To me, anxiety is fear. Fear of rejection, fear of screwing up, fear of not fitting in, fear of being unhappy.

This week is Mental Health Awareness Week, and I want to share my own story in the hope it will encourage others to seek help.

I've always been a sensitive lad. My mum tells a story of me watching The Ugly Duckling as a child and being brought to tears when the duckling was being bullied.


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That sensitivity is not necessarily a bad thing. I think the compassion I have for others and my ability to express my emotions are two of my greatest strengths, but it has not always been that way, and there have been times in my life where it all felt too much.

Starting as a reporter four years ago, the image I had in my head of a "good journalist" was a take-no-prisoners newshound, brimming with confidence and bravado, running through brick walls for a good story.

Then there was me - a guy who has always been a bit anxious and easily stressed, scared to pick up the phone and call someone for an interview in case they said no. Where did I fit in?

Reporters, like many professions, are under pressure and for me that induced anxiety. I was on edge in every morning meeting, worried I did not have enough story ideas, worried those ideas would be rejected, concerned I would be given a story I could not cope with.

For the most part, I kept things under control. I was on edge, but I was coping. That is until about a year and a half ago.

I was at a job I hated, living in a town where I had no friends, struggling financially and still coming to grips with losing a cousin to suicide the year before. I was overwhelmed, the black dog was on my back, and I was floundering.

I decided to ask for help. I booked myself in to see a counsellor, and to this day it is the best thing I have ever done and my proudest achievement.

I was sceptical. I pictured myself lying on a couch, talking about my feelings. I did not truly believe it would help.

Boy was I wrong. The counsellor taught me how the mind works. That the anxiety and negative thoughts will never be banished completely, some people are just wired that way, but there are tools you can use to help keep them at bay - tools I still use now.

I have since landed my dream job as a sports reporter, and life is good. I can see the positives in most situations, rather than dwelling on what could go wrong. I still have my moments, but knowing those feelings will pass makes a huge difference.

There is nothing wrong with asking for help, in fact, it is one of the strongest things a person can do.

Where to get help

If you are worried about your or someone else's mental health, the best place to get help is your GP or local mental health provider. However, if you or someone else is in danger or endangering others, call police immediately on 111. Or if you need to talk to someone else:
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 (Mon-Fri 1pm to 10pm. Sat-Sun 3pm-10pm)
Depression helpline: 0800 111 757 (available 24/7)
Rainbow Youth: (09) 376 4155
Samaritans: 0800 726 666