As I am writing this it is World Mental Health day (10 October). We have just come out of mental health awareness week, and at the beginning of this week, New Zealand’s statistics came out about the number of people who have lost their lives to suicide in the last year. 607. That is 607 too many.
I myself could have very easily made that number higher as many New Zealanders who have attempted suicide in the last year could have.
I have struggled with my mental health for as long as I can remember, and I was told I needed to stay quiet about what I was going through, so I did—as a toddler, I became mute for a year. Being silent got me hurt time and time again, and it’s only in the last few years that I have learnt that my voice is the most powerful tooI that I own.
I struggled to ask for help when I needed it, and I let myself get incredibly unwell before people noticed because I had perfected the act of being ok.
If you relate to that last sentence, I encourage you to speak to someone about your mental health. If you don’t know where to start, give them this article to read. You are worth so much more than your brain is telling you right now.
Last year I was sitting in my hospital room feeling like I was too tired to go on and that I was done fighting. Someone said to me, “Charlie, you are not done fighting. You just need to change what you’re fighting for.” She explained to me that I was fighting the things that had happened to me; I was fighting the past; I was fighting things I had zero control over. So, yes, of course I was exhausted; I was fighting a fight I could never win. I needed to fight for my future, for hope, for change. She said, “Charlie, you have been dealt a deck of the worst cards life has to offer, but now you get to create your own life. Are you going to choose to live in the past and relive the terrible things that have happened, or are you going to create a life worth living for?” That conversation changed my entire outlook on my life. I now get to create the life that I want.
Life is hard. I’m not going to sugarcoat it. Life is incredibly difficult, but you have survived 100% of your hardest days. I do not know what you’re struggling with, I do not know the journey that you are on, but what I do know is that mental illness, or things that have happened to you, do not define you or your worth, and experiencing these things does not disqualify you from chasing your dreams.
I have been in therapy for the last year, and my therapist is wonderful, but it took some time to get to a therapist that I connected with. I went through some therapists that I just didn’t click with and that’s ok. Just like an eye doctor won't be able to treat your broken leg, not every therapist is going to be able to work with your needs. You just need to keep trying.
From someone who has been in the mental health wards of the hospital feeling like I was completely alone and feeling like I truly couldn’t go on anymore:
It gets better.
You are not alone.
You are worth fighting for.
I believe in you.
1737 | free call or text for support from a trained counsellor
Lifeline | 0800 543 345 or (09) 5222 999 within Auckland
Youthline | 0800 367 or free text 234 (they also have an online chat)
Depression helpline | 0800 111 757 or free text 4202
Anxiety New Zealand | 0800 269 4389
Kidsline | 0800 54 37 54 for people up to the age of 18