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How Mental Illness Derailed the Career of a Promising Young Skateboarder

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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. WATCH NEXT: Getting High with Pro Skater Antwuan Dixon: http://bit.ly/1JVIUwV Check Out The VICE Skateboarding Playlist - http://bit.ly/1PwyMsC Click here to subscribe to VICE: http://bit.ly/Subscribe-to-VICE Check out our full video catalog: http://bit.ly/VICE-Videos Videos, daily editorial and more: http://vice.com More videos from the VICE network: https://www.fb.com/vicevideos Like VICE on Facebook: http://fb.com/vice Follow VICE on Twitter: http://twitter.com/vice Read our Tumblr: http://vicemag.tumblr.com Follow us on Instagram: http://instagram.com/vice Check out our Pinterest: https://pinterest.com/vicemag
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Text Comments (6073)
nick ty (1 day ago)
Real life experiences can trigger episodes of depression. I've been treated poorly by people my whole life, pretty much, and it has drained my motivation to do anything. Skateboarding has always been my number one go-to for enjoyment in life but I noticed that pleasure fading the longer and longer my self-esteem was shot. I remember progressing at a really fast rate up until the point I started feeling lonely and miserable. Then everything stopped mattering.
Paradigm Zer0 (1 day ago)
BAGHEAD CREW (3 days ago)
I remember on Go Skate Day, 2015 Paul was skating around the local plaza smashing it. I'd never spoken to Paul properly except a few odd times when he visited The Ledge Skateshop that I worked in. We walked from the plaza to another skate park about 15 minutes away and spoke about skateboarding and shit which was pretty cool. He mentioned that he was well aware that he was poorly, that the system kept holding him in and that he was still passionate about skateboarding. It's literally the first time I'd properly spoken to him for longer than a minute. Paul is a super nice guy, I haven't seen him for a long time now, but I hope he's doing well. All the guys in this documentary are good lads. Hope you're good Smashy!
Dill Thomas (3 days ago)
Its not weed you weak minded fucks its harder drugs
Rexiz (3 days ago)
My friend has psychosis aswell, He thought we were going to kill him and started waving around knifes around us screaming saying he was gonna kill himself. We all smoked weed daily but for some reason he got so fucked up mentally he completely lost it. He's been in a rehab for couple of months but he is the exakt same
Berserk (5 days ago)
You mean a Skater
that poor dudes weed was laced with something man. I smoked weed and started bmx since I was 16. I suffer from depression and anxiety like bad. my parents had me on anti depressants which made it worse. basically weed isn't for everyone. it does me wonders. it calms my anxiety and stuff.
Mark Kohler (6 days ago)
My heart goes out to Paul, I hope he can find happiness in his life
Monty Harris (6 days ago)
Great documentary! My bro is schizoaffective and is one of the most brilliant people on this planet. He could build a house by himself from scratch without any plans. I love him so much and think he can do anything in his life he sets his mind to. In the U.S. they have a shot they can give them once a month instead of having to worry about any of the side effects of all of the other drugs they prescribe for mental illness. He is almost just how he was before he was diagnosed and hopefully in the future we will be able to cure most mental diseases all together...
Jason Abbondola (6 days ago)
I wonder how he is Doing
irishwristwatch (6 days ago)
Everything comes to an end.
kuWreckzGaming (6 days ago)
Hey Paul...if you are somewhere reading this..just know I feel you. All the way. Also am diagnosed schizoaffective. Your intelligence and self awareness are so amazing...i hope I can be like you one day and feel I have a grasp on it...god bless..
Julian Lanning (7 days ago)
Smoke 10 bongs? HA lol
the bean (7 days ago)
I just wanna pause and make a comment to whoever at vice that may read these comments, I just spent 12 days in the hospital for spontaneous pneumothorax and 7:34 in the video and I felt the same way.. Just walking to halls of the hospital loosing track of days feeling like my life was out of my control but the difference is I started to write my experiences down and would like to somehow communicate or spread more attention on this subject but I'm from small-town ohio and have no connections or outlet. I was neglected at hospital and had to fight for to breath after a second lung collapse while there and I know that was the event that changed me. i wish no clout upon me but awareness on these types of situations needs brought to light.
