Archives For mental illness


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.


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.


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.


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:



Justin Furstenfeld loves my beard.

I’m here in LA, sipping on coffee in the hotel room and surfing through Youtube, looking for acoustic sets from Blue October or Justin Furstenfeld, the lead singer of the band.  Yeah, I’m in the mood for all of their music after experiencing a very powerful and emotional acoustic concert from Justin last night in Hollywood at the Hotel Cafe venue.

My girlfriend loooves the band and everything Furstenfeld and booked this trip a few months ago.  I’ve seen the band live several times with her and it’s only because of her that I even know who Blue October is.  Last night’s concert was, for me, one of the best yet, mainly because of the intimate setting and between each song he shared some very personal stories and explanations for each song.

But the biggest highlight of the entire night was not running into him in the bathroom or having a quick chat with him before and during my sitting in the bathroom stall.  It’s when he did as promised to me and dedicated a song to my girlfriend Christine during his set.  If the bathroom encounter wasn’t enough to put her in awe, the moment when Justin called us out in the crowd and asked where his “peeing buddy” was at, caused fireworks to explode in her tiny little heart.  She lost it once he made the dedication of “Calling You” to her, and the slow, soft acoustic intro to the song even made me want to tear up.  It was a very powerful moment and something neither of us will ever forget.  He also commented on how awesome my beard was, which I kindly offered to let him touch anytime he wants.  The offer will always stand.  haha.

Christine’s connection with Justin and the music of Blue October goes deeper than just being a fan of the music.  Justin has always been very open about his battle with mental illness and depression and even last night he joked about having been put on Paxil at an early age and how awesome it made him feel.  Christine was diagnosed with Bipolar a few years ago and since then has worked her ass off to stand strong and conquer this illness in her life.  She’s also become a very strong advocate for others and I’m sure will continue to do so forever.

So if this blog post reaches Justin somehow, I want to thank you for what you did last night.  It meant more than you know and even though your dedication brought tears to her eyes, it also brought about a very very huge smile.  Thank you.


His Life Made Us Laugh, His death should make us think.

All of our Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram feeds are being flooded this morning with tributes and RIP statuses following the passing away of one of the world’s greatest comedians, Robin Williams.  Reports suggest that his death was due to suicide, but further investigations and an autopsy will of course confirm this.

Robin, who has always been very candid about his battle with depression and alcoholism, is someone that I’m sure many would have never suspected something like this from.  Many who were close to him describe him as one of the nicest, sweetest, loving human beings that you’d ever meet.  The Today Show this morning described him as someone who genuinely loved people and he seemed more concerned about touching people’s lives and hearts than being the huge iconic star that he was.

For decades he made us laugh and cry.  One of my all time favorite movies that he starred in was Good Will Hunting.  It’s actually a comfort movie for me.  We all have our comfort movies, right?  It was one of his more serious roles, but his character was so real, so loving, and genuine, that I wanted to go sit in his office and get counsel from him and get a hug from him.  He was like that caring uncle or grandfather who you knew would have all the right answers and make everything better.

We saw a man that was full of life and laughter.  As with most people, we have no idea what they deal with off camera or away from the public eye.  When we receive news that a person like Robin killed themselves, it shocks us because it’s so unexpected and uncharacteristic from what we all see on TV or in movies.  In all, this man’s life filled ours with laughter.  His death should now fill our lives with thought, and lots and lots of questions about depression and mental illness.  It’s sad that it takes the death of someone like this to get everyone talking, but it is what it is.

Why did he take his life?

This will be a question that no one will be able to answer.  We can all try, and believe me, Hollywood and the E! Channel will try, but no one really knows.  All we know is that he battled depression, which is a mental illness, and with that came a struggle with alcoholism.  You have to hand it to him though, he held on for a long long time.  He was 63 yrs old, a longer life than most sufferers of a mental illness are able to live.

Why didn’t Robin Williams reach out to someone?

Many think that “if he just would have reached out to me, I would have been able to be there for him or talk him out of it”.  The fact is, most people who take their own lives don’t plan on doing so, so there’s no advanced notice.  Mental illness is a machine, a monster, and a suicide attempt is something that most have no control over.

My girlfriend suffers from Bipolar disorder and she’s had a few suicide attempts in her lifetime, all situations that she couldn’t prepare for nor anyone else in her life.  One night, a few years ago, we met for dinner and had a few drinks.  She was on a new medication that probably shouldn’t have been mixed with any alcohol, something we learned from after the fact of course.  We left the restaurant, said our goodbyes, and both headed to our own homes.  A few minutes later I get a call from her and she’s talking very strange and appears to be very aggravated.  After hanging up I make several attempts to call her back, but i’m sent directly to voicemail.  She finally calls me from her apt, and shares that she took about 20+ Benadryl and she couldn’t even remember making a stop at a CVS to purchase the pills.  She also stated that she threw her cell phone out on the freeway.  I jumped in my truck and raced to her apt which was normally a 20 min drive.  I made it in less, doing 90 – 100mph all the way there.  I was able to get her to a hospital fast enough for them to pump everything out of her stomach.  It was a scary situation and very rare that someone has the opportunity to call for help.  Luckily she did and she lives to share this story.

