Mitch is an articulate, bright 17-year-old senior at a Clovis high school who wants to study neurosciences or evolutionary psychology in college.
He loves a robust discussion of science and physiology. That is when he feels "really at home -- and safe being able to talk to people," he says.
People assume he is an athlete, because he is fit and 6 feet, 2½ inches tall. In reality, he always has preferred reading. He might have played sports when he was younger, but depression stopped any chance of that.
By age 10, about the time boys start playing Little League baseball, he was at home, curled into a ball and crying for hours.
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Depression has overshadowed much of his life since. Without it, "I would have friends. I would have a social life. I would have better grades for sure. I would be on track for a university, no questions asked. I would have read a lot more and just tried to go out and do things."
In short, Mitch says: "I would have a life."
He and his mother, Linda, want to tell people about depression and mental illness.
People think he can just snap out of a depressive episode, he says. But it's in control, not him. It's "an indescribable sort of darkness," he says, "and every second feels like hours."
Emptiness, horror and no escape -- the concept of hell doesn't scare him, Mitch says. "I've pretty much been there."
Given a choice between depressive pain and physical pain, there is no contest. "If I could get shot in the arm every time I had a depressive episode and just cure it, I would do that," he says.
But he is learning how to live with depression. Medication and therapy have helped.
Recently, he has been able to taper off anti-depressant drugs. He is getting out more and interacting with people.
It's hard, Mitch says, but he is going to have a life.
Mitch describes his depression