A lot of people want to "do" good but very few "action" it. Mostly because we don't have the opportunities to - we got our own crap to sort out right? - and then again, you come across someone who, despite all the "crap in their lives" still do everything within their power to reach out. And those people, in my view, are the unsung modern day heroes...and one such man is New Zealand's Mike King. (I am not on commission, just in case you're wondering)
Mike is a stand-up comedian. He's going to hate my minimalistic CV of his accomplishments but... yeah, he makes people laugh for a living and more recently, he walked away from a very profitable advertising campaign because he couldn't endorse the way pigs were being bred for slaughter - New Zealand's Pork industry are still reeling from that (Ha ha!). That's what the mainstream media would like you to know about Mike King. Mainstream cause it's all wrapped in dollars and marketing and who gets what cut of the profit pie. But what some of you might not know is Mike King is also a hero of new Zealand's Mental Health.
He hosts a Radio show, broadcast every Sunday night that runs simultaneously with a Facebook page. Here, he breaks the taboo and openly, real openly, talks about depression, alcohol addiction and drugs. We might not "fit" into some of those addictive labels but the general outcome - one of isolation and desperation - remains the same. I have provided the links for both the show and the Facebook page, so I won't bore you with any more details on that. However, what you and I, the listeners, the callers, the production team, and yes, even Mike himself, may not know is.... what effect this show (and Mike) is having on the lives of those he's touches.
There have many callers, with stories that could fit this "spot" so to speak - least of all, my own and the reasons why I stumbled across the group, but tonight, now, this limelight belongs to Sean Muir.
Sean called the Nutter's Club in February. He sounded a 'well rounded' person on the phone, just someone, any one of us would pass on the street without a second thought. What we never knew about Sean was that he suffered from depression and never knew about it "until 2005 when he and his partner split up." He took the split bad, real bad.
"I ended up pouring petrol over myself at a gas station."
The Police were called, well before the incident, because Sean had left notes to members of the family. "They found a note at my Uncles and Aunty's house, where I was staying. I just didn't want them to blame themselves for it so left notes telling them it was my choice." Sean did try to set himself alight but, as fate would have it, none of his lighters would work, and this gave the Police enough time to run at him and (to use his words), "they beat the hell out of me, knocked me to the ground,"
Sean's failed suicide attempt landed him in the "nut house for a week" but the battle was still not over.
In 2008, he decided to go dairy farming. "I love animals so I got a job on what I thought was a good farm and had my partner and kids move in." Things were going well for Sean until depression started seeping back into his life. "I think I was just getting overworked, doing 14 hour days, 11 days straight with only three days off." Unsurprisingly, the relationship started to deteriorate and in August 2009, they broke up.
After a month of consuming grief and depression, Sean started to listen to the Nutter's Club. "It was odd really, cause after the split, she took all her gear and I didn't even have a radio so I went and bought one and turned it on a Sunday night and there was Mike King talking about his depression." Sean didn't ring the show straight away. "I listened for a couple of weeks just going through my own hell... I was sitting there, crying and drinking bourbon (yum yum, lol, I don't drink it much anymore) and Sam, my dog, wouldn't let me out like he could see the pictures in my head... I called Mike instead."
"He told me he was coming to my hometown for a comedy show and that if I left my number with him, he'd call me over the next few days." Sean left his number but never thought for a moment that Mike would call, after all, "I thought he was just having me on cause you know, he's real busy."
Sean still has the text messages that Mike sent as he traveled through the South Island.
"Ya got wheels bro?"
"I said yeah and that I would love to come to his show but can't afford it. He messaged back that it was on him but I still thought, this guy's pulling my leg, why would someone do that for me?"
Sean arrived at the show with his mother.
"We got to the show, walked in and didn't have tickets so I walked up to one of the bar staff and showed her the text messages from Mike and she said yes, your table is right over here, and she showed us to the table and they were the best seats in the house."
"It was funny cause limos were turning up and people were looking to see if it was Mike King. Then I saw this Maui camper-van turn up and I said, that's got to be him and ran outside."
"Sure enough, Mike comes walking up the hill with his big cheesy grin and stood next to me. I lit up a cigarette and he kinda said, hi ya bro, how you doing. I don't think he knew who I was."
I introduced myself and ...(tears up)...we give each other a hug while people are walking in, looking at us. We have a talk about the Nutter's Club and what struck me, was all these people, staring at us while we were standing there talking like old mates. Man I felt good."
"I told him my mother was inside and we walked in together. You know, he went straight up to my mum and have her a big hug and kiss. Then he asked her how she was doing and told her ...(more teary eyes)... I'm gunna help get our Sean sorted."
"Even in the breaks, he came over to and talked to us, bought some drinks. It made me realise something... if he thought I was worth something, then maybe I am - he also taught me to laugh again as I have a wicked sense of humor but just lost it for a while."
"I can never thank him enough for that. Maybe it was a small thing to him but it was giant for me. He even signed my shirt and I got some pictures with him."
"Happy? That would be an understatement. I was beaming from ear to ear. I realised, I am not a bad person and that I am worth something. Man, things have changed since then."