Date created: April 2010
While people argue with one another about the specifics of Freud's work and blame him for the prejudices of his time, they overlook the fundamental truth of his writing, his grand humility: that we frequently do not know our own motivations in life and are prisoners to what we cannot understand. We can recognize only a small fragment of our own, and an even smaller fragment of anyone else's, impetus.
Listen to the people who love you. Believe that they are worth living for even when you don't believe it. Seek out the memories depression takes away and project them into the future. Be brave; be strong; take your pills. Exercise because it's good for you even if every step weighs a thousand pounds. Eat when food itself disgusts you. Reason with yourself when you have lost your reason.
It is important not to suppress your feelings altogether when you are depressed. It is equally important to avoid terrible arguments or expressions of outrage. You should steer clear of emotionally damaging behavior. People forgive, but it is best not to stir things up to the point at which forgiveness is required. When you are depressed, you need the love of other people, and yet depression fosters actions that destroy that love. Depressed people often stick pins into their own life rafts. The conscious mind can intervene. One is not helpless.
You are constantly told in depression that your judgment is compromised, but a part of depression is that it touches cognition. That you are having a breakdown does not mean that your life isn't a mess. If there are issues you have successfully skirted or avoided for years, they come cropping back up and stare you full in the face, and one aspect of depression is a deep knowledge that the comforting doctors who assure you that your judgment is bad are wrong. You are in touch with the real terribleness of your life. You can accept rationally that later, after the medication sets in, you will be better able to deal with the terribleness, but you will not be free of it. When you are depressed, the past and future are absorbed entirely by the present moment, as in the world of a three-year-old. You cannot remember a time when you felt better, at least not clearly; and you certainly cannot imagine a future time when you will feel better.
People with family histories of alcoholism tend to have lower levels of endorphins- the endogenous morphine that is responsible for many of our pleasure responses- than do people genetically disinclined to alcoholism. Alcohol will slightly raise the endorphin level of people without the genetic basis for alcoholism; it will dramatically raise the endorphin level of people with that genetic basis. Specialists spend a lot of time formulating exotic hypotheses to account for substance abuse. Most experts point out, strong motivations for avoiding drugs; but there are also strong motivations for taking them. People who claim not to understand why anyone would get addicted to drugs are usually people who haven't tried them or who are genetically fairly invulnerable to them.