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'I could not deal with it, and told my father that I could not live with this illness anymore'

Dr. Hardik recounts his journey from being diagnosed with OCD to becoming a motivational speaker who spreads awareness about mental illness.

I was born in a small city in Gujarat. At the age of 12, I found something unusual happening with me. I would continuously have negative thoughts. At the time, I did not give much importance to this problem. Little did I know that it would cost me a lot in the future.

When I was 17, I started suffering because of this. This gradually led me to depression. I was intelligent and always secured good grades, but I was able to secure only 50% in my final exam of 12th. I joined Bachelor of Science with a broken heart.

In the third year of BSc, the problem became so severe that my father had to take me to the psychiatrist. The psychiatrist diagnosed the problem as obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) with depression. He gave me some medicines but there was no counselling. I took the medicines for a month and then stopped taking them as I was feeling well. Stopping the medicines was my biggest mistake. In my first year of MSc, the symptoms began to reappear. It slowly increased in intensity. I could not deal with it and told my father that I could not live with this illness anymore. Everyone in the family was worried about me.

My father took me to another psychiatrist – someone I consider an angel in my life. He explained to me, what happens to people with OCD. I started crying. The doctor was very understanding and told me that only extraordinary people suffered from OCD. It was a magical sentence for me.

My health improved dramatically with the psychiatrist’s treatment. I successfully completed my MSc with a first class. Later, I started working with a reputed company for five months – but my goal was to pursue a career in research – so I quit the job and took up a PhD programme.

My OCD surfaced again. I was worried, but I did not lose hope. I hoped that one day a miracle would happen in my life.

On June 30, 2012, I met another psychiatrist. He told me that I had to first know more about the disease. He told me I didn’t just need medicines – but it was very important to get counselling as well. The doctor also taught me various techniques that improved my health unbelievably. I then went on to complete my PhD in July 2013.

I started working as an assistant professor of chemistry. But I was continuously thinking about doing something to spread awareness about mental health and help people suffering from mental illness. I started spreading awareness through a blog and started delivering lectures. After serving as an assistant professor for more than two years, I left the job and started working as a full-time motivational speaker, trainer, writer and counsellor. I am the founder and CEO of Thumbs Up Foundation. Currently, more than 5,000 people from 75 countries are connected with the foundation. I have published my first book ‘How To Develop A Never Give Up Attitude’ in December 2016. I live my life by the slogan, NEVER GIVE UP.

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