Nadina

Age at interview: 23
Gender: Female
Outline:

Nadina continues to struggle with depression and anxiety which both began in childhood. She has never gotten or wanted a medical diagnosis. Drawing and illustrating and trying to improve the world are things that make her feel better. She has not tried therapy or medication.

Background:

Nadina lives with her parents in a suburb near a small city. She completed college and works as a freelance illustrator. She is Caucasian.

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Nadina felt there was something wrong with herself starting at a very young age. She felt that, in the communities where she was raised, boys were often valued more than girls, and suffered low self-confidence as a result. The Mormon church, which played a large role in her community, also reinforced this sense of being “wrong.” As a young teenager told she had to cover her body, and knowing she was “not skinny”, she began to feel uncomfortable in her own skin.

Nadina struggles with both anxiety and depression, like her mother. She is an only child and close to her parents, especially her mom — but she is reluctant to tell her mother too much about her depression because she worries that she would be “really upset if she thought she had passed depression on”. Nadina also wants to be in charge of how her “mental health is handled” herself, and so has been very cautious about who she does and doesn’t tell. There are many friends she does not confide in. She has also not wanted to see professionals and get a medical diagnosis, partly because of a lack of money to pay for services, and partly because she is concerned about being prescribed medication she prefers not to take. She thinks she may get professional help in the future, though, if her current issues “continue later in life”.

Concentrating on her art and illustration work is very helpful for Nadina. She successfully finished an art degree in another part of the country, despite some very difficult times there, and then returned to live in her parents’ home. She works as a freelance illustrator, which is “not really an issue with depression” because it is flexible and doesn’t happen in a social setting where she would feel overwhelmed. Work is often both a good distraction, and a way to express herself. At the same time, she has persisting anxiety that her work is not good enough. She is bi-sexual, and has had several important intimate relationships, some of which have ended painfully.

Since low self-esteem can be a powerful cause of depression, Nadina wants other young adults “not to be afraid to accept certain things about yourself that you may feel are wrong because they probably are not wrong, you know whether or not you feel like you may like the same sex or you don’t want kids, there’s nothing wrong with those things… just do what’s right for you”. She has found the ability to create things to be an “amazing gift” and effective way of addressing depression and anxiety; she hopes other people will find their own “saving grace” too.

 

Nadina says the first step in maintaining a hopeful attitude is learning not to give up, and remembering that bad times have come and gone in the past.

Nadina says the first step in maintaining a hopeful attitude is learning not to give up, and remembering that bad times have come and gone in the past.

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…When I was younger I thought depression would be the end of me, but now that I’m older I feel that it is a challenge that many people deal with and it’s an ongoing battle and like life is just kind of an ongoing battle, and you know if you can make it through one day, like you can make it through so many more. And just to not give up, I know that’s such an overused thing, you know, not giving up, but sometimes that’s all you have to resort to is just to like keep staying strong, to really fight through your demons and, and other people’s sometimes and realize that you may not have control over everything but you have control over how you perceive things and how you feel about things. And sometimes it gets really hard to where you may not feel like you can deal with these things, but if you’ve dealt with horrible things in the past and you’ve made it through it, I’m positive you can make it through the next round of things that [Laugher] may not be particularly positive. But you know, that’s just kind of how life is. And I know it’s a struggle, but everybody feels that struggle to some extent

 

Nadina has always felt inadequate, even in her gender, and thinks this feeling underlies her depression.

Nadina has always felt inadequate, even in her gender, and thinks this feeling underlies her depression.

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I always just kind of felt like there was something wrong with me. Whether it was my, my gender, in particular. I just kind of felt like even at a young age I noticed there was a difference between boys and girls and I kind of had this inkling that people would prefer you were born a boy instead of a girl. And that made me really, just I had very low self-confidence because of that…

Because I just felt so horribly inadequate, just like I couldn’t do anything right, you know like, I can’t you know, I’m not as smart as other people, I’m not as pretty as other people, I’m not this, I’m not that…

Just like I couldn’t do anything right, ever. And I think that’s really what it comes down to with my depression is feeling like I’m never good enough, like never can do something right.

 

Nadina describes the cycle of her anxiety and depression.

Nadina describes the cycle of her anxiety and depression.

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But, basically anxiety is more, like, kind of like this wasp is stinging you in the back, depression is more like, you just want to go to bed [laughs]. You just don’t want to deal with the world, you just want to be alone and isolated and I’d say that the two kind of swing back and forth like I’ll be kind of really anxious and kinda wired and doing all these things like cleaning my room or like running different errands to feel busy like I’m doing something with my time that’s worthwhile and then when I’m depressed it’s like I just want to like sit by the river and not, not deal with anyone or anything so I think that like you know, I think depression kinda sets in after I’ve had this big burst of anxiety. Because I realize, you know, wow, this an all the time thing with me, it’s just an endless cycle, it never ends.

