Andrew is a marathon runner, keen gardener and a poet. He’s also experienced a marriage breakdown, lost his job and coped with a diagnosis of depression and schizoaffective disorder.
“I’ve come a long way in recent years with support from community mental health services, friends and family.”
One of the most effective tools he’s found is following the Five Ways to Wellbeing (connect, give, be active, take notice and keep learning).
“I connect with people by getting involved in community groups and sports like my local cycling and running club, which also tick the ‘be active’ box. These activites help to shift my frame of mind and give me something to focus on. I give my time by doing gardening for people and making preserves that I give away to friends in the community. I recently started doing a flower photography course which really helps me to take notice of the intricate details and beauty that we often overlook.”
As well as using the Five Ways to Wellbeing Andrew has had lots of support from community mental health, his church and counsellor.
“Aubrey Quinn who featured in the Like Minds, Like Mine adverts many moons ago helped me through my journey by meeting and talking with me over the course of a year through The Turning Point Trust. That made a huge impact on my life.”
Another coping mechanism for Andrew has been his poetry. He’s written a collection of over 700 poems that express what he’s lived through, how he’s coped and what is important to him. He’s given many of his poems away as gifts to friends.
This excerpt from his poem called Deep in the Valley expresses his gratitude for those who have supported him through dark days.
Thank you for pulling me away when I'm starting to fall
Take me to a land where I don't have to stay
Thank you for talking and forgiving and for prayers
I was down and you were safe
For that I hold you. Wrapping me up when I'm starting to stall
I see someone with open arms
Deep in the Valley!
Andrew believes we’re fortunate in New Zealand to have a mental health system, albeit one with flaws.
“Although it can be hard I really urge people to persevere. Find a GP you like, who listens and works alongside you. Talk to friends, family and anyone you trust who can support you. Don’t isolate yourself, there’s always someone who will help”.
Andrew is looking forward to doing at least three marathons this year and says life is good for him.
“I’m coping well right now. I feel safe and stable and am looking forward to a future where I may be able to work and be supported by my GP to lower my medication.”