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Tasha - Interview 27

Age at interview: 18
Brief Outline: Tasha is 18 and studying childcare at college. She's experienced low moods and depression on and off since primary school. Tasha got a depression diagnosis a few months prior to the interview and is now also on antidepressive medication. Counselling was not particularly helpful to her as she says there wasn't anything special to process through; she just hopes to 'fix the chemical imbalance' in her brain. Tasha wants to work with children in the future and she also enjoys doing fine arts. (White
Background: See 'Brief outline'

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Tasha has just turned 18 and studies childcare at college. She remembers experiencing low moods already in primary school and says she’s been “on and off unhappy since about nine”. Tasha was bullied in school and ended up having to change primary schools because of it.
 
Having to make the choices for her GCSE’s in Year 9 was a big deal for Tasha. It put a lot of pressure on her to make decisions that would affect her future education options. Tasha “pushed through” her GCSEs and did well but after the first year of her A-levels she decided to leave school “to get rid of the unhappiness” she’d always felt in school. Tasha says she always felt “unhappy underneath”, even though she might have appeared to be doing OK.
 
First time Tasha went to see a GP about her low moods was at 15. Her doctor brushed off her concerns and thought she was “too young to be depressed”. Tasha says it really knocked her confidence as it was a big step to go to see the doctor and she was “desperate” for help. She went to see a doctor again a couple of years later and was then taken seriously. She went through an assessment, diagnosed with depression and put on antidepressants. Tasha has tried three different types of antidepressants and is currently waiting for the latest one to start kicking in.
 
Tasha has also been to counselling but hasn’t found it particularly helpful for her. Tasha says there’s no obvious cause to her depression, or “a major life event” to process through in counselling. Tasha would’ve wanted more information and support especially about self harm as she says it seems to be “a bit taboo still”.
 
Tasha’s family have been great support to her. She says that after getting the diagnosis, people close to her can now understand better why she is sometimes sad, or doesn’t feel like talking about her feelings and wants her own space. Tasha helps out in a local school working with children which cheers her up a lot. Sometimes when she’s feeling low the best thing is just “to sleep it off”. Tasha also does fine arts, like painting, when she’s got the time. She also loves to travel and to go on holidays – having positive goals in life to look forward to.
 

Tasha says it’s difficult to know if antidepressants are working or not because she doesn’t know ...

Tasha says it’s difficult to know if antidepressants are working or not because she doesn’t know ...

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So then I started seeing a psychiatrist and I’m now on the third different type of medicine because the middle lot, the second lot I tried to take they were prescribed by my GP and he gave me 20 milligrams of them and when I went back to the psychiatrist she said to properly treat depression it should have been like 75 milligrams, so weren’t doing enough. So now I’m on the third lot and I think they’re just kicking in, but I’m not sure how I’m meant to feel with them.
 
I don’t know if they’re meant to stop the bad feelings or whether they’re meant to make you feel happy again, sort of numb everything. I don’t really know how I’m meant to feel, or how will I know if they’re working or not. And because my birthday is coming up, I’m quite in a good mood, I’m in a good mood so I don’t know whether it’s the medicine, or just being excited so I can’t tell.
 
 

A particular antidepressant made Tasha feel like she wasn’t “real” and was “dreaming a lot of the...

A particular antidepressant made Tasha feel like she wasn’t “real” and was “dreaming a lot of the...

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I personally didn’t agree with that medicine, like not me but my body. I felt like I wasn’t being happy, I wasn’t getting happier it was sort of, it made me feel, well I think it was the medicine, ‘cos nothing else had changed, it made me feel like I wasn’t really real, sort of like I was dreaming a lot of the time. And it made me not care and I was doing things without thinking about the consequences, like it would just, it sort of made it worse in ways. It didn’t make me feel worse, but my behaviour changed without me knowing why. And I didn’t like, I didn’t like it and I just felt, it felt weird and I thought this can’t helping.
 
Mm. Did you notice yourself those changes?
 
Yeah I did and I was getting more suicidal and sort of I think that’s what the not caring was, it was like, “Oh it doesn’t matter if I do this ‘cos I’m not going be here much longer” sort of thing.
 
Mm. So those kind of made your sort of suicidal, self harm thoughts, sort of more?
 
Yeah. I think it was the medicine.
 

Tasha’s low mood was not caused by any “major life event” that she could process in counselling....

Tasha’s low mood was not caused by any “major life event” that she could process in counselling....

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First of all I tried, I tried counselling. I had an assessment but at the time it was quite, my mood swings were really fluctuating so I would be feeling really really good and then really bad. And I had my assessment for the, with the psychiatry unit on a day when I was feeling really good, so it didn’t come across that I had any problems and they just referred me to Relate, so I went there and every week I had counselling. But I don’t really feel like I have problems to talk about, I don’t feel like there was a major life event that brought it on so every week I was sort of sitting there, trying to fill an hour [laugh] of talking about what, how I was feeling, but there was only so much you can say when you’re feeling the same all the time.
 
