Mental health: ethnic minority experiences

Raj - Interview 19

Age at interview: 55
Age at diagnosis: 54

Brief outline: Raj, 55, describes himself as British-Indian. He was born in India and came to the UK aged 13. He developed depression following a heart attack but says it took the doctor a long time to diagnose it. Raj's wife helps care for him.

Background: Retired mechanical engineer, married with 4 adult children. Ethnic background/nationality: British-Indian (born in India); in UK for 42 years.

Audio & video

Raj, 55, describes himself as British-Indian. He was born in India and came to the UK aged 13. In 1994, Raj had a heart attack which left him with brain damage and hearing and memory loss. He says the doctor told him that the medication he needed was too expensive to prescribe and that he was unfit to work. Raj developed depression but says it took his doctor a long time to recognise it and he wasn't diagnosed until last year. 

Raj says life is very miserable. He says all he can do is watch TV but it's not very interesting. Although Raj used to manage 14 people when he worked as mechanical engineer, he says he now feels like a baby because he's not allowed to go out alone, drive or make tea, and his wife has to give him his tablets because of his memory problems. Raj's wife helps care for him. She helps him to dress and cooks for him. He says his wife finds it difficult because she doesn't have any time to herself, but has always respected him, and now he has started to understand that. She takes antidepressant medication too. They didn't know what a carer was and thought it was for people over 65. He says it should be made clearer.

He says that if he acts normally, people don't believe that there is anything wrong with him. He says nobody understands. He says that people get bored if he tells them his problems and that they only people who understand are people who have had the experience or who have something to gain. Raj finds it difficult to follow a conversation and says he used to run away to avoid talking to people. He says he has only just started going to the Sikh temple again for this reason and because people are always backbiting. He says he and his wife used to have lots of visitors and go to lots of weddings but that all stopped when he became ill. He says no one wants to listen to their problems or help. He said people asked questions about how they could afford to live but nobody offered to help or lend money and he says he thinks it's because they would be worried they wouldn't get their money back. He says he hasn't had any help from the Sikh temple. 

The doctor referred them to a support centre, where he attends a user group and his wife attends a carers group. He says now he and his wife have a bus pass and that has helped a lot because they can go out and go to the support centre. He says at the support centre he can have a free mind and there are no evil eyes looking at him, no one judging what he is doing and that makes him feel better. He says you don't have to worry about your problem or try to hide it. He says he gets on well with the staff at the support centre. He would like to see a counsellor and get help with filling in forms. He says when you talk to someone your mind feels free and light. He says people who have depression need to be listened to. He says advertisements and leaflets are not enough. 

He says he looks big and healthy but inside his functions are slow and people cannot see that. He thinks that the Department for Social Security (DSS) ask the wrong questions and says they can only assess him from the outside, but not the inside. Raj says he has money worries and this made him and his wife unwell' although he now receives benefits he says it took a year to sort out and they had to fight for a lot of things. He says he worries that someone might report him again to the DSS. Raj would like to work and do something for his country' he tried doing taxi work rather than sitting around, but he was told he cannot work and cannot have the medication so he says it's not his fault. Raj feels that his current depression is caused by his money worries and knowing that if his family supported him he would not be in financial difficulty. His message to other people is sort out your benefits claim as soon as possible. 

Raj says prayer is helpful, but that the Bible is a bit depressing, because it contains proverbs that he can take negatively if he's feeling depressed. Says he's had no information about depression from his doctor but he has read books and self-treats. Raj doesn't take any prescribed medicine because it gave him side effects. He read about St John's Wort in a magazine and the doctor told him to buy them (though St John's Wort can also cause side effects). 

Despite his problems, Raj says life is quite happy at home, living with his wife, son, daughter-in-law and granddaughter.


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