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.
I was a 26-year-old successful HR Professional with lovely parents and was engaged to a doctor. I was getting married soon. And the suddenly the coin flipped. A mere congestion, cough and cold led to a medical echocardio test which revealed that that I had developed a huge clot in my heart. It was either surgery or death. Surgery meant 50% chances of survival and 6 months of bed riddance. Moreover, the doctors were still not sure about the extent of the clot’s effect on other organs and cosmetic issue to survive with a 10" scar.
My world turned upside down and I could feel the panic attacks coming in. I still remember the first one. The night before my surgery on 13th April 2008, I held close to my mother and slept. The surgery went successfully and I was able to defeat the 22-cm clot rolled in the chambers of my heart. But when I opened my eyes still I knew it was not the end. The clot had affected my lungs and I was breathless and had to be on oxygen support. Initially there were friends, relatives and colleagues but slowly there was no one apart from my family. The feeling panic & anxiety came again. It was like feeling restless, getting doomed, sweating, gasping. Earlier, it was once in two days then it became many times in a day. I used to hold my pillow, close my eyes tight, waiting for it to go away, but it had become like a continuous thing.
Finally, I was out of hospital but still on bed and the days of my misery were going on and then one night I realized that in my childhood when I used to get scared my mother’s arms gave me all security I needed. I decided to confide to my mother and family. The panic attacks reduced and it was quite peaceful. Next day I woke up confident. I switched on my laptop and understood all about my medical condition. I called up the doctor and I realized that I can be fine. And when the moment came I called my mother and made her sit down and listen. She hugged me and said that whenever I get these attacks I should chant "Om" and call her. I did the same. She understood my situation and took me to a psychiatrist, who in turn prescribed me some basic medications (since I was already on other medications). The panic attacks reduced and I started to stay happy. Come September 2008 I was on my feet. I lost a lot that was temporary (fake friends and relatives, job, fiancé) but gained something permanent- confidence, love of my parents and life.
Cut to 2015, I am now a Director with a MNC, happily married to a someone I love, with same set of genuine and loyal friends, my family and the memories of those panic attacks. Many of you may be facing such situations, but in my experience please share with whomsoever you are close to and never ever shy away. This is a disease – and just like any other – it has to be treated. Don’t shy from visiting a psychiatrist if required. Take prescribed dosages, do meditation, say no to alcohol and smoking. Live Healthy. Rise and shine every day. Rise and shine!
Depression was my closest partner in life. It’s beside me when I wake up. It’s the passenger when I drive my car and it tucks me into bed at night with thoughts that I’d be better off if this was my last night. For many, depression is an emotion thrown around lightly. For me, it’s embodies every breath, every smile, every emotion I go through. Just a month ago, I wanted to end my relationship with depression. Not in the sense that I should get help. I wasn’t motivated to do that nor did I have the energy to embark on that journey. I wanted to give up.
I felt so alone, so overwhelmed with emotion (because depression has a spectrum of numbness or incredible overwhelming-ness) that I felt like I was drowning above water. I couldn’t see a future because I was blinded with every so-called failure of my past. I wanted to go back to being numb. I wanted the mental pain to go away, so I took pills. A lot of pills. Psychologically this calmed me down. It was an accomplishment but I hated that I succumbed to it so I leaned on something else that has comforted me in the darkest times; a blade.
After a tranced session to seek control of the self-harm I was indulging in, I laid on my floor, anticipating black to wash over me. I had sent a message to some of my loved ones apologizing for my failure and not being strong enough. Thankfully, my Mother and a couple friends knew there was something wrong and came to my house. The night was spent waiting to be bandaged and checked by a doctor at hospital.
While I was recovering (1 month clean of self-harm today!) I realised that being open about mental health and how it has affected me is extremely important. You cannot be helped if you yourself do not open to the possibilities and the opportunities around.
Sure, there is a stigma attached and mental health isn’t something discussed openly but with the likes of this foundation, there is hope for us. This isn’t a full success story, but I am definitely recovering. I have learned to fall in love with life again. Learned to hope again. Learned to have faith again.