Ryan O. (8 days ago)
I myself have been in and out of mental hospitals for treatment and this documentary has valued me. I am a musician and seeing someone still forwarding their passion (skating or whatever it may be) through all the despair is inspiring. Gives me drive and focus, much love to this guy.
stiff little fingers (8 days ago)
Cbd is an antipsychotic.. if you cant handle weed anymore.. try cbd hemp flower to relax
LeMoNaDe (8 days ago)
Me: "Oh sweet, Vice is making sweet doc's again!" *looks at date*...
Kooch man (8 days ago)
By looking at his face I can also tell he's an alcoholic.
CS Raps (9 days ago)
Love is a killer
The real question is can anyone out smoke him?
Marko Bungle (9 days ago)
recognised Bris college green straight away!.. i been in sych ward too similar stuf.. peace pro
Scott Logan (10 days ago)
Anyone else notice he pushed mongo🤔
Gutta LyfeTV (10 days ago)
This was ruff to watch man Glad hes still with us and doing what he needs to to survive on this fucked up place we call earth....Big Ups man
GoobyPls (10 days ago)
I hope he achieves what he wants. And fuck that mental "hospital". How can you simply drug somebody without having a clue or giving a fuck what its gonna do to him?
un1ty (10 days ago)
It seems like he had a kundalini awakening but he and his surroundings didnt have the esoteric knowledge to place it.
Eternal420 (11 days ago)
This is the new reefer madness issue.
tastemysaucer (11 days ago)
Cannabis and other psychedelics can trigger dormant hereditary mental "illnesses".
Shane Ortega (11 days ago)
SammyTeee (12 days ago)
fuck that og casino hoodie
adam vanpelt (12 days ago)
I would put my money on the trauma of losing his love. Not the weed lol. Please, how many people smoke pot everyday we would know by now. Trauma causes shit to happen.
Lukáš Kadlec (12 days ago)
4:50 Prague
Paranoia sucks amazing how one girl can fuck up a niggas life know that it ain't the end if she don't want you no more move on easier said then done but it's life get use to it
Clean Ups (12 days ago)
The Truman. They were watching! You did make the greatest video!
? (13 days ago)
Mental health care is still very badly underfunded and such a poorly understood side of modern health care. Of course, many of you may never understand this unless you or one of your loved ones suffers from mental illness. Please support research into mental health care and treatment for sufferers if only by advocating that more should be done. I vaguely think I remember Paul from seeing him skate MK Bus station, Pioneer, Radlands and I definitely remember some of his photos in Sidewalk. Especially the front cover. Good memories. I hope he's doing much better.
Winter Trigg (13 days ago)
Pathetic.. Shame on you vice for trying to shame weed fucking hypocrites man
xomikail (14 days ago)
I too have schizoaffective disorder and i can relate greatly to paul. I too went through similar troubles and its really something truly misfortunate and horrible. Not something the everyday person may know about or even sympathize with.
Nikolas Walter (14 days ago)
I took haloperidol for my tourettes, that thing is horrible, my whole body felt numb at times and I was using the prescribed dosage only
Moogilator (15 days ago)
A really touching story! Having grown up with a mother suffering from the same illness. Good luck mate.
Sophia Burke (15 days ago)
Any mental health professional will tell u if you are schizophrenic do not smoke weed. It makes it worse
Ya Boy (15 days ago)
Everyone’s talking about the weed but as skaters we push out bodies to the max sometimes for the simplest trick we think about the smallest things to perfect a trick by the end of the day out body’s and minds are beat up yea the weed might be hurting his illness but the joy of skateboarding is to live in the moment
sm (16 days ago)
All I’m saying is you don’t end up living on the street and staying up for days on end and just smoking weed. I’m sure their were other substances involved not mentioned in this video.
4536647674 (16 days ago)
Of course he's crazy..he pushes mongo!
