When Aimee was a junior in college, just a couple of years ago, she started having difficulties she wasn’t familiar with: crying a lot, feeling moody, not eating and not exercising. The young lady who would soon become Miss Rhode Island and compete for the Miss America crown was sleeping a lot and eating little. She was irritable and clueless about what was wrong with her.
A friend tried to coax her to go to the school’s counseling center, but Aimee was reluctant. After a previous attempt at therapy, she didn’t think it would help. But her friend, who recognized in her the symptoms of depression, literally carried her to the car, drove her to the counseling center and helped her make an appointment.
When Aimee told her parents that she had been diagnosed with depression and needed treatment, the news hit hard.
“Of course, the floor falls out from underneath you”, Aimee’s mother, Christine, says. “And instantly you want to know, ‘Is she really OK?’ She said, ‘Mom, I’m getting therapy.’ and she assured me she was not suicidal, that she was on medication and that there were people there watching her.”
When Aimee visited home for Thanksgiving, it was the first time the family as a whole had discussed the issue and Aimee learned for the first time that her father had suffered from depression decades earlier.
“I told her, ‘Well, I’m not really surprised, Aimee. Daddy had it,’ “says Christine. “But before that time, he could not talk about it. He’ll talk about it with you now, but in those days he didn’t talk about it.’ But I did tell her, and I know they talked a long time after that.”
Aimee’s friend helped her get into treatment initially. “I needed my friend, who called the clinician ahead of time, asked what to do, and took me to the counseling center,” explains Aimee.
“Today, I am once again under treatment, but I look at this time in a much more positive light,” says Aimee. “I know now what depression is and that it can be recurring throughout someone’s lifetime. But I also know that it can be treated very effectively. So the moment I started seeing the old symptoms coming back, I had my mom call the doctor. Yes, I am an adult, but getting your family involved is very important and it was one less thing I had to worry or be upset about when I was going through my depression.”
Aimee, who is now Miss Rhode Island, and whose platform is depression awareness, is also a board member of Families for Depression Awareness.
“I don’t consider myself a sufferer anymore, even though I am in treatment. I graduated college with honors. I began a career as an auditor. And I still find time to take part in my favorite hobby since I was a little girl: ballet.”