The 8th of May marks the start of Mental Health Awareness Week.
Anyone can suffer with mental health issues, It’s estimated that 1 in 6 people living in the UK have/are suffering from mental health issues, Mind reports.
There are many different types of mental illness. They can range from mild disorders lasting only a few weeks through to severe illnesses that can be life-long.
I’m James, I’m 26 and I suffer with depression and anxiety – and have done for the last 7 years.
It’s never easy and as a male I have found it very difficult to talk about my feelings.
I’ve been on different anti-depressants, attended workshops and have had one-to-one counselling sessions.
It’s not easy being a male and living with depression.
Here are 7 things I’d like other men with depression to know.
1. It’s okay not to be okay
We spend our lives pretending that we’re okay, our behaviour patterns can change, lack of sleep, irritability and excessive consumption of addictive substances can all sometimes go unnoticed. These can be less of obvious signs of a male’s behaviour when suffering with depression.
It’s not about putting on a brave face, you don’t have to pretend everything is okay, is anything ever okay?
2. It won’t make you any less of a man
Still in today’s society men are depicted as ‘strong and manly’. I’ll always remember as a little kid someone telling me ‘boys don’t cry’.
Why shouldn’t they?
People deal with their emotions differently, some get angry, some lash out and become violent, some become withdrawn and some cry.
Having depression does not make you any less of a man. In fact I think it makes you a bigger man for accepting that you’re not coping.
3. Showing emotion does not make you weak
Emotion is a natural thing, it is not a sign of weakness, happiness is an emotion, excitement is an emotion, sadness is too an emotion.
It’s okay to have a cry, it’s okay to admit you’re struggling. We all show emotion in different ways.
4. It’s actually more common than you think
Believe it or not there’s actually other men out there who feel the same, depression can be less noticeable in men as it can present itself differently.
5. You are never alone
There are so many people who are going through the same as you, sometimes it’s hard reaching out but their are many organisations who offer free services, helplines, web programs etc to support you with your depression.
6. It’s never to late to ask for help
Asking for help is a good sign, it’s never too late, whether you’re asking a friend or a partner or a medical professional, these are all steps in the right direction.
It may not be easy to start off with and you may feel like not saying anything but it will help.
When suffering with depression or any mental illness support from professionals, your friends and family is invaluable.
7. It’s important to find the right medication/support
I have tried numerous anti-depressants and I am currently taking a dose of 150mg of an anti depressant called Sertraline .
I’ve tired others in the past and they haven’t worked, I would sometimes just shrug off going in for a review as I’d never been good talking about my past and my depression.
It’s all about finding the right support plan for you, whether it’s anti depressants, support sessions or one-to-one counselling, there are so many resources to access.
Please remember that it’s okay to be a man a suffer with depression, it doesn’t make you any less of a man.
We are all in this together.
If you are struggling with your mental health and need support, please contact your GP or The Samaritans http://www.samaritans.org/how-we-can-help-you/
Words by James Conlon