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Saturday, June 9, 2018

on Kate, and Anthony, and Kurt, and mental health

Let's talk about depression and mental health issues.

Because we need to talk about them more, and realise that we all have flaws, we are all human, but there's a huge societal pressure to present a bright sunny exterior to the world at large. To 'keep up appearances' and seem to be coping.

And much of the time, all we really need is a kind word, a shoulder to lean on, a friend to listen.

That has become harder in the age of digital, when it is all too easy to notice your differences with other people than your similarities. When the world is increasingly polarised as us and them, rather than us together.

I know of which I speak. I'm a survivor of suicide. My much-loved mother didn't know how to love herself and the void she left in the world affects all I, and everyone who loved her, do.

Every day, for better and for worse.

I've been visited by the dark dog of despair myself, and thankfully have had friends and family, whanau and whanautanga to rescue me from myself, plus a strong, strong survival instinct that comes from being an Irish Maori.

We don't die easily.

I have also recently been incredibly fortunate to be put in touch with a doctor who looked at me more holistically, did a raft of blood tests and diagnosed a mineral disorder that prevents the neurotransmitters in the brain from metabolising seratonin - the happy hormone.

It's a disorder that even many medical practitioners don't know about - actually, being an Irish Kiwi, I had to overdo that also. Two disorders and a mutated gene.

Methylation Disorder, and because I'm me, I have managed to be both under- and over-methylated, plus Pyrrole Disorder, plus a mutation of the MTHFR gene, that interrupts my absorption of folate.

As I said, I'm lucky at this stage of my life to learn all this, and understand why I never felt good enough, smart enough, brave enough ... never 'enough'.

This is from a gal who has sailed small yachts across oceans, hitch-hiked in Kenya, dined with heads of state and ridden a totally unsuitable motorcycle on a wild and veering path across the United States. But always felt unworthy.

Now, with the daily addition of activated minerals to my body, I no longer feel that way. But I understand those who do, as I also understand those who suffer alongside them.

I wish my mother had the help I'm getting. It may have made the world of difference.

I also wish Anthony and Kate and Kurt had the layers of loving friends I have, but they lived at a level where it is hard to know who is genuine and who is with you for what it can do for them.

It's too easy to get disconnected from friends and conversation at that level, especially when your livelihood depends on other people's perceptions.

One thing this experience has taught me, now that I've stopped judging myself, is not to take on anyone else's judgments either.

I still have issues - everybody has issues - but I no longer feel responsible for the state of the world, or the Donald (as a child, my nemesis was Idi Amin, and I would scheme how to erase him while lying in my bunk bed at night) or for trying to be 'normal'.

My mantra now:

If I could achieve all I have in my life while feeling unworthy, what am I capable of now I believe in myself.