There are several diagnoses that includes depression in the DSM, i.e. Major Depressive Disorder (MDD), dysthymia, Bipolar disorder etc, they are just useful in helping you identify what is the core difficulty you’re suffering.
Despite having a rough diagnosis of Bipolar II, I like to think of my rather moderate depression as just a collection of unpleasant sensations. Mostly, I experience a constant low mood, my heart feels empty and cold and it seemed like I will never get out of the rut and it will be a vicious cycle.
There are better ways to view depression or your state of unpleasantness as I would call it. Over a period of experiencing on and off depressive states, I find these perspectives useful.
1) There’s no point worrying, for you cannot predict the future.
“It’s a metaphor, see: You put the killing thing right between your teeth, but you don’t give it the power to do its killing.” (Source: The Fault in our Stars – movie [book by John Green])
When worry / anxiety comes, acknowledge that it is there but adopt the perspective of Augustus Waters in the movie The Fault in Our Stars, “Don’t give it the power”. Brush it off, drop it.
What you WILL lose if you worry is Time. Anxiety uses a lot of your time.
A personal experience: When I get into a depressive state for the night after a few productive days, I fear it will haunt me over and over again. But it’s a FACT that we cannot predict the future, I don’t even know if I will still be alive tomorrow, the next hour or minute.
2) It’s just a collection of symptoms
Your diagnosis you get from your psychiatrist or psychologist and the similar words countless articles on the Internet tells you “It is a serious condition that needs medical attention” etc may scare the hell out of you initially, just as I did.
A personal experience: Back and forth I try to find out if there is actually a problem with me, as I do not understand why I get into intense episodes of low mood and confusion but later feeling ok and have a gut feeling or perception that I was faking it.
3) It’s a daily routine of picking yourself up
It takes patience and perseverance. Just like the economy, it has its peaks and troughs, it’s like a sine curve, it goes up and down then up again.
With depression, it may be very difficult to envision hope and a future when the dark clouds of sadness hover over our heads. Some of the people with depression take medications such as Cymbalta, Zoloft or Lexapro to help cope with the symptoms, but know that you will not be cured of depression by just obediently popping pills like your doctor told you to.
You can take charge the minute you decide to. Be an active fighter, don’t let transient periods of low moments/horrible feelings/delusions or whatever you face bog you down. Soothe yourself down, learn to cope with them if they appear to stick with you most of the time.
About the stigma:
In the country I live in, there are much stigma surrounding the subject of mental illness or people seeing psychiatrist. I feel offended when my peers talk about people being crazy if he/she has schizophrenia. I am unable to explain to them as I would not like to disclose that I go to therapy and take meds. When I recover, I want to become an advocate and not be afraid to share my story. They can judge all they want and I don’t care.
I cannot guarantee you changing your perspectives like I’ve listed above you will entirely be free of symptoms, but I can assure you that you can be hopeful again, you can be a fighter and you can learn to cope with support from your loved ones.