When I confessed in a post that I suffer from depression, a lot of my friends took interest in my mental health. A few (very few) were willing to consider my claims but the vast majority were not buying it. They thought that I was over appraising my symptoms and that basing on their own observations, I was a very happy guy. Now I know I was wrong to diagnose myself as I couldn’t have been objective about it. I have been psychoanalyzed by a specialist but his verdict was not to the specificity that I offered in that post. For this reason, I have since deleted that post from here. Nonetheless, I still have depressive symptoms from time to time which is how I have the audacity to continue writing about it.
In this post, I’d like to share with you one perspective I have developed on depression and mental illness as a whole, and that is the importance of self-efficacy in combating the blues. There is a level of happiness that only you can grant yourself. Yes, certain levels of ecstasy can only be achieved through self-love.
This is how it came to me; I was alone, bored and in the dark for the longest time I have ever been in my conscious memory. Actually, I was getting some work experience at our teaching hospital during the holidays while practically living alone in a place with no electricity. All my friends were going about their lives without concern for my loneliness and that was none of their faults but rather circumstances had dictated so. I was losing my head because for the longest time, I had no distraction from the voices in my head. With the deafening silence around me, the soliloquy in my head grew to screams of self-loath and guilt; I could not stand myself. So I got beside myself and really examined myself from without. Then I realized some of how much I depended on the people around me to keep sane and even probably how much they depend on me to keep sane. I realized some of how much we all depend on each other to keep sane and that no man is really an island and sane at the same time.
We misunderstand the meaning of self-efficacy by thinking of it as the aspects of our health that are entirely dependent on ourselves. Self-efficacy is rather the buttons in our control centers that only we get to push yet the inner workings of the machines they control are completely out of our reach. Kind of like my smartphone; I don’t know jerk about how it works but it won’t do anything for me if I don’t caress its screen. Wherever the electrons flow inside my phone is out of my control but the end result is because I set the ball rolling by touching that screen.
And this is how we should think of self-efficacy as far as our mental health is concerned; we are not fully responsible for our healing by using mantras and meditation and the likes but rather we also take the conscious decision to rely on the people around us to support us as we go. This is a particularly hard lesson to apply in depression because one of the symptoms is self-blame and so since we wrongly think that we brought this upon ourselves, we deduce that we should be able to take care of it ourselves, and that is – alone!
Mine is a social problem (I mean, I am a retard in that area) and so such thinking could not be more counterproductive in my efforts to achieve satisfactory and sustainable mental stability because I need supportive social constructs to keep sane. Nevertheless, we should all try to shed off our pride. Let us acknowledge and seek the support that our friends provide.
Featured image: Candle fir light from pexels