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Writing your own life story, and how it could help you

Journalist Jehan Casinader is a born storyteller.

He grew up in a household where news and people’s stories were always discussed around the dinner table.

Working as a reporter for TVNZ’s Sunday programme, he’s travelled the country meeting people from all walks of life and shared their stories of how they overcame great challenges.

But this year, Jehan decided it was time to tell one of the most challenging stories so far, his own.

His book “This Is Not How It Ends” is his life story in words, highlighting how the power of storytelling helped him overcome depression.

“Storytelling is what I've done for the last 10 years. I noticed that people survive by rewriting the story around what's happened to them. They can’t change what's happened, but they can find meaning in it, and they can find a way through it,” says Jehan.

“I wondered whether I could do the same thing in my own life, whether I could rewrite the story of my life in a way that allowed me to overcome my distress.”

Jehan says he would often visualise the story of his life in his head, like a movie. Each day, he would ask himself: “What would a good character do in this situation?”

“Pain is a normal part of life. Experiencing mental distress doesn't mean that you’re broken. Your distress may be caused or influenced by what’s happening around you. We can choose how to respond. And we can choose what type of story to tell.”

Covid-19 is bringing a lot of uncertainty and worries to many Kiwis at the moment, and Jehan says we shouldn’t be pushing our uncomfortable feelings aside.

“Just because you're feeling low, or you're feeling overwhelmed, that doesn't mean that something is wrong with you. And it's really important how you frame that up. If you internalise your distress, then I think it's far more likely that you'll get stuck in a story that you can't get out of.”

“This Is Not How It Ends” is broken down into five parts:

- Reclaiming your story and recognising that you're the author.

- Rewriting your past, not the events themselves but the stories surrounding them.

- Reinventing your character and not being defined by distress.

- Reshaping your plot to be more hopeful.

- Releasing your ending, and allowing your character to be transformed for the better.

Jehan’s book is available at book stores around the country, or check out our Facebook page for your chance to win a copy.

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