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SUFFERING IN SILENCE:  DAVE MIRRA + DEPRESSION

It was 1998 and I had just started riding Flatland again after having been out of the sport for almost 8 years.  After graduating High School in 1990 and entering college my dedication and interest in riding around in circles in a parking lot decreased, altogether letting it go once my GT Pro Performer was stolen out of my back yard.  Those off years were full of other cycling, mountain biking and a few years stent of aggressive inline skating (yes, go ahead and laugh).  I can’t recall what brought me back in but I jumped in head first, and doing it all on a bright red Hoffman EP frame which took a beating and lots of throws while relearning all of the tricks that I loved doing as a teenager.

One of the first things that I had to do was catch up with the sport and that involved lots of BMX videos being sent to my house from Dan’s Comp, or borrowing them from new rider friends.  No flatland homework was complete without watching any or all of the Dorkin in York videos produced by Mark Eaton, and it was in Dorkin 5, I believe, that we were all introduced to this little tiny kid doing multiple whiplashes on a bike that looked a little too big for him.  I was like “Damn! This kid is going to blow up.”, and sure enough he did and became one of the most recognized and accomplished BMX athletes in the world.  His name was Dave Mirra.

This week the world was shocked as news circulated the web that Dave Mirra had passed away in an apparent suicide.  As this news became viral, my feed became full of love for this man and many many shares of his story.  With the love were also expressions of anger and confusion from riders and friends who couldn’t understand why someone as accomplished as Dave could take his own life, especially in that two beautiful daughters and a wife were left behind.  I stand with everyone who is left confused and I have something to share with you that I hope will help.

MIRRA PROBABLY DIDN’T WAKE UP WITH A SUICIDE PLAN IN MIND

I doubt that anyone wakes up in the morning and says “Later today I’m going to kill myself” and from the reports from Dave’s friends and family who spent time with him that day, I’m sure that wasn’t on his agenda.  Suicide sucks and many people feel and wish that those that have taken their life should have called them or reached out for help.  There’s even suicide hot lines that serve for this purpose and I’m sure they have helped many who have walked on that ledge, but for the most part, it’s not this easy for those suffering from depression or a mental disorder.  There are reports that Dave was suffering from depression to some extent, but there still isn’t enough information about his state so all we can do is speculate.

I was with someone for approximately 5 years who battled bipolar depression on a daily basis and everything that I have to share on this topic comes from personal experience.  Know that no one could have stopped Dave from taking his life.  The same way no one could have stopped Robin Williams or any other celebrity from doing the same, the thought or action of taking one’s life is something that can come instantly, with no warning and with no time to “call a friend” to come to the rescue.

A few year’s ago I found myself racing down the freeway at 100 mph hoping to get to my girlfriend’s apt in time.  She went from laughing and lots of love in the parking lot of the restaurant to hurting herself in minutes.  Situations like this and many years of being with someone with a mental illness is what has taught me so much about the mind, mental disorders, and suicide, and it helps reduce the confusion of why someone like Mirra would take his own life.

WHAT CAN YOU DO TO HELP?

Many of your friends and family could be suffering in silence and you would never even know.  For this reason we can’t be too hard on ourselves when someone close to us attempts or commits suicide.  No one would have ever suspected that my ex was suffering in silence because on the outside she was a very happy bubbly person with an outgoing personality, which she genuinely was.  However when depression would take over, it was something that she had no control over and even she was left confused as to where it came from.  This is the case with a few other friends that suffer from depression as well.

When this would happen I would comfort her as best as I could and she would try to push through as much as possible and not let it steal her day away.  Only time was the savior and she was a victim until that mood “went away” on its own, with no amount of hugs and kisses being able to help.  It was all new to me and I wasn’t always great at dealing or understanding, but I did the best I could. There is no manual for mental illness or being with someone suffering from depression, and all we can do is love, care, and be super supportive when these moods show their ugly head.

The mind is powerful and we will never understand how someone can take their own life like Mirra did.  It’s easy to become angry or confused and even accuse these people of being “cowards” and taking the easy way out, but please know that it’s bigger than that.  I firmly believe that Dave Mirra loved his life, his kids, his wife, and his many friends and fans and he didn’t want to leave this earth yet.  Something else took his life that day and it’s bigger than me, you, and a BMX bike.

