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Ataur - Interview 03

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.

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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.

 

Ataur describes the side effects he experienced when he reduced his dose of medication and what...

Ataur describes the side effects he experienced when he reduced his dose of medication and what...

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You see those four, I used to take 40mg depression tablet when I cut down I talked to my doctor, he said, 'Alright try.' Because I take half, I, I cut it down half in a straight away, three weeks is so much problem in the head, it's sometime I feel somebody hitting the head, although there is nobody in here. Just jumping [jumps] on top, pushing, [gestures with hand] somebody pushing through the head like this. And I said, 'What happened?' [Looks around, rubs head and laughs]. So I, so now is okay, the doctor said two weeks it disturb you a little bit. Because the reaction from your blood have to be resettled, it will take three weeks, it's okay now. When I going to cut it down another 10mg it will be doing the same thing so now I'm, I'm used to it, I've got the experience so I won't be worrying. Before I was worried [Pause] So this is, this is the way I'm running my life, and I'm over 60, I'm okay, I'm happy now. But from, but I have to take the tablets. I think the tablet is controlling me. I rely on the tablet and very much I wanted to give up the tablet but [shakes head] I'll get ill if I do. I'll start crying, it's happened many times, I get nervous and worried, worried, worried, for nothing! I know it's for nothing but it's come to me, what can I do? Sometimes I get angry as well but I hold it back.

 

Ataur's antidepressant made his head burn and itch and caused pain in his joints.

Ataur's antidepressant made his head burn and itch and caused pain in his joints.

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Well a lot of time the joint, joint paining or something, you need a massage, [frowning] or head is burning or itching, all those tablets is doing that.

Oh you think it's side effects?

Side effect [nods] but you have to, you can't take another tablet to, not to have a side effect, then you're taking too many tablets so therefore I try and, well my GP is a very friendly person, my doctor, he advise me try to take as less as possible the sleeping tablet and depression tablet. Well if you have to you can't help it, you take it. And I think it's same thing because all this year I'm taking a drug, well tablet is a drug, I mean I take pain killer, I take sleeping tablet, I take depression tablet I take cholesterol tablet, I have to take aspirin for the circulation [circles arm] of blood, this is a lot of tablets, you know.

You're not very keen on taking so many tablets?

Well now I'm old man I have to take it because, I have to it take it because without tablets I can't do.

So you've resigned yourself to having to take them?

Yes from 60, you see when I have a problem, a depression in 1967 I take it, then I get better but I keep on taking, taking, taking and then I give up a few years. And some of the problems come as I told you before, you know, so, [pause] you see I don't want to take a tablet for nothing but when I have to do it then I have no other choice. Instead of getting worse in my health, my mind and my , for running business, or running life it is better to have a tablet to take a, have a stable and not too aggressive way to talk and things like that.

 

He describes how, when he gets depressed, he feels as though his head is burning and itching.

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He describes how, when he gets depressed, he feels as though his head is burning and itching.

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Well when you, when I'm depressed for myself I, 'Oh what's going to be happening why is it, why is my head is burning,' and then a lot of the time is a lot of worry that comes, a lot of worry then inside, inside is not sound. I mean so that puts you from the food and sleep' It's, you just are wondering why this happened, what am I going to do, why it happening, am I going to die, then I will go ill my, if it is not stopping if I don't sleep or if don't eat, if I don't, not stress , not stopping the worriness, you know, the exhaustion, what do you, you know, exhausted and depressed'

I don't know why my head is not well. Sometimes I open the back door of the garden, of the restaurant and get some air because my head is burning, my head is hot so I get the fresh air or itching and things like that. And after a few days, after a few weeks, after, I'm alright.

 

Ataur feels he must have some weakness that makes him more vulnerable to depression than other...

Ataur feels he must have some weakness that makes him more vulnerable to depression than other...

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I wondering every time that some people worse than me, worse problem than I have. Why they're not depression and I have depression, why? I ask myself but I don't get the answer, they don't care. Their attitude or their mind is broader than mine I don't know what I'm saying, I try to say they couldn't care, oh forget it' But I have nothing, my idea a lot of people have a house and all those things and suddenly it is gone, everything, they are on the dole, they have council give them a place or whatever, they're not worried, they're happy, if I have like this I'll be dead, worried, oh my God what am I going to do, what, and what are my children, where my children will go, I mean I'd be so much worried and more depression. I think it's something to do with blood, or what I don't know what, I don't know [Laughs].

To do with?

To do with blood.

Blood?

Blood or heart or I don't know. Why I'm very weak like that.

How can you, can you tell me what you mean because that's interesting.

Well why some people have a lot, worse problem than me and they don't get depression, why I get depression?

So...

