Joey

Age at interview: 28
Age at diagnosis: 26
Gender: Male
Outline:

Joey had some extended periods of low mood earlier in his life, but the first time he experienced serious depression was at age 25. He was stuck in patterns of socializing, drinking and minimal self-care that worked well for him while in college, but pulled him down in later years. Therapy, adopting more functional life skills, and regular contact with other people have been the biggest help.

Background:

Joey lives in an apartment in an artists’ building in an urban area near where he had gone to college. He works part time in retail stores and is a musician. He is White.

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Teddy’s depression began in middle school. When things went wrong between him and a girl he had been seeing, it haunted him. The same thing happened with other relationships, and each time it got worse until he slipped unto a “deep, dark depression”, started skipping school, and had trouble getting out of bed. When his depression “kind of leaked out” on a school assignment, his teacher took him to the school psychologist to get help and then that same day he also told his mother and she took him to a therapist.

Advice from his therapists has been helpful to Teddy – particularly about how to stick up for himself and deal with difficult relationships. He tried medication at one point, but did not feel it worked so stopped taking it. A couple of teachers who have recognized Teddy’s musical talent and encouraged him have had a positive impact.

Support from his friends and family has made the biggest difference of all, because depression is “an emotional thing… [so] other people is what can help the most.” One of Teddy’s brothers has been a particularly strong source of support. Teddy is also devoted to taking care of his dog, who has some health problems. Concern expressed by a friend and awareness of how much his dog needs him once combined to save Teddy when he was feeling suicidal.

Music, animals, and happy TV shows all help Teddy feel better. He graduated from high school, and aspires to make music for a living, or be a vet technician. He wants other young adults to know they should “try a lot of things” if they are depressed: “Try talking to your friends that you can trust with your life… and they’ll try to help you to the best of their abilities. If that doesn’t work out, try a therapist. He also urges people to “go back and fix it or make amends” if they have problems with relationships that contribute to depression and can be remedied.

 

Joey's family supported him to recognize how bad he was feeling as a problem and make an appointment to get help.

Joey's family supported him to recognize how bad he was feeling as a problem and make an appointment to get help.

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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.

 

Having depression run in his family doesn't mean, for Joey, that he has to be depressed. The conditions for depression have to also arise in his life.

Having depression run in his family doesn't mean, for Joey, that he has to be depressed. The conditions for depression have to also arise in his life.

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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.

 

When he is depressed, Joey sees the world as a dead field; when he's not depressed, it can be more like an awesome forest.

When he is depressed, Joey sees the world as a dead field; when he's not depressed, it can be more like an awesome forest.

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Because you’re in this like mindset, you just see you know like a dead field, you know, with a bunch of flowers like wilted and nobody there and so, I don’t know. In a less, it’s not necessarily that religious but I do feel like that your mind like, your, whatever is going on in your mind does like almost like change the world around you and in some profound ways. And so, yeah, I guess that was kind of how I looked at it or it was like do you just want to stare at dead fields or do you want to like see, you know like, an awesome forest with a bunch of people running around, having a good time.

 

Joey describes losing interest in just about everything when he was depressed.

Joey describes losing interest in just about everything when he was depressed.

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I didn’t have like any ideas of like what to do that would like make me feel good. Like, at times in past it’s like, oh I could go hang out with my friends. Oh, I could like go play this game or something, or you know, I could go make some food or you know, talk to somebody, or something. And this was just like, there’s nothing, there’s, every idea that I thought of just sounded like the stupidest, dumbest thing in the world and yeah, you know. You wake up enough days in a row where every single idea seems like shit and it’s just hard to, I don’t know.

Other people noticed that the people around them seemed happier than they were. Crystal describes that at summer camp she was “struck by how badly I tended to react to certain things that excited other people. There was an activity and it was simple, everyone was having fun but just looking at it I was just like confused, it didn’t excite me. I didn’t want to engage with it.”

 

Joey's doctor helped him realize how poor his eating habits were, and the role this might be playing in his depression, by checking in with him regularly about self-care and food.

Joey's doctor helped him realize how poor his eating habits were, and the role this might be playing in his depression, by checking in with him regularly about self-care and food.

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I mean also yeah like somebody to ask you like questions because I didn’t think I was doing like anything like that wrong, but it was like, so like, how many meals a day do you eat and you’re like oh. One most of time, like as soon as you say that out loud you’re like, woah. Maybe that isn’t ok [laughter]. Like, maybe you could be doing something better for yourself in that area of your life.

Yup.

And so, yeah, it was nice to answer those questions out loud as opposed to like. Because even in you’re head, you’re like, you think about stuff and you’re like, eh that seems reasonable. And then you like answer questions like, ah that sounds horrible like out loud [laughter].

 

Joey's relationships with others improved when he told them about his depression, and he often learned they are depressed too.

Joey's relationships with others improved when he told them about his depression, and he often learned they are depressed too.

