Carving the path out of depression: How Saket never gave up
Saket Jadhav is today a high-flying professional working with an investment bank, running for the position of Assistant Vice President. But before he tasted success, his path was riddled with obstacles- the clutches of depression and his weight issues led him into a dark phase of his life. But he made his way out.
Here’s an inspiring story of how one can transform solely through self-faith and the belief that there’s always something better coming your way- because the only person you need by your side is yourself.
The following is an interview with Saket where he describes in detail his battle with depression and how alternative therapies, travelling and self-belief helped him emerge victorious.
Was your acceptance of depression preceded by a phase of denial?
Yes, absolutely. I was in denial for a very long time. I tried telling myself that this is how it is and I have to deal with it. There is nothing wrong with me and I was certain that it happens to everybody. However, I am happy that my denial phase did not last long. Very soon, I realized that I had a condition that needed attention.
When did you realise that you are depressed and what was your immediate response?
Constant failures of things that were pretty much in my control was the first symptom. People telling me that I looked lost all the time, that I would just stare at the wall for hours and have an extreme emotional reaction to almost every untoward incident. I had suicidal tendencies too. I honestly considered it but stopped at the sight of my mother each time. I really felt so unwanted.
When this happened far more frequently, I realized that I was not my usual self and something was definitely off.
What do you think led you to depression?
It was a series of occurrences that led me to depression. And personally I have no qualms accepting that it began at home. My father played a big role in ensuring that I was the epicenter of emotional and mental abuse ever since I was a little boy. His certain choice of words still haunts me after 2 decades. He continues to be the same. So I think this was well rooted in me growing up and it’s totally irreparable.
Then was my relationship with my girlfriend. After being together for 2 years and almost ready to take the next step – I ruined it for us. She was at fault too but I wish I had the courage to stand up for her, which I did not.
What impact did depression have on your physical and emotional health?
Depression destroys your physical and emotional well-being. I took up drinking and eating like there was no tomorrow. I became addicted to sugar and developed an eating disorder. If I could not find anything sweet, I would lose my cool. Within a few months, I had gained 15 kgs. I recently developed anxiety issues and breathing problems. But I’m working on it and I have come a long way.
Did you seek therapy? How did it help?
Oh yes I sought therapy – another taboo in India!
Therapy gave me an outlet for my feelings and I was glad I had someone to talk to and get it out of my system without the fear of being judged for it. I was told repeatedly that not everyone is emotionally strong, I certainly was not and that’s OK. It’s OK in a perfect world too. Not everyone can deal with problems in their lives and come out victorious – some people need help. I needed help. And I am glad I realized it.
Therapy changed many things for me. And made me who I am today but having said that I equally worked hard on myself. I took up hobbies like travelling, dancing, swimming and reading. I began rescuing animals and got myself trained to do it too. I started working for LGBTQ awareness. I started meeting more strangers on Travel Apps and was surprised to see so many people in the same mental state as mine. I started opening up to them. A few of us decided to help each other on our road to recovery. This was my therapy now and there was no looking back.
How did yoga and meditation help you make your way out of depression?
I was never really a spiritual person but I have come to believe in the power of yoga. Breathing exercises (I just discovered them on YouTube) have worked wonders for me. They help you with your stress levels and calm you down. It’s a great way to begin your day along with some stretching exercises – I feel empowered.
You also said that you did ‘lots of reading’ that was very effective. What kind of books/articles/web content did you read? How did it help?
The only reason I am grateful for my depression is because it got me hooked to reading. I started reading the Reader’s Digest years ago and I am glad I still do. I read about Princess Diana and Marilyn Monroe and their struggles with depression. I still like reading many love stories – makes me hopeful about the existence of love. Moreover, I read a lot of biographies and autobiographies too.
Something else that helped me was travelling. I have backpacked solo across 6 countries with only my rucksack and my sleeping bag. I have met so many travelers and kind strangers with whom I have shared my stories. Some of them were in the same place as I was and I felt so good talking to them because they could relate. I have made friends for life during my travels and hosted them when they visited India. Some of them had lost their loved ones to depression. It gave me a big ray of hope. Some of them defeated depression and emerged victorious and that gave me the strength I needed.
Do you think animal rescue work is therapeutic? What has been your personal experience?
I grew up with dogs so it’s hard for me to control myself when I see one! I am a trained volunteer to administer first aid to injured dogs. This love led to me helping my friend establish an NGO in Pune that works towards animal and human welfare. What’s not satisfying about hugging an injured dog and nursing it back to health? The satisfaction is ineffable. Animals are grateful. Caressing a cat or a dog itself is so therapeutic. I have rescued so many animals and I believe it’s their blessing that keeps me going in life.
I have 2 rescued dogs. I remember I used to hug them so tightly and cried my heart out and they would just stay put. Dogs have a special place in my life. I will always continue to work towards their wellbeing. In recent months, I was invited by many schools, colleges, and housing societies to talk on the coexistence of animals and humans. I love doing awareness programs.
Who were the people who stood by your side during your troubled phase?
I lost many friends during this stage – a true testimony to who is actually a loyal friend! I did not have many people stand by me. The support of strangers and travelers that I met was incredible. My mother is one strong woman who stood next to me like a rock! She is one reason I decided to fight back.
What is your message to the people who are still struggling to make it out of a dark phase in their lives?
Don’t give up! Please don’t. Remember no matter what, there is ALWAYS a way out. You owe it to nobody but yourself. More often than not, you have to be your own hero in life.
Cut off toxic people from your lives. Life is too short to have these parasites sucking on your positivity. You will see the positive change when these people are no longer a part of your life.
Realize that you have a problem and ACCEPT IT. Do not shy away from seeking help. Pick up a hobby and pursue it well. Travel – do it by yourself and it will teach you things that no school or book will ever teach you.
Today I am 30 years old, working with an Investment Bank running for the post of Assistant Vice President. Now that people know about my battle with depression, some have walked to me for help and I left no stone unturned in helping them out.