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Interview 15

Age at interview: 24
Age at diagnosis: 14
Brief Outline: With the help of a caring GP, her counsellor, private hospital treatment, Efexor (150mg/day) and self-help books, she was feeling better and is keen to continue her healing and help others. She has written a book' Saving Samantha' A Young Woman's Escape from Childhood Hell (isbn 1401910300) about her experiences.
Background: Working as a PA, survived an abusive father and complicit mother. Left home at 18 and was taken in by a caring Irish family. Has suffered severe bouts of depression and suicidal urges.

More about me...

 

Gets angry with people who complain about relatively minor problems with their families because...

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And it's very difficult to sort of not get uptight with somebody that is, as far as I'm concerned, moaning about their life, moaning about their experiences or moaning about their family. 'Oh I hate my mum she does this, I hate my mum she does that, I hate my dad he does this.' And you think, "What are you talking about? You haven't got a clue." 

It's like, I don't profess that I've had the worst childhood in the world, I know there are people out there who have had a really bad, upbringing. But I've had a bad childhood. And then when I hear people saying that they've had a bad childhood, and you know, why? 'Cos I got smacked.' Really? Do you know what it's like to be beaten black and blue? You know, it makes me quite uptight with them because, they don't, in a sense as far as I'm concerned they don't realise how lucky they actually are. 

How bad things could be for them. And it does make me quite uptight but it doesn't make me jealous, it just makes me sort of wanna shake them and say, 'Look, you know, this is the real world, you're living in it, you've got nothing to complain about. You've got all the support networks you could ask for, you've got all the security you could ask for, you've got all the love and affection you could ask for, what more is there that you need in order to try and get the best out of your life?'

 

As a 14 year old her suicide attempt frightened her enough to visit her GP, who diagnosed...

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When I was about fourteen I had my first suicide thought. And attempted to commit suicide after a relationship break-up.

And, I tried to jump out of a three storey building window. At which point I was caught and sort of taken down by somebody in the house, and it was then that I realised that I really should not be feeling like this, and I had no support from the family environment. No-one was picking up on how severe things had got for me, I knew it wasn't the norm to be doing things like that. So I took it upon myself to go and see my GP, and speak to her.

So you went by yourself?

Aha, yeah.

That's unusual for a teenager?

Yeah, but I think when you're actually faced with, "Oh my God I would have jumped if someone hadn't come in". That just absolutely petrifies you because you know that you're young, you shouldn't be feeling like that, it's not right, there's got to be something wrong. Can somebody take me out of this environment? Is it my environment? Is it me? Is it'you want someone to sort of answer those questions for you.

So, sort of, I suppose clever enough to sort of work out that I needed to go and see someone to get some sort of help, and so then went to see my GP and she diagnosed it, straight away.

Right.

You know, she said, "Yeah, you've been, you've been suffering from depression for a long time, we had thought it.' And knew a lot about my family history. My parents' history. My father had suffered with severe depression throughout all of my childhood, so obviously that has impacts on you.

 

Says that Efexor was the best drug she had ever taken, with better effects and fewer side effects.

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What's it like, taking the Efexor?

What was it like, oh, it's probably the best drug I've ever taken.

Why's that?

Because I don't feel like I'm out of control. I don't feel like I'm not being myself. I feel, I'.. [sighs] I suppose I feel a little bit more secure in myself. A little bit more in control of myself, more in' I'm in more of a routine with it. So, you know my sleeping patterns are a lot better, than what they were. 

I did get ill on it, I've never really been physically sick, but most anti-depressants I've taken have made me feel queasy for a couple of weeks. Efexor was a bit different, I felt sort of queasy, a lot less, I was given 75mg  to start with. And when I moved to the hospital, they put me up to 150mg.

 

Her GP dispelled her fears about counselling by explaining what would not happen in counselling,...

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So she (her GP) tried to explain to me that people don't have to have the same experience as me in order to try and help me. She wouldn't put words in my mouth. She would just try and help me get some of it out of my system. 

So she explained to me that you know they're not going to patronise me, they're not gonna make me feel bad, they're not gonna force me to talk about anything, they're not gonna make me forgive'. they're you know'. all of these fears and concerns and worries that I had, she brought down a level I suppose. 

And, I only agreed to see the counsellor, if she, if she had specifically arranged for as far as I was concerned, the right counsellor to see me. So obviously she knew a lot of them, so she knew the counsellor that I saw, on a very good level. She knew that she would be able to deal with me.

 
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Found herself talking to her counsellor about things she would not talk to friends about, and discovered that she had put on a fa├žade to cope with the world.

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I went in there, very defensive, very, I'm not going to talk about anything, I'm not going to explain anything, I'm not gonna, you know, give her the answers. If she wants to get this out of me she's going to have to try bloody hard. I'm very stubborn.

But the fact that she got beneath my surface in the space of an hour and got more out of me in an hour than a friend would get out of me in a year, shocked me. Because she hadn't really done it, I had.

Yeah, I was learning, and as much as she [the counsellor] was learning from me, I was learning trying to understand myself a bit more. That I couldn't always carry off a confident face, a fa'ade. I carried this face around for as far as I'm concerned, twenty four years, this false pretence of being somebody that I actually am not. 

Because I believed it to be what other people expected. That's what' I was a character that everybody, that I thought everybody wanted me to be. I was a bubbly, lively person. I was probably one of the people you would never have thought suffered from depression. And, mainly because I hid it. 

