It was when I was alone at night in my room. I would sleep on the floor because I felt I didn’t deserve to sleep in the bed. I would cry myself to sleep, I didn’t want anyone else to see that side of me.

I grew up in Auckland in a very Christian family. I was the oldest, the only boy with three younger sisters. We all went to church regularly and I guess I just absorbed those values.

I remember when something gay came up on TV I’d see that negative look on mums face. I guess unconsciously I began picking up all those messages.

At school I had a group of geeky friends who were really supportive, but would also join in the gay jokes.

And then at thirteen it suddenly clicked. It’s when I put this word ‘gay’ together with these feelings I was having. The thing was, I knew exactly 100% who I was sexually at that point in time and I didn’t want to be it.

I guess it started out as an annoyance and then started to grow to hatred. I began to hate the fact that I was gay – ‘if I can just push away this part of me it’ll be ok’.

I became really self-conscious. I was always over thinking everything - the way I was moving and what I was doing. I became very good at masking what I was feeling.

At the same time I was using Internet chat. I didn’t know any gays or lesbians in person, but online I started searching and asking questions from people who were going through the same thing. I guess I had many different lives I was living.

So at around sixteen it all just started spilling over, that feeling ‘bad’ just got stronger and stronger. I began to withdraw. I lost interest in things - music then food. Life started to become very grey.

Rather than just hating this ‘gay’ part of myself I start hating all of myself. I thought that I was evil and disgusting and shouldn’t be here.

Negative self-talk was with me constantly, I was punishing myself. But it was purely coming from inside. I hadn’t been teased or bullied. This was all self-inflicted.

Then everything went up a notch and I started having dreams about dying and killing myself. I started self-harming. It was easier to have physical pain than to deal with the pain in my head.

Suddenly a shift in my world. One day I was talking online to a person from school. He asked the usual question “how’s it going” and instead of replying with my usual reply I said “I’m feeling crap”. And he asked “what’s going on?”

He encouraged me to tell my close friends and to see the school guidance counsellor. But even though I was now talking to people I was getting worse. Having hated myself for so many years the only feeling I felt was ‘bad’.

I remember doing a speech at school. I picked the topic ‘teenagers never had it better’, but because of my state of mind I made it ‘Teenagers never had it worse’. I did this speech in front of my class and during it I grabbed a pair of scissors and cut myself.

Now everything in my life was about getting me out of this place that I was in.

My dad took me to a psychiatrist. We talked and she gave me a book on depression - one of the most amazing books ever. I was reading about everything I was experiencing. I began to recognize that this was the depression and not ‘me’.

I wanted to change but it was still too much effort. It felt easier to stay hating myself and being suicidal so I was put on anti-depressants. They stopped me going lower, they stabilised me and actually lifted me up a bit so that I could try and get through this. And part of that was coming out to my parents. That was the most nervous moment of my life - but it was the biggest relief.

Depression does go away, for me it’s taken about eight years. I started feeling better after the psychiatrist, but the negative thoughts kept coming back. Sometimes you need to ask for help. Talking about it means you’re beginning to deal with it.

Depression is not who you are, but something you are experiencing. Talk about it and get help from someone you trust - a friend or counsellor. Find out as much information as you can and realize that you can absolutely change your feelings about who you are.