Man up! How many times does a man hear those words in his life when he is in emotional and/or mental turmoil after experiencing an untoward event? Men, in particular, are told to hide their emotions and ‘be strong’ but maybe this is why we are seeing a rise in horrendous stats of which kills men under 45 now isn’t cancer, it isn’t aids and it isn’t even heart attacks…it is suicide! In fact , according to the independent on male suicide rates
“…of the 6,000+ British lives lost to suicide each year, nearly 75 per cent of those are male…”
This is a shocking stat, this is just in Britain let alone the whole world and for far too long many people have been suffering emotionally and mentally in silence, the stigma surrounding seeking professional help and advice MUST end.
In this blog post we discuss what it should really mean when someone tells you to ‘man up’…
Why depression can get so severe
For a long time, mental illness and struggling with emotional anguish, particularly as men, has had to be an internal battle of darkness for fears of ridicule, being judged or seen as having feminity.
As men, we tend to have a notion that if we ask for help or express emotions of a negative nature we are somehow weaker, less of a man or feel shame and so, we end up sitting in silence, for days, weeks, sometimes even years. We allow the darkness to grip itself around our shoulders and slowly crush our ribs, causing a stabbing pain in our chest, a reminder that, every day, the depression has got a hold of you.
Unaware to most of those who care about us (of course no one knows, we are men!) it begins to lower our self-esteem, crush our life force so we no longer enjoy life and lower our energy enough so we can’t do anything about it.
The darkness can get so heavy when it is internalised that it becomes to such high levels of unbearable darkness that we can’t deal with anymore and so, many of us, we feel we are left with one drastic choice, what other options do we have?
Asking for help or even knowing where to look or who can help is not a viable or realistic option when in the deep darkness of depression.
Why manning up doesn’t mean being silent
The reality that many men don’t realise is …asking for help or speaking to someone IS THE STRONGEST option for someone with painful emotional pain or depressive feelings.
With mental health stigma, a real thing in many societies, and very deep in some parts of the world, to be able to say ‘hey, Im struggling, I could really do with a hand‘, is so so difficult, even more so as a man, believe me, the day I myself accepted I was really struggling, asking for help felt weak and not like the man I wanted to be and I always rejected the idea of help but seeking the professional support ended up being the strongest thing I had ever done. I had fought my own ego and accepted, enough was enough. That step does take courage.
Secondly, seeking help also says to the world ‘I don’t care what people think of me’ and I don’t care if there is a stigma. How incredibly strong is that?! Forget internalising all your problems and emotions as the symbol of a strong man, seeking help shows a strength that others don’t always have.
Thirdly and lastly , by seeking help you are not only eventually going to heal from your problems but you are going to learn strategies and techniques to strengthen your mind, explore aspects of yourself and reassess how you view the world that often, you don’t always realise until difficulties occur.
What do the soldiers of 300 do?
As an art graduate I like to use metaphors in describing ideologies. Above is a clip from the movie 300. Men that train themselves from a young age to be the ‘strongest possible warriors’. Why am I sharing this in a blog about manning up? The 300 soldiers in this film are the stereotypical type of man all men dream of becoming.
Brave, strong, skilled experts in their fields that have no fear.
Considering these characteristics, if one of these soldiers confronting what appears to be an incredible difficult fight was to turn away and retreat they would lose everything…instead they realise that the only way to overcome their problem is to meet the fight head on.
So when you meet a difficult emotion or severe depression, be more spartan, take the bravest choice of dealing with your problem directly and never run away. It may be a tough battle and at times it may be overbearing but eventually, with the help of others, you will win your personal fight and also, become a stronger person.