Men’s mental health is a big big issue.
Don’t get me wrong any mental health is a big issue, but men are less likely to talk about it, less likely to seek help.
- Three times as many men as women die by suicide.
- Men aged 40-49 have the highest suicide rates in the UK.
- Men report lower levels of life satisfaction than women according to the Government’s national wellbeing survey.
- Men are less likely to access psychological therapies than women: only 36% of referrals to NHS talking therapies are for men.
- Nearly three-quarters of adults who go missing are men.
- 87% of rough sleepers are men.
- Men are nearly three times as likely as women to become dependent on alcohol, and three times as likely to report frequent drug use.
- Men are more likely to be sectioned for treatment than women.
- Men are more likely to be victims of violent crime (1.5 more likely than women)
- Men make up the vast majority of the prison population. There are high rates of mental health problems and increasing rates of self-harm in prisons.
Above taken from mentalhealth.org.uk (correct at time of typing)
So yeah as mental health is a big issue world wide, men women and youngsters (especially teenagers) suffer, men are the most likely to suffer in silence.
I have suffered in silence myself.
From a man’s perspective admitting something like this is a sign of weakness.
I’ll admit, this is another blog that is going to be difficult to write, but I’m hoping it may help others, even convince other men it’s ok to admit, it’s ok to seek help. You need too because it’s horrible to suffer alone. Open up to someone close, or someone far away like a doctor, even your boss or work collegue.
Admitting your suffering with your mental health makes you STRONG not weak. Trust me if you need help, get it.
Some thing’s I’ll talk about here, I’ve never told anyone. Some thing’s I’ve told very few people, the people closest to me. Some thing’s I’ll probably regret saying tomorrow.
Here is a partial look into my past, it may seem long winded but this is why I suffer from mental health issues.
When I was young, I wanted to be a fireman or an RAF pilot. Yeah, really I did. Probably 2 of the most opposite future aspirations you could get.
As you know I became a HGV technician (or to some people a truck mechanic).
I was a scrawny little fucker when I was younger, OK I still am but hey ho. I knew I wouldn’t be able to become a fireman, or at least I thought that. I wasn’t strong physically or mentally, I wasn’t one of the popular kids, and I sure as hell wasn’t one of the hard knocks. I was one of them kids scared to say boo to a goose, one that kept to himself mostly and pretty much scared of his own shadow, I never let that show though. I guess back in the day if people knew the real me I would have been considered as a mummies boy.
Hey don’t judge, my mum raised me and my middle brother all on her own, she was a strong independant woman inside but also a nervous wreck. Unlike these days, she had very few friends, now she has many, at the time one of her friends partners was an asshole, I was only young so memory may be a bit sketchy, he hated my mum and some stuff happened and he ended up throwing her down the stairs.
So as you can probably tell she was scared for her life a lot of the time, and we moved around a lot.
My dad fucked off when I was 3 and my middle brother was 1, the story goes he went to the shop to get some milk one day and never returned, he was married very shortly after. Its been known he has a kid older than me, I think and one between me and my brother and 16 odd kids after us, he legged it. Yeah he was a tosser.
One day, when we were living in a small block of flats, the paper boy set fire to the stairs, that was the fireman’s result after an investigation, we were on the top floor of a 3 story block of flats.
Obviously we couldn’t get out, and even more obvious the fire brigade turned up. That’s when I wanted to be a fireman. Saving peoples lives, ect.
Reporters came to take picture’s of all the residents affected by the fire, noone was hurt as far as I can remember, I was told to stop smiling, as it was supposed to be a sad moment, said by the photographer.
After our pictures were in the paper (don’t ask me to try find it, I probably couldn’t, I wouldn’t know how too) my mum was petrified that the bloke who threw her down the stairs would find us, so we moved out shortly after.
That flat was also the last time I remember seeing the sperm donor called my so called dad.
A few years later, I think we moved a couple times since, but she found my little brother’s dad, and well I don’t want to bad mouth his dad because he loves him obviously so all I will say is he started off nice towards us, took us on our 1st holidays abroad ect. overall seemingly a nice guy. Thing’s changed a few years later, he had his own son so started treating us less like his sons again not my brothers fault.
Hey ho no love lost in a way. He got me my apprenticeship, I never ever thought I’d be a HGV tech. never saw myself to be fixing trucks. Looking back I was following his dream, that’s all he wanted to do but ended up being a truck driver.
So basically I felt forced to go along by him. See it this way his son, my youngest brother, is also a HGV tech.
Don’t get me wrong I love my job, I really do, but some days I feel that resentment come over me, and think to myself why are you still doing this shit? I wanted so much more from my life and I sometimes feel stuck.
Stuck in a job I’ll never advance through, stuck to do a job I never really wanted to do.
Thing is I’m good at my job, even though I do feel like I get over looked by the higher powers that be.
Shit that’s the story of my life, I’ve always been a push over. I’ve always just gone along with the flow, to see others happy I’ve made myself miserable in a way.
