My Saving Grace (Clinical Depression Awareness): An Interview with Jasmin Pierre
Jasmin Pierre is a 26 year old woman who has struggled with Clinical Depression (CD) and pushes everyday to bring awareness by sharing her testimony with the world. Jasmin has not let her own challenges keep her down or from helping others. In this interview we talk about her life, CD awareness and where she hopes to make an impact.
Where are you from and tell us about your siblings/family?
I was born in New Orleans Louisiana. However I left New Orleans at the age of six. When my parents divorced my mom moved me and my brother back to her hometown Louisville KY. I lived in Louisville for 12 years. I would always visit my Dad in New Orleans for the summer. I eventually moved back to New Orleans when I turned 18 years old. I consider New Orleans my first home and Louisville KY my second home.
I have a brother and also a few step siblings. I also had an adopted six year old sister. She passed away from complications of her cerebral palsy almost 2 years ago. I miss her very much.
Tell us about your childhood.
I had a pretty normal childhood. Even though my parents were divorced I still had them both in my life. I’m still very grateful for that.
You talk about the triggers during your most recent episode but was there a trigger point that you recall during your earliest bout with CD?
My earliest trigger that I remember was in 2007. I was 18 years old. I just graduated from high school. My life was changing drastically and I overdosed on allergy medication. I spent the night in a hospital. I didn’t realize then I had depression. After that ordeal happened I tried to brush it off like it wasn’t anything serious.
Do you feel like your family and friends were aware or did they miss all the signals that were indicating just how serious of an issue you were having before something “major” happened? Did you have other family or friends who have suffered from CD?
I have had friends and family who also have suffered from depression. I don’t feel they were aware of my being depressed. I barely talked to anyone about my issues. I would try to act like nothing was wrong. What some people did notice about me was my change in attitude. I had become someone I wasn’t attitude wise. I would snap on people and had a negative outlook on everything. I didn’t even recognize myself anymore. I’m sure some people thought I had just become a bad person. When in reality I was just hurting really bad inside. I also had no idea how to stop it.
Did you initially seek out help or as you look back did you try to keep it to yourself longer than you should have? In knowing what you know now, what would you do differently?
I kept everything to myself for the most part. When I found I was clinically depressed I told very few people. However I would never give them all the details so no one truly knew my pain. I wouldn’t let them in. No I wouldn’t do anything differently. Going through everything has made me a stronger person. Now I am able to reach out and help others going through depression because of my experiences.
You speak about your lowest point in your video also. Can you tell us a moment where you felt, while maybe not completely, furthest from that lowest point and a sense of relief and joy at feeling like you had come out on the other side?
I actually feel that way today. I feel relief and joy in my heart. I’m in full recovery from my depression. I remember days when I wished I could go to sleep and never wake up. Now I can’t wait to wake up and see what the day brings. I’m thankful to be living. I’m blessed to be able to continue my journey through life and make the best of it.
I know your faith plays a big role in your recovery. Do you have a strong bond with your church/church family/pastor where they too can act as a support? What advice would you give to the person who does not have a foundation of faith or perhaps who does but can’t get past their anger at the situation but stills need to understand the importance of seeking help in their recovery?
Yes I do. I love my church family and I feel that I have the best pastor in the world. They know about my advocating and are very supportive. Many of them even listened to my first radio interview a couple of months ago. I was on air talking about my journey through depression. I’m very blessed to attend Spirit and Truth in New Orleans, Louisiana.
I would tell someone who is struggling with their faith to work on making it stronger. I know everyone doesn’t believe in God but I believe everyone regardless of their backgrounds can have faith. Faith starts within. Having faith in yourself to keep pushing forward can go a long way.
Have faith that you can overcome any obstacle. Have faith that you can seek help and become better. If you can Believe and work towards getting better it will be done.
What type of things do you enjoy doing outside of work?
I enjoy relaxing, Spending time with friends and family, shopping, reading, football, long walks, and food.
I worked in behavioral health clinics for 7 years and there is still a big stigma attached to people seeking mental health services. People are still hiding, medicating just to feel somewhat stable and feeling isolated— all while seeking help. There has been some media attention to some issues such as bipolar disorder or depression but there is still much more that needs to be done in not only understanding from those who do not suffer as well as support for those who do but shy away from seeking help out of shame due to what others will say. The “shake it off” mentality of the old days or making someone’s condition a family joke-while ignoring the seriousness still continues today. Even people stopping their medications and announcing themselves healed is another scary but real aspect of the spectrum.
What steps can family members make at home or healthcare workers in healthcare that would help erase some of the stigma or preconceived notions about mental help?
Research more. They’re so many resources out her to learn more about mental illness (NAMI for example). People just have to take the time to do so. I also believe people need to become more aware of how serious mental illness is. Telling someone who is depressed to “just get over it” or “it will go away on its own” will not help the situation at all. It just makes things worse. I’ve talked to others going through depression who feel so misunderstood because people keep telling them Nothing is wrong. Being supportive is something that is much needed.
Who is your support system or support circle of family or friends? Do you have mentors? Counselors?
My family, closest friends, and pastor are all people I can talk to. Sometimes it takes a village. I’m blessed to have a great support system.
Did you battle from self-esteem issues as a teen or youth? What advice would you give a young girl or young adult who may be battling the same issues and not know where to turn? Do you work with any local, national, or global resources/organizations in order to gather secondary help or information to aid in your cause?
Yes I did battle with self-esteem issues. I would tell a young girl/ adult going through self esteem issues to ultimately love herself no matter what. I would tell her time heals almost everything, and to look in the mirror every morning and say to herself how great she is. We all have things we wish we could change about ourselves. However we must remember that no matter what we are original. There can only be one you. Love it, embrace it, accept it, and own it.
Can you give us three current CD statistics as it relates to women. (reference sources)
- Women with a family history of depression may be more likely to develop it than those whose families do not have the illness. (National Institute of Mental Health)
- Women are twice as more likely to suffer from depression than men . (National Institute of Mental Health)
- Women who suffer from post partum depression are at higher risk for suicide. (Postpartum Depression: http://youtu.be/O-A7YvrjFL8 – National Institute of Mental Health)
Where do you find your joy to keep fighting?
I find my Joy in The Lord. Without God I don’t know where I would be.
What are you doing to change the face of CD and what would you like your advocacy to become?
I share my YouTube videos and experiences with people everyday. I email various people talking about my cause. I talk to people who are dealing with depression and I encourage them. I let them know that they can overcome this. I do my best to give them resources to learn more about what they’re going through. I encourage them to seek help.
I would like my advocacy to become a voice that is heard on a larger platform. I’m very serious and passionate about changing the way people think and feel about depression. I want to see millions of lives changed. 350 million people around this world suffer from some form of depression. The time is now to make a difference.
Anything you would like to add?
I would like to thank you for this opportunity.
I would also like people who are going through depression to know they’re not alone. Don’t be afraid to seek help. Your situation can change. Have faith and believe.
Here is the link to my latest Youtube video. I will continue to spread awareness to the people. I will continue having my voice heard so that the voices who are afraid to speak up about their depression will be heard as well.
Again, Thank you and be blessed.
See Jasmin’s original video
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