Out From The Darkness - With Sir John Kirwan
NZ SURFING MAGAZINE|Issue 187
Out From The Darkness - With Sir John Kirwan
It is often said that going for a surf helps clear the head, resets one’s self, or levels out emotions.

There have been many studies performed and scientific data presented as to the benefits of being out in the ocean and catching a few waves. Yet at times, while as surfers we often turn to our passion of surfing to wash away the stresses and built-up distractions of life, sometimes we just can’t make it to the ocean for varying reasons. It could be work and family commitments, or that there just simply isn’t any surf at that moment that you most need it! Winter is also a tough time to be a surfer, shorter days and cold temperatures can provide a dark and gloomy outlook, and if your headspace is already in a mixed-up space this can drive you deeper into the darkness.

A man that really needs no introduction, Sir John Kirwan or JK as we know him, has spent the last 30 years personally battling with depression and has spent his life since coming to terms with the illness, leading a campaign of awareness towards opening up and speaking about what was once considered taboo, and creating pathways for those affected to inspire and learn to live and recovery from the illness.

We’ve all seen the man in action in his prime! Here was this man who redefined what was possible on the rugby field, a macho and confident athlete that resembled a Greek God. Yet JK had a secret that affected him deeply, and when he first came out and shared this issue, Kiwi society was gobsmacked, this couldn’t be true? This was one of our greatest athletes of all time. Sadly, it was true, and through JK’s public battle with depression and the many years of advocacy, he has changed attitudes and the perception of ‘mental illness’ which has brought this topic into the light and proven that this, in some way or another, in many shapes and forms, can affect us all.

For JK in his prime sporting prowess he was one of the greatest All Blacks of all time and then also a Warrior, but what gelled more with our community was that JK was also a passionate surfer. We caught up with Sir JK to talk surfing and to grab a few tips on managing the darker days in your life.

Where did surfing begin for you? And where was your local go-to spot?

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Issue 187