And not enough was happening in a week to discuss that. And after the fourth or the fifth that we sort of went over everything we could and so they stopped because I didn’t feel like they were helping.
 

Tasha is saving money for a hypnotherapy session as “a treat” to help her relax.

Tasha is saving money for a hypnotherapy session as “a treat” to help her relax.

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I had an Indian head massage. I didn’t have anything regularly but I’m looking into hypnotherapy at the moment. Because I have a friend who has it for anxiety and she said it was, it really helps but it’s really expensive. So, I’m waiting for my birthday, having some birthday money and then I can have, have a session and see if it’s for me. But they, I think they really help relax you, and calm you down but I don’t know whether they’re a good, what I’ve had I don’t know whether if having that would treat, treat what I’m feeling. It just, it’s just like a short term thing, a treat.
 

There was a lot of pressure and heavy work load in Tasha's grammar school. She felt making GCSE...

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But when I started secondary school I went to a grammar school so there was quite a lot of pressure on the work side, there was a lot of homework then. And I’ve on and off been unhappy, sort of always since I was about nine.
 
I sort of it probably got worse in year 9 because I had to make my choices for GCSE’s. And then it, although everyone says like you don’t need to make decisions about your life now, you don’t need to know what you want to do, by choosing your GCSE’s you limit your A’ levels, and then, so… So it still seemed like a big deal to me, and then my GCSE’s I feel like it was quite bad as well, especially in year 10. But I somehow pushed myself and I did quite well, I was like proud of myself, but I started my A’ levels and I did the first year and thought I hate this, I don’t know why I’ve come back. So I left and I thought that by leaving I would sort of get rid of the unhappiness ‘cos that’s what it’d always been in school.
 

Tasha says she only realised her self-harming was a serious problem when it started coming more...

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Tasha says she only realised her self-harming was a serious problem when it started coming more...

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Do you think you realised that it’s a problem and that you needed maybe some support for it?
 
No. Not, not until it sort of, it did come into the media a little bit like, there were, I saw in the newspaper like reports that this amount of young people do it and things like that. And then I sort of thought, oh yeah, oh yeah it’s really bad. And then it, when it got worse and it looked bad I realised, like ‘cos it started so small it didn’t. So, I don’t know. I didn’t realise what I was doing was, I knew it wasn’t right but I didn’t realise it was a problem. But, I think there’s quite a lot out, out there like to help with depression, but self harm’s a bit taboo still. Like, no-one really wants to talk about it, and help you with it I don’t think.
 

Tasha felt “completely brushed off” by her GP when she first saw him about depression. She went...

Tasha felt “completely brushed off” by her GP when she first saw him about depression. She went...

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I think I was about 15 and I went and I said I’ve been feeling really low and I think it’s depression. And he sort of, I can’t say he laughed in my face but he sort of chuckled and said, “Oh you’re too young to be depressed.” Just like completely ignored what I said, brushed it off and then just said “Come back if you still feel like it.” So that’s all that happened, I was in there for two seconds and I was out.
 
And did you go on your own?
 
Yeah, I didn’t tell my parents that I was going.
 
Was that your own GP that you’d seen for other things?
 
Yeah.
 
Do you think it was a big step for you to take to go to the GP in the first place?
 
Yes. I think I was getting quite desperate and I was wanting help so I went.
 
So you didn’t get any advice even, or information?
 
No [laughs].
 
Or anywhere you could sort of come back to after a while or anything like that?
 
No.
 
So well how did you feel after that incident, about it?
 
I think I went home and cried. but I, I sort of left it and just sort of struggled on.
 

Tasha says her family is very supportive of her but she's not always able to receive their help.

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Tasha says her family is very supportive of her but she's not always able to receive their help.

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I sort of feel guilty because she [mother], she doesn’t need the stress of me. And what I did was a bit selfish and put a lot of worry on everyone. And it’s I think we’ve become closer because we’ve started to communicate more and they’re really good, they look after me.
 
And are you happy with that, are you kind of welcoming if they do look after you?
 
Not all the time [laugh]. I know they’re there for me, which is good but some, I can feel myself snapping when I just. It’s really horrible ‘cos I don’t want to be alone but I push people away and you feel terrible. And people try and make you feel better ‘cos they know you’re not happy, but anything they say you, you sort of, you’re a bit like, “that’s not true,” well “you, you won’t feel like this forever.” And at the time you’re like, “Things are never gonna get better.” You don’t want to listen to what they have to say, even though they’re just trying their best so. I’m not always the easiest to live with.
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