Mental Illness is something that has been a problem for a long time but in today’s time, it has started to receive the attention and awareness that it deserves. Mental illness is discussed in many different ways. It receives national media attention when a celebrity is struggling with depression or when a professional athlete struggles with anxiety. A diversity problem that arises within the discussion and awareness of mental health however is the lack of importance the world puts on mental illness within men. In society today, when men come out and say that they’re struggling with their mental health, it is received with ridicule and hate.
Speaking from personal experience as a man who struggles with mental illness, I have constantly been afraid to share that side of me because I would be viewed as weak. The women in my life have always encouraged me to share my feelings, let it all out, and there have been times that I have believe me. I’m a crier, there’s no doubt about that. I just feel as if there needs to be the idea that every feeling should be shared and nothing hidden.
My girlfriend is the best woman on this entire planet who can read me like a book. We’ll be sitting at home and she’ll turn to me and say, “What’s wrong? And don’t say nothing because I’ll know if you lie.” She encourages me to share all of my feelings which can definitely be frustrating but it does wonders having someone like her around.
If I didn’t have someone like her in my life, I would probably do what I normally do which is push every feeling deep down until it all explodes out like lava out of a volcano. That’s not a healthy thing to do but how am I supposed to let these feelings out in increments whenever the deafening fear of being ridiculed for it constantly stops me?
Take Kevin Love for example. He is a NBA basketball player for the Cleveland Cavliers. A few years ago back in 2018, he wrote a personal essay for the Players’ Tribune outlet titled, “Everyone Is Going Through Something.” It was about his struggles with mental health. He reflects on how he talked to his agent who asked him, “are you sure you want to do this?” With which Love responded, “I don’t know what’s going to happen on the other side of this, but I feel like it’ll help someone. Someone needs to hear this.” It was a groundbreaking action because men of the past, especially men in the public’s eye, would not have had the gall to publish something like that.
November 19th is International Men’s Day. One of the main reasons for International Men’s Day is to raise awareness for male suicide. Men kill themselves more than women do and it is something that is not often discussed in the way it should be. Men struggle to find people to go to talk about their mental illnesses and sometimes are left with no other options but to take their own lives.
In 2018, I ended a two-year relationship with a girl who I was confident was the one. That break-up put me through hell and back. Every night when I would be in my dorm room by myself, I would cry, scream, cuss at the world. I cut myself off from people I knew. I skipped classes, I sometimes wouldn’t go to my classes for weeks on end. One night, I grabbed my pocket knife and I sat on the edge of my bed with it held to my wrists. Thankfully, I never did it and am much better now than I used to be. But the one thing I didn’t do during that hard time in my life is go talk to someone or seek help. It was the hardest thing I had been through at that point in my life.
If you have a man who you love in your life like a friend, husband, father, son, boyfriend, etc, ask them how they’re doing. Don’t let them get away with the normal response. Dive into their feelings with them. Have them open up. They will thank you for it and you will be doing them a great service.