I am a mother, wife, daughter, sister and friend. I am the creator, one of the co-founders and the general manager of the #Hear4U Charity. For three years, thousands of people have watched me push and push with the #Hear4U mahi and the majority of the time, I’m extremely grateful and excited that our team has the ability to change and enrich lives. But it hasn’t always been an easy ride - I’ve been judged and challenged, but when you have a mission, you don’t have time to spare worrying about negativity.
I have beautiful parents, who are the foundations of my heart and soul. They have equally loved me from day one, until this present day and that’s not always an easy task because I’ve endured many years of mental health challenges and the 'black dog' has nipped my ankles a fair few times.
Trauma is different for everyone and I’ve endured many, but being bullied time and time again as a child really constructed the platform for how I dealt with challenges growing up. Being a half-Filipino female from humble beginnings, I battled with my sense of belonging culturally – not being “Maori or Pakeha enough” is a real thing. Being resilient and mindful wasn’t taught at school. Mental health? God forbid if you told others your woes – this was a society problem, not just mine.
At 16 years old I developed bulimia and anorexia as a coping strategy, but doctors told me I would grow out of. My parents tried everything from therapists, doctors, psychologists and more. Nothing clicked and resources were incredibly limited.
Academically, I worked super hard and represented my region in many sports. I gained entrance into Lincoln University, partied with peers and made many great friends, but continued to battle in silence. Then I attempted suicide, although at the time, my friends didn’t really understand what I was trying to do. I just wanted to REST! Doctor to doctor, counsellor to counsellor, meds to meds – there was virtually no help for a girl like me. This battle would continue over and over.
After completing a year at university, I worked in administration, adventure tourism and hospitality. I became a lover of the night, and eventually met my future husband Matt, who was soul searching too. We fought, made up, fought again – and then grew up. Babies were born. Post-natal depression crept in and on a forestry worker's wage, we struggled until Matt up-skilled.
Those years were bloody hard but I truly believe friendships and connections helped lead the way, as well as a combination of the right medications, empathetic doctors, natural healers, music teachers and fitness regimes. But it was my willingness to heal, which was the biggest breakthrough of all. Eventually, the eating disorders disappeared into the distance, because better ways of channeling energy evolved.
In 2015, as a laugh, Matt entered me into New Zealand’s Hottest Rock Wife and I won! I used the prize money to return to my mother's birthplace of Manila in the Philippines. My wellness journey was beginning, as this journey reminded me of who Krissy authentically was – through food, culture and connection. I went back to university, completing a year of social work studies, but sadly, couldn’t complete this degree as my support system was limited. I pivoted and became a floral artist with my own business, Foraged. It was during this time I connected with the Frasers, after their son Toby’s passing. Joining the dots, I realised Toby was not much older than myself, when I attempted suicide.
Learning from his connections and many mutual friends, it was evident we had similar characteristics and the desire to 'be the change' was too strong because Toby wasn’t the only one. By the age of 35, I had lost over 10 male friends, to suicide. Covid didn’t scare me, but suicide traumatised me.
My earliest memory of suicide was age six, when a classmate, Geoff, was pulled out of school, because his dad took his life. To date I recall every single phone call my mother has made to inform me of bad news.
Our first project took place in January 2020, thanks to Joanna Higgins-Ware, Renee Grant and the community of Tairāwhiti. It broke records for The Movember Foundation. Then more fundraisers and projects evolved for other like-minded charities, but nothing was coming back to benefit our region. What did happen though, was blokes kept knocking on my door, speaking up and confiding in me. Although systems were in place, so many were simply terrified to ask for help. Naturally, I had achieved my dream of creating a platform which helped our community break the stigma around Men’s Mental Health Awareness and Suicide Prevention. An advocacy service evolved and a charity was born. Volunteers appeared, our community got stuck in and more mental health professionals supported our mahi. Over time, we watched suicide stats within our region begin to decline.
So back to my why? Well, every day it’s exciting to get to work because of the clients I meet. Some are relieved to see my face, others are too tired to glance. Mental health services are stretched and one size doesn’t fit all. I might not be academically qualified, but professional development is underway. Practicing what I preach: “RISE ABOVE.” My lived experiences have served me incredibly well until now, but we can always do better.
#Hear4U Kaupapa has enabled me to:
1. Witness many individuals and FRIENDS progress through their wellbeing journeys, utilising our clinical and holistic pathways. Achieving healthy weight losses, educational gains and improving relationships.
2. Work alongside hardworking communities and industries, as they come together through our events and promotional work: people enjoying themselves and creating connections. When those who have lived through it begin to #speakup – that’s where the answers lie.
3. Do everything I can to avoid standing at another funeral! Suicide prevention can be broken into many parts, at the end of the day – providing people with a safe space and extra AWHI while they express themselves – that saves lives.
4. Create a service and system that wasn’t available for my loved ones, when it was needed. It took more than their love, I required greater understanding from the community and peers.
Understanding evolves from education and that’s why we advocate: providing hope, inspiration and refuge.
#ITSOKAYTONOTBEOKAY, #SPEAKUP #4TOBZ, and LEGENDS ALIKE is my way. Many blokes and their loved ones have sat at my front door or called in the early hours of the night. The aim of this post is to explain WHY I AM and WHY I CONTINUE to be: ALWAYS, Hear 4 U.