And I hid it so well that it came natural to me. That, I wouldn't necessarily open up to anybody. So, although it was all bottling up inside me, I'd had this session and I found some things come out that I wouldn't talk to my best friend about.
 
 

Was pleasantly surprised by her welcome at a private psychiatric hospital.

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So I went in, and it was like a hotel. It wasn't anything like I expected it to be. Walked in, really friendly receptionist, you know, 'Hi, you must be [participant's name].' and you know she knew my name, and I was just like, oh my God, you know. What have people been saying? And next thing you know this little lady runs over, and she must have been about five foot, and she was lovely, really friendly face, really welcoming made me feel you know, quite secure, made me feel quite happy. She came over, 'Hi [name],' you know, introduced herself, she said, 'lovely to meet you, listen, go through to the music room, have a seat, help yourself to coffee, are you her boyfriend her husband or..?' you know, [name] was like, 'Yeah, hi, I'm [name], I'm her partner.' And so and so. 

She could see we were both very tense, very nervous you know, sort of looking round everywhere, trying to work things out. There were people everywhere. You've got nurses walking around in you know normal clothes. You've got people that are living there, you've got family and friends that have come to visit people living there, you've got therapists, psychologists, psychiatrists, doctors, GPs everybody in this place. Just bobbing round, doing their own thing, completely uninterested in you.
 
 

Describes how when she is depressed her thinking focuses on the negative rather than the positive.

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I call, what I've got in my head my chatter box. Basically it is my mind, seeing things a particular way. And with depression you see it really negatively. You see everything negatively, you'll always pull out the negative over the positive if you ever see a positive, you'll'. if for one positive you'll give ten negatives. And that little voice in your head, that's telling you, oh God, you know, that person doesn't like me, or oh, I don't look very good today, or I feel fat or, you know, all these horrible negative things that come into your mind are your chatter box telling you all these frightful things.
 
 

Explains she learnt how to better deal with the 'chatter box' in her head through reading a...

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Yeah, yes, David Burn's 'Feeling Good', a friend of mine read it. And he knew that I was reading loads of books and ordering loads of books. And, she said to me, '[Participant's name], I've got a brilliant book that you would absolutely love. I think you should get it and read it, it might give you something to learn.' You know, so I thought ok, fine, so off I went, Amazon, ordered it, got it. Quite sceptical, you know, I'd read loads of books but hey, why's this going to be any different. You find them quite repetitive after a while. You find that they all sort of say the same thing, but just in a different way which does become a bit tedious because you've read it all and it's like, well where from here? So I sat and read this book, and you know it's quite a hefty one. But it's a really good one. 

And just because someone else might see something one way, doesn't mean that it's right or wrong. It's very difficult to sort of'stop yourself, and realise that just because you have an opinion or you express yourself a certain way, it's not right or wrong, to you know, to act that way. It's really, it's really difficult, 'cos it's everything in the book ties up with other things and you know cognitive therapy for me, is my chatter box and arguing with it.

 
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The death of a caring friend and the survival of her abusive father undermined her belief in God,...

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I thought that if there was any sort of God out there, then he wouldn't have let what's happened happen to me and my family, and other people that have been through similar experiences. He wouldn't have taken somebody that really made a good contribution to the world and left somebody that you know caused so much disruption and heartache and you know problems. And, so I suppose I just went against, I went against religion completely. It just literally finished it off for me, and made me think, right ok I do not believe that there is any sort of God out there. But, I had a belief in Karma, and in a sense of what goes around comes around, and there's gotta be a turning point for me somewhere. And something good has got to come out of all this, I can't let, you know, let all of this, dictate my future for me.

 

To stop rumours before they started, she told work colleagues she had been in a psychiatric...

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"Why have you been off work?" And I went, "I've been in hospital." "Oh, are you alright?" "Yeah, I'm fine thanks yes, thanks for asking." "Um, nothing too serious I hope?" "Mmm, yeah it was, but I'm ok, I'm dealing with it, thanks for asking." And they went, "Oh, oh wh- what was it then?" you know what people are like, they will try and get it out of you, and I think if you try to hide it gives them something to use against you. So I was just really outright, and I just said, "Ok, I was in a psychiatric hospital for a month and then outpatients for a further month and now I'm at work part-time to try and get back into the swing of things slowly." And he just looked at me. "I've suffered with it most of my life, and I'm just dealing with it now." And I.... honestly he, his eyes were just, popping out of his head. His jaw hit the floor, and he just didn't know what to say to me. 

So he touched my shoulder and I said, "It's ok though," I said, "I'm not loopy" and he just started laughing, because I'd just turned it into a joke. You know, I'd sort of was like quite light hearted about it. I said, "It's ok, I'm not loopy, haven't lost my marbles yet. It'll take more than a bit of depression to get rid of me." And you know he was just like, "Oh my God," and I said, "Well," I said, "you've probably got all sorts of questions going through your mind right now, but if you want to know a bit about it, and about what it consists of I'll tell you."

 

Setting small tasks or 'mini goals' is a way of feeling you have achieved something, rather than...

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Because I think that if I set goals for myself that are, unattainable, because I feel different on a daily basis, then I'll just set goals for myself to be disappointed. And therefore result in me feeling bad, which won't help. So, I set mini goals. I need to get to lunchtime. I need to get to home time. I need to get to here. I need to get to there. And then I come home and I just maybe... sort of think about all the good things I've had, try my best not to dwell on the bad things, try and still argue my chatterbox, still sort of trying to make head or tail of the situation. Still accepting that I might still need help, keeping up to date with my GP. Speaking to my counsellor whenever I need her across the phone.

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