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

Jeremy

Male
Age at interview: 22

Brief outline: Jeremy (age 22), as a mixed race child adopted by a Black family, felt different and alone. He has had dark moods in winter and smokes pot to feel better. He has not been diagnosed nor reached out. Studying psychology, spirituality and being in nature help.

Background: Jeremy is a psychology student and lives in an apartment with a roommate. He is mixed, Black and White.

Audio & video

Jeremy has been dealing with “dark moods” since childhood and always felt different and “very self conscious.” He is mixed race, and was adopted and raised in a Black family since 8 months of age. “That’s the only family I know and …my family loves me dearly”, says Jeremy, but “I don’t look anything like my family.” He grew up in the black community, but felt not fully “one of them … feeling that disconnect or being made fun of”. Jeremy recently tried to look for his birth mother, but “that didn’t go through. It didn’t really affect me like one way or the other cause I didn’t know her, I didn’t have any connection to her.” 

His depression, which he considers seasonal affective disorder, starts in the winter. “I would become so sedentary. And I would usually drink more heavily, do more drugs”. He says he gets “stuck in patterns of negativity just over and over. … Negativity begets negativity, it builds on itself”. He does not typically reach out for help, except a “few times to a couple of my friends. I talked to my sister a little bit because she’s dealt with depression.”

Jeremy has never been diagnosed with depression and from his study of psychology in college, he is wary of labeling yourself “cause then you start to act out”. He thinks that maybe he’s “just naturally depressed”. He admits that hearing about diagnoses in class, “I was kinda like nervous… that’s like my personality, and I kind of thought, oh I have this”. 

He thinks that “maybe it’s just the depression, or maybe it’s just the winter”, but that mislabeling is dangerous. Even though he is studying psychology, he has issues with “talking to a stranger about something that personal”. He also acknowledges that, “the black community doesn’t talk about mental illness like they should” but also understands that this stems from a bitter history when “black people were misdiagnosed.” Jeremy has become spiritual, but distinguishes spirituality from religion. “My family’s religious …but I was never a true believer”. He says people do a lot of good things with religion, “but there’s so many fake Christians out there.” Being spiritual for Jeremy “entails being more aware. I really didn’t realize, like, the negativity, and you just get stuck in it and you don’t realize it”. In preparation for the winter, he plans to exercise more, and reach out to people. He wants to “be closer to my mom and dad.”

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