Sometimes it is worthwhile to remind myself of previous periods of depression. When I'm wondering about my diagnosis and feel like counseling is useless, I remember.
In high school and college I studied French; I even ended up going to France for a couple weeks my Junior or Senior year as an undergrad. It had been difficult from the start, especially in 10th grade when I switched schools, but I loved the language.
Sometimes, when I'm wondering about my diagnosis and feel like counseling is useless, it's been worthwhile to remind myself of previous periods of depression.
During a severe depression during school I lost a lot of what I had learned previously. It was hard to study because it was hard to focus and reading was more difficult than it usually is. In French I lost a lot.
My teacher recommended that I go ask the French-speaking tutors for help. But shortly after she had made this suggestion, she went on to remind me, with a strange facial expression, that the tutors only helped and wouldn't do my work for me. She went further into her suspicions about my sudden loss of the language -- suggesting that it was impossible to go from writing well in French one semester to barely being able to put a sentence together the next. It wasn't until days, maybe weeks or months, later that I realized that her strange expression and questioning were meant to imply that I had been cheating the prior semester.
She suggested that it was at least suspect, if not impossible, for me to have gone from writing well in French one semester to barely being able to put a sentence together the next.
That was the end of my French studies. I remember calling my advisor, Professor Carpenter, crying about the prospect of failing French and the need to drop yet another class. I would eventually regain more useful memory of the language I loved and still use the bit of it I can, but it's nowhere near where I meant to be. I meant to know French, and I don't. It should serve me as a constant reminder of what depression is like.
Call it bipolar or manic-depression or some other yet-to-be-devised term, it is an illness, and it is real.