I struggled on and off with depression for a very long time before gaining an understanding of what was happening inside me, why, and what I could do with that pain. My opinion of what depression is, what "mental illness" is, changed significantly during the pandemic, as a result of various experiences that I had, people that I met (online, of course), books that I read, and a mental health advocacy group that I became involved with. Or perhaps, more accurately, my opinion of "mental illness" is the same as it has always been, deep down: it is not a medical disease, but a response to trauma and to living in a world with tremendous pain, injustice, and profoundly harmful systems. The pandemic was simply the first time I discovered others who share my views. I think that profoundly painful place that gets labeled "depression" can also be something else: the beginning of profound transformation.
I'm working on a book about depression and will post more information here as soon as possible. For now, I'll just share these resources and websites; they have all helped me tremendously:
Mental Health Survival Kit and Withdrawal from Psychiatric Drugs by Peter C. Gøtzsche, MD
Outside Mental Health: Visions and Voices of Madness by Will Hall
De-Medicalizing Misery: Psychiatry, Psychology and the Human Condition edited by Mark Rapley, Joanna Moncrieff, and Jacqui Dillon
Lost Connections: Why You're Depressed and How to Find Hope by Johann Hari
and the poem: Hail to You! by Kazimierz Dąbrowski