Wow I completely empathize with that.I remember the first time I told my friends what was really going on. I was drunk so I didn't really explain it very well but the words depression and anxiety disorder were coherent enough. Before that I've felt like I was a zombie masquerading as a person, after they found out I felt like I couldn't act happy and okay anymore. Like why act when they know you are lying. But turns out everyone just appreciates that I'm trying to get better, it wouldn't help if I just sat there and stared at the wall like I want to. At least I'm trying.
And I live in fear of the depression suddenly crashing down on me and washing my sanity and progress away. It's hard for me to commit to stuff too like even simple ones like dinner because I start to get anxious and think what if the depression suddenly gets worse half way through and I have to go through the whole thing like a mute unsmiling statue. But the more I participate and commit, the less I fear it because I have all these other memories to challenge the negative ones, my head has made up.
And as for the praise and attention, sometimes I feel like people don't see how hard I'm trying or how far I've come because they don't tell me straightway or often. But sometimes people are thinking it and not saying it out loud. Like when I stopped binging on alcohol at parties, I thought no one noticed because no one praise me for it. 6 months later my friend pointed it out and said she's noticed all along and she really appreciates it.
I've just started on prozac and it seems to be working although the effectiveness fluctuates. What worked for me to break the cycle *its not completely gone but it's getting there) is the medication, but it took time. And also exercising on those weeks where I don't feel good again. There was this thing on the podcast where someone mentioned free form writing I do that a lot and when I'm on my bad weeks I also read what I wrote on my good weeks and that seems to give me a happy vibe that I try to keep alive the rest of the day.
I really hope this helps, and I've not wasted your time. I just really connected with your post and I feel less disconnected, thank you so much.