“I’m standing here as the leader of the Liberal Party recognising what we’ve gone through and the tough times that I’ve experienced and got through and we have bad days.”
Mr Kirkup faced questions from Nine News Perth state political editor Gary Adshead at the press conference about his Tuesday interview where he told him, after the camera stopped rolling, he did not want to be the leader anymore and was being pressured by the party to carry on.
He has since disputed saying he wanted to quit in that conversation.
The opposition leader said the day of the interview, in which he he covered subjects such as going through a separation with his wife, the struggles of his family while growing up and his hopes for the state, was “absolutely” a bad day.
“The worse times I’ve ever experienced were the last summer, the darkest of days were the last summer and I know the difference between a bad day and what that looks like then. And I’ve got to say, I’ve not experienced those days, certainly, recently and gone through that,” he said.
“I’ve gone through the darkest times of my life and successfully moved to the point where we know that it is important to recognise when you have bad days and good days and talk with people about them.
“I’m committed to this job absolutely and to the process of making sure that I stand up and represent not just the people of Dawesville but stand as the leader of the Liberal Party together with the team to make sure that we can hold this government to account.
“I think it’s important that we shine a light on this and talk about this without the stigma that is often attached so that people understand.”
Mr Kirkup did not confirm nor deny that he told Adshead he did not want to keep doing the job.
“I spoke out loud about a range of scenarios that we go through, that always go through people’s minds, ‘Am I doing the best job? Am I being the best I can be? What would that look like if it was different?’ that’s part of this process,” he said.
Mr Kirkup said he would not be fronting media if he was worried or concerned that he could not continue on as leader.
“What I’ve learnt more than anything else is you need to look after yourself,” he said.
Opposition deputy leader Libby Mettam said she had been aware Mr Kirkup had been through mental health challenges last summer.
“I think what that has illustrated and what we know about depression is that it is more prevalent than people realise,” she said.
“It means that he can relate, it means he can reach out for help and he has and he as illustrated he has been able to stand up for his community and for this state. I actually think it has illustrated not a weakness but a strength.
“I have every confidence in Zak as the leader of the opposition as someone who has suffered from depression but also as someone who can work through it and through that experience be a stronger representative for this state.”
Former premier Alan Carpenter quit politics in 2006 to aid his recovery from a battle with depression.
Mr Kirkup said people wanted leaders who reflected the community and pointed to the stress experienced the current Premier, Mark McGowan, felt in the early days of the COVID-19 crisis.
“People want leaders who have emotion and heart and humanity and I think that’s what they have in the Liberal Party,” he said.
Lifeline CEO Lorna MacGregor said depression didn’t mean sufferes were not able to perform well at work.
“One in five people live with their own mental ill health, and we continue to live with that and it doesn’t mean it will impact their career, she said.
Lifeline’s 24/7 telephone crisis support service is available on 13 11 14.
Peter de Kruijff is a journalist with WAtoday.