Depression: a silent battle

By Mānia Clarke

Depression is a battle of silence and it affects everyone differently.  Voices of Hope founder Jazz Thornton says those suffering from depression don't have to do it alone.

Thornton says the disease knows no bounds and it can affect anyone.

“They are screaming for help on the inside, but are trying to figure out how to articulate that,” says Thornton, “So they just kind of go on with their lives not knowing how to seek help, not knowing how to articulate what they're feeling.”

Thornton tried to end it all 14 times.

“I was walking down the street and I remember just watching everyone walk past, and watching everyone drive past and thinking they have no idea, everyone's lives are continuing on,” she says.

Depression can be a silent killer, it can touch 16 percent of people, that's 582, 000 of New Zealand's population.  Māori make up the highest proportion.

If left untreated depression can lead to suicide.

“In New Zealand we have learnt to hide with the stigma of speaking out, about it [being seen as] weak, asking for help is weak, that kind of 'man-up' thing.  Therefore we kind of suppress our emotions and we don't let people in to see that, which makes it very, very, hard to identify,” says Thornton.

The symptoms of this silent killer come in many forms, such as:

  • feeling hopeless.
  • nothing can cheer you up.
  • feeling restless or fidgety.
  • everything is too much of an effort.
  • feeling worthless.
  • feeling nervous.

Tohunga Wiremu Niania says just being there goes a long way.

“Talking about aroha, how important it is to understand and be patient,” says Niania.

Thornton says, “My core belief was that I was unlovable and I was a burden and those closest to me began to directly speak into that saying things like 'Jazz, I love you' or 'Jazz, I'm proud of you'.”

Thornton says that’s enough to give you something to fight for, hope to carry you into the future.