Throwaway account here.
Basically from about the ages of 19-23 I lost control of my life. It started with a really bad relationship ending that saw me end up putting a belt around my neck and have a good go at trying to kill myself (housemates heard me strangling in my room and pushed the door in and found me a few minutes after I blacked out). The suicide attempt was a one and only deal - basically I blacked out and got to the stage where I lost control of my bowels and bladder, stopped breathing, had to have CPR, etc, but my brain didn't turn off. The period of me being blacked out basically felt like it stretched out for eternity with the experience being one of me falling through an infinite hole with demons scratching me, spinning me around and screaming in my ears. When I came to I was so much more terrified of what I experienced than any of the pain I had that had driven me to suicide in the first place that I knew that I'd never attempt it again. I was and still am an atheist, but that experience shaped my views on the afterlife; basically I think those final moments of your brain shutting down spread out across an infinity, so the moment of death becomes your experience of an afterlife and if it's one of pain and horror then that's what you experience the afterlife as.
So, surviving the suicide attempt I basically started playing fast and loose with my life. I got fairly heavily into the drug scene - molly and meth mainly, never any heroin - basically most of the uppers you might come across.
During this time I met a girl in a very similar situation, and we started dating. We were together for 2 years and basically found in each other a reason to move past the pain of our past lives (she had a history of family abuse and found herself in the drug scene for that reason). We put ourselves into college and started working towards a future.
It got to the stage where I was pretty much set on moving completely past that stage of my life, whereas she wanted to keep some sort of contact with it, so we broke up.
I kept studying, got a career, found someone with a far more 'vanilla' background, got married, bought a house, had kids and badically now live a normal life. This process was a bit more complicated than it sounds. When I met my future wife I was smoking about half an ounce of weed a week, and had fairly severe paranoia (to the stage of paranoid delusions where I would look myself in my roof and peer out a crack between my curtains to watch the neighbourhood). She pushed me to see a psychologist to deal with my drug and paranoia problems, and I had to make a real effort to stick to the behavioural therapy program he set for me.
I'm going to say this though. I've never really recovered from my depression. I still struggle with huge bouts of it. Often it's related to the life I've chosen for myself. It feels like I've chosen a life of mediocrity. sometimes I feel stifled by my career and mortgage, and feel like I should be pushing outside the envelope. I struggle with alcohol. For a while I had it fairly beat, but I'm currently drinking 3 or 4 nights a week.
But compared to where I was 15 years ago, I'm a world away. Life's a struggle and I don't think it's ever going to necessarily be just plain and simple. But the feeling of hopelessness is completely gone. I can't even contemplate the thought of suicide or giving up. I love being alive. I have passions that I pursue (hiking, kayaking, photography), I've made an effort to build strong friendships with people and participate in social sports like soccer and squash. I exercise every day. These things are massive positives and definitely help shape a more positive outlook.