The surf community’s made strides in talking about mental illness recently. Dane Reynold’s Chapter 11 in 2016 was heavily focused on sharing his struggles with anxiety. Earlier this year, TGR released Andy Irons: Kissed By God, which was devoted entirely to sharing a lot of the untold stories and hidden battles with mental illness throughout Andy Irons’ life. And these are just a couple examples of the epidemic highlighted along with some of the most prominent figures in the sport. There are more. And Sterling Spencer is adding to the conversation with his new film Join the Dance.
“After years of struggling with depression, I left the normal everyday society grind and got away to search for happiness in a place I’ve yet to search…Within myself,” he writes.
Spencer’s father passed away in 2011 and Sterling’s been pretty open about his ups and downs with depression since. Now building a family of his own, he admits to another whirlwind of depression when he had his son, and that revelation started him on the path to making the film he says he plans to finish this year.
“When you’re a kid, you’re very present and you’re surfing just to surf–you are completely open to that experience,” he said in an interview about Join the Dance. “Whatever the ocean throws at you, you’re excited to experience it, and I think I lost that when I became a pro surfer.”
Mental illness is not unique to surfers or surfing. But it makes sense that some surfers would use their platform and their stories to talk about it with the ups and downs of riding waves as a lens. If nothing else, it’s just one more relatable point to help others wrestling with the same thing.