Young Adults’ Experiences of Depression in the U.S.

Ben

Male
Age at interview: 28

Brief outline: Ben’s depression began when he was 13. He was diagnosed with depression and schizophrenia when he was 19; substance abuse has also been an issue. Unemployment has made things harder. Medication and therapy have been helpful, as has his work as a comedian.

Background: Ben lives in transitional housing for formerly homeless people and is looking for work. He has one son. He is Puerto Rican/Hispanic.

Audio & video

Ben’s depression started when he was 13, and has been “hard to deal with” since then. Early symptoms included losing motivation, sleeping a lot, and difficulty concentrating. His low self-confidence also made him “an easy target for bullying” at his high school - and then the bullying made his self-esteem even lower. When he was a senior in high school he wasn’t taking good care of himself at all, and things got a bit “out of control”. His mother became concerned and took him to get some help. It was not until a couple of years later, however, that he got a diagnosis of depression and was prescribed Zoloft and other medications.

Ben didn’t want to depend on medications, and has experimented with going off them over the past ten years -- experiments which sometimes ended with being hospitalized on the psych ward. With the medication he has found, and his relatives have verified to him, that his thoughts are clearer and he is “more motivated and more relaxed”. He gets monthly injections for his medications sometimes because pills are too difficult to take. He has been hospitalized on 4 or 5 occasions, usually for a week or two at a time. Therapy and counseling have also been useful, but some social workers he has seen had enormous caseloads and lacked the time to be helpful. He is looking for someone who can understand him and “talk with me like… a real person.” 

Ben worked at a store for nine years, but has recently become unemployed. Having “nothing to do” makes depression worse, and Ben hopes to be working again soon. He is looking for service jobs so he can again be a “productive member of society” and answer questions his family members have about why he is not working. He has struggled with substance abuse and homelessness in the past. His past significant romantic relationship, with the mother of his child, was not at all healthy. Ben thinks in future he might get together with a woman who has herself struggled with mental illness because such a person would likely be more understanding. Ben loves comedy and sometimes performs as a comedian himself, turning “mild misery into a fun joke” and making other people laugh.

Ben advises other young adults with depression to “take one day at a time,” and to remember that depression will “most likely get better with proper treatment, so just don’t give up.”

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