Tuesday, 29 November 2011

Big Men do Cry...Depression and being a Man about it.

Nobody knows why Gary Speed took his life and I have no right to speculate so I won't. However, his suicide has prompted a debate on both radio and television regarding men and depression.

I have often wanted to do a blog so that I can do this subject justice, because as you know I am a walking expert on chronic depression, but I always fear my dyslexia will prevent me from really hammering home how desolate this cruel illness really is and how society still shuns it.

I have suffered and when I say suffer I mean really suffer. I tried to take my life, and no it was not a cry for help. I just wanted out of the darkness. This attempt resulted in my being locked up on an acute mental ward back in 1998. I spent 4 other occasions on such a ward. I also received 12 x ECT...known to you as Electric Shock Treatment in 1999.....I am still here. And I have a voice.

Really from that day on people started to shun me; it was a rapid process. I mean I am a man and I am not supposed to be 'weak'. Women treat you the worst believe it or not but that is for another day.

I have been in and out of therapy now for 17 years and it has been tough and I have now sustained the longest period of my life without having a depressive episode. The last one was a year ago this month. I was lucky in that I met John and with his brilliant method of Therapy over the past 3 years I am getting there but it has been so hard.

We have a problem in the UK and men seem to be taking the brunt of it. Who are we and what are we these days? Who cares for male issues? We have a society problem in that as men we are not supposed to cry or suffer and if you do it is seen as weakness. Don't believe all that a woman likes to see a man cry.

I have spent year after year after year on my own. Night after night after night. How many people reading this have gone over ten years without the security of a simple arm around your shoulder? I have learned to live with silence and isolation and made myself a better person for it but by all accounts I should be long dead.

Depression is a dark hole and lives behind the eyes. Don't pretend you know what is going on with someone just because they appear to have it all. Depression does not discriminate in any way.

Men are asked to 'open up' but when they do everyone takes cover. Men told that they need to go and speak with someone; well your first port of call would be a GP and lets face it their surgeries all appear to have been built for women only.

We live in a country where being a man means you are very much diluted when it comes to health. I could write a book on this subject but I would bore myself with it.

The stigma for men with depression or any mental illness is 10 fold on what it is for women. And it is the great scandal of the early 21st Century that this country is more than a little in the dark ages in attitude.

Don't shun people with depression if you know someone because you will lose them one day. We don't listen to melancholy music all the time and cry. Most of us will find a dark room and suffer alone until it passes and then we just get on with life. But do make sure you talk...talk to those you

Me? I will survive......I am going nowhere and doing life solo has taught me much. I kind of love me now but only kind of and that is a better place than I have ever been in.

We live in a country where macho men are lauded and where so called weakness is bullied. It is us who look in the mirror and acknowledge our problem who are the real macho ones. Big men do cry.

Tim (London Nov 2011)


Sy said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Sy said...

Beautiful post Tim. There's a stigma attached to diseases like depression, and I think a lot of the time it's down to ignorance and a lack of empathy on the part of society. Only its sufferers truly know how completely debilitating and painful mental illness can be.

Tim Roberts said...

thank you x