Stepping Into Liquid

Just before Sachi Cunningham ’94.5 entered her sophomore year at Brown, she was given a bipolar 1 diagnosis and put in a rubber-walled room. It wouldn’t be her last time in a psychiatric hospital. When her mom died of ovarian cancer during her junior year, she fell into a deep depression and landed there again. But Cunningham, a competitive athlete who was on Brown’s varsity swim and water polo teams, went on to land at the top of the dangerous, male-dominated field of surf photography. She says that’s not a coincidence. 

Sachi Cunningham, ‘94.5

“Learning how to survive when a wave detonates on or in front of you has become an incredibly valuable practice of resilience and survival,” she says. “Every time I swim in the surf I am reinforcing how to feel comfortable in a situation that is entirely out of my control, and how to surrender to whatever comes my way and make the most of it.” The highs and lows of her bipolar disorder are as inevitable as the continued pounding of the waves, she says. “The lessons that this practice instills has helped to keep me functional.” . . .

Read the full article at Brown Alumni Magazine.

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