This program is brought to you by pride nz.com. I get annoyed when people say I'm coping or I'm struggling with depression. I just say I have depression. Shit happens. I was never one of the cool kids at school. I was always a tomboy and super, super nerdy. I was a member of the chess club and Cliff Richard was my favorite singer. My depression kicked in when I was 16. I had major back surgery, which put me off school for two months. Because I was in so much physical pain, people didn't really notice the depression. A lot of the time, I would just go to bed and not want to do anything. So let's say that my back was sore, even though it wasn't going back to school was awful. A lot of people were quite rude and asked things like, Can we see your scars? It kind of made me feel like a freak. Around 17 I started having panic attacks. I stepped out the door to go to school, I just couldn't leave the house. I just started getting really overwhelmed with everything. And the more stressed or depressed I got, the more my obsessive compulsive disorder flared up. You know, when there are certain things that need to be done a certain way, and there is no option but to do it that way. Even how I got dressed in the morning, had to be done in the same order every day. It made me feel like I was in control. Up until then, I hadn't even really thought about sexuality and gender. But from about 18, I started experimenting and came out as queer when I was 20. That same year, I was diagnosed with depression. When the doctor said it, I was kind of a bit shocked because he had named it until then it had been a kind of undefined misery. But by naming it I mean, I had to do something about it. Initially, he put me on a green type prescription, natural antidepressants like St. John's Ward, and told me to get some more sun and exercise and see how I go. About six months later, came back and said it wasn't working. So he put me on antidepressants and sent me to a counselor. I think I got worse for the next couple of years, I was put on a sickness benefit and met up with some people who weren't particularly good for me, we kind of encouraged each other's bad behavior. With most of the counseling I've been through sexuality and gender or what they jump on first. It just gets a bit frustrating because I don't think the issues within me. I'm not agonizing over being queer or trans. But I do find how other people treat me really hard. You know, when people constantly remind you that what you are is not the norm. They think you don't feel things the same way. And that's what I get so depressed or anxious about. I was pretty much a mess in my mid 20s when I was coming out as trans because there's so much explaining you have to do. I got quite bitter and resentful that I had to keep explaining just the way I am. It's like as soon as someone finds out that I'm different, there's automatically a reason and to start asking me all the questions that have bottled up for ages. Even when people just make flippant remarks, it triggers all the bad stuff in my brain. The last six months have been bitter. Even though my depression has been giving me a rough time, the ways I'm dealing with it are a lot healthier. I'm certainly more into my gender. It's like when you first come out, you're so fiercely defensive about it. You know, I used to wander around saying I'm gay, I'm gay. I'm gay to anyone who cared. And it was like that when I first came out as trans as well, I'm a man, I'm a man, I'm a man, reinforcing it at every possible opportunity. But just in the last few months, I've come to realize that if people still see me as female, that's really not my problem. So even though my depressions been really bad on one level, I've been a lot healthier mentally. The depressions been there for so long that I never really expected to fully go away. I tried to make sure that everything else is working well, so that the depression doesn't affect me too much. Things like watching what I eat, making sure I sleep properly and not spreading myself too thinly. I think a lot of people are quite prone to offering advice. But I think deep down most people know what they need to be happy. It takes a pretty strong person to actually do it, but it's worth it. It's about being true to yourself. Sometimes I wake up and say God, being true to myself really sucks today. You know, being queer and trans. Sometimes it's quite hard just being me. But I just want the person in the mirror to be a decent reflection of the person I am on the inside. Definitely I have off days and I can't be bothered and I just wish I was normal. But my good days, which are most days are really good and I'm a lot happier and confident in being who I am.