Devin

Age at interview: 21
Age at diagnosis: 16
Gender: Male
Outline:

Devin’s depression began in childhood. He connects it, along with his diagnosis of anorexia and his self-harming, with a history of neglect. He was hospitalized in his teens. Therapy, meditation and other holistic approaches have been helpful. He does not take medication.

Background:

Devin lives with his girlfriend and other roommates in a city he recently moved to from another part of the country. He has a part-time job in a store. He is White.

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Devin’s parents divorced when he was two, and he moved back and forth between their houses during his childhood. His mother was “always kind of neglectful, when it came to love”, perhaps for Devin even more so than for his five siblings, and his father was overbearing as well as actively suicidal. Both of them “cared about themselves more often than they cared about anyone else”.

Depression was part of Devin’s life beginning at a young age. For a lot of his childhood he was “pretty numb emotionally”. As a teenager he also began to self-harm, developed an eating disorder (anorexia nervosa), and struggled both with getting motivated to do everyday things and with anger. Underlying all of these issues for Devin was the feeling that he was “a terrible son” who is “not good enough”. He also had the idea that showing his emotions would cause pain to other people, “that they will be hurt by it”, so until much of the way through high school he had very “dark times” isolated with his depression. He eventually did go to a psychiatrist, and was officially diagnosed with clinical depression. He was also hospitalized for a few weeks after being actively suicidal; being an in-patient “helped out” and made him feel less alone. 

As a young adult Devin moved far away from his family for a fresh start with his girlfriend in a part of the country where they can find “everything they want in their lives,” like access to nature, less stress, and friendly people. They live in an apartment with other roommates. Therapy has been helpful; Devin has learned to “speak up about things” and discovered that “keeping it in is actually a lot worse than telling someone what is going on”. He plans to continue with therapy when he has health insurance again. He tried medication, but for him it just “stopped everything” and “never worked”. Meditation really helps him out and calms him down. Devin’s girlfriend is also a big support, and the job he just got working at a store is very “self-esteem boosting”. 

Devin advises other young adults with depression to remember what things help them — like maybe exercise, being in nature, and being around other people — and stick with those things. Also, don’t “just put up a façade of being happy or try to fake yourself out of your emotions and think your emotions aren’t needed or wanted by others, because the more you hold everything in the more it’s going to get worse… definitely expressing your stress and your emotions that is something you should do”.

 

Devin thinks his depression comes at least in part from being neglected by his parents.

Devin thinks his depression comes at least in part from being neglected by his parents.

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You know there, there wasn’t very much hugging or often saying, “I love you,” that you would think a mother would. And to me, I was the second child. It seemed like it happened more to me. I don’t know if that was just my perception of it, but that’s just how it’s always been, my mother never really said, “I love you,” which caused a huge impact on me because that was, that was harsh being a young kid not, not hearing a parent say I love you or hug you or…you know, it was just that I lived in that house. And you know I, probably like when I was two my mother and father got divorced so I would see my father on weekends and then the rest of the week I would be with my mother.

…no, that would definitely have to be it, it would definitely stem from my father and my mother. My mother being neglectful, my father no matter what I did, it was, it was not good enough, it was wrong.

 

Devin says when he's depressed he sometimes has anger attacks.

Devin says when he's depressed he sometimes has anger attacks.

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I’ve had a lot of people say and it’s true that depression and anger always walk hand in hand. And again, I’m not a very angry person, I don’t generally get angry at people. But, sometimes I have just random anger attacks and I’ve had one with my current girlfriend and that’s really confused her. So much so that I needed to get out of the house because I could not promise that I wasn’t going to do anything. And I would never even hurt a fly and that’s why it scared me so much that I needed to leave her house for a day. You know that, that scared her obviously.

 

Devin first limited how much he ate to lessen burden on family.

Devin first limited how much he ate to lessen burden on family.

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Working in high school and then, yeah, it, it took me, gosh a long time to find a job back there because after high school ’cause it is really bad for jobs over there, it took me two years to find a job after high school. Yeah and my dad was very upset over that, you know he, he was having to pay for my food and everything and you know, my, the way, the best way for my brain to think about it was to lower the amount that you’re eating. And it just kept doing that and it’s odd to come from a guy saying this but I do have anorexia nervosa and it is because of that, that that happened. I just stopped eating.

 

Devin says being neglected in his early life made him able to feel other people's emotions, and now he uses that ability to be helpful.

Devin says being neglected in his early life made him able to feel other people's emotions, and now he uses that ability to be helpful.

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I always had this ability I guess to be able to tell people’s emotions even when they weren’t showing anything on their face. And I guess that might be because I was so neglected of emotion from my mother for those 13 years or whatever. That that actually helped me because I was actually able to help other people out and that’s what I’ve always cared most about is helping others. You know, even if that means sacrificing my own help that is needed. I’ve always just wanted to help other people and from what I figured out was that if I could be around other people who had these emotions needed help I would gain them so much so that it’s still continued now that like when I’m in crowds I can feel everyone else’s emotions just by looking at them. And I seem to gain those emotions, I think there’s a term for it. It’s called like empath or something like that.

