By: Talona Smith
Contributing Writer for RallyUP Magazine
I grew up in a small town where everyone knows each other…or at least know someone you are related to. A town where most of the communities rally together to support our youth’s education, athletics and activities. Our small town was shaken to the core when we lost two young men in their early 20s to suicide in the same year. Did anyone notice a sign? Did anyone know to look for a sign? Does anyone know the signs?
Men are fed images of strength at a young age. They are often told that “men don’t cry,” especially in front of women. They are told to toughen up. That crying is a sign of weakness.
How are men supposed to heal from heartache, grief, brokenness? Where are men supposed to go when they don’t have the answer or can’t make ends meet? How are they supposed to rest when they get weary?
How long are they supposed to suppress the pain of neglect or abuse? How long are they supposed to stay silent about how they feel? Who is supposed to help them when they feel that all hope is gone?
Men work hard to keep up the stigma of carrying the world on their shoulders, being fearless, a provider, protector and a great lover. Not to mention being attractive, intelligent, wealthy, spiritual, having a powerful physique and a comical sense of humor.
Remember, men get tired too. Often subjected to emotional distress and mental anguish, they too experience being exhausted and burned out. They feel emotional pain from depression. Pain demands to be felt. It will happen regardless of how you try hide it. Whether they press through and allow it to take its course, or resort to a temporary fix to detach themselves from feeling it, men experience pain. Some men, even in their strong stature will hold on to emotional pain until they erupt.
Education and awareness are essential to recognizing signs of depression and mental issues. Sometimes breaking away from stressors can help men sort through their struggles and give them a sense of independence. Something as simple as a hobby, taking a walk, fishing, or doing nothing at all can be a start to a mental reboot.
Men may not be as forth coming to disclose their need to discuss emotional instability with someone. Some are in denial. Some may feel embarrassment. Some may hide depression with anger. Some men would rather mask their feelings with their strength than to show vulnerability.
What we can do is respect their space and show them love. Love alone may not be enough. Men need a support system too. Even if they are too stubborn to acknowledge it. It is vital for men to be encouraged to seek professional counseling to learn coping techniques and receive treatment, if necessary. Don’t expect men to be totally transparent in revealing all their emotions at once. It may take time.