Lifestyle

Why is it hard for Men to talk?

Counsellor

We talk about football, we talk about work, we talk about politics, so why don’t we talk about our health especially our mental health?

I’m a 50 year old man and I was brought up to keep my feelings to myself as I guess a lot of us were. If I fell over I got told “you’re alright” “why are you crying, only girls cry” so I learnt to keep it all to myself. As it turned out they weren’t the best lessons I’ve ever had. Talking about what was going on in my head was taboo. It wasn’t there to be talked about, I’m a man, I’m strong, I don’t need to talk about my feelings – sound familiar? Then one day BANG I had a breakdown, I’d been keeping all this stuff to myself and my brain couldn’t cope so it just gave up.

I had had depression for a long time before this but I wouldn’t own up to it to myself. My wife had asked me time after time to go and get some help. But “Oh no, there wasn’t anything wrong with me. What did I have to talk about? It was how life was right? You just put up with it and get on with it. Right?”

I nearly lost my wife and daughter because I had become such a nasty person. I hadn’t seen this black cloud take over my life because it had crept in slowly like a fog covering everything and not letting me see any light anymore. I knew I had to do something about it, but what? “Talk to me” my wife would say “What’s going on?” I didn’t know, and that’s the truth, where do you start when all your life you have kept all your rubbish to yourself?

In the end my wife said to me “You need to get some help or leave”. She had got to breaking point with me. I hadn’t seen how I had chipped away at her with my moods and anger out bursts.

Talking to someone is easy, right?

Photo by Shane Rounce on Unsplash

We all talk every day, one way or another. But talking about your own stuff, well that hits home some real truths that you didn’t want to face up to. I have learnt the hard way that keeping my problems to myself can destroy you and the people you love. Talking about it sounds easy but it can be so very hard. Sometimes there will be tears and you can’t stop them, let them come out and don’t be ashamed of them. You will get angry with yourself and maybe the person you are talking to, it’s ok to be angry as long as you let it go and don’t use it to hide behind like a shield. If the person you are talking to really knows you or they are a counselor they will understand and take this into consideration. They will understand that it’s hard for you to talk about your feelings or problems. It does get easier to talk, it’s like anything, you need to practice. Don’t just talk and skirt around your problems and think you have done enough because soon enough it will all start again and there is a good chance it will be a lot worse this time because you haven’t dumped some of the load yet. Remember there isn’t any shame in wanting to talk to someone, it could save your marriage, your family, or even your life.

Talking is good and sometimes it’s the best medicine we can have.

As far as my problems, well they are ongoing. I wish so much that I had learnt to talk sooner. I don’t blame anyone else for how I am, it’s up to me to face it now and take responsibility, which is what I’m doing. Don’t get me wrong I still have days where I would rather not talk but that’s not the answer. I have learnt to talk now and I’m still with my wife plus my daughter talks to me about more things as well. I was so close to losing every thing I love just because I wouldn’t talk. It wasn’t worth the pain I put us all through just because of my pride and fear.

I’d like to give you one piece of advice.

Don’t be scared to talk. I promise it get’s easier the more you do it. The people you love will listen to you if they care about you. If you don’t want to talk to your loved ones find a counselor, they won’t judge you as they are there to help you. If you don’t know where to start looking a lot of GP’s will be able to help put you in touch with someone or can even refer you. I can’t say it enough TALK you’ll thank yourself for it in the end.

We’re a funny lot, us men, but we can change that if we want to. Good luck on your journey of talking I hope it changes you for the better.  

About the author

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Rob Atkins

My name is Rob and I’m 50 years old we all think “I never thought that something like this could ever happen to me”.
I used to work as a landscape gardener with my own business but after getting ill I had to give it up as it was no longer possible for me to do the work. I had depression and PTSD before my Fibromyalgia which is a challenge to live with as anyone with these conditions well knows but this made it a lot worse as I started to have to give things up that I enjoyed doing and one by one I felt my normal life disappeared in front of me.
In the last few years I’ve trained as a counsellor and have a Diploma in advanced counselling and a Diploma in PTSD diagnosis and management hoping that I would be able to help others with similar problems but my health just hasn’t aloud this to happen (YET).
I’m so very lucky that I’ve got a loving wife who has supported me all the way through this even though I can see how it has affected her as well. I owe so much to her that I will never be able to put into words.
Like so many of us with mental health problems I’ve given up on a number of things but I’ve clung to the little things sometimes just to get through. It’s not easy and everyday is a fight despite what some people may think but there is a way out there for everyone to help them get through this.
I have learnt to keep trying even if it feels like there is no hope anymore. I was taught not to use the word stubborn while I was training to be a counsellor because it can come across as a negative and to use the word determined instead but I think a little bit of both is what you really need to keep going when you are in a bad place.
Be a determined, stubborn person to fight your way through to the next day as things could feel so much better even in the next hour.

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