In an article I read it stated ‘every two hours a man under the age of 45 takes their own life’ . The reality looks as though it may be here to stay for a while. A worrying thought for all of us concerned and where does it stop? We can be forgiven to think being depressed was more of a state of mind more than mental health illness. But increasingly, it is more of an epidemic rather than a phase.
What are the factors?
We are just too macho
As my site implies, men are likely to remain silent on topics that are worthy of conversation. Worryingly, I have found across my life, that it is taboo to talk about your feelings as a man. Programmed to think there are only two feelings, angry and happy.
But realistically, what is the barrier that men find so hard to overcome? Are we are too macho for our own good? Or at least do we think we are? One of my friends has recognised the journey I’m on. They made no secret of letting me know. They text me their feelings which made me feel ten foot tall. I thanked him for his comments and he told me ‘sometimes it’s easier to write it down’.
Shamefully, I agreed. But what is shameful about acknowledging how you feel? Isn’t it better to write it down so it can make someone feel better, than to just wait until the right moment which may not arrive. Or, until you’re both drunk in a pub somewhere putting the world to rights?
Mental health is a serious issue and one that shouldn’t be left to ‘disappear’. Acknowledgement from others is a large factor to be recognised, as someone has improved their mental health through whatever means. And, a little more confidence comes from someone else’s recognition of this triumph, no matter how small.
The fragments of a broken mind
Research has taught us that there are many risk factors that can be taken into consideration when it comes to mental health and suicide.
Drugs and alcohol would be at the top of the list. We seem to be a nation recreational drug users of any type. Alcohol and cocaine are a typical weekend activity for so many people, and I seem to remember Gordon Ramsey highlighting the problem across British restaurants a while ago on TV.
I think that it is so readily available on our streets that it has become the norm for a lot of people. The feelings of excitement and readiness of the unexpected, are parts of the night out experience.
But, what about the aftermath? We all understand the benefits of enjoying ourselves. But if memory serves me right, I used to get to a stage of ‘drunkeness’ and ‘druggedness’, that I do not know how I got home half the time.
We all know the point at which the night becomes a blur. The drink doesn’t have much of an effect apart from you forget where you are, and leave yourself wide open to absolutely any type of incident. But coming down from the highs of the night before are more tortuous as the next day seems to be wasted due to feeling ill from the alcohol and then the withdrawal from the drugs as your body tries to re-set itself after what you have done to it.
For an idea of what could happen if you mixed the two together, have a look here.
Men can feel like failures when they come down after the weekend and the routine of life is returned. The longing for the false sense of worth you can feel until the weekend is reached again. And the process starts over and over. Week in and week out.
More out of ones control is trauma and abuse. Trauma in its many forms, can leave a lasting imprint on you in a bad way. You can question why as many times as you like and you will never like the answer your brain allows you to process. You seek help from your friends but it never seems enough so you retreat into your own little world and the downward spiral can begin.
Help is here
I never tried to seek help for the trauma and abuse I suffered, as there was somebody worse off than me. I was wrong. The more I continue on my journey, the stronger I try to become with positive thoughts and actions. For example, I have recently started to study a course on counselling for depression which has given me a focus because we all matter, whatever the circumstance.
Unemployment can have a massive effect on a man’s mental health. The self-confessed ‘bread-winner’, the patriarch who is the hunter-gatherer will deem himself a failure if he cannot work. But we shouldn’t let it define us. The fact that we can be made redundant doesn’t matter. It is not a personal attack by a company. They make decisions to survive. As must we. I will always remember being told that you are replaceable in a heartbeat and I have never forgotten this.
It doesn’t mean I do not try in my work but moreover, I am in control of what and how the job makes me feel. Telling my son (SJ) a little while ago when choosing his options at school, I opened up his thought process by explaining something. Keeping his education open for opportunity to present itself.
Being able to have the skills that can be transferred from one job to the next is important – or so I have learned.
Losing the job
Coping with it
Speaking from experience, the process from employment to unemployment is a downward turn. Workmates have gone and the friends you went out with don’t want to be with you at the moment, as they feel they are ‘rubbing it’ in your face that you don’t have much money.
This can lead to numerous problems which include social isolation. One of the most soul destroying problems around, can be when you are socially excluded. I don’t feel people do this intentionally. You were not invited to a party and you asked why. You forgive and move forward…..but it happens again. There must be something wrong with me?
There isn’t. Not one bit. People are strange, and nobody is excluded from the statement. But thinking that you are some sort of social abnormality is crazy. It will affect your mental health if you let this take hold of you.
Be the change
From all of this, the over-riding concept is we as men, must talk. I think it is becoming more widespread that this is the case. Long may it continue, But for all the billions of people in the world, only a small number are realising the benefits. Talking through my writing helps me and although it seems like I don’t know what I am writing about half the time, I do know what I have experienced!
Staying silent is still part of the routine for me, however, I am learning to find my voice. Not just a shouting, booming all conquering voice, but a more ‘worldly-wise’ one that is growing a little more, daily. A person who wants to construct an argument, not just be a part of one. Yes, this will take time. But, as I have posted before, I am at half-time, and I have the second half to improve.
I can’t see what is behind me, but I can see what is in front of me. Although |I don’t know where the journey is going, I am glad in choosing not looking back, as I’m not going that way.
Have your say: join my private Facebook group, The Silent Man, today.