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Emma Jane - Interview 38

Age at interview: 20
Brief Outline: Emma Jane is a fulltime university student. In college, she started feeling low and that 'everything was pointless'. On the outside though, Emma Jane appeared bubbly and full of life; she says she didn't want to burden others with her worries. Eventually, a friend encouraged Emma Jane to go to a GP who did diagnose her with depression. Emma Jane tried antidepressants for a while but didn't get much help from them. Counselling; being able to talk about her feelings to someone impartial has been t
Background: See 'Brief outline'

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Emma Jane is 20 and a fulltime psychology student. When in college Emma Jane started feeling really low and like everything was just “pointless”. Emma Jane didn’t want to tell anyone about how she was feeling because she didn’t want to “burden” others with her worries, or make them feel they had to look after her. She was more worried about others’ wellbeing and making sure everyone else was OK before even thinking about herself. On the outside, Emma Jane was very social and outgoing, bubbly and her friends called her “Smiley Emma”. On the inside, she felt like a totally different person and she felt the pressure of not being able to live up to others’ expectations. Emma Jane kept feeling that she was just being “dramatic” and that her “worries weren’t substantial enough to warrant the attention of others”.
 
When a friend of Emma Jane’s confided in her about her self-harming, for the first time ever, Emma Jane opened up about her feelings of depression and that she’d also been self harming. Her friend encouraged her to go to see her GP. Emma Jane said the biggest obstacle for her to seek help had been feeling like she’d be wasting the doctor’s time and that there were other people who needed and deserved the help more than her. Going to the GP was a good experience for Emma Jane. The GP diagnosed Emma Jane with depression and also prescribed her with antidepressants. The diagnosis was a relief for her and helped her realise that the depressive feelings she’d had for years weren’t something that everyone had.
 
Emma Jane started counselling and says it’s been “one of the best things” for her; “suffering in silence is the worst thing you can do”. Having someone “outside the friendship group to talk to” and give advice to her has been invaluable. Emma Jane says she will sometimes “self medicate” by drinking alcohol, if she’s feeling down or nervous. She says while on antidepressants, it’s not a good idea to drink but now that she’s not on medication anymore drinking alcohol is just a part of her Uni lifestyle and social life.
 
Emma Jane says depression is something she’ll be dealing with for the rest of her life. She says there’s a distinct difference between “coping and living” with depression and that she wants to live life to the full; “to take life by the horns and go with it”.
 

Emma-Jane says she couldn't live up to the ideal 'fictional' person' that everyone expected so...

Emma-Jane says she couldn't live up to the ideal 'fictional' person' that everyone expected so...

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I do have no kind of belief in my own ability, my own kind of worth, like I am capable, I am really capable of academic achievement, but I still I didn’t believe it. And like I’ve got loads, I’ve got loads of groups of friends, if you write it down on paper what’s like my life is like, like you know, where I’m from, the grades I’ve got, things like that, I look like everything should be fine. But at the same time I felt that I just couldn’t live up to that ideal. I couldn’t live up to that point like that, this bubble that, this kind of fictional person that to me seemed completely separate from me, that everyone kind of looked at and sort of like expected so much of. I just, I couldn’t, I didn’t feel that I would be able to match that, and that I was worthless and that I just couldn’t like I couldn’t like, my parents and like my teachers all kind of like, “You’re going to go far,” and all this kind of thing, which is lovely to hear that, that you know people believe in you, but at the same time it was that pressure that I think also kind of sent me down because like I was just kind of like “I can’t do this, I, there’s no way I’m gonna be able, I’m gonna let me down, they’re gonna be angry at me, they’re gonna be disappointed in me, they’re gonna be this, this, this.” And then that would send me of into like a different thing.
 
Over sort of my second year of college, I remember being just a bad time, like to anyone that sort of knew me at the time, I would’ve seemed fine, I mean I was voted to like the bubbliest person in my college, but like behind that kind of façade of just being able to cope, and being able to kind of like handle everything and get everything done, and sort of still manage to like see people and do this, like everything behind it was just crashing. Like I felt really, really bad, and I felt bad for not telling people, but I, but because it was, I was restricted ‘cos I didn’t want to, it would go back to, I didn’t wanna burden them, I didn’t.
 
If I’m perfectly honest because both are sides of me, but I prefer the smiley side. I prefer the smiley side, I prefer that upbeat side but the downside is like is just, it’s just been there, it’s just what I’m used to. It’s kind of like it always has just been there and it always has like just been a part of who I am, what I do. All that kind of thing, and it is, it hasn’t been till like probably recently that I’ve kind of noticed the distinction between the two.
 

Emma-Jane felt “numb” when she was given the diagnosis.

Emma-Jane felt “numb” when she was given the diagnosis.

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I just remember feeling numb. Just ‘cos it was kind of like, as I said it had been echoing around my head, but along with the thoughts of, “You’re wasting time.” And I’d kind of sit there and, “Okay.” It was kind of like, like if, like you know you’ve got a cold and you can just hear it coming, then you listen to someone kind of goes, “Oh you sound like you’ve got a cold,” and you’re like, “Yeah, I’ve got a cold.” And kind of like, it was the, it was the fact that someone outside of me and outside of my own head and outside of a computer screen, saying, “Here’s, this is, if you’ve got, if you’re doing this, this, this and this, you might be depressed.”
 
