My Journey from dusk till dawn

‘Life is full of challenges and difficulties; setbacks, disappointments, and failure are part of it. The only way to survive and strive is to learn to deal with it and bounce back from setbacks.’

Many times the World around you perceives you to be a very happy-go-lucky and blessed person as they only see the tip of the iceberg. They don’t know what all challenges are and how many silent battles one has fought or is still fighting especially when you are good at portraying yourself as a strong and happy person. I’m Monika Garg, a working HR Professional. Like any other person I also had my lows, dark phases, fears, betrayal from family friends, and some part of its pain still exists inside me like a dormant volcano. I never feel shy to share or talk about my lows which made me strong. Yes, I’ve been through chronic depression for many years, and I survived with the support of my family, through self-awareness and self-care.

Depression is not something that suddenly occurs, there is always a story or some emotions that are suppressed, unattended or unacknowledged, which are getting piled up or it could be due to any loss of a person who is life for you. 

I was born after my two brothers in a middle-class family in a small town in UP. I remember till my 10th Class I was a very carefree and independent child, many times I even acted like the eldest child as that’s how my parents raised me. In the year 1996, we had a big robbery attack when my mother and I were alone in the house. Due to this attack my mother was hospitalized and very critical due to multiple head injuries, nothing happened to me as she hid me behind her during the attack. With God’s grace, she survived. It was that incident that changed me a lot, it was like I grew up by many years and become mature and responsible. I was not aware that this incident was just the beginning of never-ending struggles in our life. Soon after we faced my father’s Job loss, financial challenges, physical struggle, family issues/ blame games, betrayal from relatives and friends, and whatnot.

To support my family, I started working along with my studies from an early age. I remember nothing was easy in our life then, but we never felt those difficulties as we all were resilient and together as a family supporting each other. Our strongest pillar was my mother who was leading and facing all those challenges from the front. I was very close to my mother; she was the epitome of mental strength and resilience. She is still an inspiration to many who ever knew her in their life. 

Like any other parent, my mother always wanted me to be like what she could not do in her life. She made me strong, independent, and always wanted me to focus on my studies and career. She always used to tell me whatever the situation is I need to work, and I should never leave my job. I started working in 2004 and in 2006 I took the best decision of my life by marrying my MBA batchmate now my husband Deepak and my family supported that decision. Though I was never a choice for my in-laws, they agreed to our marriage, thanks to my husband who took a stand and convinced them. In 2008, I become a mother to my lovely son Yuvraj and within a couple of years, I got to know that my son is Autistic. It was the first time in 2011 that I get to know about this developmental disorder ADHD. I asked for support from my in-laws as I could not leave my son with the Nanny at home alone, but they did not come forward to support me. It was a difficult situation when I had no other option but to leave my job so that I could take care of my son. My son was completely nonverbal with many other issues which were making it difficult for us to leave him in a crèche / playschool/ alone with a nanny at home. That was the time when my mother came forward and told me that she will take care of him and I should not leave my job. After that we used to drop my son at my parent’s house and then pick him up in the evening and life went on like that for 2 years, it was a  struggle yet manageable. 

Somewhere in 2011/ 2012, my brother decided to shift from Gurgaon to Noida it left us in a challenging situation as my parents also had to shift with them. It was the time when my parents made another sacrifice for us, my father decided to move in with me, and my mother stayed with my brother as they also had a newborn baby to take care of. My parents managed like this for about two years That was the time when the guilt started to pile up on me as because of me my parents were living separately. It was in December 2014 when I again asked my husband to seek support from my in-laws so that for a few months they can come and help us and that my parents could live together at least for some time. I don’t know why I also mentioned that God forbid if anything happens to any one of them during this situation then I’ll never forgive myself.  I never knew that it was my intuition that came out in the form of words that day and I had to face that nightmare.

It was 24th January 2015 when my parents, me, and my son were traveling in a car with my brother and his family as we were heading to attend a family function, and we met with a major accident. That accident was so bad it took away my mother and my nephew on the spot, my brother was very critical (he was hospitalized for more than 4 months and he is still a quadriplegic). My father who was also a heart patient was not in his senses for many days due to clots in his head. My son was bleeding from his head and crying badly, and I was the only person who was standing on two feet though with minor fracture and cuts on his face and hand. I was dealing with police questions, doctors, dead bodies, etc for hours till someone from my family reached out. Since the accident happened near a village the villagers took us to the nearby dispensary where there were no life-saving facilities and not even a proper arrangement for bandages. This incident was a trauma to my entire family and due to this my eldest brother, who was settled in Pune left the city and shifted to Noida to take care of what was left behind. However, I decided to keep my father with me as during my bad times he sacrificed everything to support us and is still big support to my husband, my son, and me.

