Kev | Addington, Canterbury

 **This story talks about suicide. If you, or someone you know, needs help you can text or free call 1737 at anytime to talk to, or text with, a trained counsellor.**

“I’ve had a life full of challenges. I was dealing with a lot of mental health problems. I was a father as a teenager, and my relationship broke up in my early 20s, and coming from a broken family, there was the beginning of mental health issues developing even from that young stage.

Losing my relationship and my children in my early 20s, I was a very committed father and doting father, but mostly financial issues and I basically spent my entire 20s struggling. I was living in Auckland. Housing was a problem, and it wasn’t until into my 30s that I became able to ask for help, and even to know the questions to ask can take a long time, as well.

When you’re younger you have the feelings, but you’re possibly not exactly sure of the logistical issues involved with solving your problems. I got into my early 30s, and I became a lot more active with my GP social services, and that has certainly helped me a lot in the last five years. I’m 36 now, and the big part of me overcoming my problems has been asking for help, learning how to ask questions, figuring out some language around what your problems are. That was certainly a big problem for me in my 20s. A lot of feelings, but no words, no language to portray this to other people. Also, feeling like it’s undignified to ask for help. I think there just became a time where things were so tough over such a long period of time, that the options of not asking for help had come to an end. I basically was in a suicidal, self-destructive mode for a long time, and at the end of the day, I don’t really want to die. It was more of a case of possibly not wanting to live, not wanting to wake up the next day. That kind of thing. I ended up leaving Auckland about four or five years ago. Things definitely improved slowly for me during that time. I’ve lived in my house that I have now, for two years. I take a regime of medication that keeps me stable and balanced. I focus on my friendships involved in music, primarily which is a huge help in terms of just having positive people around me, which definitely improves your life significantly.

Without asking for help, you’re generally compounding and things will get worse and worse and worse. What started with me was having conversations with GPs. That began a process of learning language, and if you have a load of problems in your life, if you haven’t got any language to explain things, you can’t ask for help. So speak with doctors and then possibly you can move onto further things such as social workers or possibly priests and religious type things which can be very helpful as well. I know a big problem for me, when I was in my 20s or when I was younger was dignity. I’m strong. You know? I possibly have issues and I don’t feel great, but I’m strong, I can overcome this myself. But, you may find years and years and years go by with you not getting better. So, try to talk to your doctor. Try to talk to people. I didn’t have a lot of family and friends when I was younger, that I could explain things to. Professionals are where you need to be looking.

I grew up in north-east England, in Newcastle upon Tyne. I was born in 1984, which for some people knowing their modern history may know was quite a devastating time for the north of England. I was very lucky to have a single mother who was only 19, the same age that I was when I had my first child. I lived in a council estate around a lot of lower income people, but I actually had a mother with a job, which was incredibly rare at that time, in the late 80s in England. I did have a good father, with a wife that I spent my weekends with. They helped me out a lot intellectually, but my mother actually met a Kiwi guy in a bar, in the early 90s, and in 1995 I immigrated to New Zealand. Unfortunately a few years after that my mother started having an affair with a person, and left my step-father, and that started a time of a lot of turmoil, because this new guy that she went out with was quite an abusive person. I went from being an 80-90 per cent exam student, to barely scraping out of Year 11 with minimum School C. I left school at 16, and then I was in a relationship which ended up with me having my first child at 19 years of age. I had a couple of really good years living in the Bay of Islands on an island, but it became somewhat inconvenient and then I separated from my partner when I was 21.”

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