RHS student speaks about depression — (My High School Journalism)

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My High School Journalism

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Many people don’t understand clinical depression. Most probably hear the word “depression” and think of that sad child sitting by a window with their cat. However, it’s much more than that. To break down the stereotypes and get a glimpse of what living with depression is actually like, The Colonel interviewed Roosevelt’s “Suzie Q,” an anonymous student who was diagnosed with clinical depression.

The Colonel: When were you diagnosed with depression? How long have you had it?
Suzie Q: Diagnosed: August 2008. Had it since: It’s hard to tell when exactly depression starts. Mine is a mix of an anxiety disorder and depression. I started having panic attacks in late February of 2007 during my freshman year. But my depression got really noticeable to me on New Year’s Eve in 2008.

TC: How did you know you should get tested?
SQ: It’s kind of weird, I just knew. I met someone else with depression and it just clicked with me. I knew I wasn’t alone. Realizing there’s an entire community of people with depression that you interact with every day was really helpful in recognizing my own.

TC: What was the test like?
SQ: It was a series of questions that my doctor asked me about how I felt about different aspects of my life. It wasn’t necessarily a test.

TC: Are you on medications now? What’s that like? Does it help?
SQ: I was on medication for about a year. At first, I thought it helped a lot, but I got to a certain point where I honestly didn’t have any feelings. I didn’t feel sad, but I didn’t feel happy either. It took away everything I was. I didn’t feel like I was contributing to the world at all, my body was simply there. It was terrible, so I made the decision to go off the medication. I do still have panic attacks and spouts of depression, but I know how to deal with it much better than I did. I have successfully surrounded myself with the people that mean the most to me. The few people that I trust are very close to me and personally I think that that’s the best way to deal with depression, for me, at least.

TC: How did your parents react?
SQ: My dad doesn’t think that it’s a real problem, which is extremely frustrating to me. My mom was more understanding, but she didn’t like the fact that I decided to take the medication at first.

TC: How open are you about your depression? Do your friends know?
SQ: I’m really open about my depression now that I understand it more, but when I was first diagnosed I was really embarrassed and frustrated at the fact that I wasn’t okay. But depression isn’t something you should be afraid of. It’s a medical condition.

TC: Did people seem to treat you any differently when they found out?
SQ: YES! It was really surprising to me how differently I was treated after I would tell someone, which is exactly what I didn’t want to happen. If you don’t like me, don’t pretend to now that you know I have depression. I think that’s one of the most frustrating things about depression. A lot of people have a preconceived notion of a weak, crying, drug-ridden, beaten child; and I’m the exact opposite, so people immediately have no idea how to treat me. When in actuality, I want you to treat me the same way you would have treated me before. Why would I ask for anything different?

TC: How long did you wait to get tested?
SQ: I was really apprehensive to get tested because I was embarrassed by the fact that I might actually not be okay. I guess it took me about a year and a half to get tested for it.

TC: Who did you go to first about it?
SQ: I actually went to one of my best friends about it. She also had depression, which made me understand the disease more and make me feel more comfortable about my frustrations.

TC: Do you see a therapist? What sort of help do they give you?
SQ: Yes, I hated it. Just in general, I tend to not trust a lot of people. I pick and choose the people that I trust. So when I have to pay someone to listen to my problems, it freaks me out quite a bit. I never actually opened up to him in any way. I felt like I sat on a couch where a graduate student simply nodded his head awkwardly and tried to ask me questions that could possibly make me reveal deep feelings about myself. But me, being the clever woman I am, conveniently avoided every question he asked, thus making him increasingly more frustrated with my cleverness to avoid anything serious, and led me to waste more and more of my parents money. The only thing I got out of it was a great book recommendation about a completely unrelated topic.