Last Friday was one of those mornings when nothing seems to go right. I’d had a fitful night’s sleep – tossing and turning for most of it – before finding myself fully awake at 2am and eventually falling back asleep around 5. Thus when my alarm sounded at 6, I automatically hit the snooze button before waking with a start 15 minutes later. Much as I wanted to drag myself out of bed – it was One Wave’s third birthday and the occasion was being marked on 50 beaches the world over – I wasn’t sure I had the energy. It was only when I stopped to realise that feeling fatigued for the rest of the day was a small price to pay for showing support to a cause very close to my heart that I made it out of bed and onto the beach.
Fluro Fridays – a weekly event on Bondi beach in which people get together dressed in their brightest yoga and surfing attire to raise awareness for mental health – are often a sizeable affair but today’s was one of epic proportions. I arrived at South Bondi shortly after 6.30am, just as the sun was beginning to break over the rocks in North Bondi – a sight alone that makes the early morning alarm oh-so-worth it. The beach was crowded with people dressed in their brightest get-ups while local musician Adam Harpaz and his band entertained the early risers prior to One Wave founder, Grant Trebelico’s talk.
When Grant stood up to talk, the crowd silenced, as they listened to his story about the birth of One Wave. With a history of mental health in his family, Grant found himself in Manly Hospital’s mental health unit having experienced a serious bi-polar episode. Soon after, he took himself home to New Zealand for six months to spend time with his family and friends. It was there that he discovered that, despite not being able to sit still for long due to his anxiety, he was able to spend hours in the ocean, and found doing so incredibly therapeutic. On returning to Bondi and wanting to raise awareness of mental health and all those suffering from it, he dressed in a fluro suit and tie, and went surfing. And so One Wave was born, three years ago today.
And now, perhaps more than ever, is a time when more conversations about mental health are needed. In Australia alone, 7 people a day commit suicide and the suicide rate is at its highest for thirteen years. He spoke of how depression does not discriminate and explained that he began One Wave so others would know that they were not alone and to offer those in need a combination of salt water therapy, fluro, surfing and good people.
Next up we heard from fellow Kiwi Lucy, who had contacted One Wave in September 2013 after discovering them on Facebook. She had her first panic attack at 4, was in therapy by the age of 6, and had attempted suicide twice by the age of twelve. But while her mental health was an innate part of her being – so too was her love of water, and much like Grant – and many others since – Lucy has managed to find solace among waves.
To mark the third birthday of One Wave, a minute’s silence was held for all those lost to suicide. From the Maldives to Cali, Mollymonk to Byron Bay, Takapuna to Mount Maunganui – One Wave and their world-wide supporters created the world’s largest Fluro Wave with 50 beaches standing together to raise awareness for mental health. And what an incredible feat to accomplish.
For more information on One Wave, visit their website here.