Friday, April 19, 2024

‘They Would Have Called Us Witches & Burnt Us At The Stake.’ How Are You Today, Anika Moa… On The Madness of Perimenopause

In our story series ‘How Are You Today?’, we have a meandering, mental-health focused chat with some of our most well-known New Zealanders. Check out previous chats with people like Hayley Holt, Kiri Allan and Jacinda Ardern. Today we chat to Anika Moa about perimenopause, antidepressants, preparing for a zombie apocalypse and how her new podcast is helping her get to the heart of the big matters.

Kia Ora Anika, how are you today?
I’m actually feeling a little bit low, because I woke up about 15 times last night with a sick child, and if I don’t get sleep, I start to get sluggish. So I’m a bit low, but I’m happy it’s a nice sunny day (for now!)

Are you a good napper?
I used to be. I used to be such a good napper, but these days, solo parenting is not exclusive with napping [laughs]. If I even attempt to close my eyes, one of my children will go ‘Mama, Soren hit me! I’m hungry! Wipe my bum!’ It’s… what would I say… honest.

What a beautiful, euphemistic way to describe motherhood.
It definitely grounds you. I saw that my podcast was #1 – no big deal – and I was like, ‘Yay! My podcast is #1!’ and then one of my kids hits me in my face.

Where did the idea come for It’s Personal With Anika Moa come from, and what did you want it to be?
It started with my diagnosis of Type 1 diabetes two years ago. I’m used to working a lot, and as soon as I got diagnosed, it makes you sick, it makes you have to slow down. And it’s not funny, it’s actually serious – and I usually take the piss out of everything. I’ve always looked up to podcasters like Oprah, Mel Robbins and – who’s the funny one? – Glennon Doyle. I wanted to do something serious – I wanted to talk to people in this country, or even overseas, who have something to say, instead of talking shit.

For example, I had Robyn Malcolm on and we talked about important things, including womanly things, like perimenopause. And perimenopause interests me a lot, because I’m going through it, even though my doctor says I’m not. No-one talks about it!

I’m interested next in talking to politicians, activists… people who want to change the world! It’s all going to lead me to interviewing Leonardo DiCaprio, and then he’ll fall in love with me. I’m obsessed with him and Kate Winslet, they’re my dream team.

That’s a good end game to aim for.
If I got to meet either of those people, I would piss and shit my pants.

I’m glad you brought up perimenopause because this is a chat that is coming up more and more with my friends. No-one’s really calling it perimenopause yet but it’s the anxiety, the depression, the despair that you talk about with Robyn.
It’s REAL. One thing that I really noticed is that women that I look up to and admire, who have been through menopause, they say ‘I didn’t know what was happening, I was being diagnosed with depression/anxiety/mood swings,’ and they had no support. You go mad! You actually go mad. I’m sure that back in ye old days, they would have called us witches and burnt us at the stake.

My perimenopause is all reliant on my mood – I’m usually so happy, so positive, so sunny, but if I get on a bad roll now, I can go down some dark paths. I just don’t feel myself; I don’t feel like the person I’ve known for 43 years. And that started about a year ago – so I’ve got nine years left of it, probably?!

What have you learned about your mental health and how to look after it?
Well, I’m mental. And I don’t look after it [laughs]. I don’t have time! But I’m on antidepressants, which are great, and which I’d always refused in the past. They just level me out so that I can mother, and go to work, and do my best.

I also reckon the best thing I’ve ever done is get dogs, because I walk them all the time and when I walk with my dogs, I feel free, I feel happy and I feel alive, especially when my kids are also with me. I feel like I’m not trapped.

What pushed you into finally saying yes to antidepressants?
Honestly, I want to live. And that’s code for ‘I was doing the dark thoughts.’ And I don’t want to do the dark thought path, because I know where it heads. And it drives you crazy – lack of sleep, feeling depressed, feeling overworked, feeling burnt out… and then you go, ‘what’s the point, what’s the point?’ Then you have the dark thoughts. I hate using the word ‘suicide’, because I hate that word – it makes feel sick. But my partner was like ‘Come on, let’s go to the doctor.’ I was embarrassed to talk about it for a long time, but now I don’t care.

You’ve got four children and a very big career – what’s that balance like?
It’s hard – and organising four children with two exes is [laughs] quite feral. I had a nanny for a while. I’m going to be honest with you – I want to be with my kids all day long and all night long, so I just bring them to work with me. My mum used to bring me to work with her when she would clean motels or do gigs, and I’d just be there with her. I like that life. I taught my sons how to massage – my 12 year olds can massage my feet and legs so well, and I give them $1 per minute. They’re rich!

This is a random last question but you’ve spoken about being a fan of The Walking Dead, and being obsessed with the idea for preparing for a zombie apocalypse. So… what have you learned about how to survive in the apocalypse?
I know that me and my best friend Nicky will hoard up – I don’t know where my kids are in this scenario, I’m assuming they’re dead? – and I will go out there with a knife and a gun, and I will hunt, and Nicky will prepare. I will kill any zombie. It would be SO exciting. I’d LOVE to kill a zombie. And the world will collapse – it will, I dream about it all the time. And we’re all fucked.

Well, I’ve wanted to interview you for a long time so I’m glad this happened first.
Oh my god, am I your Leonardo DiCaprio?!

It’s Personal With Anika Moa is available to listen to on podcast apps, the RNZ website and you can also watch the interviews on RNZ and on YouTube.

Photo credit Michelle Hyslop

Getting WILD at the QT Auckland: Champagne Problems & Fried Chicken in Bed – Finally Getting to Live Out the Rock Star Fantasy on...

Kelly Bertrand and her fiancé have a wild night at the QT Auckland and live out some true rock star fantasies (and if you're...

“It’s What I’ve Always Dreamed Of” – Football Fern Hannah Wilkinson on Progress, Equality & the ‘Bittersweet’ Comedown of the World Cup

She's New Zealand football's golden girl, with her generation-inspiring goal in the opening World Cup match against Norway sending the nation into raptures. But...

Resume Values Vs Eulogy Values: Where Does Your Self-Worth Come From, If It Doesn’t Come From Your Job?

Approaching the midlife point, it can start to be a big question: what does it mean to live a life your proud of? A...

Can You Eat Something at the Supermarket Before You Pay For It? Or is It Breaking the Rules? We Get a Definitive Answer…

Is it ever okay to eat something at the supermarket before you pay for it? Are you disrupting some sort of social code of...