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Blondel - Interview 32

Age at interview: 21
Brief Outline: Blondel is 21. She's experienced depression for years and she also has OCD. When she was growing up, she had a very difficult home situation and at 12 she lost her baby brother. Blondel has gotten help from counselling and she also has a close family network around her. She has a little daughter who she says 'is my reason to living, to going on'. Blondel enjoys writing, music and spending time with her family. (White British).
Background: See 'Brief outline'

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Blondel’s earliest memories of feeling low and sad are from when she was around 6. Home life was difficult; Blondel’s dad was abusive towards her mum and she says at home “emotional stability was all up in the air”. Blondel says she never really had a childhood as she had to grow up quick; “I was a child with an adult’s head”.
 
When Blondel was 12, her mum had a child with her new partner. The baby had cystic fibrosis and he passed away only after 5 months. Loosing her brother has had a huge impact on Blondel’s life and it also “kicked off the depression”. Initially, Blondel blocked out her feelings of grief and sadness and “lived in a bubble”. She says it was only five years later that the bereavement hit her and she started processing what had happened.
 
Things “got too much” for Blondel when she was 14 and she attempted suicide. She had been trying to cope with the loss of her brother on her own, was going through hard time in school and she also had OCD. She says waking up the following day, and being still alive, made her feel it was a sign that “you are supposed to be here”, and in time she managed to turn it into a positive. Blondel says she was given a second chance in life.
 
Blondel had a baby girl when she was 17. She had always wanted to be a mum and says having her baby made her “feel more alive” than ever, full of euphoria. Blondel is very close to her daughter and says it’s now her responsibility to look after the little life she’s brought into the world. Sometimes life with a toddler can be hard. On bad days, when she feels she can’t get out of bed, she says she simply has no choice; “I just have to function”. Blondel also has fibromyalgia and Crohn’s disease which cause her pains and also have a big impact on her everyday life.
 
Counselling has really helped Blondel. She also has a very close family and a long term boyfriend who all support each other. Blondel enjoys writing, she writes non-fiction, keeps several journals and she also likes music. She says “depression isolates me from the world” and says she really wants to make an effort to get out more and make new friends.
 

Blondel leap frogged from childhood to being an adult and a mother. She says she’s missed out on...

Blondel leap frogged from childhood to being an adult and a mother. She says she’s missed out on...

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And I want her [daughter] to stay young for as, she can, you know for if she possibly can because I grew up too fast, and I think I just leap-frogged over adolescence and I never had the chance, never enjoyed it, never had time to get used to being a teenager and just jumped straight into adulthood and motherhood.
 
So even now you know it’s quite, when I’m feeling all these, you know different emotions and moods I think that it’s probably you know teenage years and adolescence catching up on me anyway. You know, I think that because I never went through that process like everyone else, ‘cos it was all, if I did it was very rushed, never had time to really know, from being a child to being a teenager, to being an adult, I, you know just like I said leap-frogged through all of it. So I sort of had to work back through it all you know on what would be normal for anybody else. It’s sort of been side tracked for me.
 
Do you feel like you’ve missed out on things?
 
Oh yeah definitely. Yeah I’d love to just have, I find it very hard to, to let go, you know and to, to relax and to enjoy myself and I’ve never been, I’ve always been the one that’s looked on at everybody else, you know, everyone’s having fun, I’ve stood at the side watching and I’ve really secretly liked to be the one that’s you know that’s in there with the, all the fun, but, I feel quite reserved and I think that’s the depression that’s done it to me, you know, but feel like I can’t join in, I don’t have the confidence to, to get involved.
 

As a child, Blondel witnessed her dad being abusive towards her mum. She says she never really...

As a child, Blondel witnessed her dad being abusive towards her mum. She says she never really...

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I noticed it [feeling low] just started quite young, I’d say from my childhood. Sort of remember being, maybe around 6 or 7 when I started to feel it, quite a young age, obviously I wouldn’t know at that age what depression was, but I felt quite sad, quite, felt like I was carrying you know, quite a burden and my Mum’s pain seemed, I seemed to reflect what my Mum was going through. And she, she was in an abusive relationship with my Dad. And obviously I was there to witness that, and I felt I had to grow up quite quickly. And you know I had to be an adult and in a way I was kind of looking after my Mum. And, you know even to this day we’re quite similar and we sort of feed off of each other, you know, the pain, we’re quite close.
 
So everything that she went through, I went through it as well. So it was quite hard growing up. I didn’t really feel like a child, and especially at school, I found it very hard to you know participate in play. You know when I was young, I’d just, it irritated me and I didn’t want to be, didn’t feel like a child, I felt like an adult. And people used to say “You’re a child with an adult’s head,” you know? A child’s body, and that’s how I was. It was just it was quite hard growing up.
 
