Written by See Change Ambassador Jack McCann
I have had quite bad times with my mental health over the past 18 months to 2 years, I will hold my hand up and say that from the get go. I have to be honest with myself when writing about my experiences before being honest with you as a reader.
It all came to a head in February of last year and were it not for a group of amazing people that I am extremely lucky to be able to call my friends I would not be typing this article.
The stress of finding a job that I either put on myself or felt from my parents, the stress of college assignments, society activities and everything in between all just added up to breaking point.
The issues had been building up for a few months, I thought I had not made it obvious that stuff wasn’t 100%. However, as I found out afterwards I wasn’t hiding it at all from the friends I was spending a lot of time with in college. People who care about you will notice, trust me.
On the edge, I had two options, seek help or not. First and foremost, I had to get over the fact that I hadn’t done anything before it reached breaking point. Why should I seek help consistently? I tried to have small conversations with one or two people I trusted in an attempt to talk through one or two issues that would enable me to deal with the bigger issues by myself.
That’s what I thought at the time anyway, however, every single issue seemed to be somehow connected to one another in some way. It was just a vicious cycle of dead ends, as I saw it at the time.
My attempt to try and deal with most of by myself did not work. I am happy to admit here and now that I have not been great at being able to explain how I am feeling for the most of my life. Only a couple of people have ever gotten to see the true me.
Men in general can’t do it compared to women, we’d rather shut those feelings, good or bad, down and go for a pint with the lads as if everything was grand. Why? For fear of being slagged for being weak, too emotional or some other unmanly thing.
‘’There is a time in a boy’s life when the sweetness is pounded out of him; and tenderness, and the ability to show what he feels, is gone.’’ Norah Vincent
Stereotypes and society pressure and ‘norms’ is all that is. Men can and do feel a roller coaster of emotions, just as much as anybody else. WE are all the same in that aspect, however, how we deal with any mental health issue depends on the person.
As mentioned I had an invaluable support network around me that I was able to utilise. Not everyone has that or wants that either. Some people are happy to talk to only one person not a 100.
It does not matter how small or big an issue is, it doesn’t matter if you’re the president or a plumber, it doesn’t matter who or whom you talk to or for how long. Everyone can be affected by mental health difficulties, talking is one of the easiest things to help deal with it, but is probably the hardest thing to do.
You’re opening up yourself to someone and telling them some of your most personal, emotional or hard information. I did it because I had friends and a support network that I knew I could trust and rely on without doubt.
‘I’m not feeling great’. Sometimes the seemingly simplest things are the most difficulties. The fear of rejection is huge, for me anyway. ‘What will people think’?, ‘how will they react’?, were just one of a million thoughts that were whirling through my head. This feeling is in my head anyway is totally natural. Mental health is not understood enough and as the saying goes people are often afraid of what they do not understand.
To finish, mental can affect anybody. If you’re having a tough time, you don’t become any less of a man if you talk to someone, either casually or professionally.
You can talk for 30 seconds, 30 minutes or 30 hours, as long as you do what is best for you.
Aspects of my experience may relate to you but everybody experiences these issues in many different ways.
Just know, it is ok to talk, if you don’t want to talk 1 on 1 start your own anonymous blog and talk that way. Remember, there are people who will listen, it may difficult to see when times are rough, but they are there.
A step forward, no matter how big or small, is better than no step at all. Even just steadying the ship is fine, just do what suits you. Talking is, and always will be a sign of strength, but there are other ways too.