“I was a very happy go lucky person with four grown up lovely kids , running my own successful business, traveling the world. I was under a lot of modern day stress as many of us are these days , but one day I just woke up and had a nervous breakdown and everything fell apart.
“I’ve been to hell and back,”says Zeenat about her 3 years of severe clinical depression, “it was horrible”. I had the breakdown in 2011, it was really bad; I lost all sense of direction, I couldn’t speak… I lost all emotions, i was unable to leave home without escort, unable to keep personal relationships – I just lay on the sofa for two and half years.
“I was on medication, which didn’t work and made me put on weight and feel like a zombie … in the end I had ECT (Electric Shock Treatment), which really helped.”
Zeenat explains that at times she was suicidal and self-harming , but was afraid of going into hospital and was treated by the South London and Maudsley (SLaM) Home Treatment team, which meant she was able to stay in her own home. She has also been supported by the SHARP (Social Hope and Recovery Programme) to go to the gym and has taken part in a cooking group, dancing group and mindfulness as part of their healthy living workshops. She enjoys yoga, pilates and aqua aerobics and has also been supported through Look Ahead and has coffee once a week with her peer supporter.
Discovering Loughborough Farm, a community food growing project has helped her with recovery . “My son was walking past and told me about it, says Zeenat who has four children, aged between 23 and 33. She lost her fourth child. She has lived in the area for 13 years . The farm has bought community spirit to Loughborough Junction.
“The farm really helps, it’s somewhere to go, you get to talk to people and it’s helped me get my confidence back,” she says. “I have enjoyed doing the training with Fabrice at Myatt’s Field community greenhouses and there’s something about being in touch with nature that makes you feel much better. It’s nice the way we get to share the produce. I use the herbs and garlic in my chicken and Lamb curries and salads on side. I also use lot of greens for my stir frys as part of my healthy eating for wellbeing.”
Zeenat is hoping that what she is learning on the farm will inspire her to start working on her own garden. “I have a big garden at home but I am just learning and hopefully I will find someone to help me,” she says. She is also keen to show others how the farm can inspire and help people to move forward.
Zeenat says although her emotions are “not quite there yet I feel I am now back to my normal happy and active self.”
Loughborough Farm is on Loughborough Road near the junction with Coldharbour Lane, opposite Wyck Gardens. Sessions are held Tuesdays and Saturdays, 1-3pm and Thursdays 6-7pm.