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Craig - Interview 16

Age at interview: 20
Brief Outline: Craig is 20. He's experienced depression since he was about 12. He was bullied school and he lost many of his close relatives in a short space of time. For Craig, medication, keeping his body and mind active, his girlfriend and mates have been the biggest help. He says people should be more open about depression and treat it as any other illness. (White British).
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Craig’s first memories of feeling depressed are from the age of about 12 or 13. He’d been bullied in school and he lost many of his close relatives in a short space of time. Craig had always been very gifted and intelligent, always succeeding in everything in school and also expected to get straight A’s in his GCSEs. Gradually, things had been getting worse for Craig and by the time he was sitting his exams he “only just managed to scrape enough to get into college”. He said it was a big disappointment and like he’d “failed myself, my teachers, my parents”.
 
Craig also started self harming. For a while, he covered this up with excuses at home but says in the end, his mum knew what was going on as Craig says, ‘She’s always been two steps ahead”. He’d also started smoking and drinking alcohol heavily; “drinking to get drunk” and was also feeling suicidal. Initially, he didn’t want to seek any help and went for a long time without anyone realising the extent of his problem or giving him help. Then eventually, at his diabetes clinic, he opened up to his consultant about self harming. Craig says this was a huge relief “off his shoulders” that he’d finally told someone and was taken seriously. He was put on medication which started helping him within three weeks. Craig’s been really happy with his medication except for a side effect which he calls “split personality”; where he gets moments of feeling numb, shaky and out of control of his body at times when taking his medication.
 
Since then, things have improved a great deal for Craig and he says his life is good now. He’s got a close group of friends and a few of them have also experienced depression and he says he hopes to always be there for them. Craig’s into fitness training and says exercise has really helped him keep busy and feel better too. He’s very open about his depression and says his girlfriend has been great helping him through it; sometimes just talking to him, distracting his mind. Craig says “she’s a diamond”.
 

Craig describes the 'mental pain' he had.

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Craig describes the 'mental pain' he had.

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And then there was, you know, there’s mental pain. Mental pain is difficult because sometimes it feels physical, you know, like a, like an electric bolt going through your brain, just like a great big like two second migraine, it just hits you. And sometimes it’s just a, it’s you know it’s in your head and you now there’s no pain but it’s like a constant thudding, in, inside your head and just around you skull and all that. So that’s the kind of the pain side of it.
 

Craig says he felt like he’d failed everyone’s expectations in school, including his own.

Craig says he felt like he’d failed everyone’s expectations in school, including his own.

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It made me feel disappointed in myself and that I’d failed myself, I’d failed my teachers, I’d failed the parents. And that just made me worse, it just made me feel a whole lot worse, and you know, then it starts the onward spiral of you feel worse so you do worse, and then as you do worse your expectations of yourself fail more and then you start going worse and before you know it, you’ve dropped out of college and you’re out of work and you’ve not got nothing to your name.
 

Craig describes feeling “nervous” before his appointment with the consultant but telling her, and...

Craig describes feeling “nervous” before his appointment with the consultant but telling her, and...

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[I felt] nervous, because I knew it was coming up. I suppose it’s like a driving test really, I suppose as you go in, or any test as a matter of fact, knowing that you’ve got that is like the, the hour before it, when you’re going to it, when you’re getting there, when you’re just, you, you’re sat there just waiting, you know twiddling your thumbs, and then you finally get in there, and then as soon as you say it, it’s out there for the world, and it’s like a massive pressure off your chest. It is just so much relief to know that you’ve finally told someone and that, not I mean, okay telling your Mum, yeah that’s okay. But your Mum can’t write a prescription. You actually tell a doctor or a nurse or you tell somebody of authority like that, as soon as you tell someone like that the pressure is just, it’s like an almost weight off your chest.
 

Craig says for him, taking antidepressants is in a way 'like taking a painkiller'.

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Craig says for him, taking antidepressants is in a way 'like taking a painkiller'.

