Sign In:

×

Last Step!

Please enter your public display name and a secure password.

Plan to post in the forums? Change your default forum handle here!

×
×

Mark Occhilupo Talks About Andy Irons’ Caring Soul

One of the biggest misconceptions the public has about people who suffer with bipolar disorder is that their personalities are so unpredictable that they might fly off the handle on any person they meet at the drop of the hat.

RELATED: View showtimes, buy tickets to the Andy Irons: Kissed by God tour

The reality of living with the disorder is that those who suffer from it don't just see their moods turn on a dime. Many people who have been diagnosed with bipolar disorder have some of the most caring personalities you will ever encounter. According to Mark Occhilupo, that's just who Andy Irons was.

Occy–as he's affectionately known–was the 1999 world champion and is regarded as one of the most honest voices in the world of surfing. He's been brutally open about his own struggles with depression and drug addiction, and his highly acclaimed podcast (called the "Occ-Cast") is one of the most regularly revealing pieces of content in surf media.

In short, Occy pulls no punches. And that's why, when Occy says that Andy was one of the kindest people on tour, you know he isn't bluffing. 

"He was always himself; he was the most loving, passionate human, and he showed that in front of the whole world," Lyndie Irons told TGR about Andy's personality." He was just so loving and sweet, but he showed that too to the world. So, it wasn't that he was one way or another. He was always very himself. Amazing."

As mental health professionals have noted, bipolar disorder is a disorder of dysregulation. In short, the mind loses its ability to regulate actions, and so those who suffer with bipolar tend to experience, and display, emotions in excess. So while that can manifest itself in crippling lows, it can also be seen in hyper-affectionate loving behavior.

And the stories about Andy's warm nature to strangers are plentiful.

I don't know. He connected with kids so well. I don't know. 'Cause I think he wasn't, he was silly and goofy and wasn't afraid to not be himself and I think kids are real appreciative of that, now that I have a kid. They like the silly goofy, down to earth. But Andy would know... I don't know. He watched a lot of cartoons. [chuckle] A lot. So, he had that in common maybe too. I hated it.

"We enjoyed many quiet times together with our girls in the last year [of Andy's life] and I got to know a happy, funny, innocent kid who was happy to live every second with the people he loved," Kelly Slater told Surfer following Andy's passing. "He was the most intense competitor I’ve ever known and one of the most sensitive people."

Indeed, one common thread present in many of the anecdotes shared regarding Andy after his passing was his childlike personality and enthusiasm. He regularly would spend hours on the beach after contests just hanging with local groms.

"He was so good with kids," said Lyndie Irons. "I think they were like him, like honest. And there was no ulterior motive. They were just honest, and didn't want anything from him other then just hanging out."

"I know that in his heart he wanted his legacy to be: He wanted to change kids lives." Slater told TGR, after revealing that–prior to his death–Andy had approached him about making a movie on his struggles with addictions. "He wanted to help kids get off of drugs. He wanted to go to schools. He wanted kids in schools to watch his movie."

From The Series: Andy Irons: Raw Outtakes

Play
READ THE STORY
Bruce Irons Speaks To The Dark Side of Andy’s Partying
Up Next Surf

Bruce Irons Speaks To The Dark Side of Andy’s Partying

Bruce Irons Speaks To The Dark Side of Andy’s Partying

While Andy Irons’ bipolar disorder may have gone unnoticed by many for years, his notoriously loud partying habits certainly didn’t. Andy’s brother Bruce recalls a few instances when living it up chasing a good time turned into trouble, like rolling a car into the ocean and leaving it there. The struggles of dealing with his brother weighed heavy on Bruce, especially while Andy was off touring and living the life of a pro surfer. When Andy would come home, his habits tended to take him off

Play
READ THE STORY
Video: These Sharks Hanging With Surfers Is Scary Cool
Up Next Surf

Video: These Sharks Hanging With Surfers Is Scary Cool

Video: These Sharks Hanging With Surfers Is Scary Cool

Last week, SURFER published Brad Mommsen’s aerial video of sharks swimming beneath a group of surfers in Durban, South Africa – seemingly unbeknownst to the riders, among whom was Jordy Smith.  "As I changed my drone’s camera angle to face directly below it, the glare from the reflection of the sun went away and I got to see right through the water. The first shark sighting was like 'whoa’ and then I saw there were actually five different sharks all swimming around together. That was pretty

Play
READ THE STORY
Joel Parkinson Explains How Opioids Changed Andy Irons
Up Next Surf

Joel Parkinson Explains How Opioids Changed Andy Irons

Joel Parkinson Explains How Opioids Changed Andy Irons

Outside of his bipolar disorder, Andy Irons faced the ever-deepening struggle of a severe opioid addiction. While many of his family and friends were aware of his mental disorder, his drug habit often went overlooked. Only his closest friends, with whom he spent time together surfing on tour and partying thereafter, recognized his opioid addiction. To both him and his friends, the dangers were not always apparent, as the perils of these types of drugs have only recently become commonly known.