Depression is not an easy subject to explain. Most people have an idea of what it is in theory, but very few understand it in practice. This includes people who suffer from it. Turns out, just like getting poisoned doesn't make you a master toxicologist, getting depression doesn't make you a master psychologist.
And for that matter, I'm not one either. I couldn't fully explain what depression is in theory.
But I can explain what it is in practice.
1. Depression is a mental illness.
It does not mean I'm deranged, unintelligent, prone to flights of fancy, or that I'm lazy.
It means that there is something wrong with my brain. A problem that cannot be overcome by willpower alone. It would be like fixing a broken arm by flexing it. It doesn't happen. Placebo effects can trick a positive reaction for a short time, but therapy and, in most cases, actual medication are necessary.
You cannot tell me to "think positively" and expect it all to work out, because thinking positively is practically impossible for me. Outright impossible. I can fake it. I can think less negatively. But thinking positively is as hard as walking on a broken leg.
1a. Mental illnesses ARE physical illnesses, they are just invisible.
People have this idea of "Okay, so there's physical illnesses, and mental illnesses." The truth is, your brain is a physical organ. Whether you believe in a soul or not (I do), the brain itself is where depression is located, and it's a physical organ. Ergo, Depression, and all other mental illnesses, are physical illnesses.
They are REAL. As real as any gaping wound in your arm.
2. Depression destroys motivation and ambition.
First of all, motivation and incentive are too different things.
Incentive is the need for you to do something. I have PLENTY of this, I don't need people heaping it on me.
Motivation is the urge to accomplish something. I have NONE of this. Day to day life is a struggle for me emotionally. Often times, I just float through life, meeting the necessary requirements for my morale and my physical needs. Except for food.
Depression also destroys your willpower. I'm lucky I have as much as I do.
3. Depression affects your body
Depression makes you ache. Depression makes you emotional. Depression makes you hungry, or not hungry. Depression can make you not hungry one moment, then starving the next. Depression can make you eat even when you're not hungry, just something to help yourself feel better, only to make yourself feel worse.
4. Depression feeds itself.
I am depressed. I don't talk about my depression because it brings down other people. I feel isolated because of this, and I get depression. So I don't talk about it because I don't want to drag people down. So I feel even more isolated.
In addition, you can be depressed for no reason, and depression will find a reason to latch onto to make you feel MORE depressed. So you feel bad about "hunting for a reason to be depressed", and that just makes you even MORE depressed.
Depression also encourages bad habits (and the destruction of good ones) due to general apathy.
5. Depression doesn't care
It doesn't matter if you're Republican, Liberal, Tea-Party, Rich, Well-off, Poor, Working, Unemployed, Religious, Atheistic, Agnostic, Male, Female, what race you are, hard working, barely working, thin, fat, fit, unfit, single, taken, well-raised, or abused. Depression will find you. And it will strangle your emotions, your drive, your sense of existence, until there's nothing left but a hollow existence.
Depression can develop any number of ways. While those with a shitty life tend to develop depression more often than people who don't, it doesn't mean that rich people with depression are any less legitimate than poor people with it.
Though it IS important to point out that rich people with depression have a LOT more options than poor people with depression.
6. Depression can make you afraid to stick your neck out.
I've written this far. For a moment, I thought about just... giving up. Closing the tab, and forgetting I ever tried to write this. "I mean, who could ever value anything I have to say about the subject? I'm not even sure everything I've posted is 100% correct, either." I'm still going to write it, and I'm going to post it, because I want to overcome these tendencies.
I hope that what I've written is educational. This is as much for me as it is for everyone else.
Turns out, leaving that cave is a lot harder than it seems.