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I was straightaway, yeah. We’ll do it. I needed it. I knew I needed help and I knew I needed to do it. And it’s not exactly, you know, it’s one tablet a day, it’s not, you know open heart surgery. You know it’s not, it’s not; I know some people might see it as a massive thing but for me it’s nothing. I mean I inject x-amount of times a day. It’s nothing to me, it’s just a pill. It’s just like taking a painkiller, that’s all. I suppose it is in a way.
 

Craig describes a sensation when he knows he’s there but he doesn’t feel “in control”. He says it...

Craig describes a sensation when he knows he’s there but he doesn’t feel “in control”. He says it...

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When it happens it’s just, it’s kind of like I know  I’m there, and I know what’s happening, But I’m not in control. If that makes sense you know? Kind of, my whole body just goes numb, and I’m just, it’s like watching a film, it’s like I’m in the mind, but I’m not, if that makes sense? I can see through the eyes, but that’s about it.
 
But it’s, sometimes I mean, sometimes like when it’s, when it changes it can, can be quite painful and what not, sometimes I get the shakes and tremors, and massive, massive headaches. And sometimes it feels like you know, not enough room in my head if that makes sense? You know, two people in there at the same time. But most of the time it’s pretty, it’s pretty alright, it’s just it’s only really within the first hour of me taking the pill which is why I do it at night. Or if I find myself bored, or you know just my mind wandering. And before I know it, I’m gone.
 
How often does it happen?
 
I’d say usually about once a day.
 
And, and you’ve noticed that it’s often related to taking your medication?
 
It's, it’s pills or boredom, yeah. So I try to keep myself active. Try and listen to my music, try to, you know text my girlfriend, anything like that, just to keep my hands busy, keep myself busy, keep my mind busy. Keep it active.
 

For Craig, drinking was “a means of escape”. In the end, he was drinking daily and had to stop.

For Craig, drinking was “a means of escape”. In the end, he was drinking daily and had to stop.

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That was a means of escape, you know, you’re drunk, you know, I had what…you start with two bottles of wine over a period of what, four hours, down the park, it was a bit cheap, cheap, 50p a bottle stuff, you know. It’s actually wallpaper stripper but they wouldn’t tell you that.
 
And, you know, me and my mates just got wasted because it makes you numb. And you’re so wasted you’re just sat there, you’re just going like that. And you, your mind is just blank. You’re fine, nothing’s wrong in the world, the only thing you want is a cigarette. I had enough of drinking, that’s fine and that takes your mind completely off depression. And it takes your mind off all the worries, all the stresses, everything, which is why I think people you know, some people do like binge drink, Get you know, “How much you had today?” “Four bottles of wine, 22 beers, half a bottle of vodka, and a bottle of Absinthe, you know” It’s like, “Was you drunk?” It’s like you know, some people do that just to escape from reality, which I think does help with depression, in the short run. But in the long run you know at one point I was drinking 20 to 30 bottles of, of beer a day, a couple of years back, at my lowest point, I was at that for about a month, two months, and that was just to escape from everything, you know. Start at 9 in the morning, finish at 2 in the morning, you know constantly drinking. I even got to the point where my mates would just say to me, “Look, you’re a wreck head. You drink far too much. Stop it.” You know, luckily I never had my stomach pumped or, or anything like that.
 

In the long run, drinking made Craig feel “a million times worse” and “the worst person in the...

In the long run, drinking made Craig feel “a million times worse” and “the worst person in the...

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When I was drinking and when I was drunk, in the short term I felt fine. In the long run it made me a million times worse. Because as I said it is a toxin, and it does hurt your body, and it just, it just makes you worse. It’s the chemical reactions in your brain and all that, it just affects it and you know, whatever you’re feeling, it’ll make you feel a million times worse. If you go to the pub and you’re happy, you drink, “Whey,” you’re like a million times happier, if you go to the pub and you’re a bit down, a couple of pints later you’re you know, the worst person in the world.
 

