This is when I was starting to learn how to kind of take moments, take breaths, take time to be with me, time to enjoy the little beauties in your day. It’s taking those moments to actually see the beauty that is in and around us at all times that we don’t necessarily choose to see both those of us that are suffering and those that aren’t.
That is the first day of spring again. I’m really happy, it’s sunny, it’s warm, look at these beautiful flowers that have just popped out of the ground, if feels great to be here.
When things are good and there’s some brightness to it but it’s not perfect right, there’s still a little bit of cloud lingering around but not enough to consume your thoughts or feelings too much but there’s a bit of it floating around but you can manage that because there’s blue sky and some bright sunshine there.
Keeping busy and accomplishing
It just keeps my hands busy, it’s something creative and they’re things I’ve helped make for my sons that I love watching them play with and telling my oldest that I’m going into the garage, and he gets excited. It’s cool that he’s just sort of enjoying getting involved and it’s just something we can do together.
The biggest thing that I learnt in my recovery was that you have to make the most of those little moments, the little times that just make you smile, make you feel warm. I think that was a lot of what I’d forgotten in my unwell state, I’d forgotten to just look and enjoy the little things that happen. To me it encapsulates that moment, just small little acts of love.
My children necessitate interaction
with the outside world
I’m very keen for them to be outside and so we do things that I wouldn’t normally do if it was just me.
Horizon of hope
This is quite close to where I meditate by this river and it’s a special place for me. I go there just about daily and spend some quiet time and all I hear are the birds and the fish rising. It reminds me that I’m actually able to lift my feelings out of the way of all that’s going on.
I’m still here
One of the things that I find really powerful is standing out at a raging ocean and watching the powerful force of the waves smash on the rock, but yet the rock doesn’t move and for me I sort of feel like life has been smashing me left right and centre, but I’m still here.
A path forward
To me it’s hopefulness and being able to see where you’re headed. It's seeking those outdoors, the capacity to adventure, seeing new things and things that excite and invigorate me and that’s what this open field symbolises, you can see the path moving ahead.
Travelling for me was so important because I removed myself completely from this place where I had so much hurt built up. It was almost like I was removing myself from that hurt, from everything and putting myself somewhere else so I felt fresh, I was like no one here knows my problems, no one here knows anything about me, and I love that and that’s what I needed.
When anxiety seems so great, or so big, just bringing it in and reminding yourself to focus on those small things, the simplicities, and the details of something as small as a flower for example.
Photography is therapeutic
Photographing plants and flowers is something that I really enjoy and being in nature. I find it very healing, therapeutic.
It's about having hope for the future, it's not just about today. It’s about seeing possibilities and about coming out the other side. I’ve actually got through, not just about coping with today, I actually feel hope for future.
That photo represents me finding something that I like as a hobby, finding something that I actually enjoy and keep reading about and keep thinking about and talking about.
Expressing my creativity is my therapy
I can go to the studio and get into my art process, and that invigorates me. It gets me out of my head and puts me into something. So it’s a process that will make me feel better.
I feel like being in a comfortable place to be doing nothing but reading the words on a page is pretty meditative, a good escape and a good way of slowing yourself down.
The great outdoors
For me going out and walking amongst nature, going on hikes, and just exploring seems to be one of the best things for me in terms of managing my anxiety.
I lost my job and had to come home, it was a pretty hard time, but it forced me into a journey of having to come out. And I remember someone said to me ‘this is a new beginning starting for you now, you get to be, you get to live a more authentic self’.
I have found out that I love running, it really helps me work through a lot of things in my mind. I will start my run thinking about work and things that piss me off and by the time I get home and I’ve thought it all through I’m totally relieved, relaxed, I don’t even care about it anymore.
Warmth of home
The candle still burns, darkness might still be around it but there’s still beauty in it, there’s nice flowers, there’s that warmth of home.
A place of life
This is at my grandma’s house, she is one of the closest people in my life. She lives on a lifestyle block and there’s just life everywhere. It’s one of my favourite places in the world. Going there, it replenishes me, and it feels like a place of life.
The Pride Parade
The other support that I get is by being surrounded with other people like me who are also a bit broken, you know, and I realise that I’m not alone and I’m not that broken either, we’re not that broken actually.
My identity as Māori
A big source of joy for me is my hair. It not only makes me feel good but because I don’t have any tā moku, I don’t have any taonga but I do have my hair and that is a huge sense of cultural identity for me. And it makes me feel good. This is what makes me proud. I have never felt very connected to Māori taonga to be honest so it’s something I’m trying to find my place within Māori.
You can get through hard things
That’s an old flour mill building and that’s just one of the doors into the brick wall. It’s the idea that even if things are hard like the bricks, that you can get out of it and that’s what the door is.
Marriage has helped me grow as a person
Without my wife I probably would be more insular. If I didn’t have my family I would probably start to get more and more reclusive.
My wedding ring symbolises I am supported
Meeting my partner, I just feel so blessed I've met him. My wedding day was the happiest day of my life.
I like being at work because I like doing well in my job, it’s really reassuring for me. It’s also a distraction sometimes from whatever’s going on in life.
For me, it symbolises flying and travel and those things which sound quite surface and silly but for me coming from such a small place it’s just realising, there’s a whole big world out there
I get a lot of joy out of doing things for the community. I like being a supportive person, I like working in a team so when I came up with this idea to put oranges out the front in a box and my friend at the time helped me put the herbs in and said ‘oh let’s sell some eggs’ and it’s been nice to have kept on doing that ever since. I enjoy giving back I guess.
Natural growth, variability and adaptation
It’s something I can fully engage myself with as a whole person, thinking about what to plant and how to make it nicer and just always having every day these little things I can do to work on the garden, to engage me and so that’s really good for my mental health.
