In June last year, I sent an idea for a story to the editor of New Zealand Geographic. She said yes. Ten months later, it is finally out in the world.
I have never undertaken a project quite like this before. I began with not much more than a set of impressions, experiences and questions. I knew I had some things to try and say, and I knew I had a lot to find out. But you really can’t know those things properly until you’re – well, here. At the end of it.
It’s pretty amazing how ten months of work boils down to 6,000 words. I got to travel around the country and speak to some of the most amazing people, from doctors and researchers to those who work in mental health care, and those who need it.
At first I was incredibly daunted. I didn’t doubt my research or writing capabilities, but more my mental and physical energy. And I wanted to make absolutely sure that I could do this sensitive and vital topic justice. I hope that I have.
The worst thing about seeing something I’ve written out in print is that I know what didn’t make the cut. My original draft was probably 9,000 words, and even then, I wasn’t getting close to sharing everything I learned. I am lucky to have had the opportunity to talk to so many people with so many important things to say.
I’ve already thanked everyone who shared their research, expertise, knowledge, time, and personal stories with me. I also need to thank Naomi, Beck, and Steven, who provided professional and moral support, and Rebekah White, who is an amazing and compassionate editor. She made the whole thing possible.
I will of course encourage you to buy a copy of the magazine. You can also read my feature on the website. Hopefully, there will be more to come.