How Men Experience Mental Illness Differently
If you’ve been in the mental health “circuit” for long enough, you’re bound to get some condescending remarks about how to get better. I think that it is especially difficult for men with mental health. This is particularly due to the historical societal views of how and what men should be. However, I want to make myself clear, no ones suffering from mental health is “better” of “worse” than anyone else. We all are different, therefore experience things differently. If you are a woman, man, transgender, or anywhere inbetween, I know that you’ve had it hard, and I’m not belittle your pain. Mental illness sees no color, gender, age, religion, etc. It takes what it wants from who it wants and it never says sorry. I hope that my position on this matter is clear. This article is not condoning gender inequality, but, stating how men experience mental health differently.
There is a certain societal view of men, that they are supposed to be tough and strong; especially in front of others. Men are “not allowed” to be vulnerable around other people. They are not to show any weakness, and power through anything that life throws their way. At the first sign of weakness, you’ll probably often hear to “Man Up” as if men are born with some type of armor that they need to constantly maintain. The good old “pull yourself up by your bootstraps” saying goes along the same lines. “Grow a Pair” is another of my favorites, implying that if we show signs of struggling, that we aren’t entitled to what were a born with (PG rating here people). All in all, when a man if hurting, so much that this facade that we build in order to appear normal begins to crack, we suddenly aren’t good enough for the gender we are born with, or identify as.
Men Don’t Cry
This is probably the most ridiculous preconception that has ever been fabricated about “gender rules”. The thought that men do not cry, that crying is a sign of weakness, is just incredibly stupid. Everyone cries, it is a completely normal reaction to devastating events, or a overflow of emotions that have been building for a while. Now if tears smelled bad or something, I could see that as an excuse not to cry. However; not crying because you are supposed to be strong? No one is supposed to be or do anything, we are all our own people. We do what we want, and act how we want, so long as it doesn’t affect anyone else’s life. Plus, sometimes, the only way to feel better is to cry like Niagra Falls. So don’t listen to anything anyone tells you. You want to cry? Then cry to your heart’s content. There is nothing weak about crying, nothing weak about being sad. These are thing that we all experience and have to overcome. We should start treating them as such.
Don’t Show Emotions
I really don’t get the double standard here. By that I mean that, men are encouraged to show positive emotions, like happiness, love, desire, etc. Yet, we often get ridiculed when showing negative emotions, such as anger, sadness, envy. This I just don’t understand. With anger, there is a misunderstanding that men always get violent. That we should control ourselves to prevent this unfounded claim. Get angry, of course do not get violent, but scream and yell and boil over. You definitely do not want to hold anger in. When it comes to sadness, it’s always the same. Men should be tough, we don’t cry, and we should remain composed in public. Even the slightest glimmer of weakness is immediately pounced upon. You receive countless ways to not be such a “hot mess” and be more “normal”. Screw that, if you’re sad, be sad, do not let that fester inside you. Holding in your emotions can only end poorly, sometimes at the bottom of a bottle (Guilty). Once you come to terms that no one but you can tell you how to act, you can begin to regulate your emotions and actually control them correctly. Not by holding everything in, but letting things out at the right times, in safe environments.
Men usually have a pretty rough go at dealing with mental illness, because whether you like it or not, there are gender based stigma in the mental health view right now. The world is expecting that men should suffer silently, and just “deal with it”. That shouldn’t be how anyone manages their mental illness.
As I am not the most experienced with the female perspective, hopefully I might be able to find a guest writer to assist with that. The bottom line here, is that if you are having issues dealing with your mental illness because of the “male stereotypes”, you need to just let them go. I know that’s easier said than done, but there is good news! The society we live in is constantly changing, and mental health has been in the hot seat of some time. The views on mental health, mainly the stigma, are changing every single day.
Even better, if you’re struggling, go out and be part of the change. I mean that’s really the reason I started this blog in the first place.
As always, we are a community dedicated to helping one another, of you notice I missed something, or have a different opinion; leave a comment and share that information with all of us. Because you never know, it might just save a life.
Photo Credit: Unsplash: Ravi Roshan