Men and Mental Health

Nothing is stronger, to me, than sharing your fears, feelings, & concerns. Anyone who tells you different is a jerkwad.

Blind Injustice

As some of my readers know, I’ve had some experiences with intrusive thoughts, which is when one struggles with unwelcome, unpleasant, and upsetting thoughts and ideas. These experiences led me to write about mental health from a faith (Christian faith, more specifically) point-of-view a couple of months ago.

Writing about mental health from a faith perspective is important. However, given the sobering statistic that 77% of those who die by suicide in the United States are men, as well as the fact that we are in the midst of Mental Health Awareness Month, I think it’s important to have a discussion about men and mental health.

The thing about men, at least in the United States, is that
we have expectations connected to our gender identity that make it problematic
to be open about our mental health. We’re taught to be tough, strong, not show weakness,
not…

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14 thoughts on “Men and Mental Health”

  1. Ariel! I’m so sorry that I missed your share of my post! Anyway, thanks for sharing! I feel that there is SO much stigma with openness about mental health, including with fellow men. I certainly hope that my voice, and others’ voices, can help end that stigma.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Recognition for the share means way more to me than what time frame it was done in. I appreciate your comment. 🙂

      I agree whole-heartedly. Anything I can do to amplify the voices of people standing up against mental health stigma, I’m all for it!

      Personally, I think improved male mental health care will come from brave male advocates. People need a positive role model when it comes to doing seriously tough soul-searching.

      I don’t think it’ll happen overnight, but the younger generations speaking out, raising braver & more open men, could bring about a lovely change. One day. ❤

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yes, one day. ♥️ I notice more men in general, including in the blogging community, open up about mental health. Which is huge, as like you I think the road to better mental health care for men will involve male advocates as well. I follow a few of those blogging advocates and am happy to share links to them if you’re interested. 🙂

        Once again, thanks for sharing! We need to break the stigmas, and I really appreciate that you are a good ally in breaking that stigma.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I would love if you sent me some links to blogs where men discuss mental health!

        I’m absolutely an ally to men dealing with mental illness. Unfortunately, I know & love a good number of men who really need to attend to their emotions better. They refuse, adamantly. It breaks my heart.

        I know what it’s like to suffer with mental illness. The fact that society expects women to be “crazy” works in both our favor (in that we’re more inclined/encouraged to get help) & against (in that people blame our emotions without addressing their own actions).

        I think any man who comes out & says, “Hey, I can’t deal with this alone. I’m going to allow myself to be vulnerable enough to open up & share some stuff that might sound crazy or dark” – that guy is suuuuper hot, btw. I don’t know if that will help any man out there, but it’s the truth! 😄

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Okay then! I may think of more later, but here are two to check out:
        https://thebipolarwriter.blog/
        https://revolutionarymusings.wordpress.com/

        The Bipolar Writer Blog is actually a collaboration of writers at this point, but James is still heading up that blog. I forget the name of the other person–forgive me for not being good with names here. There may be others out there who I’m forgetting, but these two individuals in particular come to my mind.

        It also breaks my heart to see fellow men struggle with mental illness and don’t attend to their emotions better. I know how that’s like, and I’m learning to be better about attending to my emotions. It’s a process, because men are often taught to be “macho,” to “suck it up,” to “be a man,” that “men don’t cry.” We’re told to bottle our emotions and some of us struggle with that from time to time.

        Thanks for your honesty about how it’s like from the viewpoint of many women to struggle with mental illness. To be honest, I never really thought about the fact that society expects women to be “crazy” or how that affects things with getting help for mental health. I learned something new.

        Actually, it might help if it became more “cool” for men to be vulnerable (whatever “cool” is haha). So, saying that it’s super hot for a guy to be vulnerable…that actually might help people!!!

        Liked by 1 person

      4. I’m the last person to judge people who can’t remember names. I’m lucky I remember my own name on some days! To be completely, brutally honest (a fatal flaw of mine), I can’t remember your name right this second. I’m terrible to ask about movies – “It has that guy who was in that movie. You know the one!”

        I’m excited to check out these blogs, regardless of what handle the authors go by. Thank you for sharing them with me!!

