It has been a pretty interesting year. My baby mama and I broke up after three years together, I started living on my own for the first time in my life, work started seriously slowing down and, maybe because of all of the above, I missed my dad more than ever.
I know a lot of people noticed, especially those closest to me, that I'd been a bit out of sorts for a few months. I'd been pretty self destructive, lazy, unreliable and a dick to people who have my best interest at heart. I was showing up late to jobs—sometimes not showing up at all—and simply just not caring about doing something productive with my life.
I've been doing a bit for mental health and trying to help others and get the word out about these issues but I haven't done anything to look after myself. These last few months have been pretty bad in terms of what my depression and anxiety has turned me into. There have been a few times when I've contemplated doing stupid shit and it got to the point where that seemed inevitable unless I did something about it.
For the last year or so, I’ve talked pretty openly about my dad’s suicide in 2013, but what I’ve never really talked about is that the day he died, I found out that he'd been on medication for his anxiety and depression for a while. The same day I decided to stop taking mine, which I'd been on for a few years. That was four years ago.
The “she’ll be alright” attitude that I constantly bring up as a trigger for suicide and mental health issues in New Zealand was the very thing I was telling myself without realising.
I went four years trying to beat this on my own with mixed results, to say the least. A few things this year—like my friend Jono Pryor talking about his mate’s suicide on Jono And Ben and interviewing people for a mental health doco that I made for Attitude and TVNZ a few months ago—made me start thinking about going on medication again. Jono and the people I met all said the same thing: that there’s absolutely nothing to be ashamed of if you take medication. I don’t know if I’ve been ashamed to take it, but I’ve definitely thought I was tougher than I am when it’s come to fighting depression and anxiety. The “she’ll be 'right” attitude that I constantly bring up as a trigger for suicide and mental health issues in New Zealand was the very thing I was telling myself without realising. Since my dad died I’ve been to quite a few counselling sessions but, believe it or not, being a stand-up comedian in New Zealand isn’t the most lucrative job, so being able to afford the regular sessions was a strain on my bank balance. In the last few months I made three appointments to see a doctor about getting meds but I cancelled each one at the last minute, because remember, she’ll be alright…
Six weeks ago I finally went to one and I've been back on them since. Apart from the doctor telling me that Big Bang Theory is his favourite show, it was the best thing I've done in a while, and something I should have done a long time ago. Who knows what will happen, but I can genuinely see a change in myself, especially around the three-four week period since taking them. I’m more motivated. On the days I that I don’t have my daughter I’m not staying in bed till 2 PM anymore. I’m less angry, less anxious and for the first time in my life, I didn’t cross the road when I saw someone I recognised from high school the other day. I’m closer to my family and to my daughter’s awesome mum, who’s put up with me more than anyone.
I’m not saying medication is for everyone, because it’s not. I’m just saying that when the current situation takes you to a dire place, there’s no harm in trying something different for a while. At the end of the day I just want to be a better dad, friend, partner, son and brother, and if a few pills are what it takes to get my happy levels to where they should naturally be, then I’m all for that right now.
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