When things are bad we tend to feel that there is no 'light at the end of the tunnel' if you'll excuse the cliche.
I'm forty-five. Without cataloguing my entire history, depression is something I can always remember feeling - starting from a very young age (six years old or so). The first really bad spell occurred when I was twelve, and then off and on until I was finally diagnosed whilst I was at university - though I didn't receive any treatment at that time. The years between then and 1998, I suffered most of the time - and was on a variety of medications and saw a number of counsellors etc. Relationships with men started and ended badly, I lost my job as a result of long-term sickness, the usual ... To cut a long story short, I was finally hospitalised - the first of four admissions (one one occasion, I received twenty ECT treatments, causing me the 'loss' of most of 1997, and all of 1998). I wasn't able to do a paid job, and fairly much scraped by day by day - I'm sure I don't need to describe the hell that is severe depression. This very nasty patch lasted about five years - horrible! I basically did nothing but smoke heavily and vegetate (and hate myself).
I finally found out about a place in Newcastle, which deals with 'treatment resistant' depression, and managed to get a place there (this took about eighteen months). I spent four months there, where they put me on a different medication regime (which I'm still on), and recommended me for Cognitive Behavioural Therapy. This was 2001. I began a VERY slow recovery, with the help of my CBT therapist and a feeling that this was 'make or break' for me. It's been really difficult, and I'm still not clear of it - not 100%, anyway. I got my first paid job for ten years in late 2007, and now I manage a charity shop, which is something that I never thought I could do.
I have bad times, but the difference now is that I nearly always know what triggers these bad times (which doesn't always change my black mood, but I feel sure it helps to know that it's not 'me'). I'm currently feeling extremely low as a result of a relationship that didn't work out - and I feel pretty much as terrible as I can remember feeling 99% of the time back then. BUT I KNOW WHY, and I know it will pass.
My message is that if we keep searching, and keep believing against all the odds, we can put it behind us - largely. I know I'll always have this tendency, but finally that's OK. Accept how you are, there are good things about feeling like sh*t - the times you don't feel that way are so much more enjoyable than for someone who hasn't experienced depression. This is very slender consolation, but it's there - and can be built on.
Acceptance of how/who we are is crucial, and knowing what is 'good' for us and what isn't is also crucial. Keep searching and keep the faith (however impossible it seems). I never thought I would be able to lead an 'ordinary' life, but - well, here I am.
I feel that 'fully recover' is a black/white way of looking at it - it's a process, and maybe it means that we will always be prone. But we can improve to a very large extent.
I hope this helps in some way.
P.S. It's only recently that family and friends have told me that they didn't think I'd ever 'come back', though of course I knew nothing of this at the time. My sister is a psychiatric nurse - has been for seventeen years - and says that she has *never* seen anyone with such a bad case as I had. Fact.