        You know, I think I learned something else about men & mental health this weekend. For some background, my best friend’s husband has been open about needing mental health help. He sees a psychiatrist. He’s the most even-keeled person I know…. most of the time. But, he has been known to blow up sometimes. I reach out to him during difficult times & receive single word responses.

        When I saw the pair on Saturday, he confided in me that he didn’t want to express his negative feelings. He was worried about burdening his wife, his brother, or his parents. They had their own major life issues going on, most of which were also the ones upsetting him.

        So, besides being “macho,” & “not being a baby,” I think even wonderful, forward-thinking, sensitive men face another societal pressure. That’s to be the provider. A “man” is “meant” to support his family, to lead the way, to solve everyone’s problems. As such, he wouldn’t want to metaphorically shift the weight of his feelings onto others. Another example of “weakness” being “unmanly.”

        I say, if a man wants to be “head of the household,” I thinks it’s perfectly acceptable to want that head running in prime condition! 😉

        Be careful thanking me for my honesty! You might regret that at some point. LOL

        To be fair, I know NOTHING about being “cool.” I don’t really want to be cool (I have a theory about being “normal,” which is, in some way, related to being “cool” lol).

        I think it’s possible to balance being strong, a problem-solver, my rock, & discussing your own fears & worries openly. Qualities like being loyal, supportive, cool in a crisis – that’s all fantastic! It’s far more manly than being tight-lipped & emotionless.

        Also, to me, “anger” is just “fear” trying to look “strong.” Dressing up fear, because you can’t admit you feel it, is weak.

        But, I think someone who can sit down, open up about his feelings, ESPECIALLY if he claims to care for me, is ridiculously hot. I’ll happily spread the word that men who talk about their feelings are attractive.

        (Sorry for such a novel!! 😄 )

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      5. It’s all good. (My name is Brendan, by the way.)

        I think you are 100% correct about the provider mentality with a lot of us as men. I struggled with the same originally. When I first struggled with my intrusive thoughts, I didn’t want to burden my parents with my issues, because they were going through their own stuff right after my grandpa’s death. Eventually it was just too much and I had to tell someone, but the mentality I struggled with was extremely similar to the mentality your friend’s husband dealt with.

        I will keep in mind what you said about complimenting you for your honesty, haha.

        I don’t know much about being cool either, and will happily embrace my weirdness. But I really do think that if more men realize that it’s cool or hot to be open about their mental health, then I think that will help. A ton.

        I also think it’s possible to be strong while discussing fears and worries openly. In fact, I think that being open about fears, worries, and weaknesses is a sign of strength–it’s a sign of strength to me because it shows that someone is comfortable being open about who they are with those who care about them the most.

        Liked by 1 person

      6. Darn it! Brendan, Brendan, Brendan. I knew that one too, because Rae & other bloggers have mentioned you by “Brendan” plenty of times. You’re quite popular, good Sir!

        I’ll try to remember. I promise nothing. LOL 😄

        BRENDAN! I think we had a really big break-through! Determining a source of concern, from a man’s perspective, to expressing his feelings, is huge!!! Not only have you pointed out it’s possible this is what a good man I adore is dealing with, but it could have larger social implications.

        I understand why men – & it’s not gender restrictive – wouldn’t want to burden loved ones with his fears & concerns. Especially if those are the thoughts that keep you up at night. Not only has society conditioned men to be the “backbone,” “leader,” “support,” etc., but revealing that information shares what would make him the most vulnerable.
        I have a sneaky suspicion that the common stereotype that women are vindictive & will use a man’s weaknesses against him doesn’t help.

        To be honest, I have the same issue. Until I started a new medication this year, I wouldn’t contact friends/loved ones when I was feeling upset. I would purposefully tell them I’m upset & going radio silent, in fact. I felt a lot of pressure relieved, very quickly, when I opened up to my friends recently. I also spoke to more than one friend at the same time during a recent crisis – making me feel better because I wasn’t “burdening” one person.

        I’ll shout from the rooftops that people (I can’t limit it to men, but that’s just my lifestyle lol) who express their feelings are attractive/awesome/appealing/amazing/astounding. I’m sure I could come up with some more “A” words. Let’s just leave it that open, honest communication is ideal.

