This was a personal message I wrote about the subject, but since it's already written I decided to share it anyways.
I'm a 26 year old guy from Finland, that has a history of depression and anxiety. I would had loved to talk you about the psycologigal aspect of depression, but I found out that I've learned all my terminology in Finnish and I wouldn't want to create confusion using the wrong terms in English.
In short, I personally am a very neurotic person, my basic condition in layman terms is vaguely and shallowly described here: huffingtonpost.com/entry/10-truths-about..
I'm in no way what this article describes as a "healty neurotic", I have most of the bad symptoms unfortunatelly.
Basically I over analyze everything, constantly. I always expect the worse in every situation, so no wonder that at some point it gets too much. I worry about how I look, what I'm saying, what people are talking about me, right now I'm constantly checking my grammar from Google because it REALLY ticks me in the wrong way to have mistakes in my text. Oh yeah, so I'm a perfectionist on top of everything. While my condition might not be similar to your personal problems, one thing to know is that even intelligent persons can get trapped inside their own heads without help. Depression is actually even more common in "more intelligent" population, when they tend to ponder about deeper questions of life more often and usually don't settle for easy answers.
What this all boiled down to in 2015 Fall for me, while starting my 3rd year in university, I developed an anxiety disorder. After a long summer of pure work and no real breaks, I was mentally done, so tired. Right after I finished working, I was expected to start grinding out courses and get good grades . Or ofcourse nobody expected these things from me, but being a perfectionist I couldn't accept anything less from myself.
Before I even noticed the transition, I couldn't even check my school email without a panic attack. I had no idea what was going on or how to stop feeling so shitty. Months rolled by, I stopped going out, stopped hanging out with my friends, stopped seeing my family. I was just alone in my dark apartment, doing nothing. I felt so shit, I just couldn't find the strenght to do anything. I got behind on my studies and developed depression, because I couldn't function or do anything productive anymore. I simply coudn't start any projects anymore, because all I saw was the massive effort needed for them to be absolutely perfect. Wich in no way those projects actually needed to be, it was just in my head. I was very hard on myself and constantly reminding myself every day what a loser I am. I was in a seriously bad loop in my head at this point.
Then came the drug abuse, VERY common among depressed people. I started using weed, daily. Very quickly that was literally the only thing I did, I fully loaded my bong as the first thing in the morning and smoked through the day, so I didn't have to deal with any emotions. I was just in this cloudy haze, staring at my computer screen from morning till I was too tired to keep my eyes open. At some days I couldn't even eat anything, just smoked some more weed to keep my head occupied. I spent all my life savings (around 6000e) on weed and when the money ran out, it was the only reason I stopped.
When I got through the pretty nasty withdrawls from weed abuse, I was still feeling like shit and I was so tired of it. So, for you, I want to recap all my mistakes up to this point in the story:
1. I didn't take the issue seriously when it first occured. Go figure, that feeling so down that you can't function normally is actually VERY SERIOUS.
2. I didn't talk to anybody, not my friends, family. I was too ashamed of myself and didn't want to feel like a burden to the people I love. Wich is not what life is about, you need to rely on your family and friends when you are feeling too down to continue on your own. It goes both ways in the long term, just because you might need help now doesen't change the fact that people close to you actually care and love you. They just need to know what is going on with your life.
3. I did the no.1 mistake and started using substances, because I couldn't bear my life sober anymore. Addiction is not about the chemical hook that you have from the drugs or alcohol, that's "easily" dealt with. It's more about the person not able to deal with their life problems when sober, so they just absolutely need to be connected to something, in this case it's the relief the drugs or alcohol gives them. You are in a mental prison at that point. Substance abuse is not a solution to depression or anxiety and makes every single existing problem worse.
So, after that I continued with more mistakes. One right thing I did, I actually went to the clinic and asked for help. So I'm in the home stretch, right? Wrong.
Before I get into what I did wrong in this instance, if you kept reading up to this point, I really want to leave you with this message: If you have been depressed for a longer period of time, please go talk to somebody. If you are based in a first world country, I would imagine you have very competent psychiatrist there. Depression is a common psychological disorder, it's well documented, researched and is treatable. There is no real reason not to get help and recover from it. Feeling ashamed about getting help to mental problems? Fuck that, this is the year 2018. What I've found it's very hard to talk about depression with older generations. They generally don't understand psychology very well, it didn't exist to the extent it does now when they were growing up. Most of the groundbraking studies in the whole field, from medication to behavioral therapy, is quite new, so no wonder people might not be informed about the state of modern medicine. Even many highly educated people are not knowledgeable about modern psychology. They are not wrong their own way, back in the day problems like depression weren't solved in any way. So what happened is that depressed people got drug or alcohol problems, a very shitty life and some just outright killed themselves, when they couldn't talk to anybody. We are not living in this world anymore. Look at Japan, wich has quite low tolerance for mental problems, the suicide rates are absolutely through the roof. They even have safety nets around some high towers, just so people jumping from buildings wouldn't inconvenience the every day citizens. It's crazy and not the times we should live in! We have answers to these problems!
The decision to actually go to talk to a professional should not be a big life decision. If you are sick you go to the doctor, in this case the condition is of mental nature so you have to go to a doctor that specialises that field, a psychiatrist. This what he or she does for a living.
So, back to my experience, I went to the clinic and asked for help. What went wrong? I didn't know how to ask for help. When I got my appointment, I didn't open up and tell what was really the problem. I felt too ashamed, even in fort of trained professionals, to open up and tell what I was experiencing in my head. I played down the severity of my panic attacks, didn't tell about my drug problems, so what the hell are the doctors able to do? If YOU decide to talk to anybody really, family member, doctor or a psychiatrist, you absolutely need to tell them what is ACTUALLY going on. You can't just say you've been a little under the weather lately, when in reality you might feel so shit you can't function anymore. Nobody could help you, if you can't say how are you are feeling exactly, and not sugar coat it.
It's been two years now since I went to the clinic, so where am I now? Well, ofcourse the doctors couldn't do anything, when I didn't even tell them what was wrong. I even turned down all the medication and just never returned. I've had these problems for two years now and I now know won't be able to solve them on my own. I do some courses in the university here and there, but I'm in no way going to graduate or get a job at this pace. Actually believe it or not last week Wednesday I decided that I will be going to the clinic asking for help for the 2nd round, and actually do it right this time. I will say frankly that I suffer from such bad anxiety, that I can't have a normal life. I will probably go on the medication that the psychiatrist will offer me, if he or she can explain to me clearly what it will do to me. I'm personally very anti-drug and for the longest time I just tried to play this down without help or medicine, but life isn't worth it anymore for me at this point. It's better to artificially tell your brains to chill out a little bit, than to live your life in constant agony, that you simply can't resolve yourself. Right now I'm in the middle of settling things in my school and life to a point, that for the next months I can actually spend all my energy for getting better. I'm expecting to ask about my first appointment with a psychiatrist on Thursday or Friday this week. I hope the case of depression isn't this severe for you.
Hope this gave you some perspective what unchecked mental problems can do to a person. I hope you will ask for help and start opening up if you do.