Craig believes everyone is destined to do something but everyone has the choice over what that...

Craig believes everyone is destined to do something but everyone has the choice over what that...

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I do believe in something like that, not God as in the biblical sense, You know, not this old dude upstairs with a grey beard, or with a white beard you know what I mean. It’s like there is a bigger power out there, but not as any of the religions have said it. You know… And I believe you know there is, each one of us is born to do something, and each is destined to do something, but there is a choice of what we are destined to do. You know, whatever we, whatever we do you know, we are destined to either succeed or fail at that chosen subject, and it’s up to us to decide what we want by starting to follow it like that. ‘Cos I believe you know there is, there is something still better for me. So I’m just waiting to see what happens. Just enjoying life one day at a time, while I get there.
 

“Don’t coop up alone.”

“Don’t coop up alone.”

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The one thing I would say to anyone in that situation, don’t coop yourself up, if you can avoid situations where you are going to be alone, keep your mind busy, take up a new sport, new hobby, even playing chess, do you know what I mean? Something as you know I would see quite slow and I wouldn’t say boring but quite slow and tedious, you know, just something that you enjoy, just do that. If you get worse go to your doctor. If you need help, just take a mate along, if you ain’t got any mates that understand you which I know it sounds really bad, or you ain’t got any mates but you know, I had that, I had to do it with my Mum.
 

Craig describes how depression made him feel “isolated, rejected and paranoid”.

Craig describes how depression made him feel “isolated, rejected and paranoid”.

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Your head’s always down, you’re always kind of hunched back. You know, you don’t really want to talk to anyone, you know, if you’re into the metal you know your, your hoods up, and your hiding, almost hiding your face as well as your mood from people, ‘cos it’s like, it’s almost a crime to say, “Don’t want you to look at me, don’t want you to talk to me.” You know? “Don’t want you to have anything to do with me, just leave me alone.” Kind of. You feel isolated, rejected, you know, the abandoned one in the corner kind of feeling, and it’s always kind of your body is just a bit you know, for want of a better word “blergh.” You know it’s just lethargic, and, tired and aches and pains and you can’t think, you can’t describe it ‘cos you know, you’re 15, 16, you shouldn’t have aches and pains, you sound like your 50, 60. You know what I mean.
 
And it just feels like the whole world’s against you. And you’re so paranoid that everybody’s talking about you, especially when you walk down the street, you’re like, “oh what did you say”. “Oh, sorry mate don’t know you.”
 
And you get on a bus and there’s like everybody’s all looking at you as soon as you step on that bus, or you go to a film, everybody’s watching you, everybody, and it’s not. It’s like I, when I went to a club, I went in, I was with my mates and had a couple of drinks and it kicked in. And I was just like, “What’s everybody watching me for? What’s everybody watching me for?” I had to be taken outside to just calm down. And luckily I was with my mates who, who understand everything about it, so that was, that was alright.
 

Craig’s worked hard to “patch things up” with his parents and they can speak openly now.

Craig’s worked hard to “patch things up” with his parents and they can speak openly now.

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With Mum she’s kind of, she’s always, doesn’t matter how old I, how old I’ll be, I’ll always be a mummy’s boy. I know that sounds stupid, it sounds childish but, I mean well I’ll always look after my Mum ‘cos she’s looked after me.
 
You know, she’s my Mum, you only get one. Do you know what I mean? And I’ve worked really, really, really hard to patch things up over the past couple of years, and especially with my Dad going away for work, I’ve done you know, you know, I’ve had to kind of, “Oh do you need anything from shopping?” You know, yeah instead of going out and doing a weekly shop, a monthly shop with Dad in the car, there’s me going to Tesco’s doing a weekly shop and bringing about eight bags back on the bus, ‘cos I can’t drive because of the diabetes at the moment so, you know I’ve always tried to do, tried to be okay with them for that.
 
I mean it does affect a lot relationships at home. Because the pressure and the feeling in your head affects your mood and it affects your body and it wears off on others. So they know something's wrong, or because you’re not willing to talk about it, they’re not willing to talk about it, and it just gets worse so that happens, just work through it and openly speak.
 