        Your view of vulnerability as strength is correct! Human nature, I think, drives us all to feel as close to others. It’s not possible to remain connected, fully, I think, without revealing your deficits. Best of all, it helps us to find someone who is strong in areas where we’re weak – making a stronger partnership in the end. 😊

        Liked by 1 person

      7. Not a problem. I’m not very good with names myself, so as far as remembering names is concerned, this is a judgement free zone.

        I had no idea that I was so popular, though! Sometimes, you just never know. 🙂
        I guess I just stumbled upon a breakthrough without realizing it. Go figure. 

        For me, I think it was predominantly that I needed to be support, and go through the issues I was having to be that support. I can see where the common stereotype that women are vindictive & will use a man’s weaknesses against him doesn’t help might fit in, but I think there’s another stereotype that doesn’t help. Namely, the stereotype that women are emotional. Since there’s a stereotype that women are emotional, there are many times when men get emotional and are told to “stop acting like a girl.” Which, in some circles, is one of the worst things you can say.

        I also felt like a lot of pressure was relieved when I opened up with my friends as well! And I felt like a lot of pressure was relieved when I opened up on my blog. I think that sometimes, at least for me (Maybe for you?), just being able to open up and feel like you’re not being judged for your experiences by multiple people is a HUGE help!

        That’s plenty of “a” words, haha. But yes, it took me awhile to learn this, but I learned that it was ideal to be in touch with one’s own emotions. 🙂

        Vulnerability is ABSOLUTELY a sign of strength. Vulnerability helps us be close with others. It helps us find others who are strong at things we’re not strong at, but it also just generally helps us support each other when we’re struggling (or, as some of my friends would like to say, “on the struggle bus,” haha). 

        Liked by 1 person

      8. Thank you for not judging me for forgetting names. I’m very much the same way – as long as everyone’s an adult, it’s legal, & everyone’s rights are upheld, I’m not gonna judge. Do what makes you happy & the people you love happy. Don’t infringe on me, I won’t infringe on you… you know, all that good stuff. 🙂

        I’ll admit, I felt a bit flattered when you commented on my page the first time. Your content is so well-thought out, organized, dense with information, but still express passion & humanity. It’s very journalistic, in the quality, without the dryness.

        Now that I’ve thoroughly made you blush, I’m sure – moving on!

        I can see how it would be difficult to try & support your loved ones, while simultaneously getting your own support. I think the best way to do that is to be open & talk to a wider group of people. In my mind, it makes perfect sense – Say your girlfriend is going through some stuff that raises concerns or anxieties in you. You then turn to your best friend.

        It just might require some creativity if sharing the information could possibly upset someone’s privacy boundaries. This is where a blog, as you mentioned, is helpful! Change names & other details enough (or discuss an individual’s privacy concerns before sharing), & you relieve a lot of that pressure. That’s why, I think, I know a lot of women who have wide groups of friends.

        The major issue, as I see the “women are more emotional” & “stop acting like a girl” is this: All that stress & pressure we felt relieved when we opened up to our friends will only grow if kept bottled up. It erupts, most often (in my experience), in anger. Which, I think, is an obvious cause & effect situation; keep filling a balloon with air & it will pop eventually.

        & anger is an emotion. It’s no less “emotional,” in my opinion, to yell or hit a wall than it is to cry.

        I’m so stealing the “struggle bus.” Mostly because I think there will be tons of stickers & GIFs I can use to lighten the mood. That’s another thing I do when I’m struggling, because I’m self-deprecating & I love to make people laugh all the time. I think it makes me feel better too.

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  2. You’re welcome! Who am I to judge? Especially since I struggle with the same. 🙂

    Thanks for the compliment! I definitely try to accomplish all of the above with my posts—I want it all to be thought out, organized, full of information, passionate, and have humanity. It’s not always easy to accomplish that in 450-750 words, but it’s important. I needed all of the above from others in order to learn how to become a more just person myself (thanks to friends), so the least I can do is do the same on my blog.

    It is difficult to support your loved ones while struggling yourself. I think your thoughts on how to handle that sort of situation are correct, though. It’s important to have a support system of friends who you can enjoy during the good times and find comfort in during the bad times. By having this support system, I think that, even if you’re worried about having a ton of burdens, you can at least share the burdens with a number of people instead of giving them all to one person.

