Raj - Interview 19
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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.
Raj didn't get enough information and found things out for himself; he would have liked more...
Have you been given information regarding depression, books, leaflets?
I haven't received information, but I did receive a letter from the doctor, it said post-operation depression [section removed] I found out after reading books that if you take vitamins B6 you can take yourself and I took them and I slowly stopped taking the doctors' tablets. Now I take St John's Wort capsules 250mg.
So you did it yourself?
Yes I self-treat, my children too, they would buy a book and study it and then try vitamins and we get our own tablets and if we stayed with on doctors tablets we would have got worse…
If you have to give advice to somebody what they would have to do if they face this kind of situation, then what will you suggest?
I will always say first thing find your claim and how can you file it. Anyway, any person who comes out of hospital, they know this person is not able to do work. Leaflets should be given in the hospital. Starting should be there. After that, when you come to see the doctor, then the doctor should give this information. Doctors should tell you that you should being the forms with these numbers and I will fill my part and you fill your part. Common people are scared if the doctor will fill it or not then we don't know about the carer. We used to see leaflets for carers in the doctor's surgery but we didn't know its meaning.
What is carer?
Yes, what does carer mean? And carer cares who? We used to think in our mind that it is for 65 plus who have no children to look after them but carer and these who advertise it, they should make it clear that it's for all sort of ages. This advert here, about carers, they don't write that it's [for] all ages concerned.
So it confuses?
Yes, there is no clarity that it is your medical condition that we look for, not your age. It should be like this. It was not clear to us so we were unable to contact a carer or ask a doctor and even the doctor hasn't told us that why we are not going to [get a] carer.
Raj's prescribed medication made him dribble, gave him bad breath, blood in the toilet, and...
Do you take any medicine for depression?
No, for depression the doctor's medicines were giving me side effects so I read a herbal medicine in some magazine that you can take from Holland and Barrett's.
Not Ginseng, St John's wort. [section removed] German doctor has done a survey in Germany and they work well, [section removed] when I went to psychiatrist there was that magazine. When I tried those pills, they suited me and then I told the doctor that I have tried this medicine after reading in the magazine. It works well and it has no side effect then the doctor told me to buy it and take these.
What was the side effect of doctor's medicine?
With that medicine water was coming from your mouth and your mouth smells when you are eating bread or you were feeling giddy or blood in the toilet or a smell from your urine. These were the side effects but the Holland and Barratt medicines suited me to the extent that I bought and take them myself.
He describes the effects on himself, his wife, and their relationship. (Audio in Punjabi, text in...
I feel depressed when I was working in that department, there were 14 people whom I look after. I was… for 15 years and after redundancies people were decreasing and in the end I was left with four people. I organise their work and for other departments there was a layout to get material to do this to do that. But for me I had just map and organise everything. I was that much more able at that time but now I even have to get my medication from others, you start feeling like a baby, then I can't stay alone in the house if I know there is someone else at home, if the wife is at home I want to be where she is at home to talk to her, but she wants to do her own work and if she goes upstairs and I go after her she says can't you sit on your own, she says you are following her like a child.
So why don't you want to sit alone?
Alone, as sometimes if I remember something I want to talk about it. It feels as if I talk about it it's been forgotten or there is something wrong in the house, we have to go somewhere, we have got to get something, to make something, forgot something, whatever it may be then I want to discuss it with her but she wants to be left alone as she wants to do her own things.
How does it make you feel when your wife says this?
She says it strongly then I feel myself that she is taking the depression tablets and she is taking all our load, so even if she says something it doesn't matter, but in real life she has never spoken loudly, in front of people or in front of children she has always respected me. But, you know, everyone has their own thinking and if you disturb them they jump. Then I didn't realise I would hide away and cry and feel that she has disrespected me, but I slowly found out that she is taking medication and her complications are, if I need rest then so does she. I now do as much as I can for her, even if she speaks loudly I say I didn't hear her, we manage this way. This is the way we understand each other, the way of running the house, running children, no-one likes it …
You both make allowances and understand each other?
Yes, yes, if we don't understand then we will both be upset and then there is no-one around to compromise us as our children maybe out and it's sometimes better to ignore each other.
Raj likes going to the support centre because he doesn't have to hide anything or worry about...
The doctor sent me to [name removed] then I came here. After the two blackouts I don't go out alone, I'm worried, now I have a bus pass my wife goes with me and we now don't have to pay and before you think of the fare. Before there was a one hour bus service and now we have our pass it's half an hour service. We didn't go out before and now we go out once twice a week.
The bus pass has made a difference?
Yes. It's an encouragement that I can go out with some and by coming here I have a free mind, that no evil eyes are looking, nobody looking on top of you, what you are doing, how you are sitting, how you are standing, that free feeling is making me feel better.
That no-one is jealous or no-one is looking at what you're doing?