Scott Chism (16 days ago)
I'll be rooting for you
Scott Chism (16 days ago)
Sad story.. he is so good
Scott Chism (16 days ago)
Or mental illness
Scott Chism (16 days ago)
That didnt happen from smoke. He was doing something else 4 sure
J I S U E Beats (16 days ago)
I’m watching this baked bruh I gotta slow down 8 years at it
Modular Mountain (16 days ago)
Mental illness didn’t destroy his career. Society and his support system might as well have amputated his legs. I feel the doctors should revisit their diagnosis of Paul. I know politicians who would fit a schizoaffective bill better than he would. I’m not a doctor but I would guess paranoid delusional and that is no reason to lock someone up if they are not a danger to society. Vice did another documentary “Interview with a cannibal” and I’m baffled how that guy is free but this guy is being locked up.
chafik souna (17 days ago)
losing the love of his life,dealing with mental illness for 15years,nd still he's not going to give up what he loves doing the most & still trying everything in his power to become a better person...Paul is a straight up real warrior. he's an inspiration
Skesmond (18 days ago)
I skate for Tony Alva's team in Venice Beach & have saw this effect on skaters falling without helmets over and over! Just say no to hard foam, fake helmets. On the subject of soft foam.. Flyaways rule! & They hook me up so I can think straight!
nu skuul (18 days ago)
exactly the same thing happened to me,started smoking weed at 12 or 13. by 15 i had schizo affection(basicly symptoms of schizophrenia and depression on the same time).this is why u should not smoke alot weed at young age,god i regret it now. to all the people saying weed is safe,its not,not in young age for sure.
El47 Nay (18 days ago)
Cuddy's just mad geeked 😂
Ted Phillips (18 days ago)
All human beings who try to slide down massive handrails at 25 mph on a skateboard are mentally ill.
The BenSman (19 days ago)
Wishing you well Paul! Much love from across the pond! Skateboarding 🛹 is 🔑
K Bro (19 days ago)
so is he out now or no?
PillWaul (19 days ago)
What is the song at the end
dadidogs (20 days ago)
This is from the Bible "Afterward Jesus findeth him in the temple, and said unto him, Behold, thou art made whole: sin no more, lest a worse thing come unto thee." John 5:14 Drugs, smoking, cursing... and many more attracts darkness into us. One day the payment is at the door. God is good, but sin is evil and sooner or later we will receive payment for our sins, that is why Jesus Christ died for our sins, that we may have life. But we need to accept Jesus into our hearts and go away from sins. There must be a transition in our life. God tells us that in finall process we need to be born again from water and Spirit of God in order to enter the Heavenly Kingdom.
Keiko 恵子 Rose (20 days ago)
ahh he’s so talented
I've never been a big skate culture head but over the years Vice's skate docs have really been wonderful and have made me connect with the culture through stuff like this and the Bam Margera doc, which I just loved. Good. On you guys
Missi Christensen (21 days ago)
Beautiful young man,very honest needed documentary
customvideo454 (21 days ago)
What mental illness was he suffering from ? Liberalism ?
Gold Whisperer (21 days ago)
Remember all of you tough kients! It ain't weak to speak!
Jerry Herrmann (21 days ago)
The best people in the world are skateboarders.
Extravagant (22 days ago)
Might have had ocd
shottingham (22 days ago)
dont take more. please.
leon watkins (22 days ago)
Love this story means alot as i lost my motive to skate after getting mayor depressive disorder couldn't have the energy to go skate now have 2 kids so dont have the time do miss it alot was the most fun iv ever had got so many good memories landing tricks
Andrew Whip (22 days ago)
Same sort of thing happened to me. Painful time and im still suffering. It could happen to anyone. Usually happens to the nicest people. The talented people who over think and analyse.
No Name (23 days ago)
Smoking weed, not sleeping, not eating good. Been there.
Pharpsyde Hope (26 days ago)
Similar things happened to me. Fucked up my college big time.