When all this happened, I was running around with my husband and eldest brother, trying to take care of everything. Suddenly I started feeling all alone as my mother was the center of my life and I never imagined my life without her. Just after the accident in May 2015 when I participated in a corporate event, I met with an accident again and got multiple fractures in my ankle which left me completely on bed/ support and I could not walk without support for 8 months. I cannot run even today. That was the time when I had limited options to keep myself and my thoughts engaged. I had a belief that if I’m in any problem, talking and sharing with my mother will solve it, and trust me, it was real. But now I started feeling alone as no one could take her place and bring that magic to my life. While I was spending most of the time in my head, I started feeling guilty about many things. For not being able to keep my parents together, for not being able to take care of my son, and many more things that I could not control. All this started pushing me to depression. Since then, till the last year 2021, I had been fighting with it. There were times when I would cry inconsolably but upon asking I would not know the reason, there were times when if I’m sitting at one place, I would stay there for hours lost and keep on staring at a spot. I used to get constant negative thoughts. The feeling of happiness was completely missing even if I was smiling for the world. A lot of good things happened in my life after that but no good news would make me feel happy. During these times I had no reason to feel low, as I had a very loving husband, father, and son, I was in a good job and we were financially stable. 

During all this time I tried numerous things to stay positive and pull me out of that feeling. For the world, I was happy and enjoying my life but from inside I feel dead which only me or my husband would know. All this was impacting everyone around me, and I started realizing that due to my condition,  my father, husband, and son everyone was suffering and that’s when in 2018 I decided to take charge of my feelings. I started to focus on what was working in my life instead of what was missing. I got a never-give-up attitude from my mother and I reminded myself. I started to imbibe all the inspirational learnings I got from my mother. I started to feel her love inside me and thought of her positivity instead of missing her. I shifted my focus to different activities, my son, my family for whom I was the center of their life. Luckily in 2018 end I also got a profile in which I had to do a lot of international travel which kept me busy. All this time I got a lot of support from my family, especially my husband and my father who managed my son and my home when I traveled for an average of 15 days every month. 

Then in early 2020, due to Corona’s outburst, all things came to still and we got confined to our houses. We faced another challenge when my husband lost his job in Sept 2020 and he was unemployed for almost 8 months. To many it may be a challenging situation, however, we took it as an opportunity as we decided that we will use this time for self-care. Trust me it was the best time of my life as we get to spend most of the quality time together which I was missing for a long due to both of our hectic jobs. That was the time when I also realized why my mother always encouraged/ supported me to stay in my job for financial stability as she also faced a similar situation when my father lost his job. But since she was a housewife, it was a struggling phase for all of us. 

We both started to work on our health and focus on self-care. It was the last leg that took me out of the depressed feeling, as after that I started to feel happy (no more faking happiness), it’s been one year now and  I have not got any negative thoughts. I feel so important, love myself and I’m able to feel and make everyone around me happy. It takes a lot of mental strength, continuous positive enforcement, and support from loved ones to come out of such situations.

There were times when I used to spend hours doing nothing but today, I spend my time painting, reading positive thoughts and books, I’m learning guitar, taking care of my son and my four-legged boy at home, I partner with my father in gardening and cooking, taking care of my husband’s daily and emotional needs and I stand with him like a pillar of strength. I have a small circle of relatives and friends with whom I make an effort to talk, as I believe it’s better to have quality instead of quantity. I ensure that I do not disrespect my elders/ relatives/ friends who never supported/ connected with me, or reached out only when they had some work, but at the same time, I also ensured that I’m not spending any of my emotional and physical energy on them.

What I’ve shared is still the tip of the iceberg I’ve faced and survived through, but today I’m mentally so strong that I know I’ll survive through whatever situation comes my way. Many times people praise me for being strong and I always tell them that I’m strong because every time life pulled me down, I was not left with any other option so “being strong was the only option”.

Some of the learnings from my life journey I’d like to share in the form of sketches and below – 

Believe, whatever happens, happens for good, you just need to find that good in that situation.

Keep a never-give-up attitude

Help people, but not at your cost

Practice Gratitude

Learn to manage your responses and thoughts towards any situation. Many times the problem you are facing or thinking in your head is not a problem, the way you think – it is the real problem. 

Self-Care and Mental health are most important than anything in this world. (refer to my sketch to know some ways of doing it)

Don’t let yourself be affected by people’s opinions; they are not the ones who will fix you in your bad times.

Don’t compare yourself with anyone, everyone has a different journey and ecosystem.

Don’t have any expectations from anyone except yourself.

Everyone is fighting a battle that no one knows, show empathy

Love yourself and be proud of yourself. If you cannot talk or feel good about yourself, no one else would do it for you.

Be resilient (refer to my sketch to know ways of doing it)

“Keep inspiring and keep motivating others who are fighting the same battle which you have won”



This write-up has been authored by Monika Garg 

Thank you Monika for sharing your journey with us as it will help many cope up with depression 

Feature Image : For illustration purposes only