I believe that we have the courage and power within ourselves to recover and be who we want to be and do what we love and that’ll be easier with help. Never be put off by negative experiences with professionals. Seek out and you’ll find someone you can connect with. There will be days you’ll feel low but always remember that you are here and therefore you matter. If you are looking for a sign that someone cares. This is it. You do not walk alone anymore.
I felt like I could live a normal life without having to hide from society. Sophomore year came up and little did I know that this year would be a life-changing one. I worked hard and loved my life. I had everything I ever wanted.
Suddenly my grades dropped and I lost interest in social interactions. But there was this feeling, this feeling of emptiness and guilt, this feeling of extreme fatigue that arose in me. I didn’t understand what was causing this. I couldn’t get up in the morning or eat properly. I couldn’t focus on anything. I would hole up in my bed or in the bathroom and cry for no reason. I didn’t want to face anyone either.
I was confused. My upper body and chest used to hurt so much that I would be on the floor in pain. During tests, my palms would get sweaty and I would forget everything. I would come home, feel dizzy and just pass out. I still didn’t tell anyone. I didn’t want to tell anyone because I didn’t want to seem weak. I didn’t want to be a burden on my parents so I hid it. I don’t know how but one of my teachers knew something was wrong. He used to observe me and make sure that I was okay. When he knew that I needed help, he informed my counselor and I was called in. She told me what my teacher told her and I looked at her in disgust. I yelled "I don’t need any help. I’m fine the way I am. I don’t know what he’s saying."
Yes, I was in denial. I refused to talk to her about anything but eventually I opened up. Tears rolled down my eyes. I started talking so fast that she couldn’t understand anything. She told me that I was overwhelmed and that I had a problem. She told me that I was suffering from Major Depression and General Anxiety Disorder. (btw, I am SO thankful to my AP World teacher and my counselor for everything they did.) I didn’t know what to do or where to go.
I couldn’t tell my parents because they would think I’m crazy. I didn’t tell anyone. The only two people who knew were my teacher and my counselor. I kept everything inside and dealt with it on my own. I am going to be honest. It was hard. My cheeks used to be red from crying and my shoulders would hurt from the knots in them. I was normal around my friends but I was struggling inside to hold up a presentable face.
The year passed and no one knew about my depression. That’s what I thought. Little did I know that my mom knew something was wrong and I got better with her realizing that there was a problem. I am not going to cannot disclose how I got better and how I recovered because I am not ready for that yet. The bottom line is that I got better and I’m healed now. I recovered completely. Sometimes it creeps up on me but I just remember god and sleep on it. I love my life now and I can say for a fact that these experiences in my life have made me stronger and happier. I am who I am today because of what I have experienced. I’m thankful for the people who stuck by my side and everyone who gives me so much love every day.
I started showing signs of depression when I least expected it. I had everything working for me. I was getting married to the person I loved, my parents were happy and I was good at my job.
Suddenly everything changed one day. I felt extremely low and lost. I even tried crying but I never teared up. I also had a severe burning sensation in my head. My parents thought it was just migraine until a family doctor asked them to take me to a psychiatric.
I was scared and I kept telling myself that I was not mad and that I did not have to visit a psychiatrist. However, when I met my doctor and explained my feelings and thoughts to him, he told me that I was suffering from depression. He also informed me that 1 out every 4 people suffer from depression and reassured me that I would be perfectly alright in a month or so.
I talked to him for about 30 minutes and cried my heart out. It took me almost 2 months to come out of depression, but I must give it to my family and my husband for being there with me. I wasn’t sure if I would ever be cheerful again and feel the need to live but my parents were so confident and supportive and they helped me to get back the confidence.
After I got better, I asked my doctor whether such an episode of depression can occur again. He said it might. But if it did I would be prepared and informed to take the right steps. And it did happen again. This time it was triggered when I was on a holiday with my husband and friends and I had to take a break from work to recuperate. Though my family was as supportive as before, my seniors at work had issues with letting me rejoin office. Suddenly from being a star performer in my team, I became an employee who does not support the team and frequently went on leave.
I felt that I should not have told my seniors about my depression because he turned out to be judgmental. I guess a lot of corporates are still not aware enough to understand that depression is just like any other disease and it could happen to anyone and anywhere. In such a situation, the employers should be more considerate towards their employees. Depression should neither be stigma nor a reason for people to believe that one cannot work well anymore.