Jason

Age at interview: 25
Age at diagnosis: 22
Gender: Male
Outline:

Jason’s first serious bout of depression happened once he was away at college, but looking back he realizes he likely had mild depression during childhood. School related stress, problems in relationships, and family issues can make his depression worse. Supportive friends, getting help, exercise, and a change of scene often make it better.

Background:

Jason is from a large city in Asia, but is living in the U.S. while he completes his college education. He lives in a dormitory room and plans to return to his country of origin after graduation.

See full story

Jason grew up in Asia and has lived in the U.S. for three and a half years, while in college. He plans to return to Asia after graduation and pursue a career. Jason has been exposed to depression all his life because his mother suffers from it. Domestic violence was also an issue at home.

Jason’s own depression has been a “recurring thing” in his life, but he didn’t know “what was really wrong” until it became much worse during his time at college. When his depression is bad, Jason finds it hard to get out of bed, falls behind on school work, isolates himself in his room, and has difficulty sleeping and eating. Depression cycles in and out for Jason. Much of the time he is doing well. Other times, “triggers” like family issues, stress at school, or relationship problems (particularly with romantic partners) bring depression to the forefront.

Jason has not told his family members about his depression because he worries knowing about it would have a bad impact on them. He has come to feel increasingly able to talk about it with friends and acquaintances at school, however, and has found that people have been “pretty supportive and very sympathizing.” Once Jason confides in others, he finds that many of them also struggle with depression or other mental health issues in the “high stress, suffocating, high pressure” college environment.

The school health clinic at Jason’s college has been a useful resource: he is very glad he overcame his earlier reluctance to go, and feels the short-term counseling he got there has been useful. He also just began taking meds prescribed through the clinic. One substantial drawback of the clinic, though, is that it has been slow making a referral for longer term therapy. Jason is “someone who tries to make things better,” and has found a number of ways to address severe bouts of depression.

One is to “try to identify what’s the trigger points [are], try to internalize them or resolve them.” Another is to focus on the part of himself that “wants to get better.” He also tries changing his environment when he feels really depressed, perhaps by getting off campus for a while. He suggests that other young adults with depression remember that no matter how tragic or bad things seem there are “always things to be thankful for,” that they seek help from friends and professionals, and that they be truthful with themselves instead of living in denial of the issue.

 

Jason thinks that a susceptibility to depression that he may have inherited from his mother combine with specific 'trigger factors' in his life to cause his recent struggles.

Jason thinks that a susceptibility to depression that he may have inherited from his mother combine with specific 'trigger factors' in his life to cause his recent struggles.

SHOW TEXT VERSION
PRINT TRANSCRIPT

So personally I think it might be because my mom suffered from it. I think there might be some type of genetic component, or at least, you know, maybe the environment part could be because I’m exposed to a. Maybe that affected her life, that affected you. And then I think, first of all, I think that affects your susceptibility. And then I think it’s more about all those trigger factors. Because I think, at least for me, I think it’s a lot due to a lot of bad things happening together that almost like, break you. I think some things that test your sense of perseverance or sense of resilience, and tolerance and so on, so. I think when a lot of those trigger factors come together and you can’t handle it. I think, so to me, it’s like, it’s a different feeling from being stressed, unhappy. So I think in my impression it’s almost like, you know, you get stretched when you are feeling stress from different trigger points and at some point you just, like, snap. And I think that’s when you, you know, go from, like, just being stressed or unhappy to, like, being depressed, but that’s just my own understanding.

 

 

Jason describes what it was like when he felt out of control.

Jason describes what it was like when he felt out of control.

SHOW TEXT VERSION
PRINT TRANSCRIPT

I was like, crying uncontrollably. I was, I just felt out of control. I wasn’t feeling myself. I literally feel like there was some kind of say, imbalance in my brain that was causing me not to be myself. I was, you know, being forgetful, it was in my logic. I was being antisocial as well, I was losing my friends, and so on. So, I think that was the lowest point where I knew how serious it was, but, and you know, when it struck me how big of a problem or issue it is.

 

For Jason, healing began with a desire to feel better and a willingness to be truthful to himself and others about needing help.

For Jason, healing began with a desire to feel better and a willingness to be truthful to himself and others about needing help.

SHOW TEXT VERSION
PRINT TRANSCRIPT

You talked earlier about the part of yourself that really wanted to feel better.

Mhmm.

Do you think there’s a way people can find that voice in themselves and tune into it?

I think that it goes back to the few of the things that I mentioned earlier. First of all, like being strong. So I think because I was strong, I wanted to feel better. I was trying to be optimistic. I wanted to feel better. So that was that force that was drawing me towards that. I think that I was also truthful to myself. You know, truthful that you know I do suffer from this problem, truthful that I do need help, truthful that I do want to get better. And I was willing to be open to the people who wanted to help me, I think.

Yup.

That was it, and the last thing was I, you know, I was willing to seek help and so, yeah.