    I’ve never had to worry about changing my blog’s name in order to be open about my mental health. That being said, I can definitely see how blogging semi-privately can help one open up, while having the cathartic (in my opinion) activity of writing. But regardless, having SOME source of release is important, regardless of what the label is (and I’m definitely not happy that it has to be considered “acting like a girl” when you open up and are emotional).

    Go ahead. Take the struggle bus. Use the stickers and GIFs to lighten the mood. (And maybe also really cute cat videos, or at the very least I like cat videos when I’m on the struggle bus.)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. OK, I know I normally say to my friends & acquaintances not to apologize for taking a long time to reply, but this requires acknowledgement. I’m so sorry it took me a freakin’ MONTH to respond.

      I wish I had a good excuse. I have none.

      The way you describe spreading out your burdens over multiple people (which, possibly, is how I also described it earlier – lord knows I can’t remember anymore! LOL) reminds me of my limited physics knowledge – Pressure spread out over multiple points is diffused over said points.

      That may not come from an actual physics class. It might have come from seeing a sideshow performer on a bed of nails. LOL

      Still, it seems to work. It’s definitely less painful (from what I’ve heard!) to lay on 1,000 nail points than to lay on 1.

      I think that society expects men to express his feelings & get the necessary catharsis from physical action. Y’know, playing ball, or working out, or building a house, or punching a horse… IDK, “guy stuff.” It’s a crock of …. stuff ….

      I mean, feelings aren’t unique to women. I think the sooner we all admit that – & admit that anger is an emotion & we can’t keep claiming women are the only emotional gender – the better off we’ll be. A lot of problems could probably get fixed if we addressed men’s emotions before they explode in anger.

      I’ve heard it said that anger is just fear’s b—-y little sister. Usually, there’s a worry/anxiety/fear furthering anger, from what I’ve seen.

      Woohoo! Thank you for inviting me to ride the struggle bus (& use the turn of phrase)! I heard (on the Internet; fact check me lol) that cat videos reduce stress & increase creativity. This idea is “crazy cat lady” approved.

      Speaking of cat videos, my friend was teasing me that I should start an Instagram for my cat. I’m considering it. I promise to share the link if/when I do. My cat is freakin’ hilarious. As are all cats. LOL 😸

      Liked by 1 person

      1. No judgement here! Honestly, it hasn’t even felt like a month.

        Speaking of physics, I also have limited physics memory from high school. So I guess you’re correct with the physics metaphor? Another way I think of it is that you can’t have two things occupying the same space at the same time. Same thing in terms of pressure/burdens.

        You are correct! Many of us (as men) are expected to get that catharsis from the physical–a punching bag, working out, something like that. ALL of us have emotions, including anger. Suppressing those emotions (something I’ve certainly struggled with before, and something a lot of other men I know struggle with) only makes it worse.

        The struggle bus is always open for people to come onto! And I definitely believe that cute animal videos (cats, dogs, other animals) can help us power through the struggles.

        I’m all in favor of cute Instas for cats! (Though I admit I don’t have one. I’m sometimes behind the times technologically. Haha.)

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I have to say, you’re spot on. It really doesn’t feel like it was a month! Then again, I was enjoying the heck outta my favorite season. 🙂

        Yeah, TBH, I barely passed physics. However, I do have a BA in BS. I’ve found I can come up with a pretty decent-sounding explanation for stuff, even if it’s total bunk. My standard warning is: Fact check me. LOL

        I’m not sure the “two things occupying the same space at the same time” makes sense to me in this situation. But, if you care to explain, I’m all ears.

        It makes me sad that so many men – I’ve had this conversation offline a dozen times this week – don’t know how to express their feelings. I mean, there’s no way to address an issue if someone else doesn’t know it’s an issue. 😥

        I’ll join you there with the “behind the times” (or, as I like to say, “what are these young whippersnappers doing on my lawn?!”) where social media is concerned. I have an IG for myself, but it has, like, three pictures on it & I only made it to follow friends.

        If I do make a Loki-based IG, it’ll be the first real account I have. Y’know, one where people post pictures & videos instead of forgetting the account exists. LOL

        Like

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