Stand By My Man

Written by  in category 
November 27, 2017
men, man

I turned on the Today Show on November 1st and I caught the segment where Matt, Al and Carson talked about the Movember Program and how they would be participating. It’s also known as the no-shave November campaign for men’s cancers like testicular and prostate and NOW there would be an additional emphasis on men’s mental health issues, like depression and suicide.

When You Should Seek Mental Help

Many times, men don’t show the stereotypical symptoms of depression. Sometimes it’s not going to be feeling sad or blue first, or maybe even at all during the mental health crisis or the depression,” says Dr. Moutier. Instead, signs that guys may notice include changes in sleep patterns, a loss of energy, less interest in sex, or feeling less of a purpose in life or less of a connection to it. An increase in substance abuse is also common, too. Lots of guys might find themselves drinking more, she says”. Source: https://www.menshealth.com/health/suicide-rates-middle-age-men

Middle-aged men in the 45 to 60 range experienced a 43 percent increase in suicide deaths from 1997 to 2014, and the rise has been even sharper since 2005.
Source: https://health.usnews.com/wellness/mind/articles/2016-10-19/why-suicide-keeps-rising-for-middle-aged-men

Men die by suicide 3.5x more often than women.”
Source: https://afsp.org/about-suicide/suicide-statistics/

Inspired

Reading Steven Lindsey’s story, The Road, hit me in a way I hadn’t expected. I emphasized, having watched loved ones battle cancer. I also deal with some of the same mental illness issues as Steven and have walked with the dark shadow of suicidal ideation. But I haven’t heard such pain and introspection much from men. You see, I am not a man. I don’t think like a man or feel things like men do. But, I love a lot of men, my two wonderful grandfathers who both died of cancer, my father, my husband, my son, my uncles, my many brothers-in-law, my father-in-law and a HUGE slew of nephews and maybe someday a grandson. I worry about their physical health and also about whether they will experience any mental health issues. And when I think about the losses and difficulties the men I know have experienced, it’s a different response than the women in my life and I have. Men, in general, DON’T talk about how they feel. 

So when I think about how much Alex Hanna who founded Challenge The Storm, has shared of himself to help others and people like Steven bare their souls, I realize it’s something all of us can help with. Not only can we support our men but we can help them to reach out to others, other men, professional help, or a pastor.

Losses Close to Home

One of my uncles definitely has experienced many losses in his life, however, because of his age and upbringing, he never grieved the way he needed to for healing. And what came from all this loss and what I believe to be, treatment focusing on the philosophy to just buck up buddy. Big boys don’t cry. You need to be the man now. What that man became after being adopted from a foreign orphanage, not bonding with his adoptive mother, watching his near age sister battle and lose to cancer at 19, watch his mother become clinically depressed, his father die young of cancer and then another sister to cancer at 56 (my mother) was angry, very, very, angry and abusive.  He didn’t become the man he sought to replace as the beloved head of the family. He became distant and eventually out of touch with the remaining members of our family. As far as I know, he never sought out professional help. Yes, this is a worst-case scenario; however, I think it illustrates how far losses and non-diagnosed depression can go and why it’s so important to encourage professional help when necessary.

And I can tell you right now that if I experienced so many people in my life leaving me for different reasons, the depression taking a hold of me in my 40’s, would have taken me down so much earlier.

Family Research

I have 9 nephews, in their 20’s ad 30’s. I am grateful these men are for the most part healthy and living fulfilling lives. However, it hasn’t always been easy for all of them. College is a time when all kinds of experiences are to be expected, good and bad, money trouble, love life issues, learning to be independent and preparing for the competitive adult working life to come.  Add to all that depressive episodes, physical injuries, involving debilitating brain trauma, ADHD and learning disabilities, either genetic or acquired through illness.

On that November morning, when I read Steven’s story, it felt like I was being asked to reach out to the men in my large extended and in-law family. I comprised a 15 question survey and sent it to 19 male family members to gain more insight into how men are handling mental health issues and learning how I can further help them with my love, support and especially with my words. What do they want to read about in regard to Mental Health? I also want to encourage all men to look into the Movember campaign and be proactive about not only their physical health but to seek out mental health support also.

I am not sure why I was surprised, I received little feedback response. I hesitate to make any conclusions from this data, considering all four of the respondents reported no depression or knowledge of other men’s depression or suicide ideation. The good news is they all reported that more information available from sites like Challenge The Storm would be helpful.  I want to encourage all men to look into the Movember campaign and be proactive about not only their physical health but to seek out mental health support also. Finally, I want to leave you with something that opened my mind and heart even further when it comes to suicide prevention.

LISTEN TO THIS SONG

When I first heard the song 1-800-273-8255, I had no idea what the song was about. All I heard was “…I just wanna die today I just wanna die I don’t wanna be alive…” Okay, not listing to that song. The only time I listen to the radio is in my car and often I just listen to MPR. Probably weeks, months, went by and I heard the song again and listened until the end. Of course, I am the kind of person who had to look it up immediately and look at the lyrics and the story behind the song.  It was only then I put all the puzzle pieces together and realized that 1-800-273-8255 is the suicide hotline.  Seven years ago, I didn’t know what the number was but luckily, I knew enough to drive straight to the emergency room.

1-800-273-8255 lyrics
By Logic

“…I’ve been on the low
I been taking my time
I feel like I’m out of my mind
It feel like my life ain’t mine
Who can relate?
I’ve been on the low
I been taking my time
I feel like I’m out of my mind
It feel like my life ain’t mine

I finally wanna be alive
I finally wanna be alive
I don’t wanna die today
I don’t wanna die
I finally wanna be alive
I finally wanna be alive
I don’t wanna die
I don’t wanna die…”

Amy Krolak

Amy Krolak

I am a 50+ grandmother, mother, wife, sister, daughter. I have worn many hats in my life: student, library aide, bookseller, special education para, computer room monitor, substitute teacher. I am focusing on writing, taking creative writing courses, writing articles and short stories.

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