Mental health: ethnic minority experiences

Ataur - Interview 03

Male
Age at interview: 60
Age at diagnosis: 17

Brief outline: This 60 year old, Bangladesh-born man moved to Britain in 1964 and developed depression aged 17. He believes a weak mind makes it difficult for him to deal with life's problems and finds talking with friends the best way to manage his depression.

Background: Restaurant owner, married with 6 adult children. Ethnic background/nationality: Asian (born in Bangladesh); in UK for 43 years.

Audio & video

Ataur is a 60 year old man who came to England from Bangladesh in 1964. He has had depression since 1967. When he is depressed, Ataur cannot sleep or eat, he feels nervous, worried about every “little thing”, exhausted, and very occasionally angry; he also feels as though his head is “burning” and these symptoms make him wonder, “Am I going to die?” He feels that he worries more as he gets older and his advice to people is try not to worry too much. 

Usually, Ataur continues to work in his restaurant, but has had to take a few weeks off from time to time. Ataur believes that his depression is caused by the difficulties he encounters in his life, for example, bereavement, family disagreements, and the pressure of running a business. As the eldest of 6 brothers, it is Ataur's duty to be the head of his family. He is happy with this role, but admits that the responsibility has contributed to his ill-health. For example, difficulties arose in two marriages that he helped to arrange, leading Ataur to experience “heart pain” and then a stroke. 

Ataur thinks he is vulnerable to depression because he has a weak mind, nervous system or blood group or a soft heart. Ataur takes sleeping tablets, anti-depressants, medication for cholesterol and aspirin for high blood pressure, so he feels he has to take a lot of tablets. Ataur feels he cannot live without the sleeping tablets, and that he has to rely on anti-depressants, although he usually tries to reduce and eventually stop taking them after a few weeks. He says that if he stops taking them suddenly he gets a “funny aching” feeling. The tablets give him pain in his joints and make his head burn and itch. 

Ataur manage his depression by keeping his mind occupied by swimming, praying, working, and spending time with family and friends. Ataur talks openly with his friends and they advise him to, “Forget it, let it go.” His family and community tell Ataur he must not worry for them, and break news gradually in order to protect him. Ataur's visits to Bangladesh are like a holiday, enabling him to forget his problems and enjoy time with family and friends. Ataur finds counselling useful, but 5 years of acupuncture have had very little effect on his depression.

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