Man outside barbershop
Niraj KapurImage by: NavyBlur
Man outside barbershop
28 March 2022

Niraj's story: the impact of divorce on my mental health

LinkedIn Trainer
Niraj Kapur
4 minutes read time

"I first started to think our marriage might be over the week our daughter left for university. It was so quiet in the house, you could hear a pin drop. We were unhappy. We’d been together for 21 years so that’s a hard realisation to come to – that you’ve grown apart. We took a holiday to visit family in northern India hoping that some time away might help reignite the spark but it didn’t – and after five months of contemplating it, I asked my wife for a divorce.

I had always thought when I was married that our friends were just that – ‘ours’. But after we split I was shocked at how many took her side. I think in some way, the fact I initiated it made me the ‘bad guy’. Being Indian added an extra element altogether, as it’s not widely accepted in our culture. I was left feeling abandoned – alone and like I had no-one in my life.

I had moved out of our family home in the English countryside and into a smaller property we owned, when two months later – the country went into lockdown. I’m naturally an extrovert – and I went from a busy household, going out to gigs and having a full roster of work, to living alone and losing all my clients in the space of months. That was a really difficult time for me.

For four months I saw nobody. I started using food as a comfort – constantly eating takeout as a way of coping with loneliness and dark thoughts. Some people turn to alcohol or drugs when they’re having a hard time. My vice was food. It got to the point where eventually my doctor diagnosed me as obese, and shortly after I got osteoarthritis in my right knee. I ended up with sleeping problem, back problems, migraines – I was not in a good place.

Eventually my parents called me and said, ‘it’s time to come home’. I didn’t want to – I was a grown man who didn’t want to go back to relying on my parents, but I didn’t really have a choice. Things had gotten so bad for me – they knew that and knew I needed help. They even booked my ticket for the ferry back to Belfast. I put all my belongings in storage and went back to living under my parent’s roof.

At first when I arrived I felt ashamed and embarrassed, but gradually things started to improve. I had company again – I got to spend time with my sister and nephews who lived down the road. I enjoyed home-cooked Indian dishes from my mum and walking in the door to a hug from her. Sometimes in the hardest of times we just need a hug from our mum.

Shortly after I decided to put myself out there again to meet someone – after all, whilst it’s nice to spend time alone, at the end of the day we all crave feeling loved, and having our voices heard. Online dating wasn’t a great experience to begin with – one woman I went on a date with was 20 years older than her profile photos. Sometimes my date would just not turn up, and on more than one occasion my date would turn out to be married – presumably feeling lonely herself in her relationship.

At this time I started to notice a change on Linkedin, which I used regularly for my business – it seemed the pandemic had caused more people to share personal stories and struggles alongside business updates. So I started to write about these things in my posts – the dates that didn’t turn up and the times I felt lonely. I was shocked at how much these stories resonated. I had so many men reach out to me and said they’d felt the same or were going through something similar at the time. Men who were going through divorce, were depressed, or were just feeling lonely and cut adrift.

This gave me more strength to continue being vulnerable. I found connection through sharing my story. Traditionally, when you’re going through a hard time, Men call each other and maybe you’ll get a beer but they’ll just tell you you’ll be fine. It’s different for women – who can share, talk cry and laugh together.

This experience made me realise how important it is to be vulnerable. As an aside, and this was never even my intention in sharing my personal stories, but I got more and more business offers through, from people who said they wanted me to be their trainer because they saw me as human, with all my flaws.

" Don’t be afraid to be vulnerable – there’s so much strength in vulnerability, and you’ll be surprised at the connections you make when you are. "

After over two years of online dating, I finally met someone last year. She’s already met my parents, and I’m taking her away to England next week for a holiday.

I’m finally in a good place now, but it didn’t happen overnight. For any other men who are going through a marriage breakdown now – or just a hard time in general, I just want to tell you there’s light at the end of the tunnel. Don’t be afraid to be vulnerable – there’s so much strength in vulnerability, and you’ll be surprised at the connections you make when you are."

To read Movember's survival tips for life after divorce, head to: Life after Divorce