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Real Life

Weekly people: 'The night I almost died'

Kiwi mum Christina Humphries hopes to banish the stigma of depression by sharing her heart-breaking story.

By Donna Fleming
Christina Humphries took a deep breath and hit the "post" button on her Facebook page. The message she had just added to the social media site was the most personal she had ever written, and as soon as the words and photograph appeared online, Christina wondered whether she had done the right thing. But she had to go with the gut feeling that had compelled her to post a photograph of herself on life support.
"I can't believe this was me last Thursday," she wrote on Facebook. "I am terrified to share this but if I can help one person by sharing my experience, then it is worth it."
Mum-of-two Christina (26) had nearly died after taking an overdose of pills. But she is quick to point out that it was not a suicide attempt.
"I didn't want to die," she says. "I just didn't want to feel pain anymore."
When she took the overdose earlier this year, Christina had been suffering from depression for about six months, but had told few people.
This photo of Christina was quickly shared by Facebook users, prompting messages of support from sufferers around the world.
"I felt embarrassed and ashamed – I thought it meant I was weak. I used to be one of those people who would think, 'You've got depression... just get over it,' and then I ended up with it myself. What I realised was that a lot of people go through this – the response I got to my Facebook post was incredible. Within a short time, it was shared over 800 times. I got messages from all around the world, from people telling me they knew exactly how I felt."
Christina, from Rotorua, says the devastating effect depression can have took her by surprise. "I had days where I couldn't get out of bed. Depression is not just a feeling of sadness, it's a physical pain. I wanted to enjoy life again, but everything was a struggle."
Christina, who is a single mother to son Reko (7) and daughter Harlow (4), says her depression was triggered by a combination of factors, including losing her job and having financial problems. She believes genetics may also play a part – her mother's two brothers committed suicide. She worked hard to keep her feelings hidden. "I was very good at putting on a happy face," she says. But when Christina found out her partner at the time had been unfaithful, she descended into an even deeper depression. One day, while her children were at her mother's, she hit rock bottom.
As she would later write on Facebook, "My heart was breaking. I was in so much pain and I wanted more than anything else for it to go away." She adds, "I hadn't been sleeping and I was so tired. I wasn't thinking about my children or anyone else. All I could think about was getting rid of the pain."
Christina swallowed every pill she could find, including two boxes of antihistamines, because the label said they caused drowsiness. "I never thought they could hurt me – I just wanted them to numb me," she tells.
When Christina tried to walk to the bathroom, her legs gave way. "I realised I had made a huge mistake, and I panicked." She managed to text her sister Bron, although the message was gobbledegook. It read, "I may News some hwP I rm took pills to jell wenibqy."
Christina was horrified when she realised how close she came to leaving her children Reko (far left) and Harlow.
Luckily for Christina, Bron saw the words, "took pills" and went straight to Christina's house. She called an ambulance and Christina ended up in Rotorua Hospital on life support.
Christina was fortunate to pull through without any lasting damage. Nurses suggested her family take a photo of her so she would understand how seriously ill she had been. Christina was horrified when she saw it.
"When I realised how close I came to leaving my kids, it broke my heart. I couldn't help thinking about other people who didn't get found in time, like I did."
Christina is having counselling and is on medication to help with the depression. She says she feels gratified by the people who've thanked her for being so open on Facebook. "I hope my story helps people to know that it is okay to ask for help. Never feel embarrassed or ashamed like I did. There's still a stigma surrounding depression, but if we talk about it more, hopefully people won't end up in a situation like I did."
Seeking help
If you think you may be depressed or are concerned about someone who is, talk to your GP, call 0800 111 757 or visit depression.org.nz.

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