#depression What men should learn from ladies

When it comes to being organised and having a support network of friends men and women are poles apart.

Ladies have learnt that sharing a burden is best, something probably learnt over centuries if not millennia. Men on the other hand seem to have developed an isolationist approach. Possibly feeling they cannot appear weak or that to admit something is hurting inside will somehow make them less of a man.

In todays modern world, and probably going back at least to the mid twentieth century, ladies have sought out and set up self help and group support networks. Making lots of previously un-shared topics very much sharable and even found that by sharing they learn and can cope with or even exploit far more that society and life have to give them.

Men are starting to move in the right direction but we, and I include me here, have a long way to go. It took being almost bullied and cajoled to go and see the doctor when I first started to feel life was getting a little too much for me. Even now as I wrote that last sentence I am still down playing what has and is happening to me. At times life is way too much for me and although I put on my actors clothing of stiff upper lip and smile my way through the day inside I can be crying.

After making the decision to go and see the doctor, who I know is a nice friendly understanding person, things felt a little better. I was taking charge of things. That is an important step, far more important than we realise at first!

Again at the assessment for anxiety and depression the assessor was a nice guy, very understanding and he listened. I mean that. Although he scribbled lots of notes and I am sure has seen hundreds if not thousands of people he made you feel a person not a number who was worth listening too and who had something to share.

On both occasions I felt a tad awkward at first. Almost a fraud. There must be lots and lots of far more deserving people than me with my silly low days and tearful episodes when the smallest thought or gesture seems to let a deep emotion bubble up to the surface of life.

I felt doubly awkward being a part time soldier. Trained and hardened, or so I thought, to face anything. Put me in a noisy, loud, smelly, chaotic situation with my fellow chums and we will work our way to achieving whatever task we are set against whatever odds are thrown against us.

But here I was sitting in a consultants assessment room. A box of tissues close by and feeling scared he wouldn’t see the real hurt going on inside as we talked our way through what has been happening to me and because of me over the last year or so.

My anxiety score was low, higher than the norm but not enough to warrant help. This I already knew they just needed to rule it out. The depression test on the other hand revealed something else and reduced me to tears as I spoke about my girls and how I felt I was failing them as well as so many others, from my work colleagues to friends and family.

Did it need to come to this? Needing to get professional help. If men were in a better position with proper support and caring for each other. I don’t mean in some effeminate way. Men must develop their own way of supporting each other better.

The greatest example is the difference between breast cancer and prostrate cancer. Both are killers, fact. Women though have been far more proactive in fighing breast cancer compared to men and the fight with prostrate cancer.

Women organise fun runs and raise money, set up support groups, spread knowledge and educate each other and make sure that the incidences are on the decrease, that the cancer is caught as early as possible and sorted out.

Men are only just getting going. They have tended to live with their heads in the sand. Isolated believing it will never happen to them. There have been few attempts to raise vital research money and help their brothers.

Things are changing though with activities like Movember raising awareness. Whoever came up with that idea should be awarded a knighthood for sheer genius and pig headedness in the face of male apathy. Truly wonderful work and grooming to boot!

So what is stopping you, and me, starting something similar?

Nothing but an irrational fear.


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