I'm probably not the first person to tell you that depression is a difficult subject to talk about. Insidious, complex and confusing, the stigmatisation that surrounds the disorder in popular media hasn't done anyone suffering from the mental illness any favours. With a common response being to just tell people to "snap out of it," the sheer ignorance around how to tackle the disease is only matched by the general lack of understanding on what the disorder actually does to a person at a base level. Because, for as much as films and TV would have you believe, depression isn't just sitting around and sulking to The Smiths. Not everyone feels suicidal and not everyone self-harms; different people react in different ways, and the common misconception that there's only one standardised way to experience depression is complete fantasy.

Now, I'm not a doctor; I can't tell you how the disorder starts or what its root causes are. I mean, I did briefly study it in a first-year psychology module, but I can't really remember anything other than vague stuff about "dopamine", "serotonin" and what was popular on Twitter at the time. However, I am someone who knows what it's like to live with the disease day-to-day, and after putting up with it (semi-successfully) for years now, I reckon I've got a pretty good handle on what it's like for someone trying - and often failing - to cope with depression.

More important than any of that though I'm a film student; adept in the art of overanalysing media I could probably project a hidden meaning onto the sleaziest of car commercials (other than the obvious 'this car is a substitute for your dick insecurity', anyway). So, because May is Mental Health Awareness month and all that, I thought I'd try something a bit different from your clinical dissection and NHS google-your-own symptoms approach that's always so reliable and accessible. Instead, in order to raise awareness around the underlying everyday conflicts that come with living with depression and to give a little insight into how the disease actually affects your thinking I'm going to put those slightly pretentious film analysis skills to good use for once.

I'm going to explain depression through the plot of The Lord of the Rings.

In this analogy, naturally, the depressed person is our hero, Frodo, the unassuming yet self-aggrandising Hobbit yanked out of his comfort zone into an adventure he doesn't completely understand. In Fellowship of the Ring, Frodo doesn't really want to take the ring to Mordor. In fact, at first, in his blind panic, he wants to pawn off the responsibility to Gandalf - or hell - just about anyone who'll take it. But that brings us to the beginning of the depression cycle: denial. And yeah, I did major in "how to sound exactly like a 'Self Help' book" at uni, now you mention it.

Like Frodo, you're lumbered with the burden of the ring out of nowhere, and when you're told you've got to take it on the treacherous road to Mount Doom you naturally refuse. See, no one ever actually thinks they're depressed at first. Either because it's such a touchy subject or they simply don't think their case of the sads is worthy enough to be considered a genuine disorder, many reject the sheer notion of having a problem outright at first. They rationalise and make excuses in a panic, all in the false assumption that they'll be safe in the uncertainty of not knowing why they're bummed out all the time.

Getting over that initial denial is tough, especially if you're younger or have grown up in an environment that doesn't look particularly fondly on mental health issues. However, once you pull yourself out of that stage, the realisation that you actually have a problem does make day-to-day living a little easier. While you still might beat yourself up for having off days (or off months) in the first place, at least you can now identify the cause of them, and you actually have something to blame on those nights where you do stick The Smiths on and have a bit of a cry.

But just as both Frodo and Bilbo come to blame their violent outbursts on the ring, this acceptance that there's something causing all your irrational moments can become a get-out-of-jail-free card to excuse all of your problematic behaviour on something seemingly beyond your control. It's relieving in the moment to be able to blame the time you unjustly had a go at a stranger on a disorder, under the impression that it's useless to try and fight the impulses. But like Frodo in the film, it's something you've got to push through if you don't want to languish in your own misery. Taking responsibility isn't easy - especially when you already hate yourself enough as it is - but holding yourself accountable for your behaviour and appreciating the impact of your actions instead of excusing them is essential in maintaining relationships that you can easily lose.

Because of course you're not alone in this. The people around you - your Fellowship, if we're keeping with the theme - can be essential in getting you through the worst episodes. I can't say whether telling your friends is better than not (they'll probably know something's up anyway); it's honestly up to you whether you're comfortable divulging this information with other people or whether you want to keep it to yourself. But unfortunately, just like when Frodo takes off on his own down the river at the end of the first movie, most people with depression will no doubt, consciously or not, end up pushing people away. You'll break up your own Fellowship whether you mean to or not.