And we had a lovely childhood, as with, we always had you know anything that anyone could ever want for, but the emotional stability it was all up in the air.
 

Having a daughter forces Blondel to function and to get out of bed, even on the worst day.

Having a daughter forces Blondel to function and to get out of bed, even on the worst day.

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I try not to let it affect my daughter, and that’s why, you know that’s why I’m in counselling anyway. But, it’s hard to you know to separate both one, both lives, you know both worlds they collide sometimes, you try to keep them very separate.
 
You know it’s like okay, well this is how I behave when I’m a Mum, and you know this is how I behave with my depression, but sometimes when the two come together it can be quite catastrophic you know, it’s hard. And, I’d say the say it affects me just sometimes where I’m feeling quite low and you know quite weepy, and not feeling, you know in a, in a good mood and I don’t want to be around anybody, I don’t you know, just want to be by myself, and I’m, it doesn’t really ever take anything, it’s not like anything’s necessarily happened, it’s just I’m not having a good day, or I could just wake up and feel completely rotten and really unsociable, and you know, and you can’t cut yourself off from your child. You can’t cut yourself off from a toddler; they need your attention you know, constantly.
 
And you have to accept that you know, regardless as you said, you know depression or no depression, you have to get on with it. You have to, you know, you just have to bite your tongue, and suppress these feelings and you know it is very hard when you, you know your emotions are so visible, you know, It’s not in your mood, if you know on your face and just how you, you generally are. So I do battle with that quite a lot, you know ‘cos I don’t want her to, I don’t want her to suffer because of the way I’m feeling.
 
But it is hard to keep them separate sometimes. And yeah especially days where I just you know, I feel rotten and I just want to stay in bed because I feel that low, you know and, I have to carry on, but in some ways that’s a good thing because, if not having her, I probably would spend all day in bed.
 

Blondel lost the confidence to speak up for herself and feels like “a doormat” walked over by...

Blondel lost the confidence to speak up for herself and feels like “a doormat” walked over by...

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Do you think depression’s affected your, your self confidence?
 
Oh yeah definitely. Definitely. I wouldn’t say shy, but and, in turn I wouldn’t say I was ever really that outgoing, but I wasn’t afraid of meeting new people, I wasn’t afraid of letting you know, to be heard and to stand out, and you know to stand up for myself. If I didn’t necessarily agree with something I would’ve immediately said, “Well, you know I don’t agree with that,” and, you know and argued my point, and now I’m, I feel a bit like a doormat, since I’ve had the depression and I just feel like I’m being walked over and used, and even though I’m aware of other people’s behaviour and how I’m being treated, I haven’t necessarily got the confidence to stand up for myself anymore. And I just, I feel quite vulnerable. I think depression does make me feel quite vulnerable, and you know I’m quite low.
 

Blondel says for her antidepressants feel “artificial” and she wants to “feel happy on my own”.

Blondel says for her antidepressants feel “artificial” and she wants to “feel happy on my own”.

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Well just feels like you know any any tablet, you know medication it makes you feel something that’s artificial, and I want to get to a point where I feel happy on my own, I don’t want to have to rely on pharmaceuticals to feel happy.
 
And you know it’s something that I want to work to get there on my own, it’s you know, it’s going to be a lot harder but I don’t want to get to the point where I’m relying on them and feeling now if I come off of these then I’m gonna be miserable again. I’d rather not rely on medication. I want to get better on my own. And then I have to accept now that that’s gonna take a hell of a lot longer. But there’s no quick fix with depression. It’s something you have to work on.
 
Did you find any help from them at all, since you started, have they made any difference at all?
 
They can make you know you’re your moods, they, they you know they’re up and down anyway with depression, but, you know the anti-depressants sometimes they, they can help, other times they don’t. I think it really depends you know what kind of day you’re having. But I don’t feel they’ve ever you know, they’re not a miracle cure, but they can suppress the feelings sometimes. But as soon as they wear off, you know, they don’t go away. I think you know that you can sort of, you can mask it and sort of maybe have a relief from these feelings for you know, a little while, but they’re still there. They’re still here, they’re still in my mind, they’re still in my heart, they’re still a part of me. So that’s why I don’t really believe in them, because you know they, okay there might be a little pick-me-up for a while, but it’s no, it’s artificial to me. It doesn’t feel real.
 

Blondel became isolated and lost all her friends. She says having good friends to trust and talk...

Blondel became isolated and lost all her friends. She says having good friends to trust and talk...

