It’s been eight years since the world lost one of the greatest pro-surfers of all times.. Known as the “People’s Champ,” 32-year old Philip Andrew Irons was found dead in a hotel room on Nov. 2, 2010. Autopsy revealed that Iron’s death was due to heart attack caused by hardening of the coronary arteries. However, the toxicology reports stated otherwise and linked his death with “acute mixed drug ingestion.”
Although much has been written about his life, many questions were left unanswered, leading to widespread speculations. Titled, “Andy Irons: Kissed by God,” the film shows the World champion in a different light and how despite his internal struggles, surfing kept him going.
While his death came as a shock to the surfing community, it once again brought back much needed attention to mental health and opioid epidemic. Irons’ battle with mental illness started at the tender age of 18 when he was diagnosed with bipolar disorder, an illness that marked his entry into the world of drugs. In and out of rehabs, each year, the professional surfer came back stronger than ever. But then drugs took over and so began his downwards spiral into the world of addiction. Though he managed to touch the sky professionally in the last year of his life by winning the Billabong Pro Teahupoo just months before his death, his addiction knew no stopping and only continued to become stronger that eventually led to his demise.
According to his fans, had he been alive today, the professional surfer and three-time world champion would have in all likelihood ruled the world of surfing. .
Irons resorted to drug use to manage his bipolar symptoms
The movie details his upbringing up to the time when the legend was struggling with his mental health issues and openly talks about the champion’s melee with bouts of depression, hallucination and paranoia. It also details how he resorted to drug use to manage his bipolar symptoms. The film presents the untold story of Irons who tried to fight his illness by self-medication to the extent that it led to his untimely demise.
According to the film director Steve Jones, the film is an effort for people to realize that they are not alone in their battles. According to Jones, “This film is meant to celebrate Andy and help raise awareness of a disease that is largely misunderstood. If we change one life, we’ll have succeeded.” The film, “Andy Irons: Kissed by God” was screened at 500 theaters across the United States.
Mental health is just like physical health, and thus, not talking about the related problems or not asking for help can worsen the situation. Although it’s normal to feel sad, anxious or uncertain, it’s not okay to suffer in silence. Mental health problems are treatable and with professional support, one can continue to live healthy, productive and happy lives.
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