Home Individuals › Te Ariki

Te Ariki

Te Ariki LMLM 2012 cropped

Out of the darkness and into the light

As the warm sunlight streams in through the window behind Te Ariki, he closes his eyes, utilising all of his senses before sharing his next thought. Each sentence he speaks takes us on a journey, his words are thought provoking and the story of his life is raw with emotion.

Te Ariki was born a man but with significant female traits.

A difficult upbringing

His childhood and youth were filled with rejection. He was not Māori enough, not white enough, too feminine or not feminine enough.

Home life did not help, because if he made a friend, they were not allowed over to play. Spending most of his time isolated and alone, Te Ariki talked to himself until a thousand thoughts flooded his brain.

Most of these thoughts became negative and, with no foreseeable change and no reason to dream, he wondered what his purpose in life was and whether he should even be alive. “Often my thoughts reached boiling point – like a pressure cooker – and from an early age I used drugs, alcohol and self-harm to numb the pain,” he says. “But I found that once I’d come down from a ‘high’, none of the problems had gone away.”

On one occasion his ‘day’ lasted 30 days – from 1 June until 1 July. “I hardly slept and fell back on using drugs and alcohol because of the uncontrollable activity and thoughts inside my head.”

Te Ariki says he’s had times where he would lock the door, close the curtains and sit alone, only venturing out of the front door early in the morning to quickly bring delivered groceries inside. “If I felt up to it, I would go for a walk very early in the morning when no one was around.”

Sometimes he was not alone, but says that when you have deep depression, “people try to help, but it is like you are surrounded by a brick wall and you can’t deal with yourself, let alone other people.”

“Still, if you want things to improve you have to take the first small steps yourself,” he says.

The turning point

It was around three o’clock one September morning in 2010 when, on the way home from a walk, he saw an advertisement on a building that changed everything for him.

“The ad called for volunteers,” he says. “Something was drawing me to that building and the ad, so I thought I would call back the next day. “As I sat in a bus shelter across the road I pondered, ‘shall I go in and find out, or walk away?’ ”

Te Ariki opened the door and walked in. That moment was the turning point in his life. Within a year Te Ariki has become a cherished member of the Supporting Families team.

He is a valued important presenter of the Like Minds, Like Mine programme, sharing his lived experience and helps deliver workshops to the community around mental health issues. “I have found a purpose, a home, a whānau and I’m surrounded by many caring mothers,” he says.

“I have achieved the one goal I always had – happiness.”

Nowadays, Te Ariki has replaced his old, negative habits with new, positive ones that keep him well. He enjoys life – meeting people, writing uplifting music and pursuing his many new dreams.

He says he wouldn’t change anything about his life, because every moment was a part of a personal journey that has led him to where he is now. “All those stepping stones have helped to define my purpose and now my experiences are helping many people,” he says. “I never had friends as a child, so I love helping youth.

I never had a lot of material things, so I respect and value everything.” Te Ariki’s positivity and appreciation of everything he has gone through is an inspiration.

It should give everyone hope and a realisation of just how lucky most of us are. Te Ariki has come out of the darkness and into the light – where he plans to stay.

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