UNDERSTAND AND SHARE

If the root of this tragedy was depression and mental illness then all we can do is gain some understanding and then share that with others.  Mental illness is as real as cancer and heart disease and it deserves so much more attention than what it currently receives.  Learn what you can about this and be sensitive to those around you that might show signs of depression or something similar.  One of the best things that mental illness can use is a good support system, but even then we can only do so much.  The mind will do what it wants at any time and we won’t always be ready for it.

Much love to Dave Mirra’s children, wife, and family.  Their life is forever changed and I pray for peace and love to surround them for the rest of their days.

Note:  One of the first books that I read that helped me in my search for understanding mental illness was one called Detour:  My Bipolar Road Trip.  It’s a memoir and I couldn’t put the book down.  It opened my eyes to a lot and I hope it does the same for others.  You can order it on Amazon:  http://www.amazon.com/Detour-Bipolar-Road-Trip-4-D/dp/0743446607

@hectorgarciahtx

 

bike

HECTOR’S SEARCH FOR HAPPINESS: PART 4

Today is the last day in the series that I’ve been writing called Hector’s Search for Happiness.  I hope you guys have enjoyed it and that somewhere in this stuff you’ve found something to take to heart and chew on.  My ultimate goal in this and in anything that I write is to encourage and build you up.  My life isn’t awesome everyday by any means and I have my share of daily struggles, but just like anyone else I want to be happy and I want my life to matter.  Your life matters and I believe that every person on this earth has a purpose.  Figuring out that purpose should be your daily mission and in doing so I feel that you will learn a lot about yourself, which brings me to my first list for today which is Loving Yourself.

HAPPINESS IS LOVING YOURSELF

I’ve traced my life back as far as I can remember and I don’t think that I ever really struggled with self esteem issues.  I don’t feel like I’m a great looking person and I do have about 10 – 15 lbs to lose around my waist line, but my confidence doesn’t come from how I look, it’s just the way that I’m wired.  For some, self confidence will come naturally while for others it has to be taught and developed.

If there was one ultimate source for happiness I feel that it will come from how you feel about yourself.  This can come from how you view yourself physically to how you feel about your purpose in the world.  This morning the comedian Amy Schumer was on the Today show and she talked about how walking in self confidence has not always been easy but that she has found her stride and she is doing what she can to encourage others.  In Amy’s words she’s not a “skinny” person and in one of her comedy bits she describes what goes on under her clothes as a lava lamp, where everything just moves around all lazy and slow, waiting to be released with the unzipping of the back of her dress.  It’s great that she can make fun of herself through her comedy and she does a great job of using humor to lift people up.

If we can learn anything from Amy it’s that size doesn’t matter and it’s all about what’s in your heart.  Who you are as a person is more about what’s going on in the inside that what the world sees on the outside.  I have encountered some very shallow people in my life who are beautiful people physically, but unfortunately lack substance and heart.  While on the other end I know people who some may say are overweight and not that physically attractive yet they have hearts of gold and are making a difference in the world.  Those are the people that I want to know and those are the kinds of people that we can learn from.

Focus on finding your place in this world and surround yourself with “beautiful” people with “beautiful” hearts.  Build one another up daily and in doing this it will undoubtedly help you with your own self confidence.  Also, don’t fall into the trap of comparing yourself to others on social media, which can be one of the biggest confidence killers.  Know that everything that we see online is not the real world and your friend’s photos of how awesome their life is and how happy they are on vacation or at the beach is not the whole story.  If you’re not careful you’ll find yourself comparing your life to others and beating yourself up because you can’t post amazing before and after fitness photos from your bathroom.

