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Meghan

Age at interview: 18
Age at diagnosis: 18
Brief Outline: Meghan (age 18) had depression symptoms in high school but did not seek help. Depression worsened as she tried to adjust to college and deal with an abusive roommate. She saw a campus counselor briefly, and was prescribed medication by her family doctor.
Background: Meghan is a college student and has a job on campus. She is Caucasian.

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Until her junior year of high school, Meghan was a happy, adventurous, “outgoing and bubbly” person. Then suddenly she “became very irritable and had a negative outlook on life”. She was “slowly gaining weight” and had acne. She felt helpless, “I wasn’t myself mentally; I wasn’t myself physically. I just didn’t even recognize myself”. It took her a long time to “reach out for help from friends or family or like, professional people”. 

Growing up in a small town, Meghan thought that once she went off to the big University, “things would go back to normal”. But college did not provide the fresh start she had anticipated. Instead of getting in shape and projecting a great attitude, “things got harder as the semester progressed”. She would see people laughing, and think, “This is college. Don’t they realize that this is the worst time of your life”? She knew no one and was struggling academically. Her “toxic” roommate took advantage of her in a very cruel way. Then half way through the semester Meghan moved across campus and got a wonderful roommate. “Instantly it was such a relief”, but then she thought “it was too late for me academically”.  

Finally Meghan realized that depression “had just gotten so much worse [after] two years of pushing it aside and pushing it aside…and nothing was just going to go away”. Reaching out “was the best decision” she ever made. Meghan’s mother validated her feelings and said, “It’s okay to reach out for help”. By the time Meghan went for her preliminary counseling session at campus health services, she knew she had depression. She did not want counseling. She wanted medication. Rather than to go through the campus health service’s long process, saw her family doctor who prescribed an antidepressant. Very soon after she started taking the medicine she saw benefits. “I have just really transformed and I just feel like a whole other person and I really don’t think that counseling could have done that. She ended up with decent grades in her first semester, and has since joined a choir on campus where she has made friends and has a real sense of belonging. Meghan says, “I can look back on the past two and a half years, a little longer than that and realize that I made it through and I can be proud of where I am now”. 

Meghan notes, “I have heard so many stories of people going through what I went through. When, I mean it’s very common”. But if she hadn’t opened up, her family doctor would not have known she had depression. She also says, medication should be easier to get, especially in college. 
 

Meghan says everything became hard part way through high school, and other people noticed her personality had changed.

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…when I was a junior, something just clicked and I just became very irritable and everything just seemed to bother me and I just had a negative outlook on life and just everything was hard for me to do. And I just approached things in such a negative way and I didn’t know what was going on and people were noticing that my personality had changed and I didn’t know what was going on, other people didn’t know what was going on, people thought that I was just being rude or kind of arrogant and it wasn’t until later that I discovered that I did have depression and it’s been a long journey but I progressed and. It got to the point where I dealt with that for about a year just, just like, just didn’t feel like myself and struggled with daily things, but it was manageable and bearable and I got through that, but I never really reached out for help and I never really put too much thought to it. I just kind of thought that my life was speeding up and things were changing and that’s just how it was, that was what was going on. So within the next year and a half it just progressed and got more serious to the point where I, I felt ashamed of the way that I had really secluded myself from others and I was not as outgoing as I had been. I didn’t feel really welcome in my school environment and I just and it was just all in my head. It was not that anything had ever happened to me it was just all of a sudden something in my, something in my mind just decided to go wacky and. It, it really started to become a problem my senior year in high school.
 

Meghan describes her depression as “all in her head,” her mind is uncontrollably racing with negative thoughts, to the point where she can’t focus.

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…it was just all in my head. It was not that anything had ever happened to me it was just all of a sudden something in my, something in my mind just decided to go wacky and. It, it really started to become a problem my senior year in high school and I, that was about a year and a half or two into the start of it all and I had such a negative outlook on life like I’d said. I, it was hard for me to wake up and just approach the day-to-day things….

… so the last three months of high school were very terrible in the sense that I, I was just always so sad and I wasn’t doing well academically, I didn’t finish great . I just couldn’t really take anything seriously and I couldn’t devote myself to anything because I couldn’t focus, my mind was just always racing with thoughts that I couldn’t control.
 

Meghan describes noticing others having fun and not remembering the last time she was happy.

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I was doing my homework and stuff and working and I could see all these people around me just having so much fun, like they were doing their work but they were laughing with people and they were talking. And I was in like, a cafeteria and I just remember like a week or so after I moved, I was looking around and I just couldn’t even remember the last time that I had laughed or just enjoyed being in a social environment, because at that point everything was just so abrasive to my senses like, I just didn’t want to be around anybody because I didn’t feel comfortable with where I was and what I was doing and I just was so ashamed that I hadn’t realized what was going on with myself sooner. 
 
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Meghan talks about the stress of college exams.

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Well I kind of am more calm about things. Like, if I am stressed out about something I, I mean easier said than done but I just kind of make myself realize that it’s going to be ok. Like I mean, there were points in that first semester of college where that I thought that I was not going to live through and exam. Like there was an exam and I was so stressed out about it and so anxious and just sick to my stomach just leading up to that exam and during that exam. Like I mean that I was acting in such a way that I thought that it was a life or death situation and I am just so happy that [laughter] is not the case anymore, because I mean that was the case with day to day activities, like I would be so anxious like academically and socially because I wasn’t myself and yeah, it just was not good [laughter]. 
 

Meghan discusses her preference of medication over therapy.

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And I didn’t want to have counseling; I didn’t want to be in a support group. I didn’t really want to talk about what was going on because nothing even triggered what was going one with me. Like it not like I had a traumatic thing that initially started it and then built up and I just couldn’t even put my finger on what was going on, so. I, immediately when I was in my counseling sessions I made it very clear that I just wanted to get help with medication. And, [clears throat] excuse me, it was kind of an odd thing to like, really make clear because that can seem kind of like with the wrong thing in mind or at least that’s what I think. But it’s just because that I knew that talking about it wasn’t going to help and that’s not what I wanted to do. I just wanted to, I just wanted to have my potential with my semester and get on track. So I made it very clear I wanted medication and it, through the university health services it was very hard to go about getting medication and that’s kind of unfortunate in my opinion, because not always is it that counseling is going to help people. And I did end up trying out counseling because that’s just the process that they take, but I just think that individual circumstances that I just don’t really think that counseling helped me at all. And I think that they should evaluate. I don’t know. I don’t even know. 
 

Meghan talks about wanting medication and having difficulty getting it.

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I, immediately when I was in my counseling sessions I made it very clear that I just wanted to get help with medication. And, [clears throat] excuse me, it was kind of an odd thing to like, really make clear because that can seem kind of like with the wrong thing in mind or at least that’s what I think. But it’s just because that I knew that talking about it wasn’t going to help and that’s not what I wanted to do. I just wanted to, I just wanted to have my potential with my semester and get on track. So I, I made it very clear I wanted medication and it, through the university health services it was very hard to go about getting medication and that’s kind of unfortunate in my opinion, because not always is it that counseling is going to help people. 
 
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For Meghan, school became a major source of stress and anxiety.

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..  I mean, there were points in that first semester of college where I thought that I was not going to live through an exam. Like there was an exam and I was so stressed out about it and so anxious and just sick to my stomach just leading up to that exam and during that exam. Like I mean that I was acting in such a way that I thought that it was a life or death situation and I am just so happy that is not the case anymore, because I mean that was the case with day to day activities, like I would be so anxious like academically and socially because I wasn’t myself and yeah, it just was not good.  
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