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Our Stories

Katie’s Battle with Depression and Trichotillomania, Age: 19

My Freshman year of college really turned my life around. It started with finding some great new friends who had some of the same issues as me so they new what to do when I started telling them about my troubles.

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

I started experiencing depression around the age of 13. Bullying and alienation were prominent in my middle school career and my parent didn’t really offer as much support as I would have liked. As time went on, the depression didn’t go away. Nothing I had previously enjoyed seemed fun or interesting anymore. I made up stories in my head to make up for the fact that I didn’t have any friends. After a particularly bad bus ride I seriously contemplated suicide for the first time. After I switched schools the depression became a steady background for my growing anxiety problems. I’d have moments of intense fear during specific classes and environments that reminded me of middle school. I was afraid to ask questions or give answers because I was afraid that if I spoke up, I might go back to being the “weird, Annoying Book worm”. During my first year of college, the depression resurfaced with a vengeance. I was so lonely I would literally lay in my bed and have a conversation with whatever God (but mostly my ceiling) would care enough to listen and beg them to make me pass away in my sleep. The real blow throughout my entire life was the fact that whenever I would try to do something for myself, it would ALWAYS fall through the cracks. It always felt like I was almost standing tall before something would kick my legs out from underneath me and send me back to the floor.

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

At first (about age 13), it was my Dad’s therapist that I would go to see every week. It was there I was diagnosed with trichotillomania (an anxiety disorder that makes you pull out your hair). But after about a month or two, my parents didn’t feel like driving the distance to get me to my appointments. I didn’t really want to go back to therapy after that because I didn’t want to share my problems with another person. It felt like, at some point, something would reach my school and make my problems worse.

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

My freshman year of college really turned my life around. It started with finding some great new friends who had some of the same issues as me so they knew what to do when I started telling them about my troubles. From there I met my current therapist, got diagnosed with Generalized Anxiety and pervasive Depressive disorder. That diagnosis helped me do something that has never happened before on my college campus. I am the first student in the 125 year history of my college’s career to have an emotional support dog on campus.

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

Because I have my dog Frey, I don’t focus as much on my anxiety and my depressive episode have become much milder. Not only that, but Frey acts as a furry ice breaker! He really makes interacting with others a lot easier.

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

For those of you who are having a tough time, I know not everything I say will make you feel like you can handle what you, personally, are going through. That’s why I would suggest taking a time out. Literally, just pick up and go. If someone asks you why you left, tell them honestly how you’re feeling even if they are not directly involved. Most people will understand. Grab your favorite sweet/fried food, write down what you’re feeling, eat the food, and then take a nap. It feels good. Once you feel a little bit more pulled together go talk to someone.