HAPPINESS IS RIDING MY BIKE

When I was 12yrs old and we moved to Spring Branch into some huge new apartment complex called Afton Village.  I give the apartment name because I would love to hear from anyone who lived there as well back in the day.  That place was seriously it’s own little city and I have some great memories from that one year of living there.  One of my fondest memories was seeing BMX freestyle in person for the first time in my life.  I remember walking through the complex and being stopped in my tracks as I saw someone playing around on their bike about 100 yards away.  I was mesmerized by what I was seeing and it changed my life forever.  Not long after seeing this my mom bought me my first BMX bike and I rode the hell out of that thing.  I slowly began trying to do whatever tricks I saw that guy do at Afton and by ninth grade I become one of about 20 other BMX flatland riders in Houston.

I can truly say that my bike changed my life.  I loved riding and it was my passion throughout high school and I feel that it kept me out of a lot of trouble.  Me and my friends spent hours and many late nights on the weekend riding in parking lots and learning new tricks.  I remember coming home from school, not being able to wait to get on my bike and hit the park tennis courts to master that one trick that I had been trying to learn for the past 2 – 3 months.  I had found a passion and something I truly loved and it made me happy.

There were several years in the 90s where I abandoned my BMX bike and got into mountain biking and even had a short stint as an aggressive inline skater.  LOL, yes, I skated and I would have to say that I became very good at it, buut by 1998 I caught the BMX bug again and picked up where I left off in 1990.  Since then I haven’t slowed down and riding my bike and being involved in the cycling community is a passion of mine that makes me happy.  I’m sure I’ll be riding around this weekend so keep an eye out for me and don’t run me over.

Friends, love yourself, love others, find your passion and run with it, do what you love and do whatever it takes to be where you’re supposed to be, don’t settle for anything less than what brings true happiness and change the world around you.  And if you don’t own a dog or a bike, get your ass out there this weekend I find both.  That will be your homework for the weekend.  Trust me, you’ll be a very happy person by Monday.

Happy weekend.

@hectorgarciahtx

 

 

 

 

hectorbike

It’s not a secret that I love riding bikes.  Anyone that knows me or kinda knows me understands that most of what i do in life revolves around the bike industry.  I’ve been riding bikes all my life, or at least since I was like 7 or 8, and since I was in high school I’ve been attempting to kill myself by doing stunts and tricks on any kind of bike I can get my hands on.  It’s what I do and it’s basically who i am.  🙂

There’s something about riding a bike that I really can’t explain.  And i know lots of other people that feel the same way.  But last night, while hanging out with some friends one of them explained this in the most simple way ever.  I brought up the subject and stated “Man, I don’t know what it is, but i LOVE just getting on my bike and riding”.  I followed that with “there’s just something about riding that I can’t explain.  What is it?”.  Without much hesitation or thought, my friend Miquel stated “it’s because it makes us feel like kids again”.  And there it was.  The easy explanation to it all and the most accurate that I’ve ever heard.

Go through a neighborhood or pass by a park during a nice day and you’ll see kids having fun on their bicycles.  What do kids seem to always want for Christmas?  That’s right, they want a bicycle.  Riding a bicycle allows us to go fast, it gives us a little more power, and the ride, simply put, is just FUN!

No matter how old you are, there’s a desire in all of us to be younger.  Some of us go as far as wishing that we were kids again.  A kid’s #1 goal every day is to have as much fun as possible.  They don’t have to worry about bills, performing well at their job, taking care of a family, or any other type of responsibilities.  They exist simply to have fun, and that’s the life that we would all love to have again.

But why wish to be younger or be a kid again?  We’re adults.  We can come and go as we please.  We can drive a car.  We can stay out as late as we want, and if money permits, we can buy whatever “toys” we want.  We have the time and power to have as much fun as possible.  If i want to get on my bike and go for a ride at midnight, I can do that.  If I want to go to the beach today, i can do that as well.  Basically, being the adults that we are gives us the power to be as much of a kid as we want to.

I guess this is how I live.  I don’t allow my age to dictate what I can and cannot do.  Of course my body will remind me at times that I’m not a teenager any longer, but I’ll at least give it the opportunity to tell me that.  I live day to day like everyone else, but I like to mix my thinking with what a kid would normally wake up thinking.  “How much fun can I have today?”.  Let that be your question today or tomorrow morning.  Allow the “kid” in you to come out regularly and have fun.  Life is too short to be an adult your whole life.  Enjoy your weekend and thanks for reading.

– Hector