One of my earliest memories was watching my father dying on the kitchen floor of our home. I was ushered to the next-door neighbour's but remember the ambulance leaving. I vividly recall seeing his body at the hospital, where I had my teddy bear kiss him goodbye. Only parts of his funeral remain: my clearest recollection is tossing a rose down on to his coffin and being bitterly disappointed that it hadn't landed on the top.
My name was Hamish Williams, I was 4 years old and my father had committed suicide.
My mother and I moved to Dunedin where I started a new school but it quickly became apparent that there was a lot of shame associated with suicide. We lived in a home with no photos of my father on display, he was firmly left in a past we never spoke about.
My name was unofficially changed to Hamish Coleman, my mother's maiden name, to protect me from the disgrace of my father's passing and reinforce that keeping him a secret was vital.
One day in primary school, my teacher thought it would be funny to do the school roll by reading out our middle names. We laughed at the old-world names that we carried for family reasons and the biggest laugh was at Ronald. I exploded with laughter along with the class, chanting "Ronald McDonald!"
My teacher looked confused and innocently disclosed a horrific truth, "That's your middle name, Hamish." I had only ever known my father as Ron, and I certainly had no idea that my middle name was Ronald.
My name was Hamish Alan Coleman - or so I thought - and the revelation that my father was still officially with me was a true shock.
Eventually my mother met and became engaged to a lovely man who became my step-father, Tom Ross. With their inevitable wedding on the horizon and about to start high school, I successfully lobbied for my name to be officially changed.
My name was Hamish Coleman-Ross and I was 12 years old.
I hoped that this new identity would forever bury the social indignity of my father; I was wrong. Many people knew of his suicide and they judged me for it, saying incredibly hurtful things like that my birth was a mistake, I would end up in prison, I was doomed to be a domestic abuser, I would never get a job. I became determined to prove them wrong.
As a teenager I did quite well with speech competitions but the aftermath would begin as soon as I left the stage. I would start shaking, sometimes so violently I would have to lie down. I was convinced that I was no good, even when people told me that I was. Clearly, they didn't know the truth, that I was just some worthless kid whose dad didn't love him enough to live.
This persevered through my 20s but any achievements would be followed by periods of believing that I was an imposter. I wasn't actually that good at all - how could I be? My father had killed himself. Every time I made a mistake of any size, this criticism would raise its head. The reality hid behind a name that was part of the mask I created.
I didn't think anyone cared about me, so I didn't care about myself. I struggled to see any future, so relationships - personal and professional - by and large didn't matter. I was just a mistake and I would be easily replaced by someone more worthy.
One night in Wellington I was approached by a woman who thought I looked like her brother. I politely dismissed her but then ran into her again and she persisted; we chatted and it quickly became apparent she was my first cousin.
So, I reconnected with my father's side of the family 20 years after his death; but despite the mental and emotional onslaught, it was an exciting time for me. Their interests were my interests, our values and principles were aligned and physical appearances, right down to mannerisms, were strikingly similar.
The first time I sat and ate with my father's brother, Mr Williams, was at Christmas. I learned that my father was a much-loved man remembered with great kindness and respect who sadly was unable to get the support when he needed it most.
My name was Hamish Alan Coleman-Ross.
In 2009 Mike King began a revolutionary radio show called "The Nutters Club". I would come to be a fill-in host and from 2016 took the reins full time. Every week late Sunday night on NewstalkZB I talked live with people from all corners of New Zealand about their mental health challenges and how they overcame them.
Lack of connection and identity was a massive part of the stories I heard during 800 hours of live radio. It was clear that until this crucial aspect was addressed, many couldn't fully complete their recovery.
People do all sorts of things to reconnect with their identity: learn customs and languages, transition genders. I began to realise that for me, all I needed to do was change my name. I am my father's son and to deny an entire part of my being prevented me from being Hamish.
Getting married to the love of my life seemed like the perfect time to take that final step.
In June this year my name was once again Hamish Ronald Williams. In November I will be 39 years old, the same age my father was when he died.
It's funny when the reality of the change hits me. Recently I flew to Wellington and seeing "Hamish Williams" staring back at me on the ticket was unexpectedly emotional. When I drive to my home, wake up with my wife first thing in the morning or even hear my step-children arguing with each other (or me) I feel so comforted that I do this as who I really am, not some imagined kid trying his best to fit in. It's honest, it's real - and it's a much more comfortable place to be.
Changing my name one way or the other was always symbolic but the motivations behind why are what's important. If you or someone you know close to you wants to make changes to their life, then make sure everyone knows why. Change in any way, shape or form is hard, so when we see people making it for themselves be supportive.
So many wonderful people helped me on this journey, their kindness and encouragement filling a hole left by my father. The opportunity to help where we can is a fantastically important task offered to both you and me. Tell people what they mean to us, don't assume that they know.
My father's name was Ronald Williams. He was a cyclist, teacher, pilot and my father. I think of him often but most of all on a Sunday night before I leave home to host The Nutters Club. If ever I've felt reluctant to go, I've wondered if there's someone out there struggling who the show might be able to help. To give the support when someone needs it most. That gets me moving.
WHERE TO GET HELP
If it is an emergency and you feel you or someone else is at risk, call 111. Otherwise talk to your GP or mental health provider or try these numbers:
• Lifeline: 0800 543 354 (available 24/7)
• Suicide Crisis Helpline: 0508 828 865 (0508 TAUTOKO) (available 24/7)
• Youthline: 0800 376 633