I had countless depressive episodes. I have been diagnosed with bipolar disorder and plan not to go further in psychotherapy at the moment… I am quite sure I also live with a bunch of other mental illnesses that required medication, currently I don’t have access to these for reasons I wish not to share now, only what comes to my mind without further research or remembrance. I apologize in advance for not being, by any means, complete… 🙂
There is no cure for bad memories, but gaining – that is, making – more attractive, good memories. It is not always a good idea – to be honest, I believe it is downright insane – to embark alone on the way out to do this. I did it many times and succeeded about at a very small fraction, my expectations were almost always beyond what could be achieved by my limited effort. Still, the very goal of this “game” is survival alone outside, so it is inevitable that one has to go into the wild, meeting “normal” people and prove strong enough not to relapse, die, or worse (break others’ life, induce depression in others).
I believe depression is almost always a family illness and a social phenomena. So reasons and solutions shall always be first sought in the immediate environment, including the virtual environment brought by media.
As of my experience, depressed people cannot save other depressed people, but may ease enduring the correlated pain and can help discovering the reasons. That is what compassion is for and it is necessary, I think, but not enough, since there is a link between the feeling of loneliness, helplessness, etc. and the very direct, material state of the body including all the physical conditions and the actual situation, these are coupled and the coupling is locked by the limited consciousness and with each act of communication it is being influenced (at many levels) – in case of people sharing the condition, there is a high chance of making the problem worse just by talking about it the wrong way.
It is not simply an illness that will go away with time, time is not the answer on its own but an agent for things that are “self-healing” – but only if the self-healing property has met its sufficient condition. It is – to make things more complicated – not a single condition but a system of interdependent conditions and the minimal system has to remain fully intact. A single disturbance can ruin the whole thing. So we have to make sure. We have to sustain the system no matter what. It is not easy. As a matter of fact, it seems impossible in the depressed state, that is why a healthy, able, external individual at least is needed to diagnose and gain control of the corresponding conditions. The one with the “illness” may be even more depressed when getting response and proof about his or her condition and will take it most seriously, so it is necessary to – in a similarly serious manner – pull him or her and watch out very carefully for inhibitions of the healing process.
Drug use can very well take it to an even more dangerous level, introduce physical and mental addiction, especially when the patient is given control of acquiring and using it by his or her will. I am not against it and I also do not promote it, I quit doing it because the lack of feedback. I unfortunately did a lot of drug experiments on myself and still recover from the consequences, but cannot say it is a thing to unconditionally avoid. Control, setting and safety are the keywords come to my mind on this…
Psychotherapy on its own won’t solve anything if the environment is unaware of it and keep stimulating the depressed one, reinforcing the condition.
I am also a bit paranoid here, but I think one has to be ultimately careful, whom to share the depressive stuff with. There are people who will in return share much worse stuff, untreated stuff and mean no help at all – except for making us laugh/think/be active and hopeful again. Fun and joy definitely helps diminishing the symptoms. And it turns out (that’s why I will never give up on my depressed friends), that the saddest ones can really cheer up the ones with milder depression, right on time. They can be the biggest jokers, yet the most serious thinkers and see more clearly than any of the healthy crowd.
I also believe that – given fit options – mindful, sober excercise, art and all kinds of relaxing, creative work are right ways to treat any kind of depression.