Punjab and Kiran Open Up: From Discovery to Recovery We spoke with mental health advocates and Best Beginnings supporters, Kiran and Punjab. Together, they share their journey with mental health, from discovery to recovery. Can you describe when your challenges with mental health as a family began? Kiran: We are a normal family (whatever normal is meant to be!). We have 2 daughters; 12 and 4 years old. Punjab and our first child both have Autism. Our battle with mental health started after the birth of our second child in 2013. All we could think about was, “Has our next child got Autism? What would life be like raising two children on the spectrum?” This period of time was full of nothing but anxiety for us both. When our beautiful daughter was born, I started to get terrible anxiety over anything and everything and before l could understand this, it seemed to take over my life. However l did get the support l needed and during my time of recovery, Punjab was my rock and supported me so much in every possible way he could. Whilst he was giving me a 110% of his time and energy, he unfortunately started to crumble under the strain of a stressful job and supporting me and our girls. The saddest part of this is that l had no idea he was crumbling as he hid it so well and he didn't want to worry me, so he kept it from me. Punjab, could you describe how you felt during this period? Punjab: My thoughts were not in my control. My mind felt as though it didn't belong to me. I was very disconnected from the world. It was really hard to talk to my family about [how I was feeling] as you know they will be angry. I was incredibly forgetful which made me panic. So, Kiran, how did you discover what Punjab was going through? Kiran: At Christmas in 2013, a letter came through the post for Punjab. We always open one another’s letters as we have nothing to hide. To my horror it was one of worst letters l could have read. It was a report from a psychologist Punjab had seen through GP referral and who sent home a report. It said that Punjab was having suicidal thoughts and tried to end his life. Fortunately, he didn't go ahead with it due to looking at a picture of our daughters. That stopped him from doing anything. How did you feel when you realised Punjab was facing mental health challenges? Kiran: There are no words to describe the thoughts that were going through my mind at that time; just thinking and writing about this now has my heart pounding. I was in complete shock, Punjab was at work at that time and all l could think about were negative thoughts. Will l see my husband again? I was trying to understand this myself: l was angry, but not angry angry if that makes sense. I knew anger was not going to help; understanding would. I really felt that l had failed Punjab as he didn't feel he could talk to me at that time. l now realise it was due to his mind being taken over by a tsunami of different emotions. So what did you do when you found out? Kiran: When he came home l didn't say anything to him and handed him the letter. I kept the atmosphere as normal as possible, he read the letter and looked very blank. We both didn't know what to say to one another. I think our eyes said it all. When it did sink in we had a talk, Punjab said, “Sorry.” l asked, “Why?” Punjab: I went to the GP, but it was not to discuss my mental health but another health issue. However, when the GP saw me, she knew there was something wrong. She asked me a few questions about how I was feeling and that’s when I opened up. Did you explain to your children what was happening? Kiran: l feel we need to be much more open about mental health and there is no better way of doing that then being honest with our younger generation. Our children knew that something was wrong with their daddy as he wasn't his normal self. Our younger daughter would go and stroke Punjab’s face. Our eldest would ask questions and show Punjab her support through positive talking and lots of cuddles! This must have been a difficult time, how did you both move forward from this point? Kiran: I wanted to carry Punjab from this dark place and into the light and eventually we did get through it. I am so proud that Punjab went to see both his GP and the psychologist. If he didn't have the courage to speak up and if l didn't see that letter that day, l dread to think how different my life would be right now. Once it was all out in the open, l felt satisfied because l knew Punjab was getting the support he needed. I could see him slowly starting to recover with help and getting his mental health back in his control. Seeing this really helped me to move forward from that constant worry that l was feeling before. Punjab: My road recovery started once I had talked with the GP and to Kiran openly. I have not looked back as things became better and better for me mentally. This was a part of our life that is in the past now, we have accepted what had happened & moved on! For more videos and support, download our Baby Buddy app, or view it online here!