Kiri Allan opens up about mental breakdown as court appearance adjourned

Kiri Allan.
Kiri Allan. Photo credit: Getty Images

Warning: This article discusses suicide.

Former Cabinet minister Kiri Allan has revealed distressing details about the night that ended her career. 

In July, the former Justice Minister and East Coast MP was charged with careless driving and refusing to accompany a police officer after allegedly crashing her car. An infringement notice was also isued for excess breath alcohol between 250 and 400mcg.  

Taking to social media on Wednesday, Allan said it was "time to be honest about what has happened for me as a consequence of the most public breakdown and screw up from a person charged with one of the highest responsibilities in our country as a Cabinet minister".

"I had gone to end it all finally, in a last bid attempt to find hope, I drove, I crashed and made the front pages nationally and internationally for quite some time. I quit my career and had to get some intensive help which lasts to today.

"The reality for me after screwing up publicly, having a MH [mental health] breakdown in the most public sense possible is that after the initial reactions of the public expressing their outrage or sorrow (or whatever in between), your phone stops ringing. Doors shut constantly in your face. Your 'mates' stop returning your messages." 

Allan's court case, which was scheduled to have its first hearing at the Wellington District Court on Friday, has been adjourned until November 30 - the third time it has been rescheduled. 

In her post on Wednesday, Allan referred to that news - saying: "Some days like today, I find out through the media what's happening in my life before I know." 

She also shared a photo of her alongside outgoing Prime Minister Chris Hipkins from before her crash. 

"I sent this picture to my good friends earlier this year saying, 'And this is what a mental breakdown looks like. But no one tells you that,'" she said.

"A few days earlier I'd spent the entire night speaking to Lifeline trying to hold on to life. The day this picture was taken I was terrified of leaving my house and breaking down at every second when no one could see me.

"And then [I] cracked on because there was a job to be done and many people that needed a hand far more than what I thought were my silly issues. Noone would have known the turmoil I was in internally that I engaged with that day, or the many months before, or the many weeks after, until I completely broke and couldn't contain it any longer."  

Allan said a few weeks later it was announced she was going on mental health leave.  

"Prior to then and post, I had people stationed at my house every single day to keep me alive." 

She said while it has been the "toughest" year she's ever had - it's also been the "biggest unwanted gift" she's ever received. 

"A forced stop which requires going deep into the places I've never wanted to venture into before. It's the hardest thing I've ever done and far outweighs the public humiliation and shame I feel from the evening of the breakdown and crash."

Despite that, Allan also calls it the best year she's ever had in her adult life having established a relationship with her daughter and family.  

"An odd juxtaposition from above where I've described this as the most challenging year of my life."

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