I’ve wanted to write about this for the longest time. It is truly something I have always felt needs to be spoken about, but as a young woman i was concerned I wasn’t going to be able to speak well enough on behalf of the men who are struggling. As I write this I’m personally not in the best place mentally, but when I’m at my lowest, uplifting others and trying to make a positive difference is all I want to do. So if I can do just one thing right by speaking from the heart to raise this issue then I am happy. In England alone, 1 in 8 men have a common mental health problem and yet so many of them are suffering in silence... I’ve always hoped writing about Mental Health so openly would be a way of helping to break the stigma, and that’s what I’m hoping to do here! Whilst this topic doesn’t affect me in the obvious way, it does in another. It’s time to break the stigma surrounding Men and their Mental Health.
Boys grow up being told ‘big boys don’t cry’ and then as they grow up they’re told ‘Men don’t cry’. When a man cries they are automatically ‘emasculated’ by other men - they are reduced to the likes of sayings such as ‘don’t be such a girl’ or ‘you’re a baby’ and even sometimes the homophobic slurs. I’m not going to discuss my annoyance and sickness regarding ‘girl’, ‘baby’ or ‘gay’ being used to offend, because that’s another blog post. This is simply a fact, these for some reason are ‘insults’ with negative connotations of weakness for men and it seems to be one of the reasons they’re afraid to show emotion.
I think about all those years this person so close to me suffered the extreme lows. There were days he felt hopeless and like nothing was worth living for, but he kept it quiet! Men feel they’re supposed to be so tough and strong all the time. It has always broken my heart so much, even more so than my own mental health struggles do. Luckily for me, I am growing up in a time where I feel I can confidently write a blog post about my Anxiety or ED, because people seem to have started realising this is an illness. I also feel that as a Woman, I’ve not been looked at or made fun of for being weak or less of a Woman for asking for help - whereas unfortunately some Men still are.
Suicide is the most common cause of death for men aged 20-49 in England and Wales. Please just let that sink in for a second. In a country full of awful car accidents and terminal illnesses that seem to take some many of our loved ones, Suicide is the bigger killer of Men. Your Boyfriend, your Brother or your Best Friend is more likely to take their own life, then any other tragedy. I feel as though this is because so many of them do not feel as though they can find the strength to ask for help. Don’t get me wrong, there are lots of amazing men who have spoken up and are still struggling daily because they’ve been put on a wait list - that’s also part of the problem. But I’ve read a few blogs from Men and spoken to many, they always seem to outline the problem as starting with the fact that they struggle to verbalise their personal struggles a lot more than Women seem too.
Before I wrote this, I spoke to my Boyfriend about the topic. He’s had his fair share of Mental Health problems over the last few years - But now he deals with it with so much strength and courage. He was brave enough to ask for help when he was feeling very low, he was brave enough to go to the doctors and he is brave enough to talk about it so openly now - which is one reason I will always be in so much awe of him. But I mention this because he has had his fair share of problems with the social media world. These issues have made him unwell and made his anxiety ten times worse. He’s not someone who becomes bothered by people winding him up or anything of the sort but he is someone who gets very protective of me and protective of his friends. I’ve already shared a lot about him personally, so I won’t go into detail about that, they aren’t my stories to share. But I’m mentioning him because I want to make it clear that Ciaran, my boyfriend, is well and truly through and through ‘a lad’. He’s utterly obsessed with all the stereotypically ‘lad’ things, Football, Rugby, Cars, his mates... but he’s also able to speak openly and say he’s not very well today or he’s feeling anxious. He’s not afraid to show emotion and he wasn’t afraid to ask for help because he knows that being unwell never made him any less of a Man. Obviously I think he’s brilliant because I love him but the reason I tell you all this is because, when I think about all the Men I know who’ve struggled with Mental Health issues, he’s the one that stands out to me because he’s a bit of an inspiration. I wish all of the men being told to ‘man up’ knew it was okay to speak up. like he did.
I’m not someone who’s had to deal with the hardships of everything I’m speaking about. But I am someone who understands Mental Illness and I’m someone that got help. WE NEED to break the stigma surrounding Men’s Mental Health and let them know it’s okay to speak up, because people are taking their own lives. Please ask for help, please don’t suffer alone. And please, to all the Men out there - don’t make each other feel weak for asking for help.
As always ‘have courage and be kind’.