We are stuck here with the bad sort of social environment and it’s a struggle, it puts a lot of pressure on me. But I am learning how to address that and that is just by incrementally each day doing a little bit to do what I can to improve the situation.
Another Christmas in exile. No joy
Christmas is always the time of the year where I really remember that all of this is now out of my life, there won’t be any family Christmases anymore and birthdays are just me.
The glamorous Instagram life
That represents a holiday on a nice sunny beach, it’s kind of this Instagram glamourous life. But this is also signifying that I have posted these pictures because I wanted likes, I wanted acceptance from all my gay friends like ‘oh he’s a high calibre gay’.
Putting on another mask
This for me was illustrating the fact that I’m still struggling with my identity. Do I have to be a rich, fancy gay in order to fit in? That for me was putting on another lie or another mask in order to be something that wasn’t truly me or trying to be something different.
Everybody’s got a different relationship with alcohol, I’ve struggled with it my whole life.
Definitely self-medicated with alcohol a lot, anxiety and depression, yip, one hundred percent, it was an escape.
Drug use promotes anxiety and prevents my wellbeing
It’s kind of a contradiction. I look at it and I think yeah I can have a great night, yet the impacts that it can have on my mental health and my anxiety, it also represents that as well. It triggers me back to those times when my anxiety was really bad and I wasn’t sleeping, it was affecting my work and I was just kind of caught up in this kind of rut where I just couldn’t get out of this cycle.
I’m always very curious when I walk past all these sort of views into other peoples’ lives and I think it ties into that same feeling of disconnection and seeing all these fragments of peoples’ lives but not really feeling like you’re connecting to many peoples’ lives.
Getting picked on
I remember my primary school days feeling quite different, didn’t really fit in, and wasn’t very popular. I used to get picked on and teased quite a bit and so often I would hide in classrooms or eat my lunch somewhere really private to try and not get picked on.
Buildings before people
This is really the beginning of the mental health issues that I’ve had which started about 15 years ago when I was made redundant. That was a shock. It actually didn’t make any sense in terms of the work I was doing, but it made me just realise the priorities of my employer.
No direction in life
I spent a lot of time growing up on a farm. These big open fields kind of represented an opportunity but also there was no real direction of where to go in my life. It didn’t really feel like I had any direction.
Reflecting on all the challenges, it can become a hindrance in the fact that you start second guessing your ability to get better. There seems to be one thing after the other, where do you even begin to try and resolve this.
The aftermath is probably the worst part. I always feel terrible after drinking or doing drugs.
With drugs and alcohol I felt something, I felt that high, I felt that energy, and I felt a lot happier. When I wasn’t doing those things, it was just loneliness and depression.
Two things I can rely on- taxes and dishes
It’s just clutter and busyness. I do most of the cooking, most of the stuff around the house. I don’t feel like I get a break from that end because at work they don’t recognise that there are heaps of guys who are going home from work and doing that stuff.
It has a lot to do with when I do feel anxious, and that’s the going to work. If it’s dark and I wake up and I’m getting ready for work, in the shower I’m telling myself all the things I don’t like about the world, or that I don’t like about work and then I get to the train station, that’s kind of when I start to think about suicidal thoughts.
Those chains growing up have hindered my recovery. They are traumas that you need to work past.
Religion and family
Religion has always been a conflicting area of my life and it’s caused me and my family a lot of grief. I guess it sort of represents what I got set up with and what potentially led to me being prone to getting depressed.
They're all in the same grave and for me, it has kind of replaced the house of my parents which was always my home. I guess when my parents died it became just a house, no longer a home.
I was so desperate to feel loved and admired and I wanted people to look at me and think I’m sexy and that was a completely different addiction for me. It gave me that thrill but then other times it just made me feel incredibly low.
Drinking wine numbs everything and doesn’t support my anxiety
The biggest hindrance to my anxiety would be not being in a routine, not doing my exercise, not doing my meditation, not eating well, drinking too much, partying too much and all those things would contribute to my anxiety.
It’s a reflection of how I feel sometimes. Like you’re something trying to grow and then you’ve got all this crap clinging to you that you can’t really do anything about.
When I first started doing drag, I thought the drag was a straight thing, and it was like an escape from any of the issues that I was having at the moment and this mask to hide behind. One of the reasons that I quit is I realised that actually rather than sort of dealing with my issues, I was just escaping into this character.
Caring what people think
It’s about the judgement I feel and have seen and feeling unsure. Just the way that the chairs are all in a circle and I feel like that’s absolutely being watched and judged, and the fried intensity. It speaks to me of group judgement and group scrutiny.
The Bully’s Shiny Truck
It’s that sort of brash belligerent masculinity, especially with country people in New Zealand. I still don’t really understand it, I just experience it as aggression. So that’s really what’s keeping my mental health in a poor state.
My history of alcohol and drug use
Every time I see that it always reminds me of my tendency to dull my senses with drugs just so I don’t have to feel these things.
This is talking to depression in my family and events in my family's past. I’m firmly of the belief of intergenerational issues being passed down and having to break that cycle. So for me, that’s part of what this is about in that somehow having to do that work to not repeat the patterns of the past, and not carry that baggage of stuff.
For me faith was my security in a world that was quite chaotic and then in recent times as everything’s evolved it’s actually become my chaos in a sense. I’ve got no anchor anymore.
It’s about internalised stigma. I put the mask on at work and things, but then afterwards, that would fall apart in some shape or form. That mask is not only to other people, but it’s a mask to myself as well.
One of the biggest contributors to the way that I feel is the news. I find that if I watch a bad story the next morning when I’m on that journey to work and I’m already hating a lot of things, that I start thinking about that bad story and it plays on my mind.
The amount of time that I spend staring at my reflection and judging myself or not feeling good about the way that I look. Mostly it’s around my body and that I’m not fit enough or pretty enough.
Where am I going?
This feeling lost and sort of trying to find places to redirect my life. This is me trying to work out where am I going? I sort of felt like if I stay here at the trig station at least I have another point of reference to move on to the next bit.
I had no problems doing all those things, but I had a big issue going to therapy. So it was almost a form of therapy, but it was very unhealthy therapy because none of it benefited me at all.
I was feeling down and not happy about work, wanting to leave, looking at other jobs, and feeling frustrated. The other feeling was that it felt mandatory to be there, to pay my mortgage and to have my cash flow I felt like I just had to be there, and I couldn’t escape.
Constant supply of drugs for tension headaches
I've had headaches growing up. I get migraines as well, but I'm not sure, it's difficult to know what's related to stress and what's just in my DNA.
There are things that we can’t even see that are limiting our access to health care. There are not many specific resources for gay men who suffer from mental health issues, despite being overrepresented in the statistics.
That was when I was suicidal, that was the night before I came out.