Signs of Distress

Posted December 22nd, 2009 by collegemomindebt and filed in Depression, Parent to Parent, Student to Student

The story below is based on a true story but the names have been changed for confidentiality.

When Tawnya’s grandmother passed away after a long and painful illness it sent the whole family into a tailspin. Grandma had been the spiritual head of the family. She was the one that family members went to when they wanted advice or comfort. With Grandma gone the family stopped attending faith based meetings and stopped celebrating spiritual holidays. Family traditions were dropped. Tawnya’s mother became somewhat bitter. Her father became mildly depressed. And her sisters became somewhat withdrawn. But Tawnya was impacted most of all.

Unfocused student18 months after Grandma had passed away, Tawnya was in college and hours from home. Then Tawnya began to eat less. She found it hard to get out of bed in the morning. She lost her motivation for school. She took less care of her attire and grooming.

Amy was Tawnya’s friend. Amy listened to Tawnya day after day as she became more sad, more irritable and more unfocused in her school work and even in her conversations. Amy was interested in the medical field and so watched many documentaries and television dramas about medical topics. One day she watched a drama about a teen who was suffering from clinical depression. This prompted her to go online to look up “signs of depression”. She found a list like the one at and realized that Tawnya was exhibiting nearly every sign of depression. She talked with Tawnya about this and asked Tawnya to tell her parents and to ask for help, but Tawnya did not act on what Amy told her. The next week Tawnya began to talk about wanting to be dead and having specific ideas about how she might take her life. This prompted Amy to call Amy’s mom.

Amy’s mom had worked in the medical field for years and quickly said, “Amy this is too big an issue for you to try to solve on your own. You need to involve a responsible adult from the college that Tawnya trusts.”
Amy contacted a favorite professor that both Tawnya and Amy liked and trusted. The professor agreed that it sounded like Tawnya was in trouble and committed to call Tawnya into her office to talk with her immediately.

When Tawnya got the call, Amy was in the room. Tawnya’s first response was anger. She asked Amy, “How dare you share my personal problems with someone else. I told you those things in confidence.”
However, Tawnya went that day to meet with the professor. The professor heard Tawnya out and then, while Tawnya was there, she phoned Tawnya’s parents.

Within that week Tawnya was seen by a mental health professional, diagnosed with clinical depression and started on anti-depressants. She told Amy that she was sorry she acted mad and that she was actually glad that Amy had cared enough to involve someone who could help her get better. Within two weeks, Tawnya was feeling better and showing more interest in eating, getting proper rest and doing well in school. Tawnya and Amy retained their friendship and Tawnya got involved in the crisis help line at school. When she tells her story, she talks about how important it is to get professional help for a friend who is suffering from depression even if it could mean the loss of a friend. Confidentiality and friendship are less important than saving someone’s life.

One Response to “Signs of Distress”

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