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I felt that was the only way I could even get through it was, would be to like, tell people around me that I’m on it. But a lot of people just know, I mean I’m, I’m pretty close to like most of my friends, I guess except for acquaintances. But I mean, if I’m friends with somebody it’s usually like a pretty close relationship and so they were, I mean, they were probably aware of it, even before like I was, a lot of the time. And I definitely have no problem telling people that I was on as SSRI, just because I, would, I actually learned like a ton of people were on it that never said anything about it, like, there’s like, it was like almost like half the people that I would say, “I am on medication,” like, “Oh yeah me, too!” It’s like, what, like, almost over half it seems like. I was constantly shocked at like how many people were like, “Oh yeah me, too, what are you on?” Like, “What?!” You had like no indication that they would be on it or, it didn’t seem like the kind of person, but yeah. I don’t know. It’s kind of just, at some point I realized the pattern and I was just curious on like, you know, how many people are out there that are doing various medications of various kinds? And like, yeah, most of the time it was an SSRI. Like very rarely would it be something for something else.

Wow. No, kind of, fears about disclosing … ?

No. I don’t, I’m a pretty open person. I mean, I’m somewhat of an exhibitionist. Like I, you know, most of the time that window, the blinds are like all the way to the top. You know, I don’t. I, I don’t feel, I mean, I’m sure I have secrets, but most of my life, it’s like, I don’t feel like I need to keep it under like lock and keys. Like, I’m not, I don’t have like trade secrets or anything. Like, you know, it’s like, I’m not worried about anything getting out and if it does, it’s like, you know. I don’t know. I think that’s a response to, I see, a lot of people in this world hold a lot of like secrecy around a lot of stuff, and a lot of people are embarrassed about everything and like, you can’t talk about money, and you can’t talk about this, and you can’t talk about that, and it’s like pretty much the opposite of how I view things. And I feel like a lot of the problems around are because people aren’t open with like their true feelings and so I’m, you know, not afraid to be like, “Are you on medication?” Because then it’s like, that opens up a whole new conversation that we never would have had and like, you know, this person could never have had this conversation before and been wanting to have it or like, you know, it’s just being able to like, relate to somebody else, knowing that they have, like, the same problems as you, I think, helps a lot. Like, to know that it’s not, just you going through it. Because there’s a lot of people, that it, or you know, it’s like any, even if it’s like an obscure problem or an obscure issue that you’re having, it’s like, you’d be surprised how many people have, like, a relatable situation to it, and they can help you out.

 

Joey found it increasingly hard to take care of basic tasks after college was over and he had not yet found other productive things to do with his time.

Joey found it increasingly hard to take care of basic tasks after college was over and he had not yet found other productive things to do with his time.

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Like, hygiene, eating properly, you know, like healthy and regularly – which I’m still working on – but, I mean, like, I just pretty much checked out on like, all those things. Like I mean every, I don’t know, I just was like unable to take care of responsibilities and then that kind of just snowballed out of effect, or, to the point where it’s like, just wake up in the morning and you’re just like, “Ah, I don’t know. What? Nope, just not happening,” just…

Was, I was treating myself like crap. Like, I, every thought I had about myself in my head was a negative thought. I didn’t exercise – at all. Didn’t … rarely ate. Like, I mean I’d eat, a meal a day – maybe, at like, and it, was, you know, not that … nu-, you know, full of nutrients or that good. Like, yeah, just, didn’t believe that, like, really anything was possible … like, room – looked like crap, like, bed – was never made …

 

Joey says getting even a 'crappy' job added necessary structure to his life and immediately made him less depressed.

Joey says getting even a 'crappy' job added necessary structure to his life and immediately made him less depressed.

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… having a job, even like a crappy one, which, I kind of tire of jobs really quickly, but, I mean, I started working and it was like, even after, you know, like, being on medication for six months and like doing really good, like feeling, feeling better, I mean – got a job. And … but once I started working, it was like, just, instant like, overnight, just like, doubled like how I felt about myself. Even, and it, wasn’t anything particularly rewarding, you know, it was [Name], like, I wasn’t like, you know, “Hey! I’m going to go be a sales associate at [Name]!” It was just like, leaving your house – every day. Like, coming home after working for hours, having money that you actually earned that, you know, you didn’t get, from the government or your parents, like … It helps a lot, but yeah. Friends and like, some sort of, like – even if it’s like, three hours a day – like, some sort of work or something. I think, are the, at least, for me, have been the most helpful in getting out of that rut.

 

Joey discusses how medications caused a creative block for him.

Joey discusses how medications caused a creative block for him.

