Sophie

Age at interview: 21
Age at diagnosis: 14
Gender: Female
Outline:

Sophie (age 22) was a shy child who received therapy within and outside school. At 14, she was diagnosed with depression and social anxiety. Cognitive behavioral therapy and being mentored to become a fashion designer cured her depression.

Background:

Sophie is a practicing fashion designer and a college senior studying fashion design. She lives with her parents and brother. She is Caucasian and of Mexican descent.

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Sophie first started to feel depressed in middle school. She “didn’t know it was depression …but I didn’t really want to eat anymore. …I really hated the night time …it just made me feel even worse”. She spent a lot of time with her middle school guidance counselor. “Everything just seemed amplified”, she says, “I would just start randomly crying in a class …I didn’t know what was wrong”. She didn’t want anybody to see her crying, except for one special friend who, “when she saw that I was upset she would help me go to the hallway and take me to the guidance counselor. It was really nice of her”.

Sophie now regrets that while depressed she distanced herself from a lot of people and “lost a lot of friends”. Before Sophie went to high school her mom lined up support by contacting the school psychologist, who not only provided counseling but also referred Sophie to an outside therapist for a formal diagnosis.

Sophie said she had “mixed depression and anxiety and also social anxiety”. The first two years of high school “were the worst and after that it was just kind of like waves”. She got weekly therapy outside of school for over a year and as many sessions as she needed with the school psychologist throughout high school. She managed to get through her week by having “something to look forward to”. At first it was, “just looking forward to the weekends, to being at home, …a time to be alone and having a break”.

Ultimately Sophie says her weekend internship with a clothing designer is what got her out of her depression. It really took “my mind off of everyday life”. This opportunity aligned her hobbies, developed her talents and self-confidence, led to her successful career path, and gave Sophie a purpose in life. Learning how to see something through from her own concept to final product was exciting and she looked forward to each weekend when her parents drove her to her internship.

Sophie credits cognitive behavioral therapy with giving her the skills, which she still uses, to constructively manage her negative thoughts. By the time Sophie got to college she no longer had depression. In describing a bout with anxiety, due to being way overloaded in her second year, she says, “I could identify what the stressors were, so once I removed them from my life I was okay”. Fashion design is a very competitive field and Sophie has come a long way from the fragile girl crying in middle school. Using strategies learned in therapy, she keeps in mind that “If something doesn’t go right it’s not the end of the world… It’s okay. There are different ways to get there”. It is also important, she says, to recognize when there is “nothing you can really do to control” things, and if “you just go with the flow, you’ll be happier”. On a recent trip to Europe, “There were a lot of things that happened on that trip that would have just completely set me off four years ago.” That experience, she says, “reaffirmed that I’m capable” of turning around “a situation that can be really stressful” by “thinking logically through it instead of resorting to emotion and panicking.”

Relationships are important to Sophie. Her immediate family is and has been a great source of support. She has made a few close friends while in college. She credits her ability to make friends and interact with a variety of people to her fashion designing. Soon after posting pictures of her dresses online, photographers wanted to use “my dresses for their photo-shoots. I guess seeing the positive reception of the dress really helped bring me out of my shell a bit”. She was just seventeen, and notes that “being on set for photo-shoots” meant that she was working with not just the “photographer and model” but, “it’s them plus makeup”. Se also learned to roll with different and unexpected situations for each photo shoot. “In the past”, she says, “That would have totally freaked me out”. According to Sophie, “collaborating with people in that industry taught me to be open to different sorts of people, some who are really loud” and that used to “ freak me out.”

 

Sophie tried to hide her depression from her mom, but her mom saw there was a problem anyway and reached out to a guidance counselor.

Sophie tried to hide her depression from her mom, but her mom saw there was a problem anyway and reached out to a guidance counselor.

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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.

 

Sophie says it's better for a support person to walk away when they get frustrated than to yell.

Sophie says it's better for a support person to walk away when they get frustrated than to yell.

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Yelling at someone is never helpful. [Laughter] I, I, there was some instances where my family was frustrated with me and maybe they would, and I understand why they did it, they were frustrated, so they would just sort of blow up and that’s not the best thing to do. Blaming the person that is feeling depressed is never really the best thing either. Like don’t tell them, “This is your fault. You’re doing this to yourself.” That’s not a good thing to do, that was hard.

Maybe sometimes the best thing to do is just if you’re trying to help someone but you just can’t, just walk away for a bit or direct them towards something that can help, just don’t blow up on them.

 

Sophie describes feeling weighted down and fatigued.

Sophie describes feeling weighted down and fatigued.

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Well and like a wave situation I would be, I would be alright for maybe two or three weeks then something would happen and I would just sort of crash back down and it was, it was unpleasant, as unpleasant as it was when it was constant. And when it’s constant it’s sort of, you’re always, I, the, it’s not even the loneliness, the feeling of being weighed down that doesn’t go away. It’s constant from the moment you go to sleep and from the moment you wake to when you go to sleep and it’s, it I don’t know. I liked to sleep a lot when I was at its worst because I couldn’t feel anything so it, I guess, it was that feeling of loneliness and feeling empty and gray and just I couldn’t look forward to anything. It’s just this constant sort of flat line state where you’re just and you just you’re just trying to go through the motions but it’s hard. It takes a lot of energy, like in, you get tired really easily, you just want to be home away from people, it, everything outside of that was just too much.

 

Sophie's depression sometimes overwhelmed her while in class.

Sophie's depression sometimes overwhelmed her while in class.

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I would start, in certain classes, I would just start, I would get really sad, but not even sad, more like hopeless. And I would just start crying, just out of nowhere. And, I would have to wait until the class was over or try to get the teacher’s attention without having anyone else notice that something was wrong with me. To just like let me leave the class so I could go find the guidance counselor or somebody to talk to, and …

 

Sophie's mentor encouraged her to become an accomplished clothing designer, which eventually lifted her out of her depression.

Sophie's mentor encouraged her to become an accomplished clothing designer, which eventually lifted her out of her depression.

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When I was really depressed, but a friend introduced me to a designer and then the designer took me on as an intern and she, it was a weekend thing. So every weekend my parents would drive me to her studio and I would be there for eight hours and I would intern for her for a bit like organize her studio. And then for the last four hours she would teach me how to sew and teach me how to make and then in the end at the end of that six-month period I had learned how to make a dress from sketch to the final product. So that was really exciting and that’s what really made me, that whole process of seeing something through to the end and it that helped a lot it helped me look forward to the next weekend and the next weekend and the next so that got me through the weeks through school. And after that I had something that I, a skill that I could take home basically and just make whatever I wanted whenever I wanted and that was what I would look forward to making something and seeing it through to the end so that became my focus instead of worrying about everything else that was going on.