The Show Must Go On: Sarah Jennings’ Battle with Treatment-Resistant Depression

Sarah Jennings has always appreciated what she describes as “fun, weird things.” 

“I like spectacle, and things that go big,” she explains. 

Perhaps that’s why she was drawn to her first career as a costume and prop designer. Her success in this niche field helped her land coveted positions in prestigious opera and theater venues around the world. Finally, her travels led her to the costume shop at CenterStage, one of Baltimore’s premier theaters, located in the heart of the city she now calls home.

Today, Jennings has pivoted to a new career as a graphic designer and web developer. However, she still gets to foster her love for “fun, weird things” through a unique hobby: designing life-like puppets for one of Baltimore’s LGBTQ+ cabarets. She is also happily married to her wife, Cat, a physician at a hospital in Baltimore. Six years ago, they became the proud parents of their daughter, Riley. 

In a Funk

To know Sarah Jennings is to know laughter. She’s quick with a joke or self-deprecating remark that is as hilarious as it is honest. So, it often surprises her friends to learn that she has struggled with treatment-resistant depression since high school. 

“I would take Prozac or get therapy, and that helped for a while, but then I would go into a funk where I just lacked the energy to do anything,” she says.

It was during one of these “funks” in the summer of 2019 when she saw an advertisement for a clinical trial of a drug for depression. The trial was led by Scott Aaronson, MD, Chief Science Officer, Institute for Advanced Diagnostics and Therapeutics.  

Laughing Again

Working with Dr. Aaronson as part of a clinical trial testing the effectiveness of a new medication for treatment-resistant depression helped Jennings improve her mood—and her outlook on life. 

“I was amazed at how quickly the medication worked!” raves Jennings. “In my other experiences with medications, it takes a while to feel the positive effects of the drug. But this helped me feel like ‘normal’ Sarah again after just three days.” 

Today, Jennings still experiences bouts of sadness. But these low feelings are usually a reasonable reaction to actual disappointments, such as the hardships and uncertainties of COVID. 

She explains: “Before, I might be walking down the street and trip over a rock, for example. Then, I’d spend the rest of the day beating myself up, ‘What’s wrong with me? I can’t even walk!’ But now, I just think to myself, ‘Stupid rock, now let’s move on with the day.’”