A Naples woman, thriving after years of battling anxiety and depression and using alcohol and drugs to numb the pain, is opening up about her past as a way to spread awareness.
“I just realized that helping others that had gone through similar struggles was really my calling,” said Amy Quinn. “It kind of started in high school, where I sort of started to feel the pressure of, you know, getting good grades and being involved.”
Quinn was an athlete and in student leadership, but the pressure led to anxiety and depression by her sophomore year. She pushed on, graduated and went to college. On the outside, things seemed great.
“I would cry for a day in my room,” Quinn said. “Alcohol or smoking cigarettes or smoking pot, like… those things were things that I would do to help myself feel better.”
But partying to mask the pain took its toll, and Quinn dropped out in her freshman year of college.
“I had to go see a therapist, I had to see a psychiatrist, I had to go to a group therapy sessions and I really had to just focus on learning how to manage my mental health,” Quinn said.
She’s not alone. Nearly one in five Americans have anxiety and most develop symptoms before they’re 21
“They can feel irritable, they can have muscle tension… feeling palpitations, getting short of breath, feeling of impending doom, like they’re going to have a heart attack,” said Dr. Heather Hughes, a psychiatric nurse practitioner at Elite DNA Therapy. “You want to make sure that there’s not a medical cause behind your anxiety—certain, you know, thyroid problems in an older adult, potentially a UTI, cardiac issues, GI.”
Quinn’s story doesn’t end after dropping out in freshman year.
“I ended up getting two master’s degrees in psychology,” Quinn said.
Now, the mother of three is working on her PhD. She says she makes sure to praise her children’s hard work rather than their results to help avoid any pressure for perfection. Instead of, “Great job getting an A,” Quinn tells them, “Great job, I know you studied really hard for that test.”