Elizabeth was a sensitive child. She was diagnosed with depression and an eating disorder when she was in high school. The worst period for her was as a teenager, but transitions into and out of schools or jobs were also hard. Her husband is tremendously supportive, and her career as a parent educator is a source of satisfaction. Depression now has a minimal impact on her life.
Elizabeth lives in a house with her husband. She works as a parent educator. She is White/Italian..
More about me...
Elizabeth was moody, quick to cry, and often “down” as a child. When she reached adolescence, these long-standing sensitivities combined with growing self-doubt and lack of good coping skills to create “a big fireball of depression.” Her high school years also included trouble with drugs and alcohol, a problematic group of peers, and struggles with eating. Her parents, both of whom are social workers, supported her as much as possible, but her late teenage years remained difficult ones. She saw a psychiatrist, who diagnosed her with major depressive disorder and anxiety and prescribed anti-depressant medication - but that first medication did nothing or even made her “in some ways feel worse”.
An all-time low point for Elizabeth was when she took a bottle of pills at age 17, then immediately told her mother what she had done and went to the Emergency Department. Being in the hospital as an out-patient was frightening and “horribly embarrassing,” but it also led to a change in medications that put Elizabeth on a steady path to health and healing. The new medication changed her life profoundly, helping “calm down the noise” in her head and to “focus on working with a therapist, working on behavior, working on coping skills, and problem solving”. She stopped taking the medication after a few years, but continues with behavioral therapy which also “helps so much”, especially with learning about herself, other people, and relationships.
In college, Elizabeth developed a close relationship with a “very funny, sweet and down-to-earth” man whom she later married. That relationship, which includes a lot of acceptance and support as well as love, has been and remains crucially important. Transitions of various kinds -- for example, between school and work or between jobs -- are still challenging, but for the most part her mood is good. Moving out of college and into the work world was a “really positive” step because she loves what she does and knows she is good at is. Her current job is as a home visitor supporting at-risk families.
In order to maintain a steady good state, Elizabeth avoids drugs and alcohol entirely. She wants other young adults to know that “it’s up to you to work at it” to get better because “it’s not going to just happen by a magical potion, which I have hoped for many times…but if you put in time and effort and energy and you really really address and confront who you are and what depression is all about, it’s easier.” Reaching out for support was crucial for her, and she hopes others can also find a way to stop feeling trapped in “that really tight lonely bubble” and connect with others who can understand and help.
For Elizabeth, being depressed is like being a piece of the jigsaw puzzle, which just doesn’t fit.
Elizabeth describes wanting to protect her depression because it feels comfortable, and hiding it from professionals she saw after a suicide attempt who might force her to address it.
Elizabeth describes how she rapidly lost a lot of weight.
Elizabeth describes how her eating disorder both seemed to help and contribute to her mental health issues.
Elizabeth talks about her experiences with anxiety as a child.
Elizabeth hid her dark thoughts very well, until they became overwhelming.
Elizabeth feels drastically different than her earlier, depressed self.
… I don’t feel like it has made me who I am it has definitely contributed greatly to who I am, it has made me thankful, it has made me proud and I feel very accomplished having gone through something as life threatening as that and making it to now but yeah I definitely go back and forth with that because she feels so different than who she is now.
Elizabeth found that her adolescent depression caused lasting damage to her family ties.
Elizabeth worried about losing her friends if she revealed her depression.
Elizabeth says the relationship she had when most depressed suffered greatly because at the time she could not talk about her depression.
Elizabeth’s depression returned after a five-year gap. When she finished college and applied for jobs every rejected application made her feel like a failure.
Elizabeth talks about how behavioral therapy has taught her to think positively
Elizabeth discusses wanting to use medication only if she feels there is nothing else that can help her.
Elizabeth says her husband supports her without enabling her, and her relationship with him provides a comforting sense of security.
So you know, the depression definitely has impacted every romantic relationship that I’ve had, the difference with him though is that the love is unconditional. I can be depressed and we’re still going to be married and he’s still going to love me. He can have a bad day and I still feel the same way. And I think that just generally acceptance that I feel and the security that I feel helps ward off the depression in a lot of ways. I, you know, it’s not his responsibility to ward it off, but it helps with that, definitely, because if I feel loved and secure and safe and happy and we’re having a good time and laughing and everything is good then that really helps.
During a tough period of unemployment, Elizabeth felt severe depression threatening to descend. She headed it off by drawing on coping skills such as taking decisive action, persisting, and speaking positively to herself.
Are the primary coping and problem solving skills around persistence, are there other aspects of those?
A lot of them are around persistence. A lot of it too, as simple as this sounds, is just trying to speak positively to myself. When I was very deeply depressed a lot of my thinking was negative, “I’m never going to amount to anything. I’m never going to be happy. Who would want to be with me? Who wants to be around me?”