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Sophie - Interview 07

Age at interview: 17
Brief Outline: Sophie is 17 and says she's been depressed and feeling up and down all her life. Sophie is currently unemployed but is hoping to retake her GCSE's and to go to college to do hairdressing. She's going through a mental health assessment to see what's going on. She says counselling and writing have helped her the most. (White British).
Background: See 'Brief outline'

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Sophie is 17. She says she’s had depression all her life. She describes herself as “up and down”; going from very low moods to high moods and down again. Recently she’s been having more and more lows and says she doesn’t have the highs anymore. When she’s feeling low she also self-harms.
 
When Sophie was younger, she used to skip school because she felt too depressed to get out of bed. She says school was horrible and she wasn’t comfortable being in large groups. Her teachers accused her of messing about and didn’t realise that she just couldn’t concentrate and “understand the work”. Over time, she changed from a very bubbly girly girl to feeling more insecure and wearing tracksuits and not bothering to do her hair and make-up. Because she missed out on so much school Sophie never got her GCSE’s which is making it very difficult for her to get to college.
 
Sophie fell out with her mum and brother and they are not in touch at the moment. Sophie lives on her own in a supported housing flat. Sophie says she really wants to “get back to the Sophie that gets on and leads a normal life” but because a lot of things have been building up for a long time it’s sometimes hard to believe it could change.
 
Sophie is going through an assessment at the local CAMHS services (Child and Adolescent Mental Health) to get a diagnosis and says it might be bi-polar. She’s been on antidepressants for four weeks and says they’ve helped a bit.
 
Sophie says she’s got a lot of support; from counselling, from her support worker, youth offending officer and some of her friends but she says it’s hard to make use of that support. Sometimes she’d just like a cuddle from her mum to make her feel better. She’d like to retake her GCSEs and go onto college to do hairdressing. Sophie says writing helps her to “let everything out”. She says that if you find it difficult to trust people or lack confidence to speak out about your feelings, writing those feelings down can help because a book “won’t talk back” and no-one has to see it.
 

Sophie says she used to be active and really “funny and bubbly” and lead “a normal life” but that...

Sophie says she used to be active and really “funny and bubbly” and lead “a normal life” but that...

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When I was younger I used to do loads of activities, I did dancing and went to scouts, beavers, cubs, I did loads of things, it’s just as life’s got, ‘cos I think as well, I used to be different as well because I used to be like a real girly, girly, but now as I’ve got older I feel insecure so I have to wear like tracksuits and stuff like that and just to make myself feel a bit safer and, a bit more confident. But at the minute I’m just trying to get out of that habit and just start being back to the way I was again.
 
So what did you used to be like? If you described your personality then?
 
Funny and bubbly and didn’t care what anybody said, and didn’t let anybody upset me, went to school everyday when I was in Year like 5, 6, 7. And then just leading a normal life really, going out with my friends after school, inviting them round for a sleepover, going out, chilling on the streets, just normal. But now life’s getting on, I’ve just changed. When I’m on a high my personality’s always been the same, I sit there and make them all laugh till they’re crying, they just basically have a laugh, but, I don’t know it’s just changed for some reason. Like I can’t see, I can’t see when it did change ‘cos I’ve always been up and down my whole life really.
 
 

Counselling hasn’t helped Sophie. She knows she has “loads of people willing to help” her but she...

Counselling hasn’t helped Sophie. She knows she has “loads of people willing to help” her but she...

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I had counselling and I had loads of things, but nothing seemed to actually stick in and help me. I wouldn’t, it’d just be a bar, and I wouldn’t be able to take it all in and, I still do it now really when I go to my counselling sessions, and I go to the hospital, yeah everybody can say things and say look it’s gonna be alright, and try and do this to help you stop, stop the self harm, but, it’s just nothing goes through, I don’t unders-, like I don’t, I listen, I can sit there and listen and that and I can sit there and talk, but I wouldn’t be able to do the things that people have advised me to do. ‘Cos it just won’t go through. And that’s what just depresses me more. But just have to carry on, just have to find something to get better. Like loads of people are willing to help me. ‘Cos they know that I’m a better person than just not being depressed all the time, ‘cos they know I have a laugh, and I do have my laughs and but I don’t know I think it’s just the fact that it depresses me more ‘cos I want to be with my Mum.
 
I can talk to people but it’s when they say, sit there and say, this is the advice they give you and I try and do it, but nothing helps. It’s like nothing can help. But I’m so negative about things, but I’d like, I’d like to be positive but I just can’t see anything happening.
 
But and it’s like I get depressed as well when you just sit there and you just want your Mum there. You just want your Mum to be there by your side, ‘cos that’s like one person that knows you well and, you just want that bit of love.
 

Going to school was “horrible” for Sophie. She had difficulty understanding some of the lessons...

Going to school was “horrible” for Sophie. She had difficulty understanding some of the lessons...

