I am obnoxious, abrasive, and unique by Whitworth standards, Rose Prince said matter-of-factly, as she twisted her sweater into a croissant on the café table. She peered through her dark voluminous curls out the window as she explained what exactly makes her the person she is. Dysthymia and Face Blindness
Prince, a junior transfer student, maintains continuous spontaneity and brutal honesty without ever feeling a hint of self-consciousness. She attributes it partly to personal values, and partly to a chronic mood disorder she has, called dysthymia.
Dysthymia is traditionally thought of as a form of depression, but Prince described how her disorder is a little different. Her brain lacks the chemical serotonin, an emotion regulator, causing a manifestation of anhedonia. She tends not to have emotions.
The disorder makes it so she doesn’t automatically match her emotions to other people when she is interacting with them. She has become good at faking emotion, making it very easy for her to act like someone she isn’t.
“It gives you an ungodly power to wield,” Prince said.
Dysthymia affects her appetite too. Prior to going on medication she had to time out her meals so she wouldn’t forget to eat. She had no appetite and swallowed food whole. Once on medication, she felt like she could eat the world.
“It’s fun to be on meds,” Prince exclaimed happily. Taking them gives her back serotonin and the emotions that come with it.
She feels dysthymia definitely makes her the person she is and even on medication the quirks in her personality have gone nowhere. She still enjoys throwing things at people, French fries for example, and kicking open doors.
To demonstrate her spontaneity she turned to an unsuspecting male student, declared attraction to him and asked him out on a date. A friend of Prince looked on, mortified, as the young man responded that he has a girlfriend, but gave her points for confidence.
Dysthymia and outbursts aside, Prince has another disorder even more unique and quizzical. Prince doesn’t recognize people’s faces. While she hasn’t been formally diagnosed, this disorder is called prosopagnosia or in layman’s terms, face blindness.
In order to keep social tabs on people she uses their hair or other peripheral cues to identify them. Even her ex-boyfriend she doesn’t recognize, until she zones in on specific features, looks into his eyes, or recognizes him by his clothes.
Prince’s personal view is overall optimistic despite apparent difficulties in having disorders such as these.
“I know my problems are problems, but I also believe they’re gifts,” Prince said, “God gave me special weaknesses and he also gave me special strengths.”
She plans to become a therapist and help trauma victims and others overcome their own problems and see the upside.
Prince came to Whitworth to fulfill her career-driven passions in the psychology program.
“It’s my driving goal in life, it consumes everything else,” Prince said.
Pre-Whitworth: Her Home and Being a Lumberjack
Prince’s fervor for helping people in psychologically strenuous situations also stems from her youth.
Prince recalls that while growing up she used to be made fun of at school because she was the only one who hadn’t been raped.
She grew up on the west side of Washington and describes the area she lived in as ghetto. Her best friend became a prostitute at age 14 and she had friends who were drug dealers.
Prince saw terrible things happen to the kids around her and she had her own struggles in her family life which was sometimes turbulent due to hereditary mental illness.
“Even if we can’t deal with these bad things around us, there should be someone to help,” Prince said.
She started college at age 16 and attended Olympic College before transferring to Whitworth. She is the first in her family to go to a private college and is proud that she is paying for it all herself.
In fact, Prince spent some time during the year before transferring working as a lumberjack. It was difficult because she had to work twice as hard to keep up with the burly men who performed the job alongside her.
Barefoot Metal Head
Prince calls herself “the hugest death metal fan in Spokane.”
She has yet to find the sampling of metal heads here that were prevalent in her hometown.
“I’m a lonely metal head, but still proud, still fighting the good fight,” Prince said.
She can often be found going shoeless around campus (yes, even in the cold weather) or listening to her favorite death metal band, 7 Horns 7 Eyes.
Prince is also a collector of sorts. She has a current total of 1,100 quotes and has many of them on note cards strewn around Ballard, her dorm.
She writes down a favorite: “Consistency is the last refuge of the unimaginative,” a quote from Oscar Wilde who she refers to as “quite the wit.”
Besides amassing such valuable words, she also collects band t-shirts and military memorabilia.
Whitworth is a Good Fit
Prince recognizes the stark contrast of her persona against what might be perceived as the Whitworth world. She was seen as a goodie-two-shoes back home, but she feels here people see her as being a rebel.
“I’ve seen a penis up close, swear, and listen to metal,” Prince says.
Despite this she knows that she is liked here and accepted for who she is. One of her favorite parts of being at Whitworth is she gets to be around Christians.
“My relationship with God is life,” Prince says.
Whitworth is good for her. She believes she is so creative and unconventional that it will be good to be stifled just a little bit.
Story by Jo Miller
Photo by Angeles Solis