Archive for April 18, 2022

The toxic taboo culture of male depression

Posted in Uncategorized on April 18, 2022 by antonyowen

Male depression isn’t sexy. There is a limitation from society on how much men are allowed to emote about anything and I have some theories why having experienced depression for over 30 years. To a point society will encourage men talking about their feelings but the trade-off is the sacrifice of a man’s alpha rendering him more undesirable physically because that vulnerability of owning his emotions comes at the replacement of a void that society is yet to fill with anything positive. Acceptance and encouragement of men opening up about their emotions is not sufficiently progressive for men to feel it will come at no price. There is a strength of facing emotional traumas but there is still a paradox of expectance from man’s role in society to “man up” or be the “strong and silent type”. Many years ago, in a commercial office the men were presented with flat-pack chairs to put together for the staff and I was last to complete mine as I am not practical but very creative. The whole experience was like a competition of who was the most alpha and who could complete the task quickest. The women in the office were for the most part liberal thinking and would be the kind to support anything from equal rights to free speech yet there was an underlying current of alpha-encouragement in garlanding those quickest with positive affirmations of alpha. In some relationships this is the same where equal rights are advocated and then when both come to the door of a restaurant a comment is passed if the man does not hold the door. These are little examples but significant in the construction of the toxic alpha scaffolds that construct mans place in modern society. I experienced overwhelming support when discussing my experience of my adolescent suicide attempt and very near suicide in 2017 when I confessed to my wife, I had planned to end my life and needed help. In the moment of confession, a weight had been released and a new weight added that I had floundered into this paradigm of male failure in not being that strong and silent type. Was I the strong and silent type? How can I change myself in a world that will not change for men? What right does a man have in “me too” culture to be vulnerable in the hierarchical perception of gender challenges? All these were questions that reverberated and could not be answered. When I started taking anti-depressant Citalopram medication, I had a clarity where I could cope well at work and feelings would feel “capped” in situations I would previously have been natural and deemed wrong yet my true self in. I have not cried in years in the form of tears yet chemical weeping is writing a poem, a diary entry, a WhatsApp message being honest in a society that is intimidatingly dishonest in dealing with male depression and depression in general. Depression, autism, Asperger’s, ADHD is not sexy, is it? It is shown in a light where these are disabilities where the real disability is a malfunctioning society that wears the mask of being civilised when it is anything but punitive from deportations to systemic avoidance of facilitating anyone different to the perceived norm. When I was 17, I was a YTS in a travel agency whenever I went upstairs some of the women pinched my backside at the photocopier, At Xmas in the brochure cupboard I was getting changed form my uniform into jeans and a tee-shirt for the Xmas dinner and some of them women from upstairs saw me and tried to rip off my jeans wanting to “see what I was packing”. All this was mentioned to my boss who said she would have a word and I accepted it as part of the culture towards men however if I would have done this what would have happened? I never reported that incident and just mentioned it like it was a little over the top but after mentioning it I was ghosted and made to feel like I was a bad sport and well, unmanly. The point of all this is to ask the difficult questions like “Why is it that men speaking up about depression are met with silence”? What does it take for society to recognise that there are reasons not being addressed why 75% of suicides are by men? When can a discussion about this be one person talking and one person listening and then vice versa? We live in a culture of people becoming immediate experts on any given subject without the trade of researching the painful testimonies to reach a learned and rounded evaluation of the challenges of depression. What is the future challenge to counter the devastating statistic of suicide majorities being men? In raising money for Coventry & Warwickshire Mind and my own book, The Battle, I am on a quest to change this and eradicate tired, lazy and destructive indifference to the difficult face we must look at of people in the iron masks. The moment we look away, or bury our heads then the other burial begins of a man or human or person etc who buries their head into the lifelines of their palms and jumps from a car park, places their head in a noose or swallow’s pills to end their life. It is not acceptable in 2022 to have so many mediums to raise awareness and not look at depression square on and fight it with all the good we are capable of.

Insubordinate man with zipped mouth