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I have a boyfriend, I’ve been with him for quite a long time, and you know he’s my main, he’s my best friend, you know I just, we, I tell him everything, I’ll be, I’m really rely on him, like I think I rely on him too much for emotional support, you know, aside from my Mum, he’s about the only one that’s really been there, and you know he’s had to cope with me, you know going through all the different emotions, and you know, fit, being okay one day, and you know sad the next, and... But other than that I’ve lost all my friends to be honest with you. ‘Cos yeah, I don’t, have any social network at all really, and you know like that’s something I feel I need to work on, I want to, you know, I want to start having more friends.
 
And I thought, think it just became, it was a series of events really but it was mostly the, you know the physical illness then the depression where I wasn’t able to go out and then not wanting to go out, and then you know it just became, I just became more and more isolated, isolated as the years went on. And eventually just lost contact with anybody I was at school with, and you know just, it’s just pretty much now it just me and my daughter and my boyfriend, my Mum and my sister. That’s it, other than, you know GPs and counsellors, I don’t really have anyone to talk to. And I feel that’s quite important, with depression as well you need someone outside your circle you know, and it, not, not even someone to bear your, you know your emotional baggage, or not someone to lean on, but just to have friends and just to have someone to talk to, and enjoy you know, social experiences with. And that’s something that I lack in my life.
 

Reading back over her journals makes Blondel realise “life isn’t that bad”.

Reading back over her journals makes Blondel realise “life isn’t that bad”.

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The written word’s become quite important to me. It’s become you know a good way of expressing my emotions and you know to come across what, what’s gone on in my life. I’ve managed to you know work through it by calculating every you know, my life story, if you want, I’ll sort of write everything on my laptop, you know, just my experiences, and you know how they’ve made me feel, and it’s helpful, it’s helpful and I just sort of, also as well times where I’m having you know when I’m having a bad day, I think with depression sometimes life can feel so bleak anyway but sometimes when I’ve re-read over what I’ve wrote it’s largely exaggerated, ‘cos I think when you’re feeling.
 
When you’re feeling depressed I just think everything’s bad, do you know what I mean? You just can’t look at life or anything objectively. Everything’s you know bleak and dark and horrible, and sometimes it actually makes me laugh when I, you know, when I’ve read back what I’ve wrote and I actually think, “Well you know, life isn’t that bad.” You know, so it does, it helps in that way because I learn from it, I learn from what I wrote, I learn from what I was thinking and feeling at the time.
 

Blondel doesn’t like feeling out of contol and describes her OCD as “a coping mechanism”.

Blondel doesn’t like feeling out of contol and describes her OCD as “a coping mechanism”.

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The strange thing is that I hate being this way and I hate feeling this way, but with the anti-depressants they almost block out the part of my mind that triggers the OCD, and where that might be a good thing in some people’s eyes, to me I feel lost because I’ve depended on it for so long it’s become a part of me, so with the part of my mind being blocked out and you know suppressing my moods, I’m unable to function. And so it’s almost like, I know it sounds ridiculous, but I almost miss the OCD because it’s been my way of you know, it’s been my way of coping, it’s been my way of life.
 
So without it I’m quite lost, and I question well you know, “Who am I now?” So it’s, it’s a difficult thing for me because the, you know the counselling I’m, I want to beat the OCD you know, it’s, I don’t want to live with it for the rest of my life, but at the same time you know, after ten years it’s like, well how I cope without it? And that’s something we’ll have to learn to deal with also.
 

Blondel says she has sympathy for her family as she can be 'impossible' to live with.

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Blondel says she has sympathy for her family as she can be 'impossible' to live with.

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I feel like I’ve I’ve lost the best part of my life, to depression and the OCD because I can’t, it’s my way of functioning and you know it just, it takes up so much time, it, it aggravates the people around me, you know I can see that, and it it’s very hard to control and you must feel sorry for them, but you don’t know how to snap out of it, you know, it’s, you don’t know any different. If you’ve behaved a certain way all your life and you know suddenly got to change your personality, you, you can’t do that automatically.
 
But, you know I do have sympathy for the people that I live with, because I know I can be impossible with the, you know, the cleaning scenario, I’m constantly rearranging, I mean, it would drive everybody crazy, anybody crazy. But I don’t know how to be any different.
 
 

Blondel encourages other young people to speak up; “no-one’s gonna know what’s going on in your...

Blondel encourages other young people to speak up; “no-one’s gonna know what’s going on in your...

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And the next morning, apart from feeling quite dreadful and hung-over, you know I was still here, but I took that as a sign, actually it turned into something quite positive and I thought to myself, “Well it didn’t work so you’re supposed to be here,” and I tried to draw strength from that and I thought you know, if it would’ve, if it was supposed to have worked then it would have. And I felt almost like I’d been given a second chance, so I thought okay, well you know this obviously isn’t the answer. And, that, then really just tried to seek help from the GP’s, and you know, and realised that I did have a problem and just be more open about it to everybody, to friends to family because no-one’s gonna know what’s going on in your head unless you, you know, you have to speak about these things. You have to. It might be hard, but you know no-one can understand what you’re going through, unless you speak up.
 

