I did not write this but wanted to share in case it helps someone; IF YOUR STRUGGLING WITH DEPRESSION, THIS IS FOR YOU: You are the sum of your biological wiring. It is a seductive trap to think of ourselves as free entities uninfluenced by the circumstances of our genetics, but the reality is very different. I was the spoiled firstborn child of a middle upper class family. My Polish immigrant mother played the role of stay-at-home caretaker, and my diploma-less but hardworking father toiled over his work as a medical sales consultant in order to support the three of us. I was Mommy and Daddy's pampered and coddled little princess. I lived in a safe neighborhood and went to a good school. I got the toys I wanted on Christmas. I never had to endure the crippling pain of a divorce or a major death. Other than attending the funeral of a suicidal uncle I had met maybe twice in my life, I floated through my single digit years relatively unscathed. I'd always felt a little lonely, but I had nothing to show in terms of being a "troubled kid". I didn't have "a past," I didn't have "problems". I had every reason to be happy. Around the age of 12 or 13 seems to be the classic stage in life when most people begin to discover themselves, start to feel strange new emotions and shed the last of the innocence and blissful ignorance that define the basic essence of childhood. For me, that point in my life will always be remembered as the point when things got "bad." There's really no eloquent way to put it. I had no idea what was wrong with me, and it didn't fade away with the passing of puberty. Instead, it got worse and worse. I didn't recognize that what I was going through was called depression for years. The worst part was that, at least at first, I didn't have any concrete or definable reason to feel so terrible. I felt guilty and ungrateful for being unhappy. I had a good education, plenty of food and a roof over my head. I was told people loved me. God loved me! Sure, my life wasn't perfect. I didn't feel like I had any close friends to lean on and I was constantly fighting with my parents. But these aren't abnormal problems - a lot of kids went through the same sorts of things, and managed not to be constantly on the verge of a mental breakdown. The battle I was fighting inside of me was not a product of my upbringing or environment. The most frustrating thing about my depression was that there was no reason I could attribute to my feelings. I was depressed, but I wasn't depressed about something. I kept asking myself, why are you suddenly paranoid and plagued by these anxieties? Why can't you just be happy again? It wasn't as though my lifestyle had changed dramatically. It was like I was being betrayed by my own body, these elements that I couldn't understand or control. I felt totally vulnerable and weak. One of my favorite songs about depression is Heimdalsgate Like A Promethean Curse by Of Montreal. In it, Kevin Barnes pleas for the chemical imbalance in his mind to leave him alone, desperately wailing the line "Come on, chemica-a-als!" over a seemingly feel-good upbeat dance track. He references being plagued by mood shifts that he has no control of "'cause [his] own inner cosmology has become too dense to navigate". One of the lines I most closely relate with is "Chemicals don't strangle my pen; chemicals don't make me sick again. I'm always so dubious of your intent, like I can't afford to replace what you've spent." The personification of chemicals as a physical antagonist "strangling" his pen is a reference to the loss of imagination, inspiration and initiative that often accompanies depression. Just as Barnes' songwriting ability was inhibited by his depression, so was my ability to create the artwork that I loved. The not being able to "afford to replace what [the chemicals had] spent" was, for me, reflected in a loss of friends who didn't understand why I was "acting weird" and the dramatic dropping of my grades as I neglected homework for weeks at a time. Depression is so much more than just "feeling sad". There came a point for me when it wasn't even sadness anymore, just a hellish, maddening numbness. I don't know how to describe it other than being in a fog, or having my head held underwater at all times. I saw the world totally through the dull gray blinders of depression. My focus, motivation, ability to stay awake, even my basic senses were impaired. Unfortunately, I denied my depression for most of my teenage years. Such a diagnosis felt insulting to me. It was as though it was being suggested that I didn't have real problems that needed to be addressed and combated - only "sad" chemicals in my mind that could be fixed with pills. I thought slapping a simple, one-size-fits-all "depression" label on what I was feeling totally undermined the struggle that was, to me, so much more real than some clinical disorder that some 5-10% of Americans deal with. The suggestion that I was merely depressed was a slap in the face. As I made my way into high school, my parents forced me to endure experimental run after run with various medications. The few ugly little capsules that didn't get flushed defiantly down the toilet numbed the monster at times, but they never made it go away. The involuntarily therapy sessions only made it worse. I became reckless. I ended up dabbling in nearly every destructive coping mechanism in the book. Some of my many "phases" included kleptomania, self harm and an eating disorder that nearly broke me. My depression led me into bad situations and magnified already bad situations tenfold. There were periods when it got better, when I distracted myself, but I never addressed the bigger problem at hand, and I kept sinking further and further into those dark places. As another Of Montreal song goes, I was "desperate for something but there's no human word for it, I should [have been] happy but what I [felt was] corrupted, broken, inhibited and insane." With patience, willpower and faith in myself, paired with voluntary medication and therapy sessions, I'm finally learning to accept my depression and keep it under control. I'd like to say I'm perfectly happy and content now, but I'm not. I'm trying my hardest, though, and that's all I can really ask of myself. It is a constant struggle, and even a profound change of perspective can't inspire an overnight change. All I know is that no matter what, I want to enjoy all the world can offer me. Maybe I'm sort of hedonistic, in that I want to keep living because I believe there are so many more things to feel. I want experience, even if that doesn't mean being happy consistently. Strangely, I am thankful for my long term experience with depression. It has ultimately made me so much more aware of my deepest emotions and the basic essence of who I am. It's made me a more empathetic person. Sometimes I still feel helpless, because I can only hope that the chemicals in my brain will balance themselves in favor of my happiness and not my misery. If I were at all spiritual, I would likely find myself praying to the gods of serotonin, nephorepherine, and dopamine. Sometimes there's nothing you can do to keep it together. When you're dealing with a mental illness, you are simply at the whim of your genetic makeup. Though there are things you can do to cope and help yourself, a lot of times you can become totally warped by a chemical imbalance. Your own mind can be a prison, and unlike outside forces, you're stuck with your mind for life. Depression in particular can do a lot to shape a person, both in the way it makes them feel and how they choose to respond to it. You can curl up into a ball, or you can face the world. I am still painfully aware of my lack of control at times, but I will always strive to choose to face the world. There is too much left for me to do to spend my time curled up in a ball.