My article on Seven Depressions yesterday brought an old friend back in touch who shared with me that he has been suffering from depression most of his adult life. He appreciated the bluntness of the post that depressed people are sort of stuck in their lives traveling from one medication to another looking for the right mix of meds to help them build a bridge to start feeling average again. Some never feel better. Nobody finds a cure.
My friend also wanted to share his feelings of regret that have hounded him for the last 50 years. Being depressive for him means examining every decision and moment of his life to see all the mistakes he’s made and that others have been made against him.
Instead of just letting these experiences pass, those scenarios play out again and again in his mind of things he might have said or done that would have created a different outcome. You can imagine how tortured that process becomes when you go back years, and then obsess on how things might have ended up differently today if you’d only done that thing, or said that thing, way back when when you said and did the wrong thing.
The very thing that frees many of us — our mind and imagination — is the very thing that imprisons depressives like my friend because their fantasy and wondering and the re-evaluating takes total control of their thought processes and the longer they live, the more opportunity for repressive regrets they have.
I think regret is poisonous and I feel for people who are unable to fight or repress or let go of what they feel are mistakes from the past. Growing older is all about letting go of what already happened so we can move forward into undiscovered territory that will be ripe for new mistakes of the mind and errors in human judgment. We may not be able to fully forgive others, but we must always be willing to completely forgive ourselves.