Blondel felt very unsociable and was scared of what people would think of her. She says she...

Blondel felt very unsociable and was scared of what people would think of her. She says she...

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Even now I can manage to mask my feelings so it’s quite hard to you know, especially new people, and that you know, people that you just meet to let them know, I call it the dark side, you know, the real you, what you’re hiding. But it’s very hard to, for you, you know it’s, people don’t want to be around you if you’re very negative and quite down, you know, if you seem to pull other people down so, you try to be cheery and you know, and not let it affect you. But sometimes it gets where you can’t hide it anymore, and I think I got to that point where I couldn’t pretend, I couldn’t, couldn’t carry on, couldn’t make out that you know, that I was feeling normal, and that, that, you know that something wasn’t going on, I was in it for too long, I think I must’ve gone for about 8 years before I said anything or before anybody picked up on it. And it sort of left me with, with a scar for life now, I think. It’s, you know it’s taken so much of my life away, the depression, because I feel like I’ve had no life, because it’s all been, I have I’ve lost control, and it’s that learning to take control back.
 
And the depression it affected me to such a point where I was, before I had my daughter, where not just because of my illness, but with the depression as well, I didn’t want to leave the house, didn’t want to, became very unsociable, was constantly just upstairs in my room listening to music, I was you know, quite tearful all the time, got stressed out one minute, down the next. I mean my moods even now, you know my moods are quite unpredictable from one day to the next.
 
But, I feel like the depression already isolated me and then I isolated myself even more through fear of you know people seeing the truth, seeing what was happening to me, and it was already quite scary. And I suppose the prospect of other people, you know seeing me in, in such a way, would you know, I didn’t know how people were gonna react and I didn’t want people to think I was crazy you know, even though I felt like I was slightly losing my mind, because you know it, with the OCD and everything it’s you know it’s strange, it’s strange to watch, but if I was to watch myself back you know, the sort of routines and rituals I do, to get through things.
 

Blondel describes how she balances living with depression and being a mum.

Blondel describes how she balances living with depression and being a mum.

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Well, ever since I was, you know in quite young, well a teenager, I’ve always had this maternal instinct. I always knew I wanted to be a Mum. I mean I had ambitions, I knew I wanted to do certain things, I love writing and music and things like that but I think more than anything else I just wanted to be a Mum. I’m a home maker and you know I love to nurture and look after people. I fell pregnant quite unexpectedly and I was only 16 at the time. Which was quite scary, but I was adamant you know this is what I wanted, and I never had any doubt in my mind that I’d, you know, I was never really on the party scene or anything like that beforehand, so I didn’t really feel like I was giving anything up.
 
Because I’ve never been really outgoing, or you know I had friends, but I was never really that social so I wasn’t giving anything up. I knew I wanted to be a Mum. And, pregnancy was quite hard. I was really ill all through my pregnancy and, you know that’s quite draining. And you know being, being that young and going through, you know it was quite traumatic, well labour is anyway, but… I’m not very good with injections and hospitals, I tend to avoid that kind of thing. So it was traumatic but the end result was I had my beautiful little girl.
 
And, for the first time I think ever I wanted to be alive and I had this euphoria, it was you know, it was like being born again, it was love, you know, it was wonderful, it was such a high. You know it felt like a drug to me, she was, I couldn’t get enough of her. Just laid awake, I don’t think I slept anyway, I mean it wasn’t her, she wasn’t awake crying, she was asleep, I stayed awake to watch her, I didn’t want to be away from her.
 
And, it was, it was just a positive thing for me, she turned, I mean you know obviously I’ve had a bit of a dip now with the depression, but I mean it just felt like she turned my life around. And I think for a while I think the OCD was there to some extent and, but I didn’t feel, I didn’t feel sad anymore. I felt so happy and so alive and so you know glad to be alive and it was just wonderful. And you know to me as she’s getting older now, and you know, children they need so much of your attention, and having depression I do find that hard sometimes to fully commit myself to her, especially when you know, as I said, when I was a child and finding you know, other child to play quite irritating, and not wanting to join in, so I’ve had to learn how to you know, to role play with her and to you know, to find some youth in me again, to connect with my daughter. So that, that would probably be about the only part of motherhood I’ve found hard, it’s just, you know, learning how to play again you know, and to get involved with her, but, she’s certainly uplifted my spirits.
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