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Levei on the level

When Levei Toleafoa heard friends and family drowning their sorrows over a broken relationship, she thought they sounded overly dramatic … until it happened to her.

Levei’s first serious boyfriend – who she met at church and took to meet her parents – seemed destined to be her partner for life.

She had just graduated from University and started a new job. But after six years together, her partner moved to Australia. She was heartbroken.

“I was in a dark place,” she recalls.

“It felt like I was in a ditch that I couldn’t climb out of … but I didn’t want to talk about it, not with friends or family. I was just in my bed crying and I couldn’t get up.”

I stopped going to church because of that … my whole persona just changed, like getting angry really quickly about all sorts of stuff. I just closed off from everybody.”

It wasn’t until her brother asked her what was happening that Levei started to open up. She says he already knew what was happening but didn’t know the full depth of it.

Levei’s enormous respect for her parents made her initially reluctant to talk to them about how she felt. But she plucked up the courage to do so and her life began to change for the better.

“Opening up to your parents is not something we often do in Pacific families,” Levei says.

“But when I finally did, I was so surprised at how understanding and comforting they were. They were really encouraging, and assuring me that things would be okay.”

Levei was also pleasantly surprised to hear fellow friends and church youth members revealed that they, too, often felt that way.

“Here I was, not talking to my friends about it thinking they wouldn’t understand,” she says.

“But when I finally did, they shared their own stories. Being able to resonate with how I felt was an important step in the healing process for me.”

Levei feels more driven and confident than she has in a long time, which she attributes to a significant change in the way she looks at life.

“When I was in a dark place, I felt that everything good was overshadowed in my life,” she recalls.

“But looking back, there was a lot of good. I had people wanting to help, listen and support me. I just didn’t want to know.

“Now I feel more driven to accomplish things in my life, because it showed that if I can get out of that, I can get out of anything.”

Find out more about mental health support