 

Nadina describes how handwashing gave her a sense of control.

Nadina describes how handwashing gave her a sense of control.

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I check things multiple times a night, I repeat things over and over [laughs] if I don’t think that I did it right, just that, in that particular way. Handwashing a whole bunch. Making sure pretty much [laughs] every inch of my body is clean. It’s kind of a living hell sometimes and, but I feel like it’s me coping with feeling, just not good enough and like so, you know, if I’m not feeling good enough that particular, particular day … oh, maybe if I arrange my, [laughs] my credenza, you know, all the stuff, like, differently, maybe I’ll feel a little bit better, or maybe if I wash my hands 20 times, you know, I’ll feel, I’ll feel like, maybe I won’t get sick in the next week or something like that. So it’s almost kind of like tying these loose ends of things that I think that are in disarray … and, since I feel a lack of control, in my life and like, what’s happened to me, when I feel in tr-, in control of certain little things that gives me some kind, type of, I don’t know, com-, completion? Or something like that.

 

Nadina says that the first step in maintaining a hopeful attitude is learning not to give up, and remembering that bad times have come and gone in the past.

Nadina says that the first step in maintaining a hopeful attitude is learning not to give up, and remembering that bad times have come and gone in the past.

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When I was younger I thought depression would be the end of me, um, but now that I’m older I feel that it is a challenge that many people deal with and it’s an ongoing battle and like life is kind of just an ongoing battle, and that you know, if you can make it through one day you can make it through so many more. And just to not give up, I know that’s such an overused thing, you know, not giving up, but sometimes that’s all you have to resort to is just to like keep staying strong, to really fight through your demons and, and other people sometimes and realize you may not have control over everything but you have control over how you perceive things and how you feel about things. And sometimes it gets really hard to where you may not feel like you can deal with these things, but if you’ve dealt with horrible things in the past and you’ve made it through it, I’m positive you can make it through the next round of things that [laughs] may not be particularly positive. But you know, that’s just kind of how life is. And I know it’s a struggle, but everybody feels that struggle to some extent.

 

Nadina is concerned that if she tells her mom about depression, her mom - who also struggles with it - will both worry and feel at fault.

Nadina is concerned that if she tells her mom about depression, her mom - who also struggles with it - will both worry and feel at fault.

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I feel like part of me is afraid to vocalize that I have this issue because, for one thing, I’m afraid of scaring my mom, because my mom is awesome and she’s, you know one of my best friends and, she’s always felt like she’s kind of passed on her anxiety to me. So I feel like she’d be really upset if she thought she’s passed depression on to me, which I don’t think is the case. But it might be something that she thinks and…

You know, I have, we have been talking about me seeing like a therapist or something because, especially what happened to me like this past quarter trying to complete school and what not. Just a lot of bad events, like one after another. So I, I definitely can tell that she wants to help me, but I’m just kind of worried about, you know (laughs) getting in to her with things, “well mom, you know, I, I’ve, I’ve had suicidal thoughts in the past, they kind of came up like this past quarter, I really think like, you know, I need to be seen.” And you know I’ve said things like to her, like that to her, without mentioning the suicidal part. Because I really just don’t wanna freak her out.

 

Nadina contrasts the benefits of working freelance with the difficult demands of hourly work in an overwhelmingly social setting.

Nadina contrasts the benefits of working freelance with the difficult demands of hourly work in an overwhelmingly social setting.

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…freelance is not really an issue with depression. Like I just do it, you know kind of robotically, even if I’m not feeling great that day. The hard thing for me is working an hourly job you know in a very social setting. I get very overwhelmed if there are a lot of people around and a lot of demands and people getting irritated with me or something, it’s very stressful. So it’s been something I’ve really had to fight with because I need to work, obviously, I need to make money. So when I’m in a social setting that’s uncomfortable to me it’s very hard and that’s something that I don’t think people get about depression there’s also kind of this issue with too many people, too much noise can be very overwhelming , oh, sensory overload type of thing.

 

Nadina's thoughts are connected to her depression, but her body fights against it.

Nadina's thoughts are connected to her depression, but her body fights against it.