Like it was, it was someone outside and kind of a bit of that, “Oh, okay. Right. Right okay.” And it was, it was, that was literally just, “Right, dot, dot, dot, blank space.” But it was relieving to hear someone, it was relieving and just kind of like, a realisation that it, that this wasn’t just normal that this wasn’t how like everyone felt, every hour of every day. That this, that I was different, that I was kind of outside of the normal kind of block. And that someone other than me had said it. And someone else like other than the one friend who I’d spoke to, other than that one, those two people, it was someone else who said it, and that kind of made it slightly more real.
 

Emma-Jane kept forgetting to take her medication regularly. She’s now thinking of whether to go...

Emma-Jane kept forgetting to take her medication regularly. She’s now thinking of whether to go...

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I then kind of stopped taking them, without telling my GP, just ‘cos I just kept forgetting to take them, and I thought I’ll take ‘em later, I’ll take them later, I’ll take them later. And then kind of I just didn’t and I haven’t been back on them for a while, I mean I am kind of umming and erring with the decision of going back on them, just because I am going through this kind of bit at the moment that I’ve become like, “Phew Okay,” but I know that they can make you more anxious. I mean they work for some people, and some people they don’t. And I’m still trying to work out whether I’m one of those that it does or doesn’t.

 

I wouldn’t say no to them, I’d like, it, and they did ask me, did I want to go on anti-depressants. And I, because I was kind of this, “Oh right,” kind of state of mind, so, “Yeah, why not? Go for it.” And like as I said I’m thinking about going back on them, but it’s kind of weighing up the pros and cons of it, ‘cos they do make me feel a bit more anxious, for a while until like everything evens out and it did take about 4 to 6 weeks, it isn’t a quick [click finger] like that. Like drugs and kind of sort of counselling and CBT, will kind of be the best way of kind of dealing with it and talking to people. I, like if I had to pick one way of dealing with it, it would be talking, talking about things, ‘cos there’s only, there’s only so much that a drug can do. But I wouldn’t say no, and I wouldn’t discourage anyone from using them. I would encourage them to use it ‘cos it might work for them, it might you know, just don’t drink heavily on them because then it can just make you feel worse, because like yeah. They just can.
 

Social drinking is a part of Emma-Jane’s lifestyle at Uni and says she sometimes “self-medicates”...

Social drinking is a part of Emma-Jane’s lifestyle at Uni and says she sometimes “self-medicates”...

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Alcohol and drinking, alcohol generally is, alcohol is a depressant. And it makes you feel, it makes me feel better and I do admit I do self medicate. If I feel bad I do go, I’ll like, if I’m out I will have a drink, if like I’m nervous I will have a drink and I will feel better. It’s not a good way of doing it and I know it’s not. But people then sort of can mistake that alcohol for what’s making them feel better and even though it can make them feel ten times worse, and they just keep drinking because it does make them, de de de, and then you get into sort of alcoholism and blah blah blah, like the really extreme end.
 
Like as I said the drinking doesn’t help. Drinking, like with socially it’s fine. I’m not going to deny that. It’s part of the Uni, part of my Uni lifestyle. Like it’s my friends, it’s one of my mate’s birthday tomorrow she doesn’t know we’re going, like we’re surprising her tomorrow, with like a pub crawl and like a Nando’s meal, ‘cos she’s obsessed with Nando’s. But like that, like I would feel wrong, well not wrong, that’s definitely the wrong word to use, I would feel awkward if I went to a social situation like a house party, or if we went to a club, and be sober, just because I wouldn’t feel comfortable.
 
 

Counselling is “one of the best things” that helped Emma-Jane. She says “suffering in silence is...

Counselling is “one of the best things” that helped Emma-Jane. She says “suffering in silence is...

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Counselling is probably one of the best things that I would recommend to other people. sort of before like you know medication or anything like, or sort of suffering in silence, suffering in silence is the worst thing you can do. because it does just trap you, and you just go round in this little vicious circle and there’s no way out.
 

Emma-Jane wanted to do well in school and now in Uni to be accepted by her teachers.

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Emma-Jane wanted to do well in school and now in Uni to be accepted by her teachers.

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It’s difficult to pinpoint it, it’s kind of, looking back, my memory isn’t overly brilliant but like, I do remember like at school, I did, I do have an, a want to kind of please and be accepted, I want to be accepted by the people around me, by like teachers, by lecturers, by you know all that kind of thing. And it makes me sound like a right little geek, and I know it does. But like the need to succeed in order to please people is quite important in that aspect, and obviously like I will run around like every hour of every day.
 
Although I know it’s impossible to please everyone, and do everything, even though I know it’s impossible and therefore I set up myself goals that are impossible to reach, so all I can do is fail. And that then obviously that then doesn’t help to go, “You’re a failure,” kind of train of thought. But it’s but yeah like at school I always kind of wanted to like please people and stuff.
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