Home Individuals › Tamihana Paurini

Tamihana Paurini

Tamihana 2

Dancing out of the dark

When Kapiti dancer Tamihana Paurini experienced depression, he would not accept stigma and discrimination from people to whom he told his story.

 Instead he struggled with self-stigma . “I had stigma about having mental illness. I told myself ‘you are nuts’. There was a period there I thought I was going to end up on the side of the road and that was my life.

I had images of a hobo sitting on the street. I didn’t want it to go that way but all these ideas were going through my head,” Tamihana says. “I felt so guilty about it; I was really hard on myself. I felt for my family with the pressure I was putting on them but they made me feel okay about it so I started slowly realising I was putting more pressure on myself and I had to let it go a little bit to recover,” he says.

Tamihana trained as a dancer after leaving high school, then moved to Auckland where he joined Black Grace, a contemporary dance company which tours nationally and internationally.

When it all began

The depression started after he left Black Grace. “I tried to work initially but just couldn’t cope with dancing. I tried being a postie instead because I thought that was really simple physical work, but I just couldn’t do it. There was just too much anxiety and I couldn’t focus,” Tamihana says.

He moved to Kapiti and went straight to a GP. “I said ‘I am here and I need a counsellor’. ” The GP referred Tamihana to Martin Sloman from Compass Health. “He was hard core into the Welsh team because he is Welsh, and it was World Cup time. We talked about rugby and he asked what was going on. He is really practical and brought it back to the moment.

“I used to live a lot in the past and in the future but I just started being in the moment. If my mind was racing, I would find something that made me feel good in that particular moment like a nice glass of coffee; I would just have a moment and enjoy that.

“One morning when I was in bed, the curtains were open and the sun was shining. I sat up and the sun shone on my feet and gave me an amazing feeling through my body. It was a moment for me. Every moment I found, I would put my feet in the sun and it made me feel good.”

 Tamihana’s brother (“a very blokey bloke who has been in the army for 25 years”) and sister-in-law were very supportive during his recovery. “They didn’t put any pressure on me. They just put their head around the [bedroom] door and checked up on me, cooked me meals and would come and sit with me.

They would ask if I would like to go for a walk and they kept me in contact with the real world,” he says.

Acceptance

Accepting the depression was another big step for Tamihana. He read Sir John Kirwan’s book All Blacks Don’t Cry and got involved with Whirlwind Stories, a Wellington organisation supporting men with depression.

“As I started coming out, I was really open with it. I was like ‘this is the case, I am recovering from depression, deal with it.’ I am just that kind of person and people around me appreciate that,” Tamihana says.

 “When I first started getting out in the world again, most people I told were people at the gym [where Tamihana works teaching pilates and yoga]. Their response was ‘that is cool, I have had depression myself’. It made me realise what I was doing was being open about it because there are people out there who are not open.”

 A connection at Whirlwind Stories gave Tamihana a music CD and one of the songs inspired him to start dancing again. When Whirlwind Stories had a concert to celebrate its first year recently, Tamihana danced to the song on the album. It was his first time performing in public for three years.

“It was a really successful night. We got a full house there and the response we got was wonderful,” Tamihana says.

Good reads

sunflower

From China to NZ: A mental health journey

Sue's story

*Sue packed up her family’s life in China more than a decade... Read more

Natalie pexels photo

The Mindful Minute Challenge

Natalie Lanfear

Natalie Lanfear has lived with mental distress for ten years, although the... Read more

Helena 4

Sharing experience gives others hope

Helena Sonar

“The advice I would give my younger self is – keep your... Read more

Richard anderson 6x4

Schizophrenia is part of my story

Richard Anderson

Schizophrenia is potentially the most stigmatising of all mental illness diagnoses. Despite... Read more

Rugby black and white person sport competition

A brush with mental distress

Pita Alatini

Pita Alatini says his brush with mental distress after being dropped from... Read more

WW Sarah Gordon image 1

Lifting the barrier for those battling mental illness

Sarah Gordon

Between stints in psychiatric care and hiding her diagnosis from friends, Sarah... Read more

kevin

Takatāpui part of the whānau

Kevin Haunui

By speaking up and challenging his own, and others, long held beliefs,... Read more

hand microphone mic hold

Student's speech breaks down barriers

Sarah Morrison

“ARE YOU NUTS??!!! WHAT’S WRONG WITH YOU??? So you’re CRAZY then!?” So... Read more

Kirsten Wong image 3

Shutting down discrimination 

Kirsten Wong

Being an inaugural Like Minds, Like Mine ‘PODder’ is a very exciting... Read more

Rob image 2

Black comedy fights depression

Rob Mokaraka

There are not many people who have the ability to turn a... Read more

HYTMNW RachelRoss

Have you tried, maybe, not worrying?

Rachel Ross

2015 media grant fellow Rachel Ross was 22 when she became aware... Read more

Brightside pexels photo 192997

Editorial

The benefits of having experienced mental illness

It feels almost flippant to be talking about the benefits of having... Read more

Caitlin image 2

Thriving, not just surviving

Caitlin Smart

Nineteen-year-old POD participant and Auckland University statistics student, Caitlin Smart, remembers her... Read more

Hazel Guyan

Beautiful identities don't judge

Hazel Guyan

University of Canterbury graduate, Hazel Guyan, is an inspiring young woman. Read more

Annie mychillybin100017 86 Small

Discrimination from friends hard to handle

Annie

Annie (36) is frustrated with her friends after an episode of mental... Read more

simon davis oakley

Positively bipolar

Simon Davis-Oakley

Simon Davis-Oakley enjoyed his life as a self-employed web designer and programmer... Read more

Minnie Baragwanath

Lessons on being who you are

Minnie Baragwanath

Minnie Baragwanath is chief executive and creator of the Be. Institute, a... Read more

Joan of arc

A cacophony of creativity

Nine hear voices

Almost 600 years ago an illiterate, French peasant girl rose to prominence... Read more

Magdel Hammond LMLM 2014

A different attitude to illness

Magdel Hammond

Moving to Aotearoa was like shifting to “absolute paradise” for Magdel Hammond.... Read more

Eric Biddington image

Album takes note of stigma

Eric Biddington

A project that brought together the musical and writing talents of two... Read more

Debbie Siau crop6x4

Debbie's journey to positive energy

Debbie Siau

When Debbie Siau was first diagnosed with bipolar disorder, she thought her... Read more

jo ashcroft 2014 marathon

Loving the bipolar label

Jo Ashcroft

To those who don’t know her, Jo Ashcroft is the “bipolar lady”... Read more

Lance Elliott

Personal experience inspires hope

Lance Elliott

Wellingtonian Lance Elliott has lived with schizophrenia for more than 20 years.... Read more

Chris06

Poets stand against stigma

Chris McMurray

Rapper and performance poet Chris McMurray is drawing on his personal experiences... Read more

Andrew Serjeant image 1a

Art, stigma and other things

Andrew Serjeant

Some people spend all their spare cash on vices. Artist Andrew Serjeant... Read more

Tamihana 2

Dancing out of the dark

Tamihana Paurini

When Kapiti dancer Tamihana Paurini experienced depression, he would not accept stigma... Read more

Te Ariki LMLM 2012 cropped

Out of the darkness and into the light

Te Ariki

As the warm sunlight streams in through the window behind Te Ariki,... Read more

Shane and Joanna LMLM 2012

Living with someone who has a mental illness

Shane and Joanne

Everyone except their doctor said it couldn’t work, two people with bipolar... Read more

Editorial news media image 2

Editorial

Why the media matters

Research indicates that uninformed media coverage of mental distress can contribute to... Read more