Comic Cori’s sad battle
Luckily his mum was beside him all the way
When Kiwi comedian com Cori Gonzalez-- Gonz Macuer’s Macu mum Alejandra starts star talking about her son, so she can’t help but beam from ear to ear. She admits adm that her firstborn was always incredibly thoughtful, though a sensitive and creative c soul who’d ask her h a million questions question a day. “He was read reading encyclopaedias at three,” says Alejandra, smiling. “By the time he was four, he knew al all the planets and all t the capitals in the w world, plus he would w write these amazing p poems. “He’d sit down at dinner and we’d have proper convers at conversations. He would ask me, ev even at such a young age age, things like, ‘Why is the sk sky blue?’” Their bond as a family was tight, further c cemented by the fact that Aleja Alejandra, 57, had relocated the Go Gonzalez-Macuers to New Zeal Zealand from their native Chi Chile in the early ’90s. Cori says, “We cou couldn’t speak English, so we just had each other in a ti tiny flat in Wellington. But I a always remembered us being happy.” When Cori turned 21, he left the family hom home to start university, but h he found
himself doing something he’d never thought possible le – pushing away y his family, including his beloved mum.
“I wanted to stay away from people,” recalls Cori. “I felt totally overwhelmed about just being g an adult, like paying ng bills and doing a degree. gree. It felt like a hard time to me. I remember thinking i ki about b trying to get out of bed and it just being the most draining thing. ”
Cori, 36, admits the word “depression” had never been part of his vocabulary growing up. But when the university therapist diagnosed him and he was put on medication, it clicked into place.
“I suppose I always felt that something wasn’t quite right,” he confesses. “But I went to an all-boys’ high school which was all about rugby and machoism, so that didn’t really help. Depression was never talked about.”
Alejandra adds, “There was nothing around back then about depression. I always thought Cori was a nice, polite boy and, yes, sensitive, but I always felt we never really had to worry about him.”
When Woman’s Day asked Cori to be a part of our Half It campaign to raise awareness of the importance of taking the time to listen to those with mental health issues, he immediately wanted to champion his mum.
Th The actor-turned- d comedian, who starred in cult Kiwi vampire classic What We Do in the Shadows, says that therapy in NZ is really for those with the cash to splash. And for him, he depended on his mum to listen and support him through his darkest times.
“Not everyone can afford therapy,” he admits. “Not everyone has $100 a pop to talk to someone, but a lot of people do need to talk to someone. I am lucky that I have had Mum there the whole time. She’s been amazing, even if I haven’t been the best son at times.”
Last year, Cori hit a really rough patch. He split from his partner and suddenly found himself a single dad to his three-year-old daughter Frankie. He once again started to push away those who were nearest and dearest to him.
“I might have known what I was up against in my 20s, but I didn’t keep my eye on it like I should,” he admits. “I know it’s always there, but I chose not to acknowledge it for a long time. tim But then it came to a head h last year.
“I went to a place called the Taylor Centre with my mum, and the biggest thing thi there is that they give i you free therapy and they analyse you. You see someone every week. Now it’s every fortnight and that’s the first proper therapy I’ve ever really got.”
There are only limited available spots at the Taylor Centre, a community mental health centre in Auckland’s Ponsonby, but Cori managed to get one. It’s one of the very few places in Aotearoa where Kiwis can receive free therapy sessions.
But Cori’s not sure if he’d have got there without the help of his mother.
“She is my best friend and she’s always been there for me,” he smiles. “Even if I wanted to hide away, she would be at my door, getting me to talk about things. And I appreciate that more now than ever.”
Alejandra concludes, “Me listening to Cori is just a normal part of being a mother. I’m always going to be there for him. I don’t know how to be any other way. It’s just what you do!”