Until I started taking my antidepressants, though, I didn’t actually know that I was depressed. I thought the dark staticky corners were part of who I was. It was the same way I felt before I put on my first pair of glasses at age 14 and suddenly realized that trees weren’t green blobs but intricate filigrees of thousands of individual leaves; I hadn’t known, before, that I couldn’t see the leaves, because I didn’t realize that seeing leaves was a possibility at all. And it wasn’t until I started using tools to counterbalance my depression that I even realized there was depression there to need counterbalancing. I had no idea that not everyone felt the gravitational pull of nothingness, the ongoing, slow-as-molasses feeling of melting down into a lump of clay. I had no way of knowing that what I thought were just my ingrained bad habits — not being able to deposit checks on time, not replying to totally pleasant emails for long enough that friendships were ruined, having silent meltdowns over getting dressed in the morning, even not going to the bathroom despite really, really, really having to pee — weren’t actually my habits at all. They were the habits of depression, which whoa, holy shit, it turns out I had a raging case of.
I’m just going to add to this; my experience is similar, and I didn’t know I had anxiety. I always just thought of myself as a nervy person. I thought it was ok to get super stressed out about meeting new people. I thought it was fine for my hands to shake when I had to go to a new class, or go to a party alone. Totally normal to consider cancelling up until the very last minute just so I wouldn’t ever have to stand awkwardly alone. When someone said they were nervous, I always thought they meant the same heart clenching, gut wrenching fear, but no. They generally didn’t. It never occurred to me that there are people out there who don’t get nervous going to meet friends, even people they’ve known for years. People, who don’t have questions run through their head sometimes, is this the wrong day? the wrong time? am I dressed wrongly? will I mess up? am I looking weird on the train? I thought everyone had the same questions as me, on a loop of awfulness, but apparently that’s what anxiety does.