At 16, Aucklander Liam Martin shot to fame as an Instagram star - his photos impersonating celebrities' glamour shots quickly racking up almost 2 million followers.

But by 17, he was suffering depression and living out of his car, the pressure of his online persona and the harassment it received becoming too much.

"I think people thought my life was really good but it really wasn't, but they were being quite negative about it. It was hard to cope with at times."

He added: "At one point I was trying to juggle my Instagram account while living out of my car, so I was using all my 3G, all my data, I was spending all the money I didn't really have on that.

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"I kind of got myself into a deep hole and for so long I was trying to rebuild myself on a broken structure, so at the moment I'm trying to re-establish a really firm one."

The teen shot to fame three years ago aged 16 when he began impersonating stars such as Miley Cyrus and Nicki Minaj on Instagram.

Mum Karen took the photos and her son edited them on Photoshop and uploaded them.

About a year after joining the photo-sharing app he had amassed more than 200,000 followers and was clocking up to 2000 new followers a day, more than the number of fellow pupils enrolled alongside him at Lynfield College that year.

Still at school and struggling with body insecurities, he said the negative comments and abuse came at a "really vulnerable time in my life".

STOP THE HATE: EXPLORE OUR CYBERBULLYING SERIES

There were good comments and presents from fans, but the bad comments were "quite horrible".

"People can get quite personal about your personal life ... It was quite hard for me at the time because I was dealing with a lot of personal abuse as well. So I kind of found the online comments a lot more hurtful, but I had to find comfort with my friends and people that supported me."




He turned his back on his @waverider- account in a bid to shut out the haters.

"I was going through a lot so I had to make a lot of changes and really take time to make myself okay and make sure I'm happy with where I am in life and kind of take it day by day."

Martin feels he "let a lot of people down" - fans and those who supported him - but said he "had to take time off for myself".

During his break from Instagram he learned not to rely on social media for happiness, he said, and praises his close circle of friends for getting him through the dark times.

His reactivated account is hugely popular - he now has about 1.7 million followers.


For those of you who don't know I dress up as amazing female celebrities, Caitlyn Jenner is no exception!!! She slays ???????????? in no way is this meant to be making fun of her :) I just wanted to show my support to Caitlyn and the LGBT community!!! Always be yourself ?????????? A photo posted by Liam Miscellaneous (@waverider_) on Jun 7, 2015 at 4:33am PDT

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The 19-year-old advises others struggling with cyberbullying to "go to your family or friends that comfort you and make you feel good about yourself, don't let something online affect the way your feel about yourself - and that's so hard, but you have to learn to accept real comments, not ones online".

'You are useless. You're a horrible girlfriend. You should kill yourself.' The story of a woman who was too scared to check her social media after endless bullying.

Depression is still something he is learning to deal with, Martin said, but he's confident about the future, which includes a book he's writing on his experience.

"It's kind of going to be a modern day Catcher in the Rye, where it's a coming of age story about [moving] into adulthood with an online spin to it."

He hopes it will raise awareness of mental illness and cyberbullying.

Where to get help:

• In an emergency: call 111
• Lifeline: 0800 543 354 (available 24/7)
• Suicide Crisis Helpline: 0508 828 865 (0508 TAUTOKO) (available 24/7)
• Youthline: 0800 376 633, or text 234 (available 24/7) or talk@youthline.co.nz or live chat (between 7pm and 11pm) http://livechat.youthline.co.nz/mibew/chat?locale=en&style=youthline
• Kidsline: 0800 543 754 (available 24/7)
• Whatsup: 0800 942 8787 (1pm to 11pm)
• Depression helpline: 0800 111 757 (available 24/7)
• Rainbow Youth: (09) 376 4155 (weekdays 11am to 5pm)
• NetSafe: 0508 NETSAFE (0508 638 723), www.theorb.org.nz