Craig says his girlfriend is “a diamond”.

Craig says his girlfriend is “a diamond”.

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My girlfriend at the moment I mean, absolute diamond. She knows exactly. She’s not a diabetic but she, I mean, what was it, about a month ago, she spent a couple of days trawling through the internet trying to learn as much as she could about it. So I’ve sent all of my blood sugars so she’s really supportive, and it’s just, it’s stupid, little things like a text saying, “Have you done your insulin?” You know, text during the day' “What’s your sugar level?” and it’s saying that somebody is there to support, that loves you and is, is there for you. And she knows, and she just deals with the split personality by just, she tells him to F off so, it’s usually quite funny actually, ‘cos she knows, she knows it’s me when I come back because I’ll burst out laughing.

 

I’ll, I text, I’ll just text her. And she’s just, she just says, “What’s wrong?” And I’ll go, “This,” or, you know I’ll say, “Oh I don’t really know.” And she goes, “Is it a feeling?” You know, “Is it your head? Is it a pain? Is it…?” You know, and she’ll talk me through about twenty million different things, but the end of it I’ll have forgotten what we were talking about and I’ll feel better. And she knows she does it.
 
Yeah, she, it was quite frustrating actually because it was, “How do you do that?” So she’s just a diamond. She’s put up with so much, you know. Love her to pieces but I don’t know how she’s done it ‘cos I couldn’t have done it without her. Like she’s the, the only person she’s got is me to talk to about it, so.”
 

“Speak to them as young adults, not children.”

“Speak to them as young adults, not children.”

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To parents I would say, don’t shut them out. First and foremost do not shut them out. Do not shout. Do not raise your voice. Don’t be a parent basically. Just don’t see them as your little boy or little girl. Because if you see it like that you’re treating them like a child, you’re talking down to them, and you’re just being for want of a better word, ignorant. You know just ask them what’s wrong. Sit down with them, you know, knock on their bedroom door, go in, sit down with them. Say, go, “Is there anything you want me to help you with?” Shut the bedroom door. Just, I don’t know, don’t, don’t do it, you know, don’t call them downstairs into the living room, when you know both the parents are sat there and it’s like you’re under interrogation, only do one parent at a time.
 
I don’t know you know, if say, I know there’s a lot of divorces and what not, but if you’ve got both parents in the home, if the young person is closer to the Mum, speak to the mum. If it’s the Dad, speak to the Dad, and then if it’s closer to the Mum the Mum can tell the Dad, or the parent they are closer to can tell the other parent, and speak through it as an adult thing.
 
Speak to them as a young adult, as you would want to be spoken to yourself, do not down talk them, do not raise your voice, just keep calm, flat and just sit on the edge of their bed and just say, “Look what’s wrong?” You know, don’t mollycoddle them don’t be you know, you know don’t be harsh, but don’t be too sympathetic.
 
You know it’s, it is very difficult but if you if you can strike that right note because as, I mean you know your child better than anyone else. They might think they know themselves better, but you probably do, just sit down and talk to them and just don’t shout at ‘em and don’t you know be, “Oh are you okay? Tell…” You know don’t be whisper, just talk to them going, “Are you alright? What’s up then?” You know, just keep it simple, just one parent in the room at a time, leave the TV on, ‘cos then they’ve got the choice of, “Oh, well I’ll just watch TV instead.” But if they see you, still sat there, if they turn round to the TV and start watching the TV, or laptop, or computer or DVD, music or whatever it is, they go round there, just say to them, “Look if you’re not happy to talk at the moment, then you just know that we will always be here for you at any time of day or night, if you want to talk then we’re here.”
 
And just stay there for five minutes. If they’re still in the TV leave them alone for a half an hour, and just keep checking up on ‘em, ‘cos then they know they’ve got their support. And they know that they’re loved, and the road to recovery starts there.
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