It’s a conversation I’ve had quite a few times recently with friends – male mental health, particularly our own struggles and experiences. Maybe it’s on my mind because it’s part of the focus of Movember (for which I’m attempting to cultivate a sponsored – and ridiculous – moustache). Or maybe it’s just because of various pressures loved ones are under at the moment.. I know it’s a cliché that men A) don’t talk about their feelings, B) don’t ask for help, and C) definitely don’t speak to their doctor about either A) or B), but it is a crucial topic.
I battled with taking control of negative thoughts
I was depressed as a teenager (when I was a young carer for my mum) and struggled with this until I was 20 (when God miraculously healed me). After this, I still battled with taking control of negative thoughts but over time I learnt helpful coping strategies for this. For many years I felt pretty on top of my emotional / mental state. Then, when I was 29, an especially stressful, busy time at work, a new baby (& sleep deprivation) and family illnesses all contributed to my slump down into depression again.
Thankfully, I’m blessed to have male friends who are actually emotionally engaged and are happy to talk about the important things in life. So, supportive friends & family, gradually improving circumstances and clinging onto God’s promises all played a big part in my recovery. And it was only really in hindsight that I was able to (or brave enough to) recognise that time for what it was and admit I had been depressed again.
my mental health, like everyone’s, has been up & down
So, my mental health, like everyone’s, has been up & down – at times, particularly strong & robust, and at other times, very fragile and in need of outside help. I’m very thankful though that I have friends who care enough to ask me about this stuff and, more than that, who offer valuable help & support from their own hard-fought experiences and troubles.
By Si Cook
Ps. check out this BBC news story about the UK’s 1st mental health centre for men
Photo credit: Kate Parkins