Wednesday, 15 June 2016

MH Stigma: "Nah mate, we don't do feelings"




Hi, I'm a male for those who weren't sure about that. 24 years old, student and football fanatic. That's probably the most accurate description 99% of the people out there would give me. Also a lot of people see me as a happy lad, smiling a lot and trying to make everyone happy or laughing. 
BUT if I tell people about my true feelings or my struggle with anxieties, there's a sense of disbelieve and distance-making. 'Mate, you are still dreaming. You are the most happy person I know.' As soon as I, a male, start talking my feelings or mental health, there are some really worrying insights to be honest. It's like society is telling us males to shut up about feelings and mental health issues. That makes it very hard for persons who do suffer and want to talk about it with mates, male family members or persons in school/work. This is me trying to use my little corner of the internet to break this and to say: We do have feelings & anxieties AND it's more than okay to talk about it.



First of all I would like to make this absolutely clear. I'm not undermining the importance of mental health with women. Women have a lot of struggles with mental health too, I'm acknowledging that completely. I'm not saying the problems of men are more worth or are more important to talk about. But generally speaking, it's easier for women to talk about mental health issues. Well not easier, but it's more accepted by society as a whole, which is utterly rubbish of course. Men and women are equal in all aspects if you ask me, so no disrespect or anything. I just want to help men come out of this stigma and that they don't have to be afraid of talking their true feelings.

I've got enormous respect and admire most women for talking mental health. To be honest and fair, when I talk about mental health, it's usually with women. For the simple fact they are more open about it and you have the feeling there are more women dealing with it than men.
Thinking about this made me realise that every person I've sought helpt with concerning mental health, school counseling or otherwise, was a woman. And I think for a male this can give certain brakes to giving the full story. It's just a feeling I can't really describe and maybe I only speak for a certain amount of people, but talking to women and talking to men are two different worlds. Let me explain you why.

Men and women have different perceptions of the world. Some are closer to another and some are really miles away, but there's always a difference. Now that's not bad at all, that's the beauty of different genders and keeps the world interesting. But when problems arise in the form of mental health or any other giving subject, it's sometimes very comfortable to someone who understand the working of a particular mind. You know when you have a problem and you can just explain the core problem without giving an introduction to your world, way of thinking an coping with things? That is exactly the thing I've come against.

Sure, I've spoken to my friends about it. They heard me say it, they understand the words and the impact is has on me. But they won't fully understand it. Sometimes I don't mind, I like to be alone and think on my own. I feel very introverted.  But other moments I just like to speak or chat with other men, how it affects their lives. How people have done their recovery and perhaps help people who are just starting recovering.

I just want to say that's okay to talk about mental health guys. You are not weak, you are not perceived as having other sexual preferences if you do talk mental health. It's all okay. It's time to stop ignoring the fact that we have feelings, more important it's time for society to see men and women as equals. That means treating women with the respect they deserve and including them in everything in this men's world as also treating men equally concerning mental health.
I don't want this to be perceived as a men only message or post, if anyone can encourage this I would be so happy.

It really helped me to talk other guys about it. I think it has not only helped me on a mental health level, but also on living life. Personally I love football a lot and I've made some friends with mental health issues who like football as well. Together we try to overcome our anxieties by doing stuff that made us anxious. We talk, we laugh and it's no special needs club or anything. You are not changing in a weak person if you admit that you suffer from mental health. It makes you one of the most strong persons on this globe.

I'd like to thank everyone who has taken the time to speak with me, in real life or on the internet about this. Male or female. Encouraging me to break this stigma. I don't know if it made any sense, but I feel very good doing this, quite emotionally actually. But we must stick together and together we can conquer it all. We are going to be fine.

Marc

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