Gentlemen, I wanna start by saying this as clear as I possibly can: THERE IS NOTHING WRONG WITH SHARING YOUR EMOTIONS. As men, one of the most looked down upon things is our emotional state of mind. So many of us are far too prideful to admit that mentally, we struggle. We get down, we’re self-conscious, anxiety, depression and lack of self-worth are real things. In America alone, men make up 75 percent of suicide victims with an average of a man killing himself every 20 minutes.
Robin Williams, Heath Ledger and Lee Thompson Young are a few celebrities we’ve loved throughout our lifetimes and they all tragically ended their lives due to some form on a mental struggle. Why is it that men’s mental health never seems to be an issue until the worst case scenario happens? As men, we’ve been cultured and continued to culture ourselves to completely turn off emotions. While that is not the only issue, it is a big issue. Men get hurt, and that’s okay to admit. Men struggle with anxiety and depression and that too is okay to admit. What is NOT okay is for us to act like we don’t struggle.
Recently I was watched The Dark Knight and was reminded of how Heath Ledger took his own life shortly after filming that movie and how he admitted in several interviews how mentally taxing that role was on him. He also talked about how he locked himself in a hotel room for roughly a month in preparation for this role. It makes me wonder, what went through his mind every day? Why did nobody see the signs? Was he even open to potentially receiving help?
At times we refuse the idea of help, no matter how much we need it. Last year I publicly shared that I struggle with depression on a consistent basis and how November of 2018 was the first month that I hadn’t had a suicidal thought since September of 2015. The reality is, I have had issues with depression and anxiety since I was eleven years old. But I would never admit it until I was twenty-six. I grew up in a mentally and physically abusive home and a lot of that shaped how I felt about myself as well as how I felt others perceived me. It took me fifteen years to come to grips with the fact that I have worth and that it is okay to share my emotions with those around me.
Men’s mental health needs to be seen as both a health and social issue. My personal mental health is something I still deal with every day. I remind myself that I matter and that no amount of depression is worth me taking my life because there is a group of individuals around me that love me. So if I have nothing else in this world, I have them. And the love they show me is more than enough.
Fellas, we HAVE to stop acting like these things don’t impact us. Talking it out, going to counseling, journaling, taking a mental health day is fine. We are not too macho for that. I spent over a decade thinking that and spent three straight years trying to convince myself that life is worth living. There is nothing wrong with the struggle, but there is something wrong with ignoring it and hoping it goes away. If you read this and it resonates with you, I’m here. And you can believe I’m more than willing to talk to you. We have to leave the lone wolf mentality alone. There is nothing wrong with running in the herd.