Men and Mental Health

As kids, most boys were told not to cry. They were told to be tough, to be “real men”, and those men didn’t cry and show emotions. They hid their feelings, no matter the cost.

This piece of advice has had terrible consequences, leading to high substance abuse rates, violence against women and children (among others) and other issues. When you can’t let out your feelings in a healthy way, it tends to come out badly. It also leads to higher rates of depression, anxiety and lack of self-care.

Why Men Don’t Seek Help

Everyone needs to take care of themselves, physically and mentally. This is a well-known fact. Men have a harder time acknowledging this because of the stigma they face in doing so. This will be covered in a later post, so stay tuned, but here are a few examples of what many men fear when going for help:

  • Being labeled as “weak”, “sick”, or any number of labels.
  • Having to be vulnerable. I can say from personal experience that starting therapy is rough. You are opening up with some of your worst demons to someone you just met..many men (and women) are not having it.
  • Being judged by those who know that they are getting help.

This information is in The Stigma of Mental Illness

Untreated mental illness can also lead to suicide, which has a higher rate in men, and men usually use more lethal means.

This fact breaks my heart each time I read it. Suicide in itself is heartbreaking and has far-reaching consequences.

As a mom, I’m teaching my kids that it’s okay to cry. My sons know it’s okay to have emotions. In light of numerous teen suicides in the news and those that I have lost to suicide personally, I feel a huge responsibility to watch out for my kids’ mental health. It’s HARD to be a kid these days.

Cameron started taking daily naps when he started middle school, and at first, I thought it was a phase. Then I worried about his heart because his SVT is pretty severe and can tire him out easily.

He told me that he felt fine, that school was just tiring him out. My next question was if anything was bothering him, and thankfully, he said no. Cameron is a pretty chill kid, but you never know.

Julian is pretty quiet, but he knows where Mom is if he needs to talk. So does Lily, but she is NOT the quiet type. The point of this is, please talk to your kids, no matter how rough it may be. Just check in.

What can we do for the men in our lives?

  • Check in with them. Especially if something major has happened to them recently- a death in the family, job loss, etc.
  • Be gentle. Most men facing a mental health issue don’t want to be forced into talking. Matthew’s parents divorced a few years ago, and there was a lot of drama involved. He’s not a huge talker, so I had to let him talk about it at his own pace.
  • Encourage him through whatever he does, if anything. If he decides to seek help, he needs to know you’re behind him 100%.

Of course, if things are going downhill quickly, please seek immediate help. You can go to the nearest ER or call 911.
Resources:

AFSP

Psychology Today

NAMI

If you are more comfortable seeking help online, this BetterHelp link will be helpful for Michigan residents, but the entire site is full of good information.

Remember These?

It’s been a while since anyone may have seen some of these posts. Here’s a refresher:

Tiger the Wanderer

A post about our wonderful dog. It breaks our hearts that we didn’t have more time with him.

Parenting While Tired

An early favorite. Every parent has had a day in which we’ve run at less than 100%.

The Day After

A lot of people write about the worst day of their lives, but what about the day after? The pain is still there.

The Drinking Article

The one time in my life that I actually have something in common with Chrissy Teigen- but it’s not a good thing. Both of us have a drinking problem.

Guest Post with Savannah

My first guest post!

Enjoy the reads and I’ll have another post up tomorrow!

Song Lyric Saturday 

Today’s lyric is from the Foo Fighters. I’ve loved this group since the beginning and I loved Dave Grohl when he was the drummer for Nirvana. (If you don’t know who that group is, please hit Google. They were one of the best grunge rock bands of the 90s.)

“It’s Times Like These You Learn to Live Again”

I’ve had to learn to live again- after my stroke, for example. The after effects weren’t the best and I live with them daily. Having to explain my short term memory issues can be really difficult. For a while, it was very hard to live with migraines until I got them somewhat under control with help from my neurologist. Now that I have medications to help and I have learned my triggers, things have become somewhat easier.

Learning to live again when you are stuck in a terrible situation is hard. I had to learn that I was worth a different life, one that wasn’t full of stress, sadness and daily verbal abuse. I was well on the path to divorce, as I’ve discussed previously, when Jake died. It took a year to fully feel like I was living again. The adjustment was terribly hard, and I hope it is something I never go through again.

I think I may be living my best life now, but it doesn’t mean that it has been easy to get here.