Hey it’s not all doom and gloom trust me, but this is a blog about mental health so just go with me for a while longer.
Anyway thing’s turned sour with my brothers dad (in no way at all is it my brother fault, and I would never blame him).
He would bully and torment me, he called it manning me up. My middle brother was always the confident one, the one who looked the part on the outside.
I was always the one who was “the pussy” on the outside, but secretly strong on the inside.
I always felt like the outcast from a young age, still do to this days at times. I feel I don’t really fit in anywhere.
Anyway, that’s when I feel my mental health started deteriorating, as you should know I have a stammer/stutter. Always have done since I was bullied in little human school.
So obviously, kids being kids I had the piss taken out of me, I was bullied through out all my school years. In many different ways. Then later school years was the time I 1st got psoriasis, so I got bullied from that too.
I lost a few friends then too, as bullies called it scabies, so noone really wanted to be near the stammering scabies infested kid eh?
So I was going through school scared every day because I didn’t want to be bullied anymore. Yeah I’ll admit I wanted it to end at some points. I still had friends don’t get me wrong, but they were friends at school, not outside of school, I had seperate friends outside of school.
That being said I still wanted it to end, bullying back in that day was face to face and more physical, bullies were braver back then because they didn’t have the option to hide behind a screen like bullies of today.
Noone knew, not even my friends, noone actually noticed, a few times I fought back but other times I would just curl up inside myself even more. I didn’t feel like I could turn to anyone, not even my mum, because I didn’t want her to be upset or worried about me.
Couldn’t turn to my brothers dad because he would have made me fight, to turn me into a man.
I tried fighting, but one day I got followed with my brother in toe, one of my bullies told this one lad I’d said something nasty about his nan. He was an Indian or Pakistani lad (no rasism involved, don’t worry) and he had like 25 to 30 of his family and friends with him all of school age as far as I know, he chased me down and threatened me and his family and friends were all spitting on me and shouting abuse. Obviously I didn’t know this kid, saw him around school but only knew him by name (not mentioning his name).
The bully was somewhere laughing at me, I was actually scared for my life, there were a few punches and kicks landed. I got a few lucky hits in, but against that many I had no chance. Then before anything else some builders came along. It all ended and that was that. A few times after that day, I did recieve a couple of beatings at random times. Nothing substantial but I’ve never told anyone ever.
I even entered a fight club style thing with my friend’s, not proper hard core fighting but during dinner breaks and breakfast breaks we would meet up hidden from view and at 1st I was just a watcher, then came a time I joined in. Basically, just a bunch of lads, sometimes gals, would just have a scuffle basically, settle arguments or just have a punch up for fun or to pass the time. Nothing serious really, just have a fight then winner gets announced then shake hands done and dusted.
That was when I truly started looking after myself more, and started fighting back, and basically defending myself when the time came.
I wasn’t a violent person but it was a good way to get anger and frustration out. Even though that was a part of my life, it stayed there, outside of this “fight club” I was back to this shy confidentless mess. Back to hating life, back to curling up back inside myself.
I had a short term girlfriend at school, well she was a popular gal and not long split up with a popular lad, and I thought wow at 1st, then I doubted myself, because I thought it was all a joke, I actually thought it was a game the popular kids were playing so I let it frazzle out. Till this day I don’t know if it was the real thing, maybe it was and I missed a chance, maybe I saved myself from a lot of shame. I’ll never know.
Anyway as time wound on, school came to an end, the real world came into view, time to start this apprenticeship.
Let’s just say I thought I could reinvent myself, but with a stammer, it proved harder than I though.
I wouldn’t say I was bullied at work or at college, but more like the butt of the jokes, having the piss taken out of me left right and centre.
This then caused me to sink deeper into myself, I started smoking, it was a release, I’d smoked a few times before that during school, but I started proper during this time, I was also introduced to weed, I was never addicted, I had it now and then quiet literally only when friends were smoking it, and I’d have a few puffs.
Don’t worry I haven’t touched the stuff for years. I still smoke but it’s more to do with the fact I need a break from life sometimes so having a fag I can just escape for a few minutes be by myself, unless at work I have a fag with the lads.
It was tough going through my apprenticeship, I fell behind a bit but got the help I needed. I lost interest a lot with the paper side of things but got well into the physical side, I learn by doing, not being told in a classroom, I was a practical learner.
This is where I delve deep into my mental health, and deep into my life.
Then I got with a gal (my daughter’s mother). At the time I thought that was it, we ended up with a part buy part rent appartment, things were fine so I thought. I ended up paying off her university debt, shit that was the start of my financial difficulties, then she ended up having my bank card, “she knew how to handle money better than me” so like a twat I let it happen, went with the flow, you know how it goes.
That was the start of the control, I ended up getting a wedge between me and my friends, at 1st, then the wedge between me and my family started working it’s way in.