Yes, like when I have back problem I don't tend to go out and it's difficult getting up and down. When I am mobile then I come here and talk and have fun with someone or watch television.
There is nothing wrong with him?
Yes one is different, of the other. By looking at the benefit that would not be given to me. The organisation here is not looking at you with evil eye any time and what you are doing and with that I feel relaxed.
You feel free?
You don't worry about your problem and don't have to hide it. You don't have to mask it or pretend, you sit about and walk about as you feel.
Not to suit the other people. I think the people that come here feel better when they return home.
Raj was unable to work following a heart attack and says this made him depressed. (Audio in...
When I was discharged from [general hospital], the psychiatrist told me to visit the doctor and he would give you medication, so I made an appointment and I told him that I been told to get medication from you but he said, “Sorry, my budget doesn't allow it, it's too expensive per month, all I can do is give vitamin tablets,” what he has asking to give me on the… I have red vitamin capsules but it doesn't matter if I have them or not.
How did it feel when you were told no to the medication?
It hurt a lot, that gave me depression. If a person can go to work then he should be supported by the medication then at least he is able to work. At least he will do something for the county, employment, if we are British we do something for the country, then if we work then we will earn. Now taxi work is not great but I still tried, rather than sitting around. If a government man is saying that he can't give medication and to sit at home it's all right then it's not my fault. But since I heard this I got depressed, no-one has an idea.
So this is a cause of your depression?
Were you forced to say that you shouldn't do this as I need it?
No, I wasn't forced, since I been to this doctor, this surgery. This doctor has treated us better than the other doctors. What he told us about the budget I tried to understand it, as they treat us well, give us good medication, when we need a test then straight away they say it, 15, 16 years they haven't messed about. We were happy that we even recommended other patients to them and when we call them they have our details on their computers. Like now I have a cold and told them I have a cold and I want to see the doctor and they checked the computer and said come tomorrow. When someone looks after you well, you don't want to say anything wrong about them or even have argument, everything is taken for granted.
Do you know the name of the medication?
The medicine was written directly to him and told us go and visit your doctor after 10 days, then when we went he said that he can't afford it, but I can't remember the name of the medication. [Interruption] But the doctor looks after you so well, he saved my life, you don't want to go and argue with him. No.
Did you talk with the psychiatrist, to say that the doctor will not give medication?
The psychiatrist is retired and is not there. I saw the doctor in town and thanked him that he looked after me and he said that he's retired now. He isn't there.
Do you feel if you had this medication you could have gone back to work?
Yes I did have hope, but look since 1994 up until now, much damage has been done now and muscle have set and I don't think the medication will work now. He then said that it's new, the artery will be opened he said the soft tissues and soft muscles, when they get damaged they are not repairable. It's now long term damage and I don't think the medication will work. The reassurance that I could go to work and got the letter, it's all down in the dumps.
You don't think you can manage it?
No not now, and the medication they give me now when I see how I manage day to day, it's not possible to work now. The reassurance has gone not my health and then if I go to work then I worry about my wife, the matter will get worse not better. T
This man of Sikh faith says reading the Sikh Bible - Guru Granth Sahib - can sometimes make him...
You have talked earlier about religion like when in BHS and you got a blackout and you started using your words. Do you get any help from religion to solve your problems e.g. mental problem …?
I don't understand.
E.g. reciting hymns, reading holy books, meditation or religious prayers are helpful to the soul.
Yes, it is helpful but you know our Bible is little bit depressive. It talks too deeply that you get depressed.
Can you give me some examples of how it depresses you?
For example, there is a line Farida Hamra Ko Nahi Hum Kissi Ke Nahi which means Baba Farid says nobody belongs to me on this earth and even I don't belong to anybody. If I don't belong to anybody then why should I go closer to anybody and if I want to go close then people don't let me come closer.
Then by thinking this the person then becomes more depressed?
Yes, yes, there are many proverbs that depress you. I am a person who reads the Bible, you know in the Sikh Temple they read one Bible within 48 hours start to finish non stop.
Do you say Bible to Guru Granth Sahib Ji?
Yes, I say Bible to Guru Granth Sahib Ji and every two hours the person is changed and they read 30 pages an hour. I used to read it and understand it little bit. I have Guru Granth Sahib ji at my home and also I have a translation of it but I don't use the translation because it makes me depressive.
You get some pain from Bible, do you gain anything?
Yes, the gain is that these phrases tell you that you should manage yourself but if you see that nobody comes to your home then take it to the other side. It has both sides, negative and positive. Where your mind is locked you got stuck over there.
So it may be positive or it maybe on the other side.
Yes, yes, but if you have nobody then you make yourself in that way and make yourself busy and leave everything on God. But when person is in pain he doesn't take it positively then he only takes it negatively. When a person is healthy then he goes to people and gives examples and when he takes at his own then he doesn't take it positive and think only in a negative side.