Frankie

Age at interview: 24
Age at diagnosis: 13
Gender: Female
Outline:

Frankie, age 24, was diagnosed at age 13 and took medication briefly. Later on, medications (thanks to health insurance), listening to music and taking walks help her depression. She has an eating disorder and looks forward to getting professional help for it.

Background:

Frankie works fulltime in customer service and lives with her husband. She takes antidepressants is not in therapy. Ethnic background is Caucasian.

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Frankie first noticed symptoms of depression at age 13. She didn’t really understand what it was, but felt “like there was just a black cloud over my head.” Her parents took her to the doctor, who prescribed fluoxetine. She hated the medication and stopped taking it, because she “ didn’t have the highs anymore… and felt numb”. Her parents liked it because she “was no longer being disagreeable”. After that she ignored her depression, and with her high school friends started drinking and doing drugs; her grades suffered.

Frankie also developed her eating disorder at about age 13, but did not think, that it was a problem until much later. Things turned around in college when she started dating her boyfriend, who is now her husband. He was focused on doing well in school and she was motivated to do the same. In fact, the prospect of losing her 4.0 grade-point average sent her to student counseling. She only had a few counseling sessions, because she had no insurance and did not find it helpful.

Frankie was able to manage her depression by being “self-aware” and she “knew the right things to do, get more sleep, get more exercise”. Taking long walks was like therapy to her, “just going off my own, listening to music, thinking…. it’s just cathartic”. Frankie decided seek help for depression as soon as she got on her husband’s insurance. Actually the “decision to go on medication was a little bit difficult”. Instead of asking for medication she said, “Ok. Here’s my list of problems. I have an eating disorder. I’m anxious a lot. I have depression. Let’s see what we can do about all of this. …It was the doctor’s suggestion that I go on medication, and I think that was probably a smart one.” She is once again taking fluoxetine. This time she has not, “noticed side effects in the medications” but feels “there are much fewer lows”.

he is recovering from a major episode with her eating disorder in college and is looking forward to getting professional help for it. She thinks all primary care doctors should screen for depression, because “more people are affected by it than even they know. … Depression doesn’t always look like a sad face. … I guess it’s the stereotype of the sad clown, …but it’s very true.”

 

Frankie didn't understand what was happening to her, and hadn't heard the word 'depression' until her parents took her to a doctor.

Frankie didn't understand what was happening to her, and hadn't heard the word 'depression' until her parents took her to a doctor.

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Ok I think that I have felt different than a lot of my peers for almost as long as I can remember. Even in young childhood everyone was very happy and go lucky and I had this, not that I didn’t have moments of happiness but I always had this gnawing, underlying sense of sadness. there was I always had these very deep darker thoughts and when I would ask you know friends that were my age whether they had ever thought about that, the thought you know had never crossed their mind. And I found that so odd, why do I feel this way when nobody else does, nobody else has ever even had the concept of that before.

 

Frankie discusses how the comments she heard when she lost weight led to her eating disorder.

Frankie discusses how the comments she heard when she lost weight led to her eating disorder.

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So I lost a bunch of weight and then we went back to normal, to eating, normal food with carbs and I just ballooned up. And it was the most embarrassing thing that I could think of, because everyone had told how great I looked and that just really fed into the perfectionist in me. Like, yes, give me more of that, tell me how beautiful I look, I look amazing, and all of a sudden that was gone and it was terrible. And so that’s when it started. And it just sort of continued.

 

Frankie describes her feelings about gaining back the weight she lost.

Frankie describes her feelings about gaining back the weight she lost.

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But what actually happened was, when I was 20, so I was, I was in college, I decided that I was just going to lose a bunch of weight, which I guess sort of had been the goal throughout, but I wasn’t really making it a priority. So I decided to make it a priority. And I counted calories like crazy, ate barely anything, worked out for hours a day, and I lost 80 pounds I think. And then realized suddenly, whoa, I am super unhealthy. I, like, anytime I stood up I would just like, like my eyes would just go black and I would fall down. Super healthy, right? So I just decided that, that wasn’t working for me anymore, didn’t like it and so yeah, I decided to go back to normal which unfortunately has caused me to gain 90 pounds back. So in a, in a way I’m recovered but I’m, I’m, I’m feeling that like that 13 year old like, ugh, like everyone was so happy with me when I had lost 80 pounds and now like none of them understand that I’m actually probably healthier now. To them they just see, oh, she, you know, reverted back. That sucks for her, sort of thing and so yeah, I’ve been struggling with it a lot.

 

Frankie didn't have insurance for the longest time, and as a result didn't get treatment for depression or other issues. Now that she has insurance, she has a list of services that she wants to get.

Frankie didn't have insurance for the longest time, and as a result didn't get treatment for depression or other issues. Now that she has insurance, she has a list of services that she wants to get.

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… my parents didn’t have insurance and so any time we had to go to the doctor it was a really huge deal. The bill would be massive, so I felt way too bad to even suggest, “Hey, I want to go to a counselor. Hey, I want to do this.” Because I knew that would cost them hundreds of dollars, if not more, so that’s kind of crappy but.

You said now you have insurance. So what do you think are other things that you might pursue now that you, you might have better coverage for more services?

Oh boy. What’s, what’s funny is, as soon as it kicked in, I felt like a kid in a candy shop. Like, oh my god, I can go to a dentist. I’m going to go. I went to a nutritionist a few times. It wasn’t super helpful on the eating disorder side. That that’s what I was hoping, I was hoping it would be helpful but, you know it was just, ok. Yeah, I, we joined a gym because we could get a reimbursement for a lot of it. What else, what else. I don’t know. I feel like I’ve done so many things [Laughter].

You feel like a kid in a candy store?

Yeah.

That’s an interesting analogy [Laughter].

Yeah that’s what it felt like, like oh my god let’s look though this whole packet and see like all the stuff that we can do now [Laughter].

 

Frankie still doesn't feel she is the most empathetic person because depression makes her distant -- but it has made her a better listener.

Frankie still doesn't feel she is the most empathetic person because depression makes her distant -- but it has made her a better listener.

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I think that I am more understanding, I’m so understanding of other people and their feelings. I’m not the most empathetic person in the sense that I, I don’t get super close with other people, but when they are having an issue I am there 100% to listen and to provide any sort of advice I can. So that, that’s a strength of mine that I think has come out of depression.

 

Frankie describes feeling numb after starting medication.

Frankie describes feeling numb after starting medication.

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I felt like. It just, it evened me out too much in the sense that, like previously I had a lot of highs and a lot of lows, and I, I was just even. I didn’t have the highs that I had anymore. I didn’t feel much of anything, and I just, I sort of felt numb. My parents really liked it and they didn’t want me to go off of it because I was no longer being disagreeable. I was just sort of going through the motions and doing what they told me to do, and that was great for them [Laughter], and I can see that now, but I hated it. And so I just stopped taking it at a certain point.