Neither one of us could have expected this to happen, the same way no one, not even Robin Williams himself, thought that he was going to take his life this weekend.  We don’t know if he was on any meds or treatment, but whatever the case, the depression and mental illness took over.

Mental illness is real.  It’s just as real as breast cancer, heart disease, diabetes, and many others that receive so much attention on a daily basis.  Mental illness seems to be the step-child of all illnesses and diseases and people who suffer from it walk around in secret battles, afraid to talk about it because of the stigma that comes with it.  There’s a lack of understanding for the most part and people need to be more educated about it.  I applaud my girlfriend because she’s so real and unashamed about her illness.  She’s very open and has 20K plus followers on Facebook who have fallen in love with that openness and candid talk about Bipolar and depression.  You can follow her at

Very few of us knew Robin Williams personally, but we feel like we did because of TV and Hollywood. Allow his death to teach us something and encourage us to get to know those around us.  Allow his passing to open our hearts and hunger for understanding about the illness that he suffered from.  If you suffer from mental illness, I hope that your friends and family can help create an atmosphere where you can be open and honest about it.  And if not, seek out others who can, who will encourage you and stand with you.

Rest in Peace Robin.


Jason Russell 2012

March 22, 2012 — Leave a comment

If you’re not living under a rock and have some form of connection to the internet, then you’re no stranger to the Kony 2012 viral video that reached over 70 million viewers within 48 hours of its release.  Hell, you don’t even need an internet source to know about this since the media jumped on this quick, as well as many radio talk shows and news outlets.

As well as receiving tons of praise and accolades, this campaign has also received much criticism, and it didn’t help the cause any when the creator, Jason Russell, was recently video taped walking around naked and acting super bizaar on a street corner near his California home.  The video shows Russell, butt naked, pacing back and forth, talking to himself, rambling, clapping his hands, and doing aerobics.   Jason was obviously exhibiting characteristics of someone “under the influence” and almost looked like a sleep walker.  Any normal person watching the video would have to agree that this was not normal behavior and I’m sure Russell himself, after watching himself in the video, is saying “who the hell was that?!”

There aren’t a lot of answers right now, especially since the family is choosing to deal with this privately.  You can’t blame them though.  This is embarrassing and it’s no one else’s business.  But i want to touch on a side of this story that you aren’t hearing much, and that is “mental illness”.  We have no idea what Jason’s mental state has been for the past several years or is now.  For all we know he could have had a mental condition that was never going to surface unless he was put under the stress and demand that he received upon the launch of this Kony video.  People have nervous breakdowns everyday as well as panic attacks, bipolar episodes which include manic highs and lows, anxiety attacks, and more.

If you’ve ever witnessed someone having a seizure, it’s an obvious sign of distress and is clearly a mental issue that needs immediate attention.  No one sits there and watches a seizure victim and points at them and laughs.  Your friends would slap you, I hope.  Twice.  Most people don’t understand mental illness and because it doesn’t have a very clear “face”, society takes it lightly and it doesn’t get the attention that it deserves.  It also comes with a social stigma that causes people with any type of mental illness to keep it under wraps.  I’ve witnessed first hand what the brain can do and how it’s “malfunction” can cause behavior that catches you off guard and is hard to understand.  I’ve been there when for no apparent reason a friend goes from being happy, laughing, having drinks to throwing their phone out the car window on the freeway and attempting suicide, only to snap later and ask “did i just take all of those pills?!  why?”.

We all remember Charlie Sheen and his antics, which lasted quite a while, way longer than it should have.  This was clearly a man with a mental condition that wasn’t being treated, wasn’t taking the proper medication, and was left untreated for all the world to see.  The diagnosis was bipolar and all of the signs were there to support it.  What did we all do?  Yes, we laughed.  And yes, a lot of what he did was hilarious and off the wall, but that’s what a breakdown will do, it’ll make a person do “crazy” things.  No one is winning when it comes to mental illness.

With all this said, I ask you all to step back and give Jason Russell a break.  Take into consideration that this young man was not himself and i think it would be safe to say that this was not the result of some type of bad trip on drugs.  Shame on all of you who are posting videos ridiculing him or calling him names.  I hope that you never have a break down and that your mind is always healthy.  We don’t poke fun at an elderly person with Alzheimer’s who is wandering the streets, lost, having no idea where the hell they are.  Let’s give this same amount of respect and consideration to someone who was caught off guard by a similar fate.

Jason will recover and should be fine.  He will have to live with this for the rest of his life.  If you pray, then pray for him and his family.  If you don’t, then maybe write to him and show him your support and wish him well.  And if you’re a perfect human being who never makes mistakes or falls, call me, I’d like to know your secret.

Wish you and your family well Jason.

-Hector Garcia