Being a man that grew up in a society that was basically conditioned and taught that men are strong and must at all costs never show weakness or become emotional, meant that it was almost impossible for me to open up about suffering from depression in my twenties. The stigma that surrounded men and depression of twenty or so ago was truly incredible. Admitting that I was not well and simply wasn’t coping with life, and that I hadn’t coped with life very well since my teenage years was tough. Ok you couldn’t see my illness. It was not like a sore throat. It was invisible to see, but that didn’t mean it wasn’t there. It was and there were days that life was quite simply too much to deal with.
As a man I was always told to grow a pair and stop whinging. To just get on with it. People would ask me what my problem was, and then tell me that there is nothing wrong with me. This was all over 20 years ago and thankfully times are changing. Men in particular are finally being encouraged to speak out and seek help instead of suffering in silence as I did for years on end.
It took me many years to finally build up the courage to see a doctor, and truth be told the first time I did I went as far as the surgery door, but I didn’t go in for fear that the doctor wouldn’t take me seriously. Eventually I did walk through that door because I simply couldn’t carry on living the way I was living, always on edge or so depressed that it was difficult to get out of bed. Getting motivated was quite honestly on certain days a non-starter.
When I finally went in and saw my doctor he was very understanding, but I also felt that I was dealt with quickly and given some medication, which of course helped, no doubt there, but looking back I feel that some counselling or therapy would have been of great benefit alongside the medication. Nowadays of course therapy and counselling is available online, and doing it in the comfort of your own home can be relaxing, and possibly more helpful. So if you know you have a problem with mental health and can’t face going to the doctors, I’d recommend going online for help.
I cannot emphasise enough the importance of World Mental Health Day. We as a society need to talk more about mental health problems for all genders so that people don’t end up being lost, and worse still, commit suicide because they see no other way out.
Men in particular need to talk, and the stigma of depression or any mental health issue for that matter has to be eradicated. There is no shame or stigma in admitting you may have a mental health issue, and this has to be conveyed to all people so they know they are not alone.
University students are also susceptible to depression. This is because all of sudden they’ve moved from what they have possibly considered a totally safe environment with mum and/or dad, to one of trying to fit in a completely new lifestyle whilst trying to make new friends at the same, and that in itself can be a recipe for going down a road of depression. It’s important to remember that mental health is as important as physical health. As such you should always ask your children if everything is ok, and make sure that they know they can talk to you anytime. It’s so important to always keep open that line of communication.
So today on World Mental Health Day if you know anybody that suffers from depression or any mental health issue for that matter, reach out to them, talk to them and try connecting with them so they know that they are not alone. In all honesty depression can cause somebody to take their life, but by reaching out to them you could be saving a life.
World Mental Health Day is October 10th 2018. Spread the word, and please share on social media using the hashtag: #WorldMentalHealthDay2018
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