"You have everything to live for." A phrase I've heard far too many times in the last 14 years, in fact one of many lines that people use to tell me that it is all OK. A lot of the time I don't want to hear them as it doesn't help me and sometimes I just want a hug or to be listened to.
Breaking the barriers down around mental health for men is difficult for a lot of people I know, while awareness is improving us men feel that we have to be strong keep the stiff upper lip and keep lives at home going while deep down crying inside knowing it is too much to deal with. I have suffered with anxiety for 14 years and what used to be managing it a day at a time got to managing it an hour at a time and I knew it was time to ask for help, speak to my family about how I wasn't coping.
It worked to an extent and having the honest conversation with my GP and myself got me to the point where I had my CBT sessions and while I feel that I still can't fully open up to people, I can now take a step back and see my behaviours can affect my own self esteem. I can also see in others the same symptoms and ask the simple question "Are You OK?" Just three words can open up many conversations and help someone to talk when they really need to. In the darkest hours you can feel that there is no escape from thoughts and resort to drinking or even taking your own life.
I would quite often keep my mouth shut and bottle all of the feelings in and once it gets too much a release is needed and that can take different forms, crying, anger with other people and in my case it is showing no emotion. Me and my wife are expecting our first child next year and in the early phases I could not be happy not shed one single tear after over a year of trying to conceive. Very alarming in myself for wanting to share deep down how happy I really am but cannot physically show it. I feel that i am letting my wife down who i care about very much and will let my soon to be daughter down later on in life, not to be strong enough to cope with anu situation thay comes my way.
The help is there i know that but my anxiety and depression it comes and goes and random trigger points i feel i am a failure and cant articulate my issues in the way I would like to. I do wish that the workplace and society could do more to listen to men and encourage us to be our selves, listen to our issues and not judge but to treat us as a person and not as a hindrance through lack of understanding.
HuffPost UK is running a month-long focus around men to highlight the pressures they face around identity and to raise awareness of the epidemic of suicide. To address some of the issues at hand, Building Modern Men presents a snapshot of life for men, the difficulty in expressing emotion, the challenges of speaking out, as well as kick starting conversations around male body image, LGBT identity, male friendship and mental health.
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