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

Nadina

Female
Age at interview: 23

Brief outline: Nadina continues to struggle with depression and anxiety which both began in childhood. She has never gotten or wanted a medical diagnosis. Drawing and illustrating and trying to improve the world are things that make her feel better. She has not tried therapy or medication.

Background: Nadina lives with her parents in a suburb near a small city. She completed college and works as a freelance illustrator. She is Caucasian.

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Nadina felt there was something wrong with herself starting at a very young age.  She felt that, in the communities where she was raised, boys were often valued more than girls, and suffered low self-confidence as a result. The Mormon church, which played a large role in her community, also reinforced this sense of being “wrong.” As a young teenager told she had to cover her body, and knowing she was “not skinny”, she began to feel uncomfortable in her own skin.  

Nadina struggles with both anxiety and depression, like her mother. She is an only child and close to her parents, especially her mom -- but she is reluctant to tell her mother too much about her depression because she worries that she would be “really upset if she thought she had passed depression on”. Nadina also wants to be in charge of how her “mental health is handled” herself, and so has been very cautious about who she does and doesn’t tell. There are many friends she does not confide in. She has also not wanted to see professionals and get a medical diagnosis, partly because of a lack of money to pay for services, and partly because she is concerned about being prescribed medication she prefers not to take. She thinks she may get professional help in the future, though, if her current issues “continue later in life”.

Concentrating on her art and illustration work is very helpful for Nadina. She successfully finished an art degree in another part of the country, despite some very difficult times there, and then returned to live in her parents’ home. She works as a freelance illustrator, which is “not really an issue with depression” because it is flexible and doesn’t happen in a social setting where she would feel overwhelmed. Work is often both a good distraction, and a way to express herself. At the same time, she has persisting anxiety that her work is not good enough. She is bi-sexual, and has had several important intimate relationships, some of which have ended painfully.

Since low self-esteem can be a powerful cause of depression, Nadina wants other young adults “not to be afraid to accept certain things about yourself that you may feel are wrong because they probably are not wrong, you know whether or not you feel like you may like the same sex or you don’t want kids, there’s nothing wrong with those things… just do what’s right for you”.  She has found the ability to create things to be an “amazing gift” and effective way of addressing depression and anxiety; she hopes other people will find their own “saving grace” too.

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