Kathik (not his real name), 28 years old at the time of the interview.

Sometimes you feel like you’re sitting in the passenger seat in your life, and you’re forced to watch something that you don’t want to. I felt as if I was in a haze, constantly on autopilot. But at the same time, I was getting restless, fidgety and painfully nervous, questioning every decision relentlessly on the inside. It became quite debilitating and it wasn’t exactly ideal in my line of profession. So I quit my job. I didn’t want to think about the past or future, I just wanted to be in that moment.

It wasn’t until later, when I caught up with a friend, I realised what I was going through. My friend was depressed, and I couldn’t help but draw on the similarities between what we were going through and how we were feeling.  I had recently broken up with a girl, and it had affected me deeply, to the point where I felt I couldn’t manage new relationships. As a result my personality had changed, and I had come to the realisation that I was most likely anxious and depressed.

But I wasn’t comfortable talking to anyone about it. Discussing the fact I was depressed and anxious would have been a loaded concept in our small community. I was nervous about the stigma that comes with having these conditions. I felt most people wouldn’t understand what I was feeling and that any sort of mental health issue would be linked to madness.

I decided to share my new knowledge with my GP. I had been seeing the same GP for over ten years, and he knew quite a lot about me, so I felt I had nothing to hide. He encouraged me to talk to a therapist or a counsellor, someone who could help me to understand what I was feeling. He helped refer me to someone who allowed me to open up. I felt with my therapist it was as a safe place, where there was no judgement.

Despite using methods which I was not familiar with, I felt I was really able to connect with my therapist. Therapy encouraged me to also connect better with myself and helped reinvigorate my lifestyle. After every session I felt better and my mood improved, allowing me to start getting back in the rhythm of things. I started to go out again, wear nice clothes, and exercise regularly. Eventually I explained my behaviour to my friends, who were actually supportive and agreed that my health came before everything.

At the end of the day, I felt that things really started looking up for me when I started to take care of myself. It was a year of self-discovery and slowly things got better.

 

Special thanks to Dr. Josefine Antoniades and Dr. Bianca Brijnath, National Ageing Research Institute.

Related reading: Three common misconceptions about anxiety

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