Because even if you are lucky enough to have a core set of friends or peers who are dedicated to helping you get through the darker periods, they're not going to be there every minute of the day. Just like Frodo, once you've pushed the boat out and left the company of the Fellowship you're going to be spending a lot of time alone with your thoughts. Even if you're open about your problems and the state of your mental health, you aren't around people 24/7. And hell, they've got their own shit to deal with too.

At this point it's probably time to introduce Gollum. Quite naturally, this jewellery-obsessed little scamp is assuming the role of all those insidious depressed impulses that gnaw away at you, fighting any rational thoughts you might have left. Your good days are Sam, the nice gardening fella who's always done you a solid and stuck around throughout your worst moments. Your Sam could be anyone or anything; be it a friend or even just the "normal" part of your brain that tells you how untrustworthy and toxic Gollum really is. Of course, despite all rational thinking (then again, nothing's ever really "rational" when you're talking about depression) you take comfort in Gollum. He's all you think you deserve, and anyway, pushing on with Sam is too hard; why would you want to go out your comfort zone when you've already accepted that it's not getting better than being mates with seedy old Smeagol?

And for as much as Sam goes out of his way to look after you, you'll only grow to resent him more and more. Selflessly giving you the last of his Elven Bread just so you can eat, you'll use the same gesture against him later once Gollum plants the idea that he was only manipulating you with it the entire time. "Sam you fat fuck!" you'll shout in an ugly rage and no doubt regret later. "Why are you covered in breadcrumbs?" you'll accuse, once Gollum has convinced you he's eaten your share out of spite, despite his earlier actions indicating he'd do anything but. The worst part of living with depression is this comfort you take in attacking that rational part of your brain and indulging in the irrational. It's even scary to admit it; painful to accept the fact that you've become comfortable enough with your own misery to humour it. It's a vicious cycle and it's one that people on the periphery need to understand we think about all the time.

But back to Sam and Bread-Gate; it doesn't matter that the trusty Hobbit has been with Frodo for his entire journey so far, he just doesn't have the same influence over him that Gollum does. Unfortunately, that means Frodo ends up avoiding and attacking the only things that are actually trying to make him feel better. The same situation happens all the time when you're depressed. It doesn't matter how ridiculous or contrived the thought is, if you're having a bad day and your brain is telling you the people you're closest to don't care if you get better or not, you'll end up believing it despite your better judgements. While your friends might think you're avoiding them because you're sick of their company that's rarely ever the case either; it's just that somewhere in your mind a Gollum has convinced you they've stolen all your bread.

The worst part of all this though is that even if you do manage to push through, if you are given options for treatment or presented with help, it's just instinct to reject it. Just like in Return of the King when, finally, Frodo makes it to Mount Doom and has the ring, the source of all his anguish, teetering over the edge of total destruction, he decides it's not worth that final hassle. Right on the edge of total relief, he can't let go of the self-destructive thing that he's taken such comfort in. And that's the hardest thing to come to terms with when you're depressed: the fact that you actually find comfort in what's troubling you. The big dark secret that every sufferer wrestles with is that, when an out is in sight, you don't really want to take it. Or at least, you convince yourself that you don't.

Think of it this way: you've spent so much time with this thing that's caused you so many problems, yet you've been with it so long that you don't know how you'll function without it. Even if you're feeling unbelievably sad when you're at your worst, at least you're feeling something. It's a part of you, whether you like it or not. And that's the worst thing about my own, and many others', relationship with depression: you spend so much time indulging in it that when it's gone, it feels like there's something about you that's missing. That's the most messed-up part.

You might think that this article has been waffley and indulgent, but that's kind of the point: depression is all about indulgence. It's messy and it rarely makes sense but it's nothing if not people indulging in it to no end. Like I said in the beginning, no two people deal with depression in the same way, but we all feel the same ups and downs, the same vicious cycles that leave us going around in circles.

But left unchecked the disease is only going to get worse and it will come to a point where you know you can't just power through on your own, and that realisation could either come from openly discussing it with someone you trust or the darker alternative - wrestling with Gollum at the peak of Mount Doom - and nobody wants that. So whether it's something as small as telling a friend or making that all important doctor's appointment you've gotta stop revelling in your sadness and make some kind of move, no matter how hard it may seem. You've got a long road ahead, but think of it as your first step out The Shire on your journey towards Mordor.