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Depression

Kristen: Finding Myself Through Depression and Anxiety, Age: 20

I’ve been depressed as far back as I can remember. The first time I contemplated suicide I was only 11 years old.

How did it all start? When did you first start experiencing symptoms or using?

I’ve been depressed as far back as I can remember. The first time I contemplated suicide I was only 11 years old. That was a clear red flag that I needed help but I kept quiet about it. When I was 13, I was appointed to a therapist because a teacher saw cuts on my wrists.

What kind of help did you get at first? Did it work?

The first therapist I saw was very unhelpful but it wasn’t her fault. I didn’t want to be there so I refused to reveal any relevant information or talk about anything of importance. Instead I would mostly complain about school or just sit in silence until she asked me about the cutting. I would reply with a vague answer and then quickly change the subject. It took me years to finally realize if I wanted to feel better, then I needed help – and most importantly, I needed to be completely honest. Only then did therapy finally begin to work.

Were there any turning points where things really started to change for the better?

When I was 18, I had a severe panic attack and my friend called an ambulance. I was hostile to the EMTs and snapped at the doctor in the E.R. At the time, I wasn’t seeing a therapist so after that incident my mom tried to find me one. She spoke with one physician who didn’t take our insurance but my mom explained the situation to her and the physician said that based on what my mother had told her it was absolutely imperative I seek help right away.
The new therapist diagnosed me with Major Depressive Disorder and Generalized Anxiety Disorder, because he was only exposed to me during my depressive states. After some time, I would begin to feel better and thought I no longer needed therapy. Then, after a few months, I would become depressed again and call him for another appointment. I now understand that this is because I have extreme mood swings as a result of being bipolar.
After finally receiving the right diagnosis at 20, things began to look up because I finally had a reason for the way I behaved that my previous diagnosis did not explain. The treatment and therapy I received from that point on was much more effective because my doctors and counselors knew what they were dealing with.

What’s your life like now? What have you been able to accomplish, and what are you working towards?

Living with this disorder today is still a struggle but I now know how to cope with my problems thanks to many types of therapy. My moods have stabilized with the help of being on the right medication.

I still see a therapist weekly to maintain relative stability in all aspects of my life; I also see a counselor at a recovery center to help keep me doing well in college. The college is also informed of my disability and offers me several accommodations regarding my schoolwork.

What would you say to people who are having a tough time? What’s helped you that you wish you had known earlier?

If you are having a tough time, always seek help from friends, family or a professional. No matter how dismal any experience, I believe that there is a kind of therapy/solution for everyone, you just have to be patient and advocate for yourself. Most importantly, be honest!