Frm Drea (26 days ago)
Lefthanded but not concious about it... flip yourself away... the message in a regular stance in skateboarding is different when your born lefthanded. The right hemisphere of brain is constructing your self awareness in connection to the left one in a viscious way if pop unconciously and throw everything you believe in away doing a sidekick with your natural I. The decision of a lefthanded person to choose regular stance is suicidal experience total madness if one is not concious about his specific left side. Everything he did was switch, in a way his switch is goofy. There is no regular stance for a leftie. Neurologicly it might be compareable with tragedy of goofy Boulala who was righthanded on amphetamine means boostering the logic preference of brain hemisphere but this guy was smoking pod a lot deconstructing his logic side leaving him with his one and only preference the ocean part of his mind for triptease. No ability for making memory of what he was doing like skating in a matrix doing an ollie north. Merry Christmas. There is a serious difference between left and righthanded people dealing with our social reality construction, lefthanded regular stance is riding number 4. Look up for it!
Max Zakk (26 days ago)
How can anyone dislike this?
julio garcia (29 days ago)
Thank you for this video it helped me realize I’m not alone and somebody actually understands me
Play On (29 days ago)
Dude got off into some heavy drugs that he’s not talking about. Crank/meth comes to mind.
Hugh McKay (29 days ago)
in and out for 14 years and they only just diagnose him
Justin Thorne (29 days ago)
1,000 people really dont understand what its like to become afflicted with illness. I seen it happen first hand to my own mother and she was never really that bad, it was like Paul said being in those mental hospitals is what really messes you up. Keep skating paul, you're ill but not in a bad way!
P D (30 days ago)
Cannabis will definitely trigger inherited mental illness that some people may not know they have, and usually does not show up until their early twenties anyways. I have personally seen it happen to several friends who ended up suffering from bi-polar disorder, or paranoid schizophrenia which they did not know they had until they smoked. They did not smoke all day every day either. Not all people should smoke, and the new relaxed perception of weed is not good. I smoked almost every day for 25 years and I’m only 38 now and quit 8 months ago. It is extremely addictive, as I could never stop no matter how many times I tried. It prevented me from doing and accomplishing so much, made me procrastinate and eat like shit. Only people who I believe truly benefit might be chemo patients who need to increase appetite and decrease nausea which it is the only medicine to do so. Our minds are too powerful to adulterate them with psychoactive agents, but some people in mass media seem to be perpetrating the idea onto an entire generation. Create a bunch of crazed , slow, weak people living in a fog. From anti-depressants being overprescribed with side effects leading kids to shoot up schools to massive deaths from fentanyl, the drugs are being weaponized and used against us!!
customvideo454 (21 days ago)
Yea.... Sounds like weed just doesn't agree with your mind and body. Weed has different effects on everyone. It doesn't do any of the things you mentioned above to me. It makes me motivated, focused, more considerate,compassionate, it makes me eat healthy, and makes me sleep unbelievable good. I'm 45. I am a programmer for General Motors. I have been consuming cannabis since 1997, I quit and start up again all the time no problem at all, and it is no different to me than a cup of coffee. If it treated every one the way it did to you, we would not be were we are at today with it. Sorry it wasn't for you. You should have been able to recognize this and tell at an earlier stage. Also from your dialect I can tell you have a compulsive personality, which is not a good combination for smoking weed. Weed also is not good for weak minded people, which from you thinking cannabis is extremely addictive, leads me to believe that about you also.
Jim Bob (30 days ago)
I had a psychotic episode on drugs and I thought people were coming to hunt me and cars were all out to get me it was the most fucked experience of my life. Luckily after a few days of taking nothing I recovered but still I can remember how scared I was and I was hiding in bushes and doing full crazy shit... havnt touched anything since!
Cbd helps with schizophrenia.
+Joe Scott that's good to know.
