Maddy was a joy to interview! She has such an amazing story, yet at the same time, she remains very humble, funny, and happy. Her story talks about how she overcame a bunch of anxiety and depression while growing up. It’s An awesome story and anyone dealing with problems can relate somehow.
Maddy McEachen Interview
Leland: Tell me a little bit about your background, where did you grow up? Were both of your parents in the picture?
Maddy: I grew up in Oak Park, it’s a suburb right on the edge of Chicago, so I take the blue line here every day. I have six siblings and I grew up in a Catholic family.
Leland: Would you say you had a pretty decent childhood growing up? Did anything traumatic happen?
Maddy: 6th grade is really when anxiety had gotten to me, I didn’t want to go to friends houses or really interact with anyone. There were just rough times where I didn’t want to get out of my own house. I was disconnected from everyone else as far as friends and stuff like that went. Depression was definitely a side effect of the anxiety and not having a whole lot of friends was a big factor. I used to cry a whole lot in class and I would have to leave because I felt sick from the anxiety. I just wanted to go home I didn’t want to go out nor participate in anything. Even in church, I would feel sick, and I just couldn’t sit there. This was really stressful for someone who grew in a pretty religious household.
Leland: So what would you say started your depression? Was it school?
Maddy: Yeah it was definitely school, my school didn’t have a good system like other schools. They didn’t have a school psychiatrist like public schools did, and also it was hard to talk about mental health in a religious school.
Leland: What would you say escalated you going downhill?
Maddy: High-school is when everything got worse because I would just end up not going. I would either go to the park or to the library instead of class. I was living the life of a part-time homeless person. I had my Kurt Cobain biography book and I would think “Only Kurt Cobain can help me now.” It was really rough, I make it jokey but I would just walk around instead of going to class. My mom would hate getting calls from the school that said “your daughter wasn’t in class today” and I would be terrified. I just felt like I was trapped inside of the classroom, and I felt like I couldn’t leave because it’s a constant lecture and there wasn’t any interaction. Because of this I would constantly not go and I would just hide in the bathroom, and I was just feeling really hopeless overall. I wasn’t eating during school which also made me feel sick, but I didn’t want to eat because I didn’t want to throw up. It was just this circle and loop of horribleness. Eventually, after explaining to the teachers what had been happening I started getting better and going to class more often. It was sophomore year when I was missing all of those classes, so it didn’t really get completely better till senior year. During that time I had met a psychiatrist, and things eventually got better. For me, one of the hardest things about anxiety was finding the right prescription to put me on. The doctors would keep on saying “We’ll move up, and see what works.” It was a constant waiting game, and I think that’s why a lot of people feel so hopeless because its hard to be patient. Some people think that anxiety pills are like these magic pills that make everything go away, and although I wish they were like that, they aren’t.
Leland: What would you say was the lowest point or “rock bottom” of your story?
Maddy: I would definitely say a lot of it was definitely in sophomore year. I remember watching Saving Private Ryan and having a panic
attack and for whatever reason it just clicked everything into place, and all of this began. I came back from summer into sophomore year knowing what had happened freshman year, and having to face it and dread going back to school again was hard. Even during summer, I didn’t go anywhere, I would just stay inside, and I wouldn’t do anything which was probably the worst thing for me to do at that time. You need to be pushed and need to do things step by step regardless of your anxiety whether if it is just going to church or going to the park or wherever. Overall my depression was just really bad, I would end up bruising my hand my hitting it against the table till it got purplish and the reason I did that was to show people and have “evidence” that I was actually going through rough things. There is this whole stigma around mental health and the fact that it’s all made up in your mind, and even though it all is in your head it is real and painful and I just wanted to show my therapist “this is what’s going on.” I didn’t have any friends, I would cry constantly, I had people who I talked to occasionally at school, but just the environment I was in was unbearable. Not a whole lot of people understood It was hard to put into words. I used to always think about dying, but now I think about how many good things there are in the world, and why it’s worth living.
Leland: How did you regain control of your life during senior year?
Maddy: First I think a lot of people with anxiety/depression hold everything in and they never tell anybody. You absolutely have to tell people, that’s the first step. Whether it be a chemical imbalance or something else you just have to let people know. My medication started working which was great, I started eating during school again, I found out food makes life better when you don’t want to throw it all up (laughs). I started singing, and I was taking singing lessons which really helped. I think without art I would of just completely imploded. Junior year I started making jewelry, and I would get up every morning at 6:30 and bike to school be there by 7 and I’d be there working till my class began. I’d go there during study hall, lunch, really any free time I got. Having a reason to do things is really important, and having people around you who are especially supportive is important as well.
Leland: Would you say you’re successful now with overcoming your anxiety/depression? I know we always have our moments, but at this point in your life is it still a major problem for you?
Maddy: Yeah I do, I mean there are obviously still points where I’ll get depressed, but overall I feel like I’ve defeated it. People who have had depression and anxiety and have overcome it are still shaped by it. It makes you look at the world through a different view. You think differently. The struggle is worth the pay off.
Leland: If you could go back in time and visit Maddy during sophomore year knowing all that you know now what would you say?
Maddy: I don’t think she would listen to me, she was very stubborn (laughs) she wouldn’t listen to anybody. I would probably do a little twirl and say something like “This is your future, and it’s pretty neat.” I would definitely say “let’s not give up, and keep doing what you are doing and remember things will get better.”
Leland: Why is life worth living now?
Maddy: My family is worth living for they were always the reason why I didn’t do anything irrational, I have a four-year-old brother and it has been the most amazing thing ever to see him grow. Being able to go to school every day and not feel trapped is a bonus. I get to create art, and I like what I am doing. I look forward to my future now.
Leland: What is Maddy McEachens purpose here on earth
Maddy: Probably to make bad jokes (laughs) I feel like I’m the person to make everyone else feel good in my life. I feel like I’m good at picking people up. I’ve been through some dark times, and I had no friends but now I’m out of the dark place and I feel happy! Even if my jokes don’t alway’s make people laugh.
Maddy is such a chill, down-to-earth person! I had a blast getting to talk with her, and getting to listen to her story. I love how she mentioned that the best way to get help when experience depression is to simply “talk to someone” about it. There are millions of people in this world that would love nothing more than to help you out and just be an ear for you. You’re so loved, and there is a plan for you life! Stay the course and hold on to hope, we are always here for you.
“You alone are enough. You have nothing to prove to anyone.” – Maya Angelou