Brave talk brings different perspective
Searching For Happiness
The Royal — Palmy Fringe Festival Review by Natasha Melbye
Nathan Hedley’s Searching for Happiness coincided perfectly with New Zealand Mental Health Week spanning from Monday, October 8 to Sunday, October 14.
As Hedley explores his experiences with doctors, councillors, helplines and the overall mental health system, he attempts to bring a different perspective to an otherwise difficult topic, often encouraging and reassuring his audience that it was acceptable to laugh at some of the stories he told.
When describing how he felt before he had visited a doctor and was diagnosed with severe depression Hedley explained, “I felt like a zombie in a zombie apocalypse . . . but everyone else was normal.”
He continued to explain the reasoning for the title of his performance by continuing the analogy and stating “instead of chasing brains I was chasing happiness”. He encapsulated the feeling that too many New Zealanders faced every day and may not have the voice to express.
Hedley said what he knew about mental health and suicide he learnt from his mother and from movies, due to a lack of education in schools.
However, growing up he didn’t fully understand what his mother was going through and the movie representations he saw of a depressed character was essentially just Eeyore from Winnie the Pooh. This brought to light the fact that many people haven’t had much or any education surrounding mental health despite its importance.
Hedley’s talk took a difficult topic and twisted it with dark humour to make it a more acceptable and easier topic for people to talk about. This meant exposing personal experiences that most people would rather not discuss and pushed the importance that it should be discussed in order to remove the stigma and shame that too often surrounded mental health issues. Hedley’s brave talk is an important step in assisting people with mental health nationwide.