Joe Scott (18 days ago)
It helps with certain individuals, not all of them. Some it makes it worse.
k1ng goujon (30 days ago)
nearly 2019 and this shit is so heavy
THE Processor: J-Merc (30 days ago)
That diagnosis shit is fake.. he was obviously living his life the way he wanted at first. ALL he needed was somebody to guide him through the paranoia and you be there with him and he would've sailed But no... throw him in and out the god damn mental hospital to docile him up
THE Processor: J-Merc (30 days ago)
The god damn fucking hospital and mental institutions RUINED EVERYTHING FOR ME TOO
THE Processor: J-Merc (30 days ago)
This happened to me...
Tulsa Clovis (1 month ago)
I don't think this guy is crazy. It seems like he was heartbroken and vulnerable and got sucked into the medical/psychiatry system which will exploit anyone as long as another dollar can be milked out of the patient. Often, above average intelligence individuals will be "diagnosed" with mental illnesses and be given big pharma amphetamines, barbituates, or other psychotropic drugs to keep these intelligent people tied up with addiction to make sure they don't cause any problems and affect the corrupt system we live within.
bcxaz (1 month ago)
When I began college I had never taken any drug. By the time I left I had experienced a number of them and smoked weed everyday. I had one totally bad experience. Followed a truck which had a graphix sticker on the back window and snapped out of it about an hour into following the thing miles and miles. I only smoked maybe 5 times ever again. There is a time when you know its that time to stop. If you ignore it, thats on you. Many people continue to do it out of peer pressure or whatever and that is when you must decide to move on alone and give it a shot at life. If not you may end up in hospital or worse. Doesn't mean you are going to be a success but it means you aremaking the choice to try. If not you are stuck in the same routine day after day and will end up in hospital and 10 years later 20 years later regretting you never chose to move on in life.
Duffington (1 month ago)
Does anyone know how old Paul is ?
Duffington (20 days ago)
Buddy Parrish Thanks buddy 👍
Buddy Parrish (20 days ago)
From research i think mid 30's although couldn't find exact age
Bobby Lee (1 month ago)
respect to u paul!
Abe Perez (1 month ago)
Can someone in the uk please look for this dude and ask him to make an instagram? He's a huge inspiration and motivator. I'd love to see him keep shredding. Mental illness is just a fucking bitch.
biglilodin (1 month ago)
Jaime Gonzalez (1 month ago)
Wees is notcat fault at all he had to do other drugs been smokong since i was 12 im 28 i have a career family house smh weed is great
suprxme jo (1 month ago)
Weed is for all people...it doesnt hve the same reactions in everyone's body
Hello _ (1 month ago)
Yah his mind illness is not because he would fall down and hit his head right
Joshua Boswell (1 month ago)
In my experience on that heated topic which is more experience most people have is that if you’re already susceptible to ill mental health then weed CAN be but not always a catalyst to that. Friends with skunk induced psychosis were all unbalanced before they smoked weed and from the point of starting smoking they progressively worsened until they needed hospital. Everyone with drug induced psychosis I know had what you might call addictive personalities and had abnormal relationships with anything they liked, potential partners, drink, weed, music the list goes on. It needs addressing in a realistic way without the rhetoric.
Evil blaze crew ! (1 month ago)
Mk mason kid ultra they did it 2.him and so many other kids celebs athletes and so on they always mask it with drugs fuck them speak the truth ... when will it change they keep ripping us off of our lives ... speak the truth protest.. stand up for your selves 4 all u no your next...
Joe Smith (1 month ago)
I've had thoughts like these when I did meth.
Zack Eiler (1 month ago)
My nigga Paul was on that loud shit he don’t have no mental illness that’s impossible he needed to tell his dealer to step it down for him
Dark Soul (1 month ago)
Mental illness ?? ... dudes it's simple ... it has a name ... WEED
Sebas Medina (1 month ago)
Great video
TheUtuber999 (1 month ago)
I love to skate and love Reggae music... but wish people on the outside wouldn't assume, nor people on the inside *expect*, that you smoke pot to be part of it.
Stevie- TV (1 month ago)
who else came here thinking this would be about Jeremy Rogers?
SPQR101010 (1 month ago)
fucking potheads

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