I think it can take a long time before you realize that there`s something different going on inside of you that doesn`t go on inside of other people. I know I grew up baffled (and with that constant feeling of failure and not measuring up) because nobody seemed to be able to understand, or want to understand, and I couldn`t figure out why I was so different from everyone else in my family. In a way, the diagnosis of dysthemia (chronic low-grade depression) was a relief, because it helped me to understand that there was a chemical imbalance behind my ineptitude...it helped to alleviate those feelings that I was a big mistake, which was my predominate experience throughout childhood and especially teen years.
I know now that depression is a lifetime companion and so I`ve learned how to recognize, manage, treat and co-exist with it. I see others suffering from mental illness who are NOT aware that they are ill, and they make life miserable for themselves and everyone around them. I think that self-knowledge empowers, and believe that if some of these people could be diagnosed, it would empower them to take control of their illness rather than allowing it to control them and their lives to such a distructive degree.
When you don't like a thing, change it.
If you can't change it, change the way you think about it.