 

For Jason, getting away from a stressful setting was an important strategy for breaking the grip of severe depression

For Jason, getting away from a stressful setting was an important strategy for breaking the grip of severe depression

SHOW TEXT VERSION
PRINT TRANSCRIPT

First of all, I wanted to do something that would make me happy. So I feel like, being in school was contributing to the stress and like, the low point. So I wanted to get off campus, because I feel like being in an environment where you’re unhappy and that causes you to be unhappy. One of, you know, escape the bubble for a while. So I decided to go off campus and also just like, say, eat a good meal. I think that helped. So that was when I finally decided to go out. It wasn’t to hang out with my friends, or like, to go to the spots I usually like to go. It was actually to go off campus and have some alone time, away from like, the bubble that was very much, very suffocating.

 

For Jason, being close to his family helped buffer his depression, but also magnified his suffering when he could not be more open with them.

For Jason, being close to his family helped buffer his depression, but also magnified his suffering when he could not be more open with them.

SHOW TEXT VERSION
PRINT TRANSCRIPT

I think one of the reasons why I’ve never felt suicidal, for example, and like, I know people who’ve been unfortunate to feel those ways. I think, I’m very close with my family, so I feel like, the hurt that I think it’s going to cause them, you know, has basically precluded this possibility, at least for me. But I think on the, on the negative side, I think not being able to share with them, I mean, first of all, you’re always hiding something, right? And I think they don’t understand you enough. So, let’s say when I, I’m sorry remember, I remember I told you that I, at the end of last year was when I was very depressed and, I went back home. So, when I, say, quarreled with my parents, you know, I think a lot of it was just because I was still, you know, depressed and in a bad state. But then, I can’t be telling them, you know, “Leave me alone.” Like, you know, “You’re really, making me really, you know, like, we, you know, whatever you say, whatever it’s like causing me a lot of distress. Not because I’m, you know, angtsy and I’m being unreasonable. But, you know, I think it’s because I’m depressed, right?” And it’s, you know, it’s hard when you can’t tell them. Well I should, for me, I choose not to tell them and you know, you suffer as well.

 

As his depression worsened, Jason found himself in a downward spiral, falling farther behind on assignments which made him more depressed.

As his depression worsened, Jason found himself in a downward spiral, falling farther behind on assignments which made him more depressed.

SHOW TEXT VERSION
PRINT TRANSCRIPT

It’s not just about being sociable. It’s not like becoming less functional, right? Like, say, losing, short, feeling like you have poor short-term memory, feeling you have like poor, like logical capabilities, or whatever. And I think it’s like a self-reinforcing cycle, that, you know, if you don’t go to classes and then it makes you, you know, do poorly or perform less well, which then feeds back into, I think feeling depressed, which then feeds back to not doing well.

 

Jason found that opening up to his friends about depression increased his trust in them.

Jason found that opening up to his friends about depression increased his trust in them.

SHOW TEXT VERSION
PRINT TRANSCRIPT

Yeah, you know, and recently you know, I’ve been more open to like, maybe also because I’m almost graduating, so I’m more open about such things but. I’ve been more open with friends I trust about my issues. And I think that helps just to like, relieve some of the stress. For example, I previously I wouldn’t talk to them, and you know, I’ll make up, say, excuses and say that , you know, I was, you know, I had a, I was, I had a fever. That’s why I didn’t go to this place, or whatever. And now I’m more open to telling them that, you know, I was having such issues, or I’m more open to just telling them that, “Oh, I’m in a pretty bad state recently. I’m feeling very down, so part of me, if I don’t want to go to your place or if I don’t seem very friendly.” So I’m more open to being more open about my feelings and also more open about telling them why I feel this way.

Yeah. How have people responded to that?

I think, first of all, I think people here. I would say that you know, having depression or mental issues is pretty prevalent here, just because of the high stress, suffocating, high pressure environment. So I think for the most part, because people I revealed this to are close friends have been really supportive, just because they’re my also close friends, and also because a lot of them faced similar issues. Or at least because we’re in similar environments, so they can sympathize. But overall, people have been very, I think pretty supportive and very sympathizing, which is reassuring. Because I thought that some of them would just leave me and some of them would, you know, look at me with disdain because of the supposed stigma, but it’s been more liberating than I expected.

 

Knowing other people who suffered from depression made it much easier for Jason to realize he was also depressed and it was okay to seek help.

Knowing other people who suffered from depression made it much easier for Jason to realize he was also depressed and it was okay to seek help.

SHOW TEXT VERSION
PRINT TRANSCRIPT

And because of these, you know, close I guess, people close to me who suffered from it, like I think I got more curious about it and I got more sympathetic towards it, and I also started to identify it some of, say, the symptoms, and you know, the features were present in my own life. So I think that was good for me, that I was, first of all, more conscious than I would be without them, and also I was relatively open to like, seeking help and, you know, being vulnerable and being, you know, open to seeking help.

Yeah.

Yeah, but it was also like, like I said. It was because of them that I got curious about it and I read up about it and so I know the symptoms and what it feels like. So when the same thing happened to me, I feel like, I wasn’t just like, I think, you know, say I blamed myself less. Usually when you’re feeling low and depressed you’re very like, it’s very much self-inflicted, self-blaming. And I think that gave me a perspective that, you know, made me feel more realistic and back to the point of being more open about it and seeking help.