Mental health in extreme sports matters

September 30, 2020 | Kiteboarding
Graham Howes: the founder of Dirty Habits wants to raise awareness of mental health in extreme sports | Photo: Mystic

As a professional athlete, artist and brand owner, depression, insecurities, anxiety, self-doubt, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), and epilepsy have played a huge role in who I am today.

It's given me strength and courage to push through boundaries, but it has also plagued my road to success, competitions, relationships, and ultimately, happiness.

I see it in people, friends, professional athletes, and successful people all around me, and most of them won't dare open up when I try starting a conversion, for their fear of crying, looking weak, feeling uncool.

This year has led me to very dark places from past traumas that I buried. This year has also made it obvious I can no longer pretend life is perfect, as I show on social media and Dirty Habits.

It's time to get real. Don't worry - I'm not going to start posting videos of me crying.

And I am also not looking for attention or kind words of encouragement.

All I want is for you to know that you are not alone in your fight, no matter how small or big it may seem.

Dirty Habits inspires an extreme lifestyle of "living your best life," through extreme sports, community, crazy videos, etc.

But it's time to acknowledge that "living your best life" means treating your mind injuries, just as you would treat a knee injury or any other injury.

Many people have to accept that psychological and physical injury are at the same level of intensity. They can do the same level of damage to somebody's self-confidence and their ability to perform.

We won't stop posting "cool stuff," and not much will change; we will continue to #keepitdirty as usual. But along the way, we want to break down the walls and stigma in the extreme sports community.

How? Well, we have no idea yet, but sometimes all you need to do is start.

There's a Place (Graham Howes, 2020)

A place I come to leave my thoughts
A place I come to clear my mind
A place I come to not be judged
A place I come to not be kind

I leave my thoughts here to rest
I leave my thoughts here at their best

I don't care what you think of me
I don't care how you look at me

I'm tired of being judged
I'm tired of the eyes that look down

I'm scared to fail, to disappoint
I'm scared to be me
I'm scared - of me

It's not those who judge me
It's just that - I don't know how to be
It's not them who judge me
It's me who judges me.

I just want to be free.


Words by Graham Howes | Founder of Dirty Habits

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