Sunday, September 24, 2023

How Are You Today… 2022: Mental Health Advice From Lisette Reymer, Mike King & More

When we first started our How Are You, Today series in June 2020, we had no idea how popular it would become – and how many wonderful, honest and meandering mental health conversations we would have with some of our most famous Kiwis. In this compendium, we present to you the entire collection of chats from 2022 – and the advice or answers that still sticks with us today.

How Are You Today… Lisette Reymer on Reporting From Ukraine

“Knowing how important the work is and what value it is providing is a huge part of how you cope. You are talking to people in the most vulnerable situation – we’re going up to people after their whole lives have been destroyed and we’re asking them to talk to us, on camera. Like filming someone and not turning the camera off when they start crying… that’s not a normal feeling.

The only way you can cope with that is knowing that they want the story out, they want the world to know about what’s happening. People have said to me, ‘it’s so nice how you hug them or touch their arm’ but that is a human response. A lot of the time there’s no shared language, things are going through a translator but a hug is an instant way to show that I am just heartbroken for what they’re going through.”

How Are You Today, Mike King on How His Relationship With Vulnerability Has Changed

“So when I was young, my dad taught me the four rules to being a man. Protect your family, provide for your family, give your kids a better opportunity than you had, and never show weakness. Those four rules to me meant work and work meant money. With my older kids, my love language was money.

Most men of my age have a love language of money. We’re not good at showing our emotions and why is that? Because our dads didn’t show us any emotion. My dad didn’t tell me he loved me until I was 45 years old. Why? Because HIS dad never told him he loved him. He didn’t know how. I’m lucky, I’ve got three generations of kids: my eldest are 35, 33 and 25. And then I’ve got 20, 18 and my youngest is eight.

With my first generation of kids: ‘My house, my rules, because I said so.’ Second generation: ‘yeah, you can have your say, but it’s still no.’ Third generation: ‘Shut up and listen, Michael; be vulnerable, let her talk.’ It’s a different world. I think I’m a much better dad today than I was 35 years ago. I’m a lot more vulnerable now and my kids know when I’m not having a great day, because I tell them – I talk about my feelings. In saying that, I’m still a work in progress. Till the day I die, I’ll be a work in progress.”

How Are You Today, Robyn Malcolm on How Menopause Changed Affected Her Mental Health?

“About 10 years before I really crashed, a psychologist said to me ‘You are heading for an endocrinal meltdown… you are living on so much cortisol and so much adrenaline, and you need to be careful.’ And – of course – I didn’t listen. All I heard was ‘Ooh, I’m a battler. Look at me, working really hard and putting myself at risk. I’m going to go to heaven.’ And then, absolutely true to form, that’s exactly what happened. I crashed. And we’re all like that, aren’t we? We won’t be told. Particularly if we have a vested interest in being a certain way – and I had a vested interest in being a super mum. So, so bad for us.

There’s a certain currency to so many of the conversations we have, when we sit down at the end of the day with friends and you say, ‘How are you?’ And everyone goes, ‘Oh my god, I’m so stressed, it’s so full-on.’ And we all get gold medals if we say that stuff, because it means we’re really hard-working people. Well, recently I’ve learned to say things like ‘Wow, I had a really great day. I really chilled the f—k out. Do you know what? I put my feet up today and I loved it.’ I had to learn to do that and it’s so great.”

How Are You Today, Karen O’Leary on Why It’s So Important for Kids To See Diversity

“I think it’s crucial – and I think that’s why the shift in the modern learning environment towards team teaching is so important, where it’s not just 30 kids and one teacher. Because if you’re someone that doesn’t connect with that teacher, that’s a whole year that you’re going to find it really difficult to feel valued or included. If you’ve got a range of teachers, who offer a range of different styles, that’s going to be of huge benefit.

For me, as a lesbian, I see the importance of the language that gets used a lot in teaching – it can be very exclusive, as opposed to inclusive. Like when [my son] Melvyn started school, the teachers would always refer to ‘mums and dads.’ I mean to be fair, it didn’t bother me, and Melvyn didn’t care either, but it’s not that hard to say ‘whānau’, or ‘caregivers’. But if you’ve always been someone that fits into ‘the norm’, then you don’t think like that, because you’ve never had that as a challenge. But for me, I was always keenly aware of it, because of who I was.”

How Are You Today, Gemma McCaw on the Hard Yards Of Being In Your 30s and 40s

“This – the 30s and the 40s too – is a really interesting age. You know who you are, you’ve got the self-awareness and you know where you want to do, but then society judges us. You must work, but you can’t put your child in full-time day care, but you can’t stay at home either?!

It’s tough, and that’s why having some good, ingrained habits down early is so key, because they can help you through this hard time. I’ve met a lot of women in their 50s and 60s who have this new lease on life, but say these years are really hard, with the guilt and the juggle.

But, what is about is living a life you want to – not what others expect of you.”

How Are You Today, Paula Penfold on the Rise Of Hostility Towards Journalists & Public Figures

“When the publicity happens to you when you haven’t sought it, it’s uncomfortable. And it can be unpleasant. And there are people who hate journalists. When I say I don’t like publicity, I did write a column earlier this year about my sister going through cancer treatment and what it was like to see people not caring about people who are immunocompromised, going through a pandemic.

The reaction to that was mostly supportive – but the people who were not supportive were just incredibly aggressive and angry. If you interpret their desire to have you placed on the Nuremberg lists as being threatening, there were multiple examples of that.

The environment in terms of hostility towards journalists… I’ve never seen anything like this before. It’s just so intense and visceral and violent. They literally think we should be hanged. There is a lot of mending that we should do at a community and societal level to fix this.”

How Are You Today, Rebecca Wright on Reporting From Crisis News Events

“The human response is always very profound to see. And that’s really helpful when you’re reporting on such devastating events. There’s a strange solidarity that comes out in those times.

It’s one of the things that I love most about this job – we get to go along and become part of someone’s lives, usually at the most devastating point of someone’s life, right? Like if I’m turning up on your doorstep, something’s gone really wrong for you, probably. But when you are able to walk alongside people in those moments, it’s a real – and I hate this word – but it’s a real privilege. And if you’re not moved by people’s stories, and you don’t develop that relationship with them, then I don’t think you’re doing the job right.”

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