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So it’s, it’s definitely, a struggle. And I feel like, eventually, my physical body and, and, you know, what’s in here, kinda separate themselves and, you know, my brain will be like, “I do not wanna get up,” and my body will be like, “well too bad,” like, you know, it’s kind of just, like almost like, this instinctual survival thing. And that I feel like kicks in when your brain is just, just wants to give up, but your body is like, “well we can’t, we must keep going,” you know, there’s so much to do and learn and to, to perceive and, even though this sucks, like, it can get better, it may go back to sucking [laughs] but, like there needs to be that balance, and I do recognize that, you know, the universe kind of flip-flops between negative events and positive ones …

 

Bias against girls eroded Nadina's self-confidence and made way for depression starting at a very young age.

Bias against girls eroded Nadina's self-confidence and made way for depression starting at a very young age.

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I just kind of felt like even at a young age I noticed there was a difference between boys and girls and I, I kind of had this inkling that people would prefer you were born a boy instead of a girl. And that made me really, just I had very low self-confidence because of that and I think what really hit me was an experience I had when I was 4 years old. I was at a daycare and I was like, they were asking us, you know, “What, what do you want to be when you grow up?” And I told them, “Well, I want to be a doctor.” You know, like, I, I really liked doctors, I had a female doctor. I liked how, you know, they made me feel better. I wanted to make other people feel better, so, you know, I said, “Oh, I want to be a doctor.” And this little boy came up to me and he was like, “You can’t be a doctor, you’re a girl.” And that really crushed me a whole lot. I was like, well that’s not true, I mean, I have, I have a lady doctor. And he’s like, “She’s a nurse, only girls can be nurses.” I mean only, you know, that’s it, like they can’t be a doctor or anything like that. So that kind of [laughter] really just like made me realize okay, obviously like there’s reason why people are telling me this. Like it must be that, you know, girls are weaker or something like that. So that kind of really tore me up and like as I was going through life I always knew that was a thing. At that time I was also very overweight so like, being a girl, being overweight, was not a good thing, like at all. And you know, I just kind of started to feel very uncomfortable, uncomfortable in my own skin.

 

For Nadina, helping others also means feeling less alone.

For Nadina, helping others also means feeling less alone.

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I think part of the reason why I like to help people out is because I’ve been there and I just, I know how bad they feel. I may not know exactly how bad they feel but I’ve, I’ve definitely felt similar, similar things and you know it upsets me to see them like that so I try really hard to help them out because I, it’s almost kind of like not comforting but good to know that somebody else feels something that you’ve felt before so you don’t feel as alone.

 

For Nadina, sharing experiences goes a long way -- but she still feels each person is isolated with their own problems.

For Nadina, sharing experiences goes a long way -- but she still feels each person is isolated with their own problems.

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…a lot of my friends have similar feelings like I do, like feelings of inadequacy and, feeling like they’re never good enough, um, my significant other especially. And I feel like though that, we’re kind of alone even though we can, we share each, each other’s experiences. We, we alone can only understand what we’re feeling, we can be as vocal and descriptive as we possibly can, but when it really comes down to it we’re still isolated in our own issues and problems. And it’s good to talk about it and it’s good to relate, but it’s, it’s hard to really like take yourself and place yourself in somebody else’s shoes completely. Like you can be and, as empathetic as possible, sincerely empathetic, but that’s really all you can do at that point.

 

For Nadina, creating art helps her face fears and understand bad dreams.

For Nadina, creating art helps her face fears and understand bad dreams.

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I feel that illustration has really helped with me to face what, what exactly is troubling me and, and kind of torturing me in some ways, you know a lot of my nightmares that I have, I have really bad insomnia, but when I do sleep I usually have some nightmares that are pretty scary so I try to kind of illustrate what happened in there because I, instead of like fearing it and running away from it or whatever it is even if it’s like horrifying I try to pinpoint what I saw and maybe try to figure out why I saw what I saw in my dream. That you might be suppressing and if you keep suppressing that, it’s just going to keep coming back and back and back until you just face it head on.

 

Nadina describes concerns about becoming dependent on medications.

Nadina describes concerns about becoming dependent on medications.

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I’m kind of worried about any kind of treatment for it because I would prefer not to be on pills. My, my friend is and she can’t leave the house unless she has something in her system and it’s just kind of sad to watch because sometimes she can’t get a prescription for that day you know depending on what she’s taking and I just feel like your brain eventually gets dependent on that sort of thing and then if you can’t get it at that moment it’s just not a really fun way to live. I, I sometimes try to just like deal with my issues head on and sometimes I feel like I’m not strong enough necessarily to, to defeat whatever issue or resolve whatever issue is going on.