This is a the first in a couple of pieces on Christmas and Mental Health.
Men and Mental Health
So I just spoke to one of my best male friends. I have a core group of about 5 then some peripherals but, these are the ones I’d call if I woke up and found myself in Orange is the New Black jumpsuit kind of trouble. He’s telling me that he’s planning on spending Christmas at the in-laws. I’m like, nah, stay your light skinneded, 2 children and a wife having arse at home Fam. He’s like, I need a break. I’m like, a break from what? Your life is SWEET!
Then it comes out in a typical man way. It’s hard working from him with the kids always demanding attention. It’s stressful and I think it’s taken a toll on his Mental Health. He WANTS to go back to work and get some ‘me time’ on his commute and lunch break. I’m like, ah, can’t the Mrs take the kids out during the day sometimes you can have a little rest. The short answer is that British weather and certain relationships are just different I guess.
I tried to figure this out in a typical couch therapist way. As an only child I think he’s used to a lot of alone time and at one time in his life he spent a lot of time in hospital. This 24 / 7 family life is a lot. I sit here complaining about the plantation but, I don’t have school fees and a partner to worry about. I get a lot of ‘me time’ and trust me, I’ve become really protective of it. It sounds strange as I’m an extreme extrovert according to every Myers Briggs Personality Test I’ve ever taken but,, I’ve become possessive of my solitude. Why couldn’t he do the same?
And the rest…
So then I looked around and realised that some of my closest male friends were struggling and weren’t really able to talk about it. Part of it was me. I thought they were fine because a) they weren’t reaching out and b) toxic masculinity dictates that they don’t show vulnerability. One had lost their mother last year and that was his heartbeat. He’s the youngest. Another had a mental health breakdown at the beginning of the end of 2019 and then got Covid in 2020. Yet another had lost a spouse. On the peripherals there was one with a chronic illness, another going through a divorce. Then there were the plethora of health scares. Things were fucked up!
Then there’s …
I thought about it and realised that I don’t really spend as much time talking to my male friends in the same way I do my female friends. One, I don’t want to bother people and think they would see it as smothering. The other is that most of them have partners so, surely that’s their role? I mean, I don’t want to be that single friend they look at suspiciously because I’m checking on their man. But then I thought, nah, when we deal with the aftereffects of a Mental Health crisis we always look at the slide. Is there something that could have been done to stop them sliding or, do we as a culture believe that everyone has to reach rock bottom or crisis point before they ‘deserve’ our time.
Merry Mental Health
Now is the season where we are seeing more adverts for crisis intervention and suicide helplines. It’s acknowledged that people are struggling but how much worse will it be in a pandemic? I think there will need to be a lot of therapy around grief, PTSD, anxiety and isolation / depression when Covid leaves us. When that will be it’s unclear. But in the interim let’s not take risks because we are worried about seeming too much. Check the heck out of your male friends please!
They are not ok. They won’t say because they have a dick and apparently that can make you fake bravery and stoicism that isn’t needed but, let them know that you’re there.
The thing to remember is that mental health is not like healing a bone. It takes times, lots of backsliding and moments that aren’t pretty but if you can in any way aside in making someone feel less alone or a little more heard then, surely that’s the best gift you can give? If you can’t be there for them then that’s ok too. Sometimes you have to put the proverbial mask on your own face first. You can’t save anyone. Just be that ear. I know this is hardest when it’s possibly your partner and not a friend so make sure to take care.
Now go and bother them all and smother them in useless conversations and gifs and … hey, whatever it takes. Not to say that it will work but at least they’ll know you’re thinking of them and if they’re Arsenal supporters, their useless football team 😉 .
Merry Mental Health and remember, mental wellbeing isnt’ just for Christmas!
© Chelsea Black® 2020 (Covid Era)
If you’re struggling then contact Mind for help.