Just Listen is a seven-part mental health podcast series, exploring how to support a person in serious and ongoing mental distress. Six New Zealanders and their support people share their mental health journey and challenges with journalist and host Juliette Sivertsen. Made with support from the Mental Health Foundation of New Zealand, and Like Minds, Like Mine.
Niva Retimanu remembers not being able to tie up her shoelaces.
The award-winning Newstalk ZB newsreader was living a party lifestyle, drinking, smoking, not eating properly and socialising non-stop. Retimanu didn't know it at the time, but later learned she had been covering up the grief after the deaths of her parents, which led to depression.
Listen to Niva Retimanu's full story in the Just Listen podcast, here.
"I was in denial. I was young, I didn't know any better, being Samoan I didn't have any support and I was in such denial I just turned the other way and decided to party, to not deal with any issues. And so I hit rock bottom," she says.
She decided to see her GP, who encouraged her to make lifestyle changes one step at a time.
"I thought, if I don't stop this, I'm going to be 6 feet under."
At her first therapy session, she talked and cried non-stop for the first 48 minutes. She's now a passionate advocate for talk therapy and is open to her friends, workmates and gym buddies about going to a counsellor.
"I have to own my truth, know my truth, accept my truth and live my truth."
Over time, Retimanu learnt to set clear boundaries for herself, especially regarding social events, in order to manage her depression. Boundaries and a routine ensure she can flourish in her job as breakfast radio newsreader, which requires her to be up at 3am each weekday.
Retimanu says one of the hardest changes she made was saying no to social events. She says she initially felt ashamed, and like she was disappointing her friends. But they rallied to support her.