King promotes Key To Life charity
Former comedian Mike King may have sworn off standup comedy, but he had the Catholic Women’s League members chuckling when he spoke at their conference in Matamata.
King spoke on April 18 about his experiences with depression, drugs and alcohol addiction that led him to start the Key to Life charity.
This charity, which the league is supporting through its at home appeal this year, focuses on talking to high school students about the taboo subject of depression.
King believes that zero suicides are possible.
‘‘All we have to do is take care of our own families.
‘‘If we all say there is going to be zero suicides in my family, it is an achievable goal.
‘‘If we say there will be zero suicides in amongst the Catholic Women’s League that will be our goal, our waka ama, our rugby club, whatever it is; our school, our classroom; just narrow the focus. Just focus on those we love and care about.’’
He said the key is educating young people and empowering them to find solutions to the issue of suicide, by letting them talk about their problems.
He said a big enemy to those suffering depression is the attitude of other people. ‘‘You get this ‘harden up, stay staunch’ attitude, especially amongst Kiwi men. You also get wee comments like ‘ attention seeker’.’’
He said people needed to be educated about what depression is and what to say and what not to say.
He encourages discussion by sharing his journey with high school students.
‘‘Instead of telling them what to show them what to do.’’
He tells them how counselling helped him. Most people are aware of his comedy background. But as King said, most don’t know that from the age of 13 he was an alcoholic. ‘‘Whenever I needed confidence I drank, whenever I was hurting I drank and whenever I needed to sleep I drank, which was every day.’’ That led on to drug addiction. He said his depression started at primary
school, where he had very low self esteem. His humour meant he was able to join the popular group, but they made him pick on other kids.
In 2007 he had a stroke that temporarily paralysed him. He suffered locked- in syndrome, which meant he could not communicate. A suicide attempt pushed him to get clean and sober, and he has been since April 1, 2007.
King’s initial response, when a friend suggested he saw a counsellor was ‘‘do I look like a girl?’’. But the counsellor looked at the reasons why he was drinking and doing drugs, instead of just trying to stop him drinking and using.
Through his counsellor, King learnt that the number one sign of depression in men is anger. His counsellor said his head was a ‘‘boiling cesspool of crap’’ that King tried to keep a lid on.
In 2009 when there were no call-ins on the talkback station where King was filling in for a week he freaked out and started speaking to the voices in his head. His first caller was a Maori youth who exclaimed ‘‘Bro, bro, bro I hear those voices too!’’. By the end of the week King had his own radio show. The Nutters’ Club focuses on talking about mental health.
King still has those voices and will battle with depression for the rest of his life, but now he knows the keys to help himself and others.
Mike King at the Catholic Women’s League conference in Matamata on April 18.