What makes you such an authority on depression?

My life, in general.

I have had depression problems about as long as I can remember. I do believe that this is part hereditary --every relative I've ever met and had more than a five minute conversation with is kind of insane in one way or another. Unfortunately, they're all also kind of genius, which means that they are more than smart enough to cover (mostly) or compensate (rarely) and therefore even the ones that have had the advantage of modern medicine have no diagnosis. The only one I'm aware of is my mother; she has a diagnosis, but she also took great pride in lying to the psychiatrist in order to get the medication she wanted, so it's probably not the right one. I strongly suspect she's got borderline personality disorder or histrionic personality disorder or something in the general category of 'acting like a goddamn self-centered child at the most puzzling of times'. What she actually told the shrink she had was clinical depression. She may have been right -- depression is often comorbid with personality disorders -- and I assume that the antidepressives made life easier for either her or her GP, because when years later she got hypochondriac and decided she had some sort of intestinal disorder, the brilliant, brilliant man immediately told her she had IBS and put her back on fluoxetine, which was a last-ditch experimental treatment at the time.

Personally, I'm kind of chronically dysthymic, although it doesn't get really bad until circumstances would make a normal person upset. If you imagine things having a sort of point ranking for misery, where most people would have a shitty week that included two events of magnitude 2 suckage and one event of magnitude 3, and as a result be upset to the tune of 2 + 2 + 3 = 7, it would hit me like 2 * 2 * 3 = 12. I used to worry that I was bipolar because I would crash at the same times every year, but eventually I realized that I wasn't cyclical, school was, and my stress levels shot through the roof whenever I was confronted with the specter of having to spend an entire school vacation stuck in the house with my family. Since then, the really crippling episodes have come irregularly, as life throws shit at me on no particular schedule.

As far as I know, I don't have an official diagnosis. Counselors have historically not been much help, and the only medical personnel who have ever actually listened to me were some psych nurses and doctors at the local ER, where I went for crisis care during what was quite possibly the worst year of my life. I wasn't sleeping because of anxiety (for some excellent reasons, I might add); they were weirded out by the fact that I could come in after having what was more or less a two-day continuous panic attack and be perfectly lucid about what was going on, correctly recognizing that I was not in any immediate physical danger but needed this taken care of because it was preventing me from eating or sleeping. They gave me SSRIs (at my request) and tranquilizers (of their own volition), and sent me home with one of my roommates.

Aside from that, I've written things about depression and being depressed in the past, and gotten a lot of comments from people who say it was frighteningly accurate. I assume that they aren't lying. Although I was talking psych stuff on the internet, so they might have been crazy.