"Living with depression is like running a car engine every day without servicing it. Eventually, the wheels fall off. That's what it feels like."

Those are the words of Rotorua bike builder Jeff Anderson, who has suffered severe depression but has slowly learned how to look after himself and enjoy life again.

Anderson said experiencing traumatic events, but never talking about or dealing with them, was dangerous. He spent two months in an induced coma after a motorcycle crash 30 years ago. He believes that head injury contributed to a chemical imbalance in his brain.

Read more: Mental Health Awareness Week welcomed by counsellor
Rotorua can laugh with comedian Guy Williams and raise money for mental health
Lifelink searching for volunteers as Mental Health Awareness Week approaches


"I died in those first few days, but they revived me and brought me back. Those things stick with you for life. I don't think you deal with those things at the time, you don't realise it's life-changing or how it affects you. Anything that happens in a traumatic way, if you don't deal with it, you suppress it, that's very dangerous."

Six years ago, he reached a point in his life that he felt he could not hold things in any longer and he was not coping.

"You get angry very quickly and you have trouble maintaining relationships with people. But you don't see it, you don't have any concept of what you are doing. It's almost like you're a child and you don't know any better. You end up being on your own because people don't want to deal with you, which makes it worse because you don't feel liked, you don't feel wanted. You feel very lonely."

Driving home one day, five years ago, it all came out. All of a sudden he could not stop crying. At that point he turned around and went to a doctor.

"I went to reception and said 'I need help, I don't trust myself'. They told me to make an appointment, but I said 'I need help now'. It wasn't until I refused to go away that a nurse helped me."

Once convincing staff at the doctor's that he was not coping, Anderson was put on medication. He said the medication gave him temporary relief, but was never a long-term fix, it just suppressed what he was feeling. People could try to help, but it was not until he was ready to make an effort and fix himself that he started feeling better.

A change in diet, managing alcohol consumption and rediscovering the joy of helping other people slowly resulted in Anderson turning his life around.

He still has moments where the old feelings resurface, but now he recognises it and can deal with it.

"A friend told me to just get through each day and worry about the things I can control - to keep chipping away, it was a day-to-day thing. That really helped. Three years ago I dumped all my medication. It's not advised to do that and everyone is different, but I went with my gut. I'm not saying everyone should do it.

"Life is great now, it's fantastic, but it's about managing it every day. I make sure I try to connect with family and friends, doing stuff for them rather than just taking. I've rebuilt friendships and giving back to the community. It has made a huge difference to my life.

"People just need to know others are there for them. My door's always open to anyone."

Where to get help:
• Lifeline: 0800 543 354 (available 24/7)
• Suicide Crisis Helpline: 0508 828 865 (0508 TAUTOKO) (available 24/7)
• Youthline: 0800 376 633
• Kidsline: 0800 543 754 (available 24/7)
• Whatsup: 0800 942 8787 (1pm to 11pm)
• Depression helpline: 0800 111 757 (available 24/7)
• If it is an emergency and you feel like you or someone else is at risk, call 1