 

On-line connections helped Devin feel less alone with the combination of depression and anorexia he was experiencing.

On-line connections helped Devin feel less alone with the combination of depression and anorexia he was experiencing.

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There’s tons and tons of forums that I’ve definitely used and have talked to people, asking them how they feel about certain things, like if they’ve, if they have the clinical depression, have they run into the same problems that I have, like the anorexia or if they’ve had like a, I like to know other people’s stories, if they’ve had similar pasts that I do and I’ve had and it, it’s nice to see that you’re not alone. That you know, you, your mind tends to think that way and you’re the only one with these problems, that this is just you, you’re going to have to deal with it on your own. And then finally speaking to someone who’s having those same feelings has had similar experiences is just again another relief. It may be kind of sad to see that other people have had to deal with the same things you have had to deal with, but it’s definitely nice that you can connect with other people now.

 

Devin says that being neglected in his early life made him able to feel other people's emotions, and now he uses that ability to be helpful.

Devin says that being neglected in his early life made him able to feel other people's emotions, and now he uses that ability to be helpful.

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I always had this ability I guess to be able to tell people’s emotions even when they weren’t showing anything on their face. And I guess that might be because I was so neglected of emotion from my mother for those 13 years or whatever but that actually helped me because I was actually able to help other people out and that’s what I’ve always cared most about you know helping others you know, even if that means sacrificing my own help that is needed. I’ve always just wanted to help other people and from what I figured out was that if I could be around other people who had these emotions that needed help I would gain them so much so that it has still continued now. When I’m in crowds I can feel everyone else’s emotions just by looking at them. And I seem to gain those emotions, I think there’s a term for it it’s called like empath or something like that.

 

Meditation calms Devin and he is glad his girlfriend understands what it means to him.

Meditation calms Devin and he is glad his girlfriend understands what it means to him.

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Let’s see in 10th grade, I started going along a more natural path I guess with the way I dealt with things. The way I ate. And that seemed to help, like I always put off things like meditation because I was in, I was in on the east coast and, and it wasn’t much of an area for meditation or anything really natural there it’s, at least where I lived. But I found out that things like meditation really helped me out, it calmed me down. You know, afterwards I would always feel less stressed, more happy and I’ve continued meditation to this day because it’s always, always helped me during my extremely stressful times and I enjoy that and I’m glad that the person that I am with now actually understands and is able to deal with my extremely hippie ways [laughter].

 

Devin felt a combination of anger and relief when he was diagnosed with clinical depression.

Devin felt a combination of anger and relief when he was diagnosed with clinical depression.

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What was that moment like when you first heard somebody diagnose you, especially with the, was it the clinical depression the first time that you…?

Yeah.

Yeah. How did that feel?

For some reason angering.

Mhmm.

I’m not entirely sure why, but as soon as she said it, I guess it was just immediate anger and denial, I guess I was like, “No there’s no way I can have that.” Even though I know statistically with my family’s genes that I would definitely have something like that.

But you hadn’t already been thinking of yourself as somebody with depression?

Yeah. Yeah. I knew I definitely had to have something going on, but having a name put to it I guess was relieving, but angering at the same time.

 

Devin feels depression has left a shroud of darkness around him, making it hard to know who he is or what he wants to do in life.

Devin feels depression has left a shroud of darkness around him, making it hard to know who he is or what he wants to do in life.

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It’s definitely left that shroud of darkness around me. I sometimes have problems with, I guess, my personality because it waivers sometimes. You know what, trying to think of things that I actually want to do with my life, going to college, all of those things are definitely affected by my depression. Like I, I realize sometimes that I, I don’t know who I am.

 

Devin describes telling his parents about needing help before he attempted suicide.

Devin describes telling his parents about needing help before he attempted suicide.

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I was probably 16 at the time now and I was probably there for less than a week and I just started to absolutely break down because it was everything all over again. And I was in the room next to my mother while she was sewing or something and I was just breaking down crying. I, I ended up having to message one of my friends on Facebook or something like that to tell her to contact my mom because I could not speak at that moment, I was just so overwhelmed I guess. And it had gotten to the point with the self-harming that I just wanted to kill myself at that point and I was going to do it that night, unless somebody helped me out. And I told my mother that I needed to go to the crisis center and she seemed upset about it, which I was kind of confused. And when we got to the crisis center, had somebody speak to me, they called my dad along and both my parents weren’t in the same room for what had been for I don’t know, it had been a long time since I had seen them in the same room, it was weird. But it was like, they were sitting on the opposite side of the table, my father was just pouring tears because I told him straight up that I just wanted to kill myself. I didn’t want to be alive anymore and that’s why I needed to go to a crisis center. While my father was crying my mother was just sitting there stone faced, no expression at all.