How Mental Illness Derailed the Career of a Promising Young Skateboarder

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How Mental Illness Derailed the Career of a Promising Young Skateboarder 5
Paul Alexander was a young British skateboarder full of charisma and drive. He discovered the opportunities of sponsorship, travelling and recognition during a move from Leicester to Bristol in his late teens. Living with professional skateboarder Danny Wainwright he became engulfed in the fun, responsibility free lifestyle that came with his chosen pursuit of becoming a pro skateboarder. Paul seemed destined for success then something came to get him, something he’d never experienced before that would take his personal goals and freedom far away from his grasp in a seemingly never ending battle. This is his story, directed by friend and skateboarding companion Tim Crawley.





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Author

Alot of highly intelligent and creative people walk a fine line between reality and madness.

Author — sleuth 2077

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I remember doing this when I was younger. Doing it every day ruined my life and people started to ridicule me for my bad decisions. My friends finally stepped in and I was able to stop pushing mongo.

Author — Squidward Tentacles

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This same thing happened to me since I was 19 in 1999. Everything seemed to be going sweet. I had stopped drinking and weed and just skated, had a girlfriend and a job at a Caltex while I studied City Planning at the University of Auckland. Suddenly my world was shattered. My parents told me they were splitting, my girlfriend dumped me and brought my ex-good friend home, my Mum brought some dickhead boyfriends home, and started smoking and drinking in the house every night (which is forgiven as she was heartbroken). I couldn’t leave cos my youngest sister was only 10 and I needed to look after her.

It fucking broke me. To the point that I felt lost for around a year. Some things were okay. I spent a Summer New Years holidays crying deeply in a Apple Thinning Accommodation in Upper Moutere in Aōtearoa, New Zealand. The country I live in. I was a local legend at my skatepark, the Birkenhead Skateboard Park, and a key figurehead in the local crew the Birkenhead Skateboard Posse haha. We had fun together. It sucked that this shit happened, but after the crying I felt a lot better. I started working way too many hours and stopped skateboarding because of injuries. I disappeared, none of the homies knew where I went.

At the end of a year whereby I worked 7 days a week, as a Bicycle Courier in the City of Auckland, and a Kitchen Hand at Musical Knives, a local restaurant, as well as studying full time City Planning and Cooking from scratch on Sunday’s (until I couldn’t spare the time) dishes for my own student cafe in the Architecture School Cafe space on a Monday, I wore myself completely out. The other students called me ‘The Good Food Guy’. :) Getting lost in work never works. I’d never heard of mental illness or anything. I was grieving. My ex-girlfriend still lived with my Mum too lol

Then I met her, a young lass named Alice, who was everything I was seeking in a girlfriend, and we definitely vibed. Only thing was schizophrenia type symptoms came out when I met her, it was horrible. I was drawn to her, as well as pushed away by her, like happens with personality disorders. It sucked. Plus she was a ten and vivacious, plus an imperfect human and she judged me for how I presented all fucked up from my trauma. I took it all to heart and as she was into doing drugs I thought maybe I needed some again too. She said no to me. My friends hated her though they never met her.

One night after work at my Musical Knives kitchen hand job, one of the Chefs offered me a lift home and said we could go past his place for some spots. Usually I would say a hell no after a horrible experience with weed when I was 16, but this time I said a heartbroken hell yea! I smoked 6 spots of resin and slowly went completely postal. I awoke in the Auckland Hospital gardens after having tried to admit myself to Emergency Care. Fucking scary shit. After this I called my friends who were all worried, we used to skateboard every day and now I was living in sketchy flats and flaking on everything.

I had a good girlfriend for a month or so after Alice, she was called Frances, and she identified the Schizophrenia thing in me as her Mum was a Psychology Lecturer at the Auckland University of Technology. As it happens her father was a Art Lecturer at the Auckland University of Technology and acknowledged my distinctive unique style of my artwork when I made her a card for her birthday. That was in my evangelical Christian phase lol

This is a super long story. I will stop here, I would just like to say I finished my Bachelors and Masters Degrees in City Planning and fight on and plan on starting a PhD soon. I also have a loving family who do everything in their power to support me. I have been through the gates of hell done fuckin’ burnouts and come out alive. I’ve just coming off four months of hospitalisation and some trouble with the courts for driving offences committed off the meds (one being failing to stop for a red and blue).

It’s a story always growing and changing. Thank you so much Paul for being open with your struggle, you’re a genius on your skateboard. If I’m off meds I can skateboard mean, but then I can’t human very well and I get in peoples faces way too much so yeah, I know how hard this shit can be and you’ve inspired me to be more humble within it. I’m diagnosed Bipolar Type I, and can believe I’m some pretty grandiose stuff at times. I have told so many people to look at this video if they want to know what happened to me with my skate life.

You’re a legend and those nollie backside flips are legit! One of my favourite (if not my favourite trick) to do, back in the day, the extra 180 was super fire as a mfa! (I’ve felt that once on the old wedge at the BSP but never put it down). My brother Dean Clark, Rest in Peace, said “keep it going another 180” haha I can’t be told! THANK YOU

Author — esoligh

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mental illness has robbed a shitload if people from their lives

Author — Kevin Smith

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Again, another example of old vice being god tier compared to what they are like now...

Author — Cloudii

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I don’t think weed is bad. But I feel like smoking it so much at such a young age when your brain is developing and everything is moving so fast in somebody’s life is not so good.

Author — Balls Magee

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OH GOD, I was so relieved when Paul showed up at 6:16 lol. The way they were talking about him up to that point made it sound like he was dead!

Author — Brooke

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"smoke ten bongs" damn thats savage.. I just smoke the weed

Author — Aaron Tillery

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When the interviewer asked “what film is that?” It showed me he wasn’t understanding Paul.

Author — Lil Naive

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I personally had to quit smoking weed because I was experiencing schizoid-like conditions. Intense paranoia, delusions. I know many people in whom smoking weed brings out mild to severe psychosis, paranoia, delusions etc. Weed is not as harmless as people make it out to be. It can most certainly bring out dormant mental illness in predisposed individuals.

Author — Brendon Webster

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anyone else realizes he rides mongo like 3 quarters of the time?

Author — Cepha Mentie

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brilliant. more people should talk about this sort of thing.

Author — bjaminbjamin

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"I'm never gonna give up skating, and I'm never gonna give up trying to get myself well."

After 15 years of mental health problems, losing the love of his life and the career he always wanted to have, this guy is still determined not to give up what he loves and to keep striving to be a better person.

Pure, unadulterated beauty. This man is an inspiration to me.

Author — aaaaarrrrrggggghhhh

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People are so you're doing well everyone wants some but when you're down can't find a single soul

Author — Courtney Gillespie

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Smoking weed isn’t good for schizophrenics, learned that the hard way.

Author — R€L

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"I just wish that I could prove that I'm well, so that they could rest and be relaxed and think 'oh Pauls gone back to normal'". That made me sad, he sounds so helpless and has lost all the light and character out of his eyes and he just looks and sounds like a hollow shell. Its a heartbreaking thing to se

Author — CJ outwest

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Mental illness is an epidemic in this world and rRely talked about super sad.

Author — Atort Photography

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Damn I can kinda relate to that " if I do this trick I'll get a ferrari" -thing

Author — Alexander Arnt

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it was the green that sent him into psychosis. it happened to me when i was a kid, smoking everyday

Author — jamestoni

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I wonder if he quit bud? I had to quit after 20 years of daily toking due to depression and anxiety, it makes me feel very guilty now if I smoke.

Author — COD ProCamp