I was diagnosed with Major Depressive Disorder at a young age, and have had recurring episodes ever since. I first became aware of mental health research when I was searching for alternative treatment options during a time when my symptoms of depression were worsening, and I couldn’t afford healthcare. I didn’t feel as though I had many options, and I wasn’t sure where to start looking. I started browsing for resources on the internet to see if I could find any new information, and I came across a site that recommended U of M Clinical Studies. I had no idea that mental health research was occurring locally, and had I known about it, I would have volunteered a lot sooner.
It was definitely easier than I thought it was going to be to start. I registered online as a volunteer, and was instantly able to view a variety of studies. I chose to allow researchers to contact me and within a couple of days, I was making my first appointment. I felt like everything I needed to know was covered during the clinical interview and on the consent form, and any questions I had were answered with enthusiasm. There were a few studies to choose from that I could potentially qualify for, but I started with one I thought I’d be most interested in hearing the results from. It involved an overnight stay at the hospital with an extremely attentive team of nurses, and a blood draw for less than what I would donate to the Red Cross. I also had two appointments for scans, an fMRI and PET scan. During the PET scan I was comfortable enough to take a nap, and the fMRI had interesting tasks for me to complete.
Even initially, I didn’t have many reservations about participating. I thought that even if I didn’t get immediate results, I could help prevent future generations from going through the same thing I was. I wanted to feel like I could turn my depression into something positive, and that’s exactly what I did. Participating in research opened a lot of doors for me, and made me feel like I was making a big difference in the world of science. To think that I could be part of any kind of medical breakthrough was enough to keep me motivated. It was also important to me to be able to speak openly about it and not feel like I had to keep it to myself. I wanted to share my experiences with others and show them how comfortable I felt with participating. The researchers really made me feel like I was a crucial member of the team to further progression, and it left me with one of the most rewarding experiences I’ve ever had.