Question: Have you had to learn to live again?

ETA: I was lucky enough to see the Foo Fighters in concert. They came to Lexington in May 2018. I went with my best friend and it was one of the best concerts I have ever been to.

When Dave Grohl says light up the stadium, you light the place up

Longtime besties going to the Foo Fighters

Taylor Hawkins is my #2 favorite drummer. He smashed those drums.

The Hardest Parts of Parenting

Parenting is rough. We lose sleep. We lose hair, get sick, get horribly moody, get stretch marks, scars from C-sections, stitches if we go natural and heads are big, and that is just pregnancy and childbirth.

As our little people get bigger and become not-so-little, things happen that we cannot control, as much as we would like to. We would like to make sure our kids don’t have life-threatening conditions. We would like to not watch our kids struggle to make friends, control themselves when they can’t, or hell, just walk without falling when they are 15 months old. All of the above has happened in almost 13 years of parenting at my house.

Playtime

The Rundown

Cameron is the kid that has had a life-threatening condition. Heart issues run badly on either side of mine and Matthew’s families, and until 2015, none of the kids showed signs of inheriting them.

Cameron passed out in the school office on the last day of school and instead of this occurring due to a heat stroke as the school thought, it was a result of a condition known as SVT, which is superventricular tachycardia. In his case, his heart rate got out of control and it couldn’t get back in control on its own. Also, his blood pressure plummeted, which caused him to pass out. He was referred to a cardiologist as we left the hospital after 2 days.

Nothing else happened until early March of this year, and this time, he ended up having a small procedure to stop these episodes, because they were severe. The hardest part? Not knowing. Running into the ER not knowing what was going on with my boy the first time he went in. (The second time, I drove him myself, and I was entirely freaked out, because I didn’t want him to fall asleep in the car. I was afraid he wouldn’t wake up.) Not knowing if he would come home the same Cameron he was when he went in. Waiting for test results. Having to leave him in the surgery suite for the heart ablation the morning of my mom’s 60th birthday. Waiting to hear that he made it through the procedure.

While Matthew and I drove him to the hospital for the ablation, Cameron’s whole life flashed through my mind. He had turned 12 two months before, but he is my oldest, and changed my life forever the day he was born in 2005. I gazed at his sleepy face and just hoped he would be okay. He was. He was so ready to go home about ten minutes after he woke up. He was able to go home the next day, and has not had further issues. He still checks in with his cardiologist.

School pic

Julian’s issues have been well documented on this blog. Read this if you need to catch up:

Looking At the Bright Side

It has been one of my biggest struggles as a mother. I have cried many days and nights wondering where to go next with him. Wondering where I’m going wrong. He struggled for a few years to make friends, but he is doing so much better now. His self control has also improved and I no longer have to hold his hands to keep him from throwing things as I did when he was much smaller.

The hardest part was the beginning- the road to his diagnosis, because there was just so much I didn’t know. The future is a bit of a worry for me, because I am not really sure yet what Julian will need as an adult, if anything, but we are not there yet. Middle school is our current adventure and that has been quite interesting.

Now that I know what I do, things aren’t so hard. We still have rough days, and he can still be a bit rigid and we are currently working on a few small school issues (in fact, I just emailed his counselor asking for an IEP meeting) but things will get better. They always do.

Lily and pig

On Her Own Time

Lily’s always had her own plans. This has been since she was in the womb. She was born three weeks early and has done her own thing ever since. She had developmental delays as a baby and toddler, and spent two years in various therapies.

She was 15 months old before she walked on her own, and she didn’t crawl before her first birthday. She struggled a lot to do both. Talking took a lot longer and she had a wonderful therapist to help with it. Denise was amazing, and she has a standing invite to all of Lily’s birthday parties. Watching her cry in frustration was hard. Not knowing what caused her delays was even harder, because I blamed myself. It’s hard to watch your child not be able to do things that most babies in her age group can do and not know why.

Lily caught up and is doing well these days. She’s in the fourth grade. She had issues with learning to read, but moved through them and is reading very well.

One of the hardest things I have ever had to do as a parent was explain why we had to put Tiger down. I hope we never have to do that again.

Parenting is hard. It also has its very fun moments. I’ll leave you with the fact that Julian has no idea of who A Flock of Seagulls is.

Poor kid. I had to educate him.