One in five people in Australia will suffer from a mental illness this year. These numbers have risen by 1 million people in the last 3 years. Throughout our lives, 50% of the population will have had, or have, a mental health issue…every second person in Australia. That is bloody scary.
This is an epidemic that is out of control. If we take that a step further, 8 people commit suicide in Australia every day (@2850), 6 of those are men (@2200). (Please note: Last year there were 1225 deaths is Australia due to motor vehicle accidents). For every person who does commit suicide, there are 30 who attempt it. That’s 87,600 people per year in Australia (sorry my figures in an earlier blog was a little out).
And what makes all these stats on mental health even more terrifying, is that we can’t cope now with the number of cases within the current medical structure. Medication obviously isn’t the long-term answer as numbers would be reducing. (Don’t get me wrong – I totally understand that medication IS required at times.)
But people aren’t getting better. Their mental health isn’t improving. The health system isn’t coping. People aren’t getting the care they require and are falling through the crack in great numbers.
So, if the current system isn’t working, if our mental health is getting worse and our medical infrastructure and methods aren’t working. Then we need to change something else.
It appears there is a reason that women suffer from depression less than men…I believe it is because they talk. They have a great way of dealing with stress, depression and issues. They talk to their friends and families. They get it out. They deal with it.
Men on the other hand. We ignore the issues. We bury them aware so not even we can see or feel them. But the longer we push down, the hard we push down…sooner or later they start to push back, and they can push back even harder. This pushing back starts to manifest itself in a lot of ways. Anxiety and depression are only 2 ways, but probably the most common.
And that is what is killing the men of Australia. Our own upbringings, our own beliefs, our own stubbornness.
When we were young, we were told to behave a certain way, act in a certain manner. It became ingrained is us.
We believed that “Men don’t cry”, that we had to “Suck it up” or “Toughen up”, “Don’t be a sook”, “You don’t show emotion”, and it goes on and on. Some of us were not allowed to show affection, because that was “girlie” stuff. As a result, we didn’t show emotion, we didn’t show fear, we had a tough exterior. That was what a true (Aussie) male was.
Now, if you throw in some childhood trauma, abandonment issues, abuse, or any other traumatic experience, then it just adds to the already large pile of “baggage” that you are carrying. You were meant to pretend it didn't happen, act like it didn't affect you, just forget and ignore it.
You then stuff all that fear, emotion, shame, guilt, love, embarrassment, pride and anger (and the list goes on) away deep down. If you don’t have the tools to deal with issues and be able to change your perception of what a true man is, then one day all this baggage you have been hiding away is going to start to eat away at you. It will start to come out in little subtle ways initially, then grow to bigger problems, bubbling up inside, waiting to erode and even explode.
This is when the pain in our heart starts. So, what do we do??? We attempt to hide it and ignore it even more. Sometimes we do this by:
Drinking alcohol to cope.
Doing drugs to hide the pain and shame.
It can come out as rage
We shut down totally
I just want to point out here. When we shut down emotionally from our family and friends, we aren't truly trying to shut them out. They are just the collateral damage from shutting down from ourselves. From how we feel about us.
It can then manifest as depression. And if we are suffering from depression…we DEFINITELY, as men, can’t show we are. That would be a weakness. That would go against all the ingrained believed mentioned earlier.
Because we kept the problem buried so deep down inside, we sometimes don't even understand how it is affecting us. With our pride and misguided beliefs, as men, we can’t show we are hurting. We can’t show we in pain. We can’t show we have a weakness. It is embedded into our psyche since we were boys.
To change this, we as men, as people in general, we need to change our beliefs, our psyche, our lives. We all have to take responsibility for our own lives and destinations. There maybe years of hard work and sacrifice, retraining and restructuring ahead, but what we are doing at the moment is not working.
Let’s be REAL MEN. Show true courage. Face our fears. Stare down our demons. Deal with our shit. Own it.
Let us lead a life that is full of happiness, joy and contentment. Not one in fear, shame and embarrassment. Believe me, the latter is much more exhausting and much less fun.
Let’s support each other. Let’s become a tribe again. Let’s become brothers again.
Let’s become whole again.