I'm asking myself or I ask my daughter, I mean doctor.

And you think it's something to do with your blood or your heart?

I don't know that's what I, sometimes I think about it.

In what way?

Well I'm very, very poor'. very weak minded or very' very weak nervous system or what, that's all.

And something to do with the blood, you mean there's something in your blood or something'?

Well this is my thinking, I'm not a doctor

No, yeah but that's what I'm interested in.

Yes [laughs] some, some people have a very good, a very soft heart... that means some people have accident on the front of you. For example a lot of people say, 'Oh we tried to help the person.' Some people walking, seeing and walking straight away. So different, that's what I think. Then maybe I have a soft something or something miss in my body or the soft hearted, soft minded or, you know, one of the blood groups is very weak. I don't know, I mean if you, only a doctor can tell me, tell you or tell me what is the why but as far as I get the answer the doctor only advise me 'Don't worry for anything, you'll be alright.' Sometimes, some doctors say the nervous system so life is always, almost gone. So I'm not very much worried [Laughs].
 
 

Ataur occupies his mind with his family responsibilities, although sometimes it can add to his...

Ataur occupies his mind with his family responsibilities, although sometimes it can add to his...

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Because I have a responsible, I'm head of the family, not my, my, not only my family in my whole brother and sister I'm the oldest one. So before my father was responsible for everything, when my father passed away in 1985 it has come to my shoulder, everything. So any of my brother have a problem I have to settle it or I have to help it, I have to go down, jump on it and settle it. Well help things out in here and abroad as well. So that's why I have more time to concentrate on their family problem as well. So this, this sometimes I get depression and sometimes my depression get easier for me to occupy myself to dealing with something or sort of thing, you know. It's, as far as I, I got experience and depression if you do not talk to anybody if you stay at home or lonely yourself and think over and over and over and over then you get more depressed. Then the, and if you, well it is, I, I try myself, when I'm depressed I go out, I enjoy myself, I talk to friends, I talk to my relatives, what happening to me. They said, 'Oh forget it, why you, why you worried for nothing? What has happened have to be happen, will happen, so you can't stop it.' So that's helped me 50%, they encourage me, 'Forget it, let it go, that's what's going to happen or if it happened it is, it is, it is happening so you can't stop it.' So that's why I'm still fit, although I take a tablet and all those things I'm alright.

So just, that's interesting what you were saying about having the family responsibility, do you think that's part of it, part of the reason that sometimes you get depressed because you know that you have the responsibly for the family?

Well yes some, some yes definitely [nodding] because if you are head of the family although you don't live together but any problem for their problem, my brother and his wife, I have five brothers after me, I'm six, we are six brothers, they would ask the oldest one. 'This is the problem what shall I do?' Definitely, well this is my, our society or and up to now all the brothers is asking me, let me know what they're doing, what they're happening what they're thinking and they encourage me, 'Don't worry for us, you stay well, we are alright, you don't have to worry for us.' But although it's come I know that my younger brothers for the sake of my health and my problem, my depression problem they're saying something not to worry. But I always contact them or their wife, how they're doing, what they're doing.

 

Ataur enjoys going back to his home country where he can forget everything.

Ataur enjoys going back to his home country where he can forget everything.

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Here I have a business, I have a children, I have a wife, I have brothers, their children, so you are not free, you are occupied all the time. And you concentrate in here how you make money, if you don't make money then you can't pay your children's school, school dinner money. Because I'm a business man I haven't got all my life, all my life I don't have one single penny benefit from the government neither my children, I provide my children for everything. If you don't do a business you can't pay your staff, if you don't do business I can't pay my council tax, the tax every year goes up and up and up and my income business is going down and down because there's a lot of competition and things like that. 

As you know I'm running a restaurant so I'm, all the time is a pressure in here. When I go home a few days after I forget this side, how I forget if the restaurant not running what can I do? I feel it, I put to my mind inside. I phone my wife, they're alright. If my wife goes with me I leave my daughter or somebody, or my mother even, two of my daughters they're alright. And I'm meeting with my one family to the other family, one group of friends to the other group of friends so all the time I'm laughing and joking and I couldn't give a damn I say, 'Oh let it, [breathes out] what can I do, I'm Bangladesh 6,000 miles away, I can't do nothing.' So I don't know this is the way I feel and that's why I get more relaxed. Like a holiday you go, you forget everything, relax two weeks, three weeks. When we go for, we don't go every year, five, six years after we go for two months, three months, six months. And when I stay six months I don't feel like to come. But when I come her I get this problem, that problem that problem lying on me and then you're back to square.

So is it right then, have I understood correctly that it's because it's a bit like, it's a bit like a holiday?

Yes [nods].

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