I hadn’t slept properly in almost a week. I didn’t want to talk to anyone or pretend to be happy anymore. And I just broke. Hit rock bottom. I was like, I’m done. I’ve had enough. It was a split decision. On the 7th of January, I decided I was going to take my own life. I got up out of bed at 2.30 in the morning and thought, this is it. Jumped in the car, drove to my favourite beach in Auckland. I’m just going to go for a swim and not come back. I thought that would be the easiest way to do it. Just swim on out and that was it. But I got to the beach, got down to the sand, and I just sat there. I took my tee-shirt off, I was ready to go for a swim. But I just sat down and couldn’t move from that point.
I was fighting a bigger battle in my own mind than I think anybody around me could understand. It got to the point where so much had gone on and I felt like there was too much to unpack upon somebody. I didn’t want to be a burden. I’d always had that mentality that I can deal with it. But that didn’t happen. I didn’t manage to get over it. It just continued to whirlwind. With depression, things just kind of cloud you and that common sense starts to slip away.
I’d always been the happy-go-lucky kid who was laid back and liked a laugh. I had an amazing upbringing, Mum and Dad would do absolutely anything to make us kids happy. But a few years ago, life seemed to slow down for myself while everybody around me started accelerating away. You see friends getting married, buying houses, having kids and you’re just stuck in the same zone of not quite getting that far. Then on Labour Day 2019 we were rocked when one of the boys took his own life.
I felt so lost. I had no idea where to go or what to do. And I found talking about it quite tough. Back then, mental health was something I felt I could deal with on my own. Usually I’d just charge through and be all good. But this was a whole different beast. I’d never felt that way before and from then life took a bit of a turn. A relationship ended with a long term girlfriend right when the first Covid lockdown was happening. I never really had a place to call home. And then I was made redundant on top of everything. As much as I took steps forward, I felt like I wasn’t going anywhere. Life just seemed to keep hitting lemons at me left right and centre. 2020 was quite the roller coaster and a bit of a catalyst for what came next.
I remember sitting on the beach in the darkness, listening to the waves, and feeling nothing. It was very eerie and weird. And for some reason, completely out of the blue, I got a notification on Instagram. It was something silly, like someone had liked a photo. I thought, I need to try one last thing before I take this permanent decision. So I sent a text to 1737, the Help crisis line. And I literally just said, I need help.
Within a minute, I received a phone call. And I sat there on the phone, on the beach, for two hours and just let everything possibly go that had happened. What I’d been through. What I’m feeling. What I’m about to do. To have that in-depth conversation and to have them ask the right questions at the right time – it saved my life. They understood the demons I was fighting and after that phone call it felt like the weight had just been pulled off my chest.
The person on the phone dug into what made me happy. They helped set real micro goals for the next three days to try and change my mindset and have something to look forward to before I could see a therapist. So the first thing I did was go to the gym. It was my happy place. I got home at quarter to five, and the first morning class at F45 was 5:15. So I put on my gym clothes and got there 10 minutes early. The girls at the gym were like, what are you doing here so early? I couldn’t tell them, so I just said ‘Oh I’m here for a workout.’ It was the endorphin kick I really needed though. Just three hours ago I had been on the beach, alone, at my lowest of lows. And now I was here, big energy, bright lights, happiness and fun. Between the phone call and that workout, it restarted this journey of getting better.
The rest of the day was pretty wild in terms of emotions. I’m lucky enough to work with two of my best mates. So it was easy to turn away from what had happened and just enjoy the friends around me. That was one of the small goals we had set, to do something with friends. A walk, a coffee. To come to work and play a couple of rounds of table tennis and a game of pool with your best mates was awesome.
I made time for a phone call with Mum and Dad, too. I’ve never told them I was at that point of making that decision though. They know I’ve battled and gone through a lot, but it still breaks my heart to try and say it all to Mum and Dad. My biggest fear was upsetting them and my sisters. Having such an epic family and an epic upbringing to I guess being in that position on that beach, it didn’t feel right. To see and understand the hurt that Mum and Dad would go through was probably the scariest thing.
When I got home that night, I had dinner and hopped straight into bed. And it was the first time in a long time I had gone to sleep without lying there trying to figure out the world. I think the blessing in disguise came with losing a friend a year or so prior. You build quite a tight knit community so I was lucky enough to have a few people within that circle to talk to. I made the decision to put my story on social media. A bit of a statement, you know, that I have hit rock bottom and this is what I’m going through. I pushed friends away in the last few weeks leading into that night. Friendships weren’t the same. I wasn’t the same person as a few weeks or months ago. People had noticed that shift. So I thought it would be easier for everyone to hear it all in one go, to better understand where I was and what was happening.
The response was almost overwhelming. I knew I had a solid group of friends and a good community around me but the extent of the reach was massive. And I just felt awesome to have that support. In 2020 I’d have one good day to every four bad days, whereas now I’d have 12 good days to maybe one half bad day. Which is huge. To be able to talk to people and build those pillars which I have sitting around me is huge. I could literally turn to them straight after this and say ‘things aren’t right’ and they’d call me straight away. With men’s mental health, that stigma sits around not wanting to talk and being the big tough guy. But I think guys can really take it upon themselves to not leave a friend behind. Just reach out and be the catalyst for change.
The biggest lesson I learned is that no problem is too small. You may think that because I’m battling this issue here, it looks micro in comparison to what somebody else might be going through. But it affects us in different ways and with different outcomes. Knowing that, and being able to reach out, speak out and get help, is invaluable. And it’s so easy. I was always afraid to see a therapist or talk to someone that wasn’t a friend. But to send a text message like I did on that night literally took two seconds and I had a phone call within two minutes. I just wish I knew earlier how easy things were once you started having the conversation.
I haven’t been back to that beach since, and it was my favourite beach to go swim at all summer. But looking at the night, it scares me. I’d hate to think about what I would have done if that notification hadn’t popped up. Without it, I wouldn’t have seen the amazing things that I’ve seen this year, like my best friends getting married. It’s weird to think that I now look forward to life. I have goals I want to achieve within the gym, competitions I want to enter, plans for the summer. I want to see friends’ kids grow up and be the uncle of the group. All those things I would never have thought about previous.
It’s been a pretty hectic roller coaster. Some days I sit there and think, wow you’ve actually come a really long way. And I say it to my friends that are around me quite often, thank you. Just, thank you.