Talking about our feelings
Whenever me and my friends talk about our feelings, we’re never like sitting round a table, we’ll be driving somewhere or be walking somewhere. If someone does need to talk about something we come up with an activity to do that allows for it which will generally be going for a walk, or some kind of activity.
Every time I’m sad I have a look at that photo and I think well if she can smile I can smile too.
A light in the darkness
Spirituality supports my mental health. For me, that represents these dark nights that I find hard to get through sometimes, but there's always a light. And I walk, you know, it’s there. It’s illuminated.
I’d just become single on my own last year, and I started this little avocado tree. It’s the first time in a long, long time that I’ve stayed single and been in my own thoughts. The longer this tree grows, I kind of see it as me finally fending for myself for once and not trying to rely on the energy of other people.
One of the biggest bits of value I will get from this, more so than the sense of achievement in making it, is the years of fun that my kids are going to get out of that. Even when I’m feeling down, my kids’ happiness is just infectious so it’s hard to be low around that.
The value of connection to nature
Being in nature it’s hard not to be mindful of what’s around you.
A pretty good spot
If you can make time for yourself in doing things that make you happy, you’re setting yourself on the right path to strong mental wellbeing. This was just one of those moments like hey, here with a friend, sun’s out, dogs, sand, ocean, a pretty good spot.
Blue looks bluer
Blue sky. My biggest memory once actually getting some meds and some help was that blue looked bluer. It was as simple as that.
Just being still, and just taking a moment to breathe helps hugely for me. If you just stand there just to capture that moment and be still in that moment, present in that moment, it’s really helpful.
What will the neighbours think
They’re mine. My work, I’ve told them everything about the struggles I’ve had. It doesn’t bother me at all other than admitting to myself that, oh yeah, you’re back in this place. But in terms of people judging me and thinking about it, it never factors into my life.
We’d been playing board games all night and then were just sitting outside having some drinks and sharing some food. One of the really big things that’s good for grounding me, is realising that I have some pretty incredible friends around me.
The gym is an escape for me, it definitely releases endorphins, it gets all those good things, it’s good for your body.
New life/water is life-giving
This for me is this new life. It’s also a place for me to reconnect or recharge or pull me back into the focus, a way to kind of reconnect and kind of repurpose or realign with what I believe in.
Things that represent helping me through anxiety.
This is about recognising that I still have skills and abilities and that despite all the things I’m going through, instead of seeing myself as completely broken and useless and very much that absolute, that actually I have these other things as well and that the distress doesn’t define me.
Whether I’m feeling down about whatever’s going on in my life there are certain points in the city that I like to go to and just look at the city and remind myself why I enjoy being here. And even on a pretty terrible day it looks nice, it’s just nice to reflect on the things that make me happy.
The tools to support my mental health
They are the tools that get me outside, that allow me to adventure. They allow me to get away.
Love, the reason
In the days when I didn’t want to get up and go on I just did because I knew I had that support there from my partner. I can’t understate how much she’s changed my life, just the inner strength I didn’t realise I had by having someone like that to support you is just indescribable to me.
Not having to go to the cinema
It’s just another thing that I enjoy doing, being by myself, watching a movie. The world doesn’t exist anymore outside of myself. The whole room is basically enveloped in darkness, just the giant TV and me on a chair with my headphones on watching a movie and I’m in heaven.
It’s my ability to keep things in context and perspective but it’s also a sort of eternal perspective. It’s like the energy in the natural environment, the ancestors, it’s the same thing, that sort of eternal shines through and so I really feel that they are present and so it gives me that connection. I know that it’s a real experience, a spiritual experience, it’s connecting up with something far bigger than this.
The most helpful thing to me in the recovery of my life is peer support. That can take a multitude of forms but for me the most helpful has been organised peer support. Once I had peer support training, I realised that I can inject that into all parts of my life.
I always feel better when I go
My son is a road cyclist, and this was me a km behind him. He was training for some big event, so I’d tag in behind or I’d meet him at the other end. There was kind of a “I have to do this” but there was also actually this is kind of cool, just out in the cold weather. I liked the cold when I was feeling not good. Getting out and being alone was actually kind of useful and somehow connecting with the kids.
It’s like a representation of our life, of how we’re growing and how we’re living. There are some parts where some of the spuds were missed out, and some of the lines grew, and so it was a reflection of where we were going wrong, and rushing, and too deep, and not taking. But it doesn’t mean that the garden doesn’t keep on growing, you keep weeding out all of the bits that'll slow us down, and we’ll be able to keep on growing.
A daily reminder to help me with my anxiety
“This too shall pass” - it’s the perfect kind of mantra for alleviating anxiety because everything does pass, nothing stays the same.
To the moon and back
It’s not about the object itself, it’s about the phrase and the idea of my wife and my son and daughter in terms of the support they’ve provided me in all my ups and downs. It’s not just a short-term thing. That was something that helped me get through and give me hope and encouragement and at times, just willing to actually simply be there when I’m feeling my most distressed.
That’s the old fire, the old ‘Ahi kaa’ it means to always keep the home fires burning. So it means to keep our knowledge fresh, you know, like, there's a perfect example of doing the hangi. For me, it’s the basket’s knowledge and the baskets of happiness for people. There's a lot of recovery just in that photo knowing that if I ever came home, the fire’s always burning. As long as there's always someone here stoking the fire up, there's always hope.
A sense of peace
Every whitebait season I’ll go out, either me or me and my mate and we’ll go out on the weekends. It always brought me a sense of peace being out there close to the water. It’s a very calming feeling for me.
I need to be transparent with myself. So instead of just putting on the facades and just ignoring things, I actually need to, at times, just reflect how am I? How am I feeling? What am I thinking? And being actually honest with myself. And it’s OK to not to be OK.