Te Reo Māori gave me Hope. Brianna Age 17
Growing up, I always had one parent with me. From since I can
remember, my dad missed all my birthdays as he was on deployment.
My mum was always there for me. Even if I was a pain and
trust me, I was a pain after my parents split when I was 10. To say
I felt pretty alone every day is an understatement as all my friends
moved away as they too had parents in the military. I had no one in
the most important point in my life that far.
After they split, I didn’t know what to do with all the emotions
I had. I couldn’t tell my mum. She had her own problems. She
worked nights just so I could go to school, have 3 meals a day and
have a roof over my head. I couldn’t tell my dad. He was in Australia,
and it didn’t feel right to talk about these serious feelings over the
phone. I couldn’t tell my friends as I didn’t have many and the ones
I did have continually made fun of emotions when I brought it up.
So pretty quickly, I was on a downward spiral, to depression at
the age of 12, and a binge eating disorder at the same age. This is extremely
young and since I didn’t know how to deal with everything,
it all just added up. By 13 I was sneaking food into my room, eating
it within 20 minutes and then being sick over and over again as
that was the only way I could distract my brain from the constant
bad thoughts of “you’re not good enough … no one loves you …
why are you even alive … you’re disgusting.” Pretty soon my brain
was working against me, and I was on the winding, terrible path to
social anxiety, panic attacks and suicide.
Since I never told anyone about all my feelings and problems, I
had to rely on myself to get me through my tough times. I used to
have an anxiety attack every time someone new would come to the
house. I used to lock myself in my room, so I didn’t show my mum
and sister how I wasn’t coping with all the pressure of Year 8 and
going to high school, and how I wasn’t the easiest person to make
I soon developed into an introvert and relied on the constant
company of music to make sure I didn’t go to a place that I couldn’t
I tried many times to end all the suffering, just so I didn’t have
to feel bad anymore, but I kept thinking, “who would look after
my sister? What would this decision do to mum?” And so I walked
myself down from that cliff many times.
I knew it wasn’t the best decision, but at the time it was the only
one that I felt would take away the pain. I knew that those thoughts
were just my mind working against me and so I dug myself into the
middle of the one thing I remembered that gave me the one thing I
was starved from, happiness.
It was Māori culture I surrounded myself in, so I didn’t feel so
bad. Because of that I discovered how Māori culture is all about
love, about appreciation and whānau.
The only time I really felt happy was when I was in class, with my
whaea learning Te Reo Māori. It gave me comfort and strength in
my time of need. It gave me something to focus my negative energy
from within on and pretty soon I wasn’t just one panic attack away
During high school, my matua gave me hope, he gave me something
to focus on. He didn’t know that he was helping me in the
way he was, but he was the only reason that I was showing up to
school every day, as the language gave me hope. It allowed me to be
myself, even if it was only for one hour a day.
After 2 years of Māori at school, I no longer had my panic and
anxiety attacks and I had made a group of friends who would do
anything for me. Māori gave me hope. Māori gave me my life back
after I had closed myself off. I should have asked for help, but in my
own way I found the way back to the light and now I might have
my down days, but I have more days that I am glad to be here. If
there was one thing that I would do differently, I would ask for help
as it is not a show of weakness. It is a sign of strength.
To ask someone for help is one of the most powerful things someone