The stigma, and what you can do as a man

As men we are taught at a young age to just "suck it up" and keep moving.  Don't worry about feeling, just build, conquer,  and thats what we do.  We become these warriors, and lock up our feelings and go out and get things done.  The ones that couldn't, that felt more than the average man, were branded sissy's, cry babies, made to feel less than a man.  Often time made fun of and isolated from groups, 

Society has changed, where we as men are supposed to feel more and we don't know how to deal with that.  We don't know how to cope with that and we are losing our edge.  We can see this by the lack of leadership we are seeing in our communities. We see the spike in anxiety and depression among men.  Where our veterans, 22 a day are choosing to end their lives because of what they experienced but how they can not deal with the emotions.  

What can we do to prevent this from happening?  There isn't any real symptoms that you can visibly see unless the person is going through an episode.  It's not like a physical disease that you show symptoms on the outside, everything is internal, mental.  Some people think it's like a switch that you can turn on and off, and it's not.  You can't just think it away, it takes a change in your consciousness and visual ability to see through it.  

Recently we lost Anthony Bourdain to suicide and like many of those who do so, never showed signs of wanting to do such a thing.  Chester Bennington also took his own life only a year ago, and hours before he did, he was filmed laughing with his family having a good time.  You would never have thought that he was suffering that much.  I personally had a good friend commit suicide and never in a million years would I have thought he of all people would've done that.  Here is the trend, as men we do not know how to cope with the influx of feelings that we were never taught to feel for in the first place.

I myself suffer from severe anxiety, and it only takes something small to trigger it, but how I control it is through several techniques and outlets.  Like I said, it isn't a switch that you can just turn off,  so I had to train my mind to focus on what would calm me down.  You have to reprogram your mind and understand that you can overcome this.  Lean on the people that love you the most, and if you don't have anyone that you can rely on, do something constructive.  Something that you are passionate about, something that makes you feel valued.  

Many times its that feeling of being useless is what drives those feelings, and trying to repress them only leads to depression, so find what you are passionate about and realize that you are valuable.  You are not alone in this, and once you can overcome that feeling and realize that truth, you will overcome this!  You are made in God's image and you are destines for extraordinary things.  Remember, YOU ARE NOT ALONE! 

6 Months after the divorce, what's new?

  In the past 6 months a lot has happened, a lot has changed, and I am still here beating the odds.  Right now I should be as statistic from all intensive purposes.  As I have stated in my previous blog, men are 3X's more likely to commit suicide after or during a divorce.  What I wasn't prepared for was the constant anxiety and depression that sets in after the fact.  The triggers of constant harassment from others who just want to start trouble, people who have nothing else better to do but try and portray a life of mediocrity that they are proud of and try to push you beneath them. 

  The military has prepared me for a lot of things, I can survive out in the wilderness, I can survive a hostage crisis, I can deal with a high stress environment and achieve maximum success.  What they didn't prepare me was for dealing with the anxiety and depression on a level that can be at times debilitating.  It can be so bad, that this is where most men tend to lose their minds and where the darkest thoughts will creep in and tragedy happens.

  This is where men feel at their most vulnerable, most weak because life seems to be spiraling out of control.  I read a story where a young airman back in March of this year had taken the lives of his family before calling 911 and telling the dispatcher what he had just done, and was about to do.  He ended his life because the anxiety of the impending dynamic of the change in family life was about to happen, and he thought his only way to keep his family together was to end everyones life.  I know some people may blame him because it was his choice, and you are partially correct.  He did choose his own path, but like many other men who see no way out because of many reasons including drugs, alcohol, and other abuses.  

  As men, we aren't taught how to deal with the changes that come with separation and divorce.  As men we have a stigma of just having to deal with it, keep working, but no one realizes all of the burdens that we as men have to deal with.  The financial burdens alone can be devastating, and men do have a bond with their children and go from seeing them on a daily basis to sometimes only seeing them twice a month.  That psychological affect is devastating!  I have been trained to deal with separation during a deployment, and even though its always hard to leave your family for an extended period of time, its completely different when divorce happens.

  When you deploy you expect to come back home, when you divorce it's like a death, but the person and the family unit are still there and you mourn, except it's broken.  I mourn my family everyday, and when I get harassed as if I were the cause of my marriage to end, it puts me in a place where I become depressed.  I relive the pain all over again, and I can see why some men just want out.  I am blessed that I have a support group of other men, and friends, family, but we aren't all so lucky.  As men, we take on that burden and feel it is only ours to bear, and that burden is often times too heavy to carry.  

  What is new is that I realized how much pain there actually is among men.  How much burden is placed on them and we actually do not realize it.  So many men have taken a way out that truly shouldn't have even been an option.  If they knew what pain and chaos is left in their wake, I truly do believe that they would think twice.  What is new is my reemergence in my faith, which is my bedrock.  Matthew 11:28-30 28 Come to me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentile and humble in heart, and YOU WILL FIND REST IN YOUR SOULS. 30 For my yoke is easy and my burden is light

  Those verses right there is what many men need to hear.  We need our burdens lightened so we can see the way out.  That yoke that is around our necks becomes so heavy that we feel the only way to break free is by ending all the pain.  So what can you do? Always look for the signs.  The signs of a person being sheltered, or withdrawn.  Lack of sleep or too much it.  Talk of just ending it, and checking out.  Not all signs are going to be glaring like red paint on a white wall.  Offer more than just a quick, hey how are you, offer an outlet.  Go out and enjoy the day, show them that there is more to live for.  Worship with them, comfort them, let them know its ok to cry and feel the way they do.  Give them hope.

  The other day I read about a man who executed his family over financial problems and an impending divorce, even though two of his daughters got away, no one in the neighborhood even knew what was going on.  Don't impose yourself, but always make it known that your door is always open.  Men, you aren't alone, and you shouldn't ever feel that way.  I have learned that the stigma of mental health and of what society deems a man would be are very heavy burdens, and we need to change that.  Offer your time and effort those who are struggling, because you never know, you just might save a life, or a family.