Written by Joshua Crowley, Pharm.D.
Man up. Be a man. How many times in your life have you heard someone tell a male in an emotional moment these phrases? For me, it is far too often. From the man running a million dollar business to the blue collar worker living paycheck to paycheck, each man must deal with the stress in their lives, and most of us have a very unhealthy way of dealing with their emotions. Men over the years have been taught that showing emotion is taboo and that they should be strong enough to deal with their problems. Some men try to bandage their emotional issues with alcohol or bury themselves into their work. From my past experience, this type of coping does not help the underlying issues, but create a much bigger problem. So let’s look a scenario of a typical man.
Let’s look at a typical man, named of Seth. Seth has a good job with a wife and a newborn at home. Seth has a typical routine of getting up, going to work, and coming home to his family. On the weekends, he goes out with his friends and has a good time at the local sports bar. From the outside looking in, Seth appears to have his life together but there is an issue lurking in the shadows that is wreaking havoc on Seth’s life.
Multiple times a day, Seth is starting to have moments that he cannot catch his breath and his mind is flooded with thoughts from finances to a fleeing wife. His thoughts have begun to transform into fears. He is starting to see signs that he is beginning to recognize and acknowledge. His wife is texting someone he doesn’t know and his bank account is thousands less than where it should be. These signs only justify his already negative thoughts, and the cycle is beginning to snowball out of control. In his efforts to make more money so his wife won't leave him, he has begun to pull away so he can work more. He is missing out on time with his child because he is so focused on thoughts spiraling like a tornado in his mind. Seth feels like he is alone; that his friends wouldn’t even understand. He begins isolate himself because the sheer thought of watching someone "have fun" while you're suffering is unbearable. Seth is suffering from anxiety and depression and is headed down a very dangerous and lonely path.
While this scenario is fictional, it is all too familiar for so many men in our world. Many men today suffer in silence with anxiety or depression. Working with several men in a support group has help me discover themes that have become barriers to men seeking treatment for mental health.
First, they feel like they will be less of a man if they talk about their feelings. Second, they feel alone because no other man talks about their feelings or they don’t think that any other man will feel the way they do. Third, they feel hopeless because they have nowhere to turn. They suffer in silence. The further down the rabbit hole they go, the worse they get. Some men turn to substances while others find different ways to take their mind off of their problems. None of these situations will ultimately fix their issues but only make it worse.
So let’s address one of the barriers of seeking mental health for men. Men, you must understand that you are not alone in this suffering. In fact, it is estimated that nearly one out of every three men has dealt with depression at some point in their lifetime which means there are so many men that can relate to the struggles that you are going through. In the Mindsight Men’s Support Group for anxiety and depression, there are several men who share similar stories of how anxiety and depression have ruined their lives, but they found a way to fight.
So many men have sought treatment for mental health that will never tell their friends and family for fear they will be less of a man for needing help. If you take nothing else from this blog post, know you are not alone in your fight and there are millions of other men who will extend a helping hand if you will just open up. We are all in this together and we can be the strength for those in need.
Now that we have shed some light on the topic, where do we go from here? Over the next few posts, we will explore some of the ways around the barriers for men receiving mental health as well as some ways that you may be able to help that man in your life. If you are struggling contact Mindsight Behavioral Group or someone, somewhere that can help you!
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