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That was one of the reasons that I got, or that I had to get off the medication was that there was some creative block or like, it wasn’t even like I couldn’t be creative because I could make music that sounded good but it did like nothing for me. Like, it was just like, yeah. I was just like, I guess it was because the, well the emotional spectrum. It like elevates it, but it like constricts it so instead of feeling like this, you feel like this, but this happens to be in like, you know, there’s all this that you don’t have to like deal with and compared to being depressed, it’s like this is the high end of the spectrum. But yeah, I don’t know. Depression is not good for music. I mean I need like a variation in emotions or I appreciate a variation in emotions but it was like, I was not making, in my eyes, was not creating good art when I was depressed. It was all just kind of like slow and the same and like, yeah. There was just like no variety to it, it always just kind of came back to like the same thing, where it was just like meh. Kind of sad but kind of you know, optimistic and I don’t know. I prefer a broader range of feelings.

 

Joey says he finally went to the doctor for help when he realized he no longer had any idea what would make him feel good.

Joey says he finally went to the doctor for help when he realized he no longer had any idea what would make him feel good.

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It was, it was different. Like it wasn’t just like I was bummed out or something. It was like, there was like, I didn’t know, I didn’t have like any ideas of what to do that would make me feel good. Like, at times in past it’s like, oh I could go hang out with my friends. Oh, I could like play this game or something, you know. I could go make some food or you know, talk to somebody or something. This was just like, there’s nothing, there’s, every idea that I thought of just sounded like the stupidest, dumbest thing in the world and yeah, you know. You wake up enough days in a row where every single idea seems like shit, it’s just hard to, I don’t know. That was why I went to go see somebody.

Like basically desperation was how I, you know, managed to make the phone call and then go there and spend the money and all that stuff. It was just like, there’s no way that you can, you know be like this. Like, it’s like you just, at some point you’re so hungry you have to go get food. Even if like you are busy or you don’t have time or you don’t have money or you don’t, nothing sounds good. It’s like, you have to eat and that was pretty much where I was at. It was like if I don’t do this, like I might not even be alive, you know in like, a years’ time. You know, like just thinking about like if I went that path for like another year it was like, kind of frightening. It was, I could not, it could not happen. And that was what made me do it.

 

Joey feels that his depression is largely the result of 'missing the memo on how to be an adult.'

Joey feels that his depression is largely the result of 'missing the memo on how to be an adult.'

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…both my parents, you know, I mean they’re parents, they’re imperfect. But I mean like they were there for me. I mean they’re still together. I mean, I was never abused or anything or had any like messed up stuff like that happen, so it was more just like, I’m doing something wrong I felt like. You know, it’s like I just missed a memo on like how to be an adult and I’m suffering the consequences for this.

 

Joey says his depression is connected to feeling he was not doing what an adult should be doing after graduating from college.

Joey says his depression is connected to feeling he was not doing what an adult should be doing after graduating from college.

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There was no college, it was just like a bunch of people just drinking and like doing nothing you know. It’s like. It was like college but you take away all the good aspects of it and then you’re just left with like a bunch of people getting drunk and like doing nothing, like. It’s like there’s no like social engagements beyond like you’re core group of friends. There’s no classes where you’re bettering yourselves, you’re not in like a new cultural kind of deal or it’s exciting. Yeah. I think that was the difference in. I don’t know, how do I say this. I don’t know. There was something about like just after college, because it was like you’re doing something in college. You’re like working for something and then you’re out of college, it’s like. I didn’t know exactly what I wanted to do. I didn’t go to college to have a particular job, I kind of went to a be yourself alternative school, so it’s like I didn’t like come out with like engineering skills I’m going to apply towards a career. I just like kind of like hopped around from crappy job to crappy job as they did and it was like, after like a couple years it was like, what are you doing. Like, where are you going and I mean not that I’m going to blame that necessarily on like as depressed as I got but I mean that was one of the factors and questions that came up. Like, as the years kept going by, you know I was like twenty-five and you’re not doing anything with your life, and you’re twenty-six and you’re like you know, just still barely, you know, making a little bit above minimum wage. Like, where’s this all going…

I know some people it’s like, they struggle with this for like decades or lifetimes, but I feel like this is kind of just more of a chapter for me or like, I don’t know. I, it seems like a very contextual as opposed to something that like that kind of just developed like long term growing up.

So would you attribute the cause of your depression more to those contextual factors?

Yeah, that and just like not, not doing what an adult should do, which like if you don’t do that long enough will take you to a dark place where you don’t want to be in. It’s like you need to be like pushing yourself, you need to be a, like doing some form of work. It doesn’t even need to be necessarily paid, but you need to have like something where you get up in the morning, you go do it some days out of the week. I think that helps a lot. You know, constantly, like hanging out friends and seeking new friends and like expanding your social circles. Like, hygiene, eating properly, you know like healthy and regularly, which I’m still working on but I mean like, I just pretty much checked out of like all those things. I mean every, I don’t know, I was just like unable to take care of responsibilities and then that kind of just snowballed out of factor to the point where it was like you wake up in the morning and it’s like I don’t know what. No, this is not happening just…