A surfer's tale of depression

SPEAKING OUT: Daryn McBride talks about what saved his life, in the hope that other Kiwi men will take some of it on board.
SPEAKING OUT: Daryn McBride talks about what saved his life, in the hope that other Kiwi men will take some of it on board.

Surfer and artist Daryn Mcbride went from a "dream life" as a professional surfer to the depths of despair as he and his wife tried to bring up triplets in strained circumstances.

Now Mcbride, 40, is talking publicly about coping with depression as part of the Movember men's health campaign.

Why? He hopes he can help others facing the same struggle.

"I've had to really make some massive changes but it's so worthwhile. The changes I've made have been so beneficial," he said.


His depression was bad for about 10 years, during which he had increasingly isolated himself.

"It cost me my family. I was married, and my wife and I are now going through a divorce," Mcbride said.

His ex-wife had become pregnant with triplets soon after they met, before the couple had a chance to get to know each other well.

Their focus became the children, which they worked to raise on "next-to-no money".

Mcbride said he felt the stresses involved had played a big part in his depression.

"Prior to that I'd been surfing professionally in Australia and had a bit of a dream life really, where I was just being paid to go surfing and travel and have a good time," he said.

Earlier in his life he had moments of what he had thought were depression, but looking back they were "nothing" compared to what happened later.

He had three or four spells in hospital when he had decided life was not worth carrying on with, first going into Tauranga Hospital in 2007 when he was diagnosed with severe depression.

His depression had sent him into drug and alcohol abuse to try to numb the pain he was feeling.

Some mates had rallied around him and stopped him doing "some stupid stuff".

"But, on the other hand, they didn't really help with my addictive side," Mcbride said. "They thought it was better to keep me happy by keeping me drinking and smoking weed."


At the end of his tether, he had gone to the Salvation Army's alcohol and drug rehabilitation Bridge programme in Hamilton.

"Having that day-to-day counselling and classes and realising that what I was going through was a lot like a lot of other people, and at the same time getting really strict with the medication I'm on for my depression - just having to take that consistently at regular times, it really starts to make all the difference," Mcbride said.

The programme, which also involved exercise and eating well, started to come together to help him become a "stronger, healthier, more stable person".

His recovery has been helped by his partner, who he met recently, who was understanding and willing to listen, and was observing him to check he was OK.

"Also getting out back in the water again. That's been one of the biggest things for me, rekindling my passion for surfing. "It's that talking, it's the exercise, and also eating well. I'm eating really well, I'm watching what I'm eating.

"I've dropped off a heck of a lot of weight. A majority of that weight had been put on through just poor diet, and when you've got that weight on, you don't feel like exercising anyway," he said.

He had surfed only rarely for years after winning the New Zealand long board tour in 2007/08 - which he participated in as a way to keep occupied after getting out of hospital.

It was not until May this year that he had started regularly surfing again, boosted by a friend who gave him a new winter-strength wetsuit.

"Since then you couldn't keep me out of the water. It was so pleasant to go in in a nice, comfortable, warm wetsuit," Mcbride said.


As a way to help promote Movember, Mcbride has also made a 2.9-metre long board, which is being sent around the country for surfers to try out.

A traditional, heavy, single-finned style, known as a "log", such boards could be easier than shorter varieties for learners to stand up on, but it took years of practice to ride them with skill, he said.

Mcbride, who lives in Mt Maunganui, is an artist and graphic designer with a background in pro-surfing and board shaping.

"That's where I'm heading back to at the moment," he said.

"I've had to reassess my life a lot lately and figure out what it is that's going to make me happy, and keep me from basically falling back into a depressive state.

"I'm happiest when I'm doing my art and making boards."


He urged men to take steps if they were feeling down, to avoid getting to a point where they felt they did not have an "out".

"If you're feeling down, and it feels more than just being sad, don't be afraid to just talk to a friend, or talk to your partner," he said.

"If it doesn't seem to help, then definitely go and talk to your doctor about it, and don't be afraid to take some medication to help get you through."

Daryn talks his passions and his problems (and how one helped with the other):