How she beat depression to be a founding CEO by 24


ESHA Oberoi reached her lowest point at the age of 22.

Her fiance had just called off their wedding, she was drifting from job to job without purpose and she soon rebounded into a second, toxic relationship.

She found herself spiralling into a cycle of depression and abuse.

"I was at a very fragile age - 22 is still quite young - and my world came crumbling down. I experienced feelings of loneliness and unworthiness," she said.

"I rebounded into another destructive relationship where I experienced physical and emotional abuse, which I felt was what I deserved. That relationship did not last very long, but the wounds of it remained."


Esha Oberoi
Esha Oberoi

But at 24, Ms Oberoi, who was born in India, fell into a job as a carer in a nursing home, and she suddenly found her passion.

"I could relate to the patients because they were also quite isolated and lonely," she said.

The job inspired Ms Oberoi to start her own home care business, Afea Care Services, and to turn her life around.

"My connection with the residents sparked the inception of Afea, and I realised I had the opportunity to help vulnerable people in the community," she said.

"I actually healed myself through helping. I think it's very underrated in society - we don't realise that when we open ourself to helping others, we can heal our own wounds."

Today, Afea assists around 500 aged and disability care clients each week, with 34 full-time staff members and 300 carers. The business turns over $10 million a year and has experienced a compounding 100 per cent year-on-year growth.

Ms Oberoi, now 34, said she wanted to end the stigma around mental health and urged others who were struggling to reach out and ask for help.

"As a society we need to be talking about mental health more. It shouldn't be something that's shameful, but there's absolutely still a huge stigma," she said.

"Once you start talking about it, you realise that so many people are going through it too."

Ms Oberoi, who lives in Sydney with her husband, five-year-old son and 15-month-old daughter, said success had come once she managed to find her purpose in life.

"When I felt like nothing was going in my favour, what really helped me was spending time alone, looking internally and finding my purpose," she said.

"We're so busy trying to conform rather than being individuals ... we shouldn't be fighting what our truth is."

Ms Oberoi urged Australians to manage their mental health through meditation, spending time in nature, switching off their phones and reflecting on what they really wanted to get out of life, and she said there should be a greater emphasis on mental health in the workplace.

She said her business success had been "a work in progress" and a result of following her intuition.

"Business is not a piece of cake, but if you're passionate about something, you'll find the resilience to overcome challenges," she said.

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