The Things We Don't Talk About in the Light
Men and Mental Illness
It took a lot of thought and balls to write this and even more to finally post this for the world to see. At times, I feel like any anxiety or depression I feel isn’t worth talking about or not worth it as I see others who have it worse. Tackling this part of me to ask or seek help is the hardest. Like most men, many of us see it as a sign of weakness and not one of strength.
So we suffer, alone in the darkness, until these emotions, we are afraid to show become anger or rage. It could be pride or not sure what to do with our feelings. We are told from a young age that “boys don’t cry” and to be rational. My question is, how do you rationalize anxiety or depression? You can’t. Everyone suffers from these two in different ways. While symptoms may be similar, how we deal with these demons are drastically different.
In the end, men are less likely to reach out for help or even help others if a friend or brother does reach out. Society has this expectation for us to “man up” or get over it. Like the rest of the human race, we can only be tough for so long before we crack. We don’t know how to deal with or react to others suffering from anxiety and/or depression. With all this, we suffer alone, afraid of society’s judgment, which increases our problems even more.
Pinpointing our issues isn’t easy. Problems could have been building over time, or there’s no apparent reason. Our risk factors can be reasonably common, but this isn’t a catch-all list as there is so much more to the problem.
· Drugs and/or alcohol
· Work/Life problems
· Major life changes
· Lack of solid friendships or relationships
· Physical injuries
It also looks different for us. Our signs can be more physical rather than emotional or psychological. Are you tired all the time? Do you have an upset stomach? These are actual signs of anxiety or depression. Mental distress has more common symptoms.
· More time alone
· Suicidal thoughts
· Sleeping more
· Feelings of fear and that you’re a failure
· Restlessness, moody and/or irritable
· Stomach issues
· A loss or gain in weight
While we suffer in the dark, we fail to see the help that awaits in the light. These are things we need to talk about as men. It’s healthy and necessary for us to be whom we are meant to be. Its not easy as reaching is seen as a weakness in a society that doesn’t value men as much as it says it does. Let’s face it; society only values us if we are emotionally strong, don’t show any problems, and manning up when we have to. We’re supposed to be strong 24/7.
It’s pretty fucking toxic to have this belief or even try living this way. Though we are men, we’re still human beings and deserve the help. We can’t move forward if we are living in darkness, with our eyes closed to the pain that presses in upon us.
It is hard to reach out when you can’t see if there’s any help out there. Most awareness campaigns don’t target us. It’s a shame, but the more we talk about it, the more others will take notices and seek help themselves. We can’t fix ourselves. As much as we want to, we’re not a car. While we can learn better self-care strategies, outside help is often needed and encouraged. Asking for help isn’t a barrier. The only obstacle is the toxic culture we were raised in. Part of this is what made us this way.
Informing ourselves about anxiety and/or depression is essential for us to grow as men. At times we aren’t as strong as we need to be, but we can be there for others who need that helping hand. We need to bring to light what holds us hostage in the dark. Pretending the problem doesn’t exist will only make it worse. You owe it to yourself. Stop hiding in the darkness of prison. Help is there, and you just need to take a step into the light.