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Jimmy's Story

“I was walking along the beach and came across a shipwreck.  It was symbolic of how I felt.  Broken.”

Depression overcame 17-year-old Jimmy in mid-2019 during a family holiday in Bali.  He was in one of the most beautiful places ever, yet he was miserable.

“I wasn’t eating, wasn’t taking part in activities.  I removed myself from my family.  I was going downhill,” says Jimmy.

One day he walked out of his family’s accommodation and started walking along the beach, crying.  After five kilometres he came across a shipwreck.

“It was symbolic of how I felt.  Broken.  I sat there and cried.”

Returning home from holiday was tough.

“I stopped going to school, hanging out with friends and playing sport as I didn’t have the mental strength.  I just wanted to sleep.  At times I punched the wall until my knuckles bled…trying to get the hurt out.  I remember going to a Canterbury squash tournament and just giving up on the court.”

Jimmy knew he needed his friends by his side.

“I’d heard that if you felt like this it was really important to speak out.  So I wrote up a huge paragraph on my phone explaining what was going through my mind and sent it to my friends.  They really encouraged me to seek help.  Knowing I had the boys backing meant a lot to me,” says Jimmy.

Working with his GP and a psychologist, and with the support of medication, family and friends, Jimmy started to make a breakthrough.

“I went to the squash Nationals in Auckland, where some of my extended family live.  Being with my wider family, having them at my games and also being around the tight-knit squash community was amazing.  That was my turning point.  I was at the bottom of the hole but from then I started climbing out of it.”

Jimmy says his friends carried him through his tough times.

“My friends were there for me the whole way through.  Talking to them and being honest about how I was feeling was really important.

“I also couldn’t have got through this without my mum who was there with me every step along the way, supporting me to get back to the positive place I’m in today.  I’m so grateful to her.”

Jimmy shared his journey with fellow students at Christchurch Boys’ High School, giving a speech in assembly and establishing a mental health support group at the school.

“After speaking at assembly other students came up and talked to me, wanting to be part of the support group I was setting up.  By telling my story I gave the others the strength to speak out.”

Jimmy was awarded the 2020 Jake Bailey Cup for Gallantry, which he shared with another student.  The Award is given to a student showing exceptional strength, courage and resilience in the face of adversity.

“Jake dropped me an email to say congratulations on the Award and saying how pleased he was to hear about the mental health support group.  That was pretty cool.”

Today, Jimmy says he’s the best he’s ever been.

“I’m telling my story as I want people to know depression and mental health issues can happen to anyone.  It’s way more common than most people think. 

“Mental health is just as important as physical health.  I’m proud to support Māia Health Foundation in their campaign to shine a light on child and youth mental health.  The more we speak about it, the more we can reduce the stigma and provide support to those in need.”

 

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