I too have struggled a great deal with depression and anxiety issues that started even before my AN diagnosis and subsequent surgeries. I struggled with getting help also in much the same way you did. I have tried many different anti-depressants and found them all to be ineffective and not worth the side effects. I also have tried getting professional help. I had sought professional help for my Obsessive Compulsive Disorder and it was very helpful, so I was hopeful that maybe it could help with my extreme depression post-op.
I tried going to several different therapists and quickly decided they couldn't help me. I knew I couldn't get help from anti-depressants so I didn't know where to turn. Unfortunately all to often I turned to alcohol. One reason I felt that no therapist or drug could actually help me was because I thought that my depression was a completely rational response to my situation. When I was a Sophomore in college, I had the doctor in charge of the admissions committee for a medical school tell me that I needed to apply because I was a "shoo-in" for early admission to medical school. I had everything going for me. My final years of school completely destroyed that.
It started with vertigo attacks and dizziness that kept me from driving or going to class starting a year before I was ever diagnosed with an AN. I would go to the doctor and tell them I was having this dizziness and vertigo and without doing anything to look into the root cause they would suggest upping my dosage of anti-depressant. I was also sent to physical therapy for treatment for BPPV multiple times with no success. Once I even went to the ER and had a CAT scan, which somehow managed to miss my 3.8 cm AN. My symptoms included facial muscle spasms, dizziness, vertigo, hearing loss in one ear, and tinnitus. I did think I was going crazy and was already suffering from depression at this point. After a year of no doctor taking me seriously the same doctor who had told me I was a "shoo-in" was the first to take me seriously and refer me to an ENT who immediately scheduled an MRI after noticing I had pronounced hearing loss.
In the 4 years since my diagnosis was made I have had 8 surgeries, 6 of which were directly related to the AN, including 2 craniotomies. One of them took 18 hours. I had several complications including (thankfully temporary) facial muscle paralysis, damage to the nerves that control my tear ducts, salivary glands, and taste buds, a massive pressure sore on my head that has left a 4 inch long and 1 inch wide scare on my head where no hair will grow, and dizziness that had plagued me for years. Probably some other stuff I am forgetting. I also found out during one of my trips to the doctor for depression that my testosterone levels were rock bottom. Barely above what you would see in a female. After seeing a few more doctors for this, the leading theory is that my AN surgeries were likely responsible for this as well because the type of testosterone loss I have is most commonly caused by damage to the brain. Because of this I am having fertility issues and may not be able to get my wife pregnant.
Did I also mention that as an infant I had cancer in my eye? So not only am I deaf in my left ear I am blind in my right eye. I did manage to graduate from college, but medical school isn't going to happen. It is no longer even an interest. I am not even close to the same person as I was all those years ago. I think I have been greatly damaged by years of depression and social isolation (participating in conversation in crowded social situations often just feels like more trouble than its worth).
Of some of my old closest friends from high school and college, one is a lawyer, one is an optometrist, several of them are engineers, one is an accountant, and so on. They are starting families, buying houses, and pursuing their careers. I am stuck back in my hometown working a low paying job, half deaf and blind, socially isolated, burdened by student debt, dealing with fertility issues, and still facing many health issues.
I made a big change about a year ago. I quit drinking, and started exercising a lot. I lost a lot of weight. I got in really good shape, and I still run consistently. I can be so depressed, anxious, and hopeless and then I go for a three or four mile run and feel like a new man. I started going to school online for computer science. I feel a lot better than I used to, and I just keep going. I keep trying every day to get better. I do it for my wife, because I love her so much. She has been with me since High School. We set out to conquer the world and despite it all going so wrong she has never given up on me or stopped believing in me.
Depression still aches in my bones every day, but I have learned to take pleasure in what I can and enjoy life in my own way. I enjoy my spending time with my wife, running, and cooking among other things. These things get me through to fight through another day. Everyone is different, but for me, what has been most effective in helping with my depression is to face the pain head on and not shy away from it. When you are depressed, or disadvantaged because of your health problems, there are so many things you don't want to do because it is just easier not to. It is easier to close the blinds, ignore the responsibilities you have, turn on Netflix, and drink beer than it is to solve the problems you face.
I always felt so down because I know I will never have my vision or hearing back, and I will always face issues related to my AN. Honestly I think the pain of that will never go away, but I focus on what I can change and work toward it. I can run today. I can avoid the unnecessary sugar and eat healthy. I can spend time on my homework and clean the house instead of watching TV. At the end of the day, I will take a well deserved break and spend some time relaxing with my wife, but I will earn that through blood, sweat, and tears. I feel like as long as I feel like I am moving, making progress, and improving something, then I have hope. Then at least if nothing ever works out, if I never become successful, I can still feel good about myself knowing I never gave up and did everything I could. This life has beaten me pretty hard, but I will show life that I can be bent but never broken.
No doubt your depression is related to your health and life situation and isn't your fault. However, you are not powerless against it. To fight it, don't run away. Turn and face whatever it is in your life that makes you uncomfortable, and resolve it. If it can't be resolved right away make a plan and stick to it. Stay disciplined and just keep moving. I don't know your physical situation but if you can: work until you are exhausted, exercise until you are spent, play until you are drained, and make just a little time everyday to wind down and do something that relaxes you. Go to bed every night sore and completely exhausted. Wake up and do it all again. Set attainable goals and work toward them. Hope for a better tomorrow, and work to make it happen today. If you can, find someone special to share your life with.
Maybe this advice sounds a bit unorthodox to some, but as a person who has been deep down into the depths of depression, this is what worked for me. No anti-depressants ever helped me, no doctor, and no therapist ever really did me any good. I finally just reached a point where the pain of just "being" outweighed the pain of "doing." Before all of my medical problems, I was "doing." I was very involved in life, busy, working hard, active, and not depressed. Once the medical problems began, I felt physically miserable, suffered physical limitations, and depression set in. I started just "being" because "doing" was too much for me. If you are just going with the flow, you have no hope that things will ever get better. You have to take charge. It is far more difficult for those of us suffering from health problems and depression to do what we need to do to take control of our lives, but it is even more important. Life has dealt you a difficult card. You have to be exponentially tougher than most people to make it through the day. Suffering is guaranteed, but you get to at least partially choose the manner in which it is doled out. Are you going to suffer because you are choosing to do something that makes you uncomfortable but makes you better (running the extra mile even though you are tired; sitting down, making a budget, and figuring out how you are going to pay your bills; or setting up that job interview) or because you are letting life and depression beat you?
Steel yourself. Clench your fists. Turn, and face life.