance is paramount to living a steady daily life. For Andy Irons, the ocean came to be that something, providing an outlet for that imbalance and a place for him to come back to his normal self.
Bruce Irons talks about how he would watch his brother Andy perform at his best in the water only moments after episodes that seemingly tore him apart on land. The ocean truly provided a place of solace for Andy, an outlet for rage, and even a place to share positive emotions with his friends.
Growing up, Bruce quickly learned that Andy needed a place to deal with frustration in his life, and saw that the ocean and surfing provided that.
“Throughout his whole life was the same trip as when he was a young kid. It was like, not knowing how to express his feelings the right way without losing his temper or lashing out, I don't know. That stuck with him his whole life, but, yeah, it started young and surfing became a big... That's... I think that's where my brother would go and let out all his frustration, anger, going into the ocean,” says Bruce Irons.
Luckily, surfing was easy to come by, and the two brothers shared a similar passion for it.
Bruce Irons adds, “Since the Pine Trees was right across the street from Hanalei School, it was a good, maybe it was good balance for him, I guess. I don't know, because... Yeah, surfing, that's where my brother would go let out all his frustration and stuff because being young and probably not knowing how to deal with that kind of shit's probably real frustrating. He had a lot more... He had a lot more shit going on in his head, I think, than I even knew, but he wouldn't really talk to me about it. But I could see it in surfing or maybe we'd get in fights or whatever, I don't know. My brother had a hard time... He had a real temper when we were younger, or he always did have a temper, he would just lash out certain ways. But, it all goes back to, I think, school, I guess.”
If you suspect you or someone you know may be suffering from a bipolar disorder, please, contact the SAMHSA national helpline.