It’s often considered quite cliché to say “the first step is the hardest”. But I think it’s true when it comes to mental health and in particular, men’s mental health. When you’re trained by society to not only bottle your emotions, but to deny they even exist it can be a very daunting thought to speak to people and ask for help. But it’s the most important thing you can do. Having the ability to say to someone, anyone “I need help” it really gets the ball rolling and gets you on the right track.
I know this because I suffer from a litany of mental illnesses and one of the symptoms, I suffer from is terribly intrusive thoughts. I often have ideas about causing harm to myself and to others, and the reason I bring that up so casually is that I mentioned on my personal page that sometimes mental illness isn’t glamorous, it’s more often than not a pretty frightening thing. But I was able to reach out and get the help I needed from a medical professional and years of cognitive behavioral therapy and some medication have put me in complete control of those thoughts and ideas and while I am still depressed and carry all that baggage around me, I’m able to live with it rather than live in fear of it.
But it was being honest with the people around me that made that possible, especially because I had to wait for a long time to actually see an NHS psychiatrist about my mental health. But I had the right support and I made it through.
It doesn’t get better if you try and ignore it, it gets worse because it festers and grows in you. You need to find a confidant, a friend, a family member, anyone that you can safely express yourself to, get the feelings out and off your chest. And I know why that’s hard. I know that if you’re depressed, you probably have some paranoia eating away at you that’s telling you that your friends aren’t actually all that bothered about you, that they merely tolerate you out of a sense of duty or obligation rather than affection. But I promise you it isn’t the case, because it’s actually super easy to cut people out of your life, to remove them entirely so if the people around you haven’t done that…then guess what; They love you and will help you if you ask them.
I’ve seen a few folk sharing that post saying that their house is always open for people who are struggling and it’s a very beautiful sentiment but I’ve never shared it because for me…it just isn’t true. I often struggle with my own problems and among them is a lack of empathy or an inability to express empathy. I’m probably one of the worst people you could speak to about your mental health because the first thing my brain does when presented with a problem is find a solution when most of the time what you need is someone to just listen and care.
Suicidal thoughts are natural even though they’re not nice or ideal. You are not abhorrent, or obscene because you can’t overcome your feelings of doubt or worthlessness. You don’t exist in a vacuum either, your life touches so many people. Your friends, your family, your co-workers they all care about you and while you don’t owe them anything you do owe yourself the life you’ve built and the dreams you’ve had.
The important thing to keep in mind is that you are not alone, there are resources out there to help you overcome what you’re going through.
But you need to find the courage to actually ASK for the help.
Because you deserve it.
This article was written by our Vice-Chair Ron D.C. Cuthbert and does not necessarily reflect the viewpoint or policy of Solidarity as a whole and has been posted to help raise awareness for a serious issue. If you’re struggling with mental health and do not know where to turn, please consider calling Breathing Space, a free hotline that offers support and guidance on 0800838587