Then the debts started piling up, credit cards in my name, the joint account we had to pay for the appartment ended up getting into debt, then mysteriously paid off and closed.
Then I had no money, I had to ask her for money, then it ended up as kind of like a pocket money kind of thing.
I quit smoking, then I wouldn’t get anything apart from fuel money. I ended up having to steal my own cash just to buy smokes, yeah, I know I said I quit smoking eh? Yeah not my choice so it wasn’t in me, I ended up smoking in secret, fucked up yeah?
If I was late from work I’d have phone calls asking where I am, who was I shagging behind her back, ect.
I was working my ass off but with all this going on in my head, I wasn’t in the right place so I made mistakes at work, this happened more and more. Then I was refused pay rises because my performance was shit.
My stammer got worse, I ended up working nights because it was the only way I’d get paid a bit extra, at the behest of her.
The nightshift foreman was a bully, he would treat me like shit, take the piss out of my stammer, but then act like my friend.
Then shit happened, won’t go into too much detail here but I ended it with her, I’d had enough. I couldn’t handle being bullied at work and at home. Let me just say, she said some very nasty shit and ended up scratching half my face off the once, and even held a knife against my chest in front of my daughter, this is the reason I took a step back, the reason I don’t see my daughter, I didn’t want her to continue seeing these kind of things.
She would verbally abuse me, financially abuse me.
Yeah it happens to men too.
The only thing is men don’t admit it.
You may have read in past blogs that I’m in debt.
Those who haven’t well I found out it summed up to over 20k.
Yeah she got me into over £20,000 of debt.
It made me sick, she covered her tracks and left no paper trail. I finally got the guts to leave her, with nothing but a car to my name, which even that I had to fight for.
It put my life well and truely on my arse. Well and truely into deep depression. I ended up suicidal, I couldn’t handle it, I just wanted it to end.
Even now I’m still paying it, since I sorted myself out, as you may have read, I’ve managed to get myself into an IVA.
While I was with her my psoriasis came back with a passion (docs told me it’s caused by stress) and I still have it covering my body till this day. It never went away again.
Same with the debts, they haunted me every day, have me fearing someone going to knock me door down, and take everything (what little I have) away from me.
I could see no end to it, I guess I’m still in depressionville some days, even though I’ve gotten over the worst of it. It still lingers, forever hiding in the background, ready to pounce at he slightest whiff of weakness.
You see, I’m telling this story because there is a reason people suffer with mental health issues.
This is my reason, I’m not ashamed, I’m proud, not proud because I’ve visited depressionville but I’m proud I’ve survived.
I’m proud I’m still here, I’m happy I’ve gotten this far.
I’m still in major debt, but over 6 months into the 5 year trip out of debt, I still have them days when I feel shit, and feel like crying, hell we all do I suppose.
I’m a hell of a lot more confident than I’ve ever been, I’ve started living my life, I want to carry on living my life, I want to go out and have a good time with friends, I want to meet new friends. I actually want to live my life I don’t want to end it. I’m loving my life, and I’m happy.
It still hits me now and then, it still affects me and hits me in the back of the head like a baseball bat, reminding me of that slippery slope that is so so easy to fall down, I still suffer with anxiety, and it really does get to me, but I don’t let it get to me to the point of suicidal thoughts.
I’m a mental health survivor, and I shall keep surviving, you know why?
Because life is amazing, my life now is way better than it has ever been, I still do look down to where I’ve been, and it may look a very long way down, but the edge is further away than you fear.
It is a very long trip back to the safe zone, and you may stumble, but when you get there and drop that boulder, the freedom you feel is the most amazing thing ever.
I hide it very well, but I’m suffering from mental health issues, I’m suffering from depression and anxiety.
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- Get your debts under control, I did and it saved my life and opened up my future.
- 2 years into blogging, bring on the 3rd. Blog for you, not for others
- This be blog post number 400, and tomorrow I reach life level 35.
- Just a lil update, book is going well.
Rob, thank you for sharing brother. I am embracing some rough emotions here too my friend. I feel you. Feeling and sharing is a sign of real power because you are overcoming our male stigma and facing deep, deep fears. This is a key step in healing my friend.
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Thank you bro, it was a tough one to write, but I’m hoping if I can talk about it then maybe it can help others talk too, it’s good to talk and we need more of it.
I’m always here for anybody who wants to talk, like I wish I had back then.
Hey Rob, Thank you for sharing your deeply personal and traumatic experiences. Some of the most important inner work many men need to do is healing these “invisible” traumas. Took me decades, still have the scars.
You talking helps others talk. Ripples in a pond! Thank you.
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Thank you for your kind words, it really does means alot to me, just knowing this may help others makes me feel a hell of a lot better about sharing my experiences and trauma.
I’ve realised these dips into depressionville will always happen, but I have found out I can’t stop it before I go too deep, and I would like to help others do the same.
Thank you again.
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Totally agree my friend