Let’s Break Your Hidden Shackles – Mental Health on #MensHealthWeek
There is this wonderful anecdote I once heard. This person offered a conversation tip on how to deal with angry men. The simple thing this person would ask them would be, “I don’t like to talk with you when you are emotional.”
And they would see the men, however stereotypically men-don’t-cry they may be, stop in the moment and think.
The truth is that many men either do not have control over their emotions (anger, etc.) or they try to suppress them and not feel (like sadness, and even love, in some cases).
“Give me a child till he is 7 and I will show you the man.” – Aristotle
A child cannot survive by themselves. They have to look up and learn from people who have survived for 20+ years in their lives, their parents and their teachers, and they soak up their ideas like a sponge.
I strongly believe that as one grows up, they need to grow a critical eye to question their every belief.
Let’s say you just wanted to open a museum in Portugal (as ridiculous or random an example as there could be) and live by the beach for the rest of your life. What is stopping you?
If you really be honest about it, you could open a museum in Lisbon by the end of the year and settle down.
What’s stopping you is your own fear of upsetting the balance in your life, feelings of unworthiness, thoughts of the process being far too difficult, etc., and yet you can see people immigrate to Portugal every year: they upset the balance of their lives, overcome their feelings of unworthiness, and they prove to themselves that it was not too difficult after all.
If you are thinking “every human is not born the same and they had an advantage over me”, I would like to point out that that is a mindset too.
So, let’s question why we tell our children, “acche bacche rote nahi”. If our only reason is that our own parents taught us so, it may be a good time to start to question the belief.
Depression in Men
The fact that men tend to let their emotions slip away unchecked and that they are taught to be “tough”, means that generally, they avoid sadness and ignore feelings related to depression.
Depression is very common and 1 in 8 men experience it at some stage in their lives.
It’s More Serious Than You Think!
Men are 3.5 times more likely to die by suicide than women, according to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, making it the seventh most common killer of men.
With the lockdown taking place recently, the suicide statistics have gone up! I have personal friends who were not been living with their family during the lockdown and who had their lifestyle become anti-social.
Mental health should be talked about, now more than ever.
Signs and Symptoms
You may be depressed if you have experienced continuous sadness for over 2 weeks.
- Lingering feelings of sadness, guilt, overwhelm, irritability, frustration, self-pity, and indecisiveness
- Loss of interest in usual activities, such as work, hobbies, sex, going out, etc.
- Reliance on “numbing” activities, such as alcohol consumption or gaming
- Social withdrawal
- Negative thoughts
- Low energy and the feeling of being burnt out
- Headaches, muscle-pains, and a churning gut
- Sleep problems
- Change in appetite and a significant and sudden change in weight.
What to Do?
- Change your lifestyle; if your days don’t have structure, draw a plan every morning and stick with it
- Detach from escape mechanisms and recognise your emotions
- Express yourself and do not be ashamed of talking about your sadness, if that is how you feel
- Do not be ashamed of contacting a professional for help
What to Do for Someone Else?
Try to have a heart-to-heart conversation. Encourage them to express themselves. Encourage them to break their dogmas, if they are unwilling to go to a professional or even talk about their feelings in a safe space with you, but always remember that you can never break someone else’s conditioning by force. They have to do it themselves.
You can be the light and ask them to open their eyes, but a person unwilling to see will not see. Be patient. Be very patient.
Let’s Talk about Sadness
Whether it’s just a flittering emotion in the moment or heavy, stuck emotion lingering in the background of all your days, it’s always good to talk about it.
When I say that letting your emotions go unchecked is unhealthy, I do not just mean it for men. I mean it for every human on the planet.
An Alternate Look
We, in the western medicine community, acknowledge that stress weakens the immune system and makes you vulnerable to disease.
In the eastern medicine system, stress and stuck emotion is seen as the root of all disease. Your mental health will manifest your entire physical health
This angle has always been fascinating to me.
The solution to this, very simply, is to avoid stuck emotion. Moving emotion keeps you healthy: cry when you want to. Laugh and scream as you like. Run when you desire. Hug your partner when you feel love for them.
It’s just like how a child or a cat spends their day! You cannot stop the child from crying and you cannot stop the cat from sleeping!
I hope you found something beneficial in this wonderful concoction of eastern and western viewpoints.
Strong men feel. Strong men cry.
Disclaimer: This content including advice provides generic information only. It is in no way a substitute for qualified medical opinion. Always consult a specialist or your own doctor for more information.
- National Institute of Mental Health, ‘Men and Depression’, official NIH website (accessed on 5th June, 2020)
- Beyond Blue, ‘Depression in Men’, official website (accessed on 5th June, 2020)
- Beyond Blue, ‘Signs and Symptoms’, official website (accessed on 5th June, 2020)