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[Going to school] Horrible. I just used to think I used to walk into school and think that everybody would be looking at me and, I just, walking down the hallway and just get really paranoid and self conscious. And when I was at school because I had difficulties in understanding things, it’d just affect me then they used just like play off it in the classes because I couldn’t do the work ‘cos I didn’t understand it. And then I’d get kicked out because I was messing about, but I couldn’t understand the work, so, it was just going around in circles really. And, so I never used to go to school, then I, then I had a meeting with the welfare officer and my Mum about how I could learn to go to school, and then they said that they was gonna put me on a half time timetable at school. I tried to do that and I still didn’t go, I mean I was only going like three times a week to school, I still wouldn’t be able to manage that to go in a group of like people and feel that everybody was looking at me, and, and then I’d, didn’t go to school at all.
 

Sophie describes her highs and lows.

Sophie describes her highs and lows.

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But you go from some days, like normally I’d go low one day, high the next, low one day, high the next, but now it’s like low for a week, and then a high one day, and then it could be low for another week. I don’t get many highs and lows; just get it all low now. Like nothing’s gonna happen in my life now. But, just need something good to happen.
 
I’m on high like, I could be, I’m so hyperactive, I could just like, I don’t know I could be so enthusiastic over something, if I wanna go and do something with my friends down the park, I’ll go, “Yeah, come on, come to the park, come into the park.” But then when I’m on a low I just don’t want to talk, I’ll just sit in my room and do my own thing, just have a grump on all day. But I don’t know, when I’m on a hyper, when I’m on a high, I just think of so many good things, but then it just doesn’t last and then I think there’s nothing else I can do.
 
And how long would it last usually?
 
I could be, I could be dead enthusiastic in the morning, and then it could just switch in a day. Could go back to just, I got on the bus the other day on the way back from my Mum’s and everything was fine, I’d had a wicked day out with my Mum, just before I, just before I fell out with her and she, she didn’t wanna know, but just had a wicked day with my Mum and then I got on the bus and I just switched to being so depressed, came back here and started self harming again. But I don‘t know what set me off, I don’t know what triggers it.
 

Sophie doesn’t want to walk up the aisle one day with scars on her arms.

Sophie doesn’t want to walk up the aisle one day with scars on her arms.

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But like with my self harming I’ve done well ‘cos that’s one thing that I wanted to start on, I don’t want to self harm anymore. ‘Cos obviously it’s a scar for life really. But you know I stopped doing it, I ain’t done any yet, and I don’t want to do any more.
 
What do you think has helped you stop that then?
 
I’ve just put a stop to it. Like I just thought one day look, I’m gonna, ‘cos someone said to me the other day that I didn’t realise I’m going to walk up an aisle one day, getting married, the best day of my life, and then people would look at all these scars on my arms, and I don’t, I didn’t want people to look at me and think, they’re not, they’re not the best things to look at. But…
 
Yeah. So you kind of made a just a conscious decision yourself that I don’t want this. Does it make you feel good to think that you’ve been able to do that?
 
Yeah, but there’s sometimes I think it’s not gonna last. Like I could still, I could still do it. But I just got to have that, that hope that I’m not gonna do it.
 

Sophie finds it hard to believe health professionals' advice as they can just go back to their ...

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Sophie finds it hard to believe health professionals' advice as they can just go back to their ...

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Like someone could sit there and blurt out well everything, but they [professionals] will not be able to understand what someone’s been through. It’s alright to sit there and say, “You’ll be alright,” and “Keep your chin up,” but it’s hard to go through that, but for someone to sit there and think I haven’t been through it, but yeah keep your chin up if you know what I mean.
 
Do you find it like difficult to believe them?
 
Yeah. ‘Cos it’s like they’ve got a job like, they can do what they’re doing and they’ve got a happy life, they can go home and chill out and, and I just don’t believe them because, it’s, I’ve still gotta go home thinking the same thing and being depressed.
 

Sophie wants people to realise that when she's down and depressed, and can smash up her flat to...

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Sophie wants people to realise that when she's down and depressed, and can smash up her flat to...

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You get bitched about, you get all sorts. You get hurt. You get lied to and it just, it all builds up and it just gets you thinking, and because you’ve got so much time on your hands, ‘cos I’m not doing anything, you just sit there and thinks, and then sometimes I’ll go on one of my mad ones where I can trash my flat, ‘cos I’m that low I just want something to take my anger out on, and, it just gets worse.
 
I just I want people to know that I’m two different people. When I’m like this I do get a bit aggressive, and my behaviour is a bit out of order, but I’m not, I’m not normally like this. And I do want to go back to being the Sophie that gets on, has loads of friends and does normal things and leads a normal life. 
 

“It’s easy to tell young people that it’ll all be alright” when you really don’t know what it...

“It’s easy to tell young people that it’ll all be alright” when you really don’t know what it...

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Just that it’s easy to tell someone that it’ll be alright and but they’ll be able to, they’ll never be able to know what’s really going on. Like someone could sit there and blurt out well everything, but they will not be able to understand what someone’s been through. It’s alright to sit there and say, “You’ll be alright,” and “Keep your chin up,” but it’s hard to go through that, but for someone to sit there and think I haven’t been through it, but yeah keep your chin up if you know what I mean.
 
Do you find it like difficult to believe them?
 
Yeah. ‘Cos it’s like they’ve got a job like, they can do what they’re doing and they’ve got a happy life, they can go home and chill out and I just don’t believe them because, it’s, I’ve still gotta go home thinking the same thing and being depressed.
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