Mental illness is always a difficult topic to talk about. But that doesn't mean you shouldn't talk about it. The reason why mental health has been so stigmatised in the first place, particularly from a male perspective, is because the culture of "manning up". Why do we have to "man up"? "Manning up" means having to bottle our feelings up in order to avoid showing signs of weakness. The outdated idea of a man is having to hide your true feelings because it will make you look inferior. That is not the case at all. By telling others to "man up", some people think they are giving them some tough love. But that's not the case. It's not about what THEY think, it's about what sufferers think. Over time, "manning up" becomes something men are used to, which makes it even harder for them to talk about their illness. The male sufferers will believe that suffering from depression and talking about it is a weakness. Because of that, they end up hiding their feelings and never talk about it because they believe that it makes them less of a man. In the long-term, their depression gets worse and worse, and that's why the male suicide rate is so high.
Depression confines people in a small box. It doesn't let them run free or even breathe. When a sufferer thinks about something, it will always be negative and never positive because depression hates positivity. Depression hates the truth. There is nothing worse than feeling like you cannot be happy any more. When in fact, you can. All people are strong enough to conquer depression. When I was suffering from depression, I always thought that I cannot get better. I didn't believe I can enjoy my life any more. Over time it got worse and worse and I was on the brink of suicide, even though I didn't really want to die. I felt like I had to. But I couldn't. Ironically, the more I thought about it, the more determined I became to get better. So I decided to try and find happiness by doing things that I enjoyed or interested me - which I did.
Several months ago, I applied for the popular quiz show Fifteen to One. I have been on Countdown a few years ago and I really enjoyed