Former Margaret River surf identity Brett Hardy has released a book detailing his lifetime mental health struggles that he hopes will “start a conversation” particularly in the surf community. The book Brett Polar is a “rollercoaster memoir” of the surfer’s 20s and 30s in the shadow of mental illness and his subsequent journey towards healing. The book also details the harrowing experience of his father Antony Hardy’s 2018 murder of Hardy’s stepfather David Graves and the trauma which helped drive Hardy’s mission to share his experiences with others. “I hadn’t experienced shock like that before,” Hardy told the Times. “Within 24 hours my whole life was destroyed, my mum was in hospital, my dad was in jail and my stepdad was dead.” Hardy’s bipolar diagnosis came amid years of living hard and partying, and while genetics were a factor — his father was misdiagnosed as a mild schizophrenic in the 70s and eschewed heavy antipsychotic medication — the new author bravely outlined how grief at the split within his own family when his father left when Hardy was 13 was a major factor in his mental health. Trauma was heaped on top of the physiological aspect of bipolar disorder which Hardy explained left him struggling with wild mood swings for up to two weeks at a time. Although he was diagnosed with bipolar at 24, the years since weren’t easy, and today he managed through a long-tested balance of medication, therapy and support. “In my 20s and 30s it was very hard for me to find a balance,” he said. “It was probably only in my 40s I backed away from partying and got a steady girlfriend and found stability. “This thing’s for life. You’ve got to be monitoring it and managing medication and not going off the rails.” The spark for the book came after Hardy found himself in Facebook jail for 30 days several years ago. The platform was already a conduit for his personal writing, as well as his work as a six month associate editor role with Surfing Life magazine. “My counsellor became aware of my pretty colourful mental health history during the past 20 years and kept egging me on that I should write it and it could help other people,” Hardy said. The book was particularly geared towards those in the surf community, where conversations around mental health didn’t come easily. “Even now, mental health is encouraged to talk about it, but it’s hidden,” he said. “There’s deaths and suicides right up to this year and it’s not really talked about.” Hardy lamented many families only had those conversations too late, and from his own experience, believed surfers had a valuable test for their own struggles. “The ocean will tell you where your mental health is at,” he said. “I wanted to encourage some dialogue. The book is an experience for the reader to get an insight into a person living with bipolar. “People can share their stories and it helps people to pick up and manage their own stress.” UK publishers Austin Macauley released the book at the end of March and an official release will be held at the Margaret River Bookshop during the Margaret River Pro on April 30.