getting real about men's mental health.
As a man in my 20’s suffering from depression and anxiety, asking for help is hard. Or it used to be.
Nearly two years ago, I realised that I had been suffering for most of my life, with some form of mental illness. I had no idea that all of these thoughts and feelings that I had encountered and endured for the majority of my life, were not normal. I didn’t realise that having regular thoughts about taking my own life was not normal. I had never spoken to anyone about my own mental health, until two years ago when I had a mini-breakdown in front of my parents, asking for help. I felt as though I couldn’t do ‘life’ anymore.
I’ve been on a real journey over the past two years with some amazing highs, and certainly some real lows. Like the stubborn modern man that I am, I’ve been determined to ‘fix myself’ using minimal outside help. It doesn’t take a genius to work out that this narrow mindset doesn’t help anyone.
It doesn’t help my parents when they’re at home, worrying about me for most of the week.
It doesn’t help my friends when they’re trying to make plans when I’m being non-committal and not replying to their messages, but the most important person I’m not helping is, me.
It doesn’t help when I’m struggling and feeling alone, like I have no one to turn or talk to.
What does help is being open. Being open about my feelings has been one of the most liberating and energising experiences of my life. Being able to say to my friends, family, and colleagues that “no, I’m not okay. I need some help” has drastically changed my life and turned it around.
Making people aware of what you’re going through makes it easier for you to deal with your emotions too. It also helps you to understand what you’re going through because it shows you how many people you actually have around you and would go to the ends of the earth to help you with anything. It makes life that much easier.
What I really want you to know, is don’t suffer in silence. As someone who’s been there and done it, trust me, it doesn’t work and it drags you deeper into that hole, making you feel worse. Saying how you feel can be really embarrassing at first, but once you start letting those feelings out, I can guarantee that you won’t look back.
I have a catchphrase that keeps me going; ‘Don’t be a statistic”. Male suicide is the biggest killer of men under the age of 50, which is so hard to even begin to comprehend. Speak up, talk to people, and tell them how you’re feeling and I promise you, that the darkness or burden you feel, will get that little bit easier.
Ben | Stubble Talk
If Ben’s story has affected you in any way, please reach out to someone and get whatever it is off of your chest. You’re not alone.
CALM is a leading movement against suicide, you can contact them 5 pm-12 am/365 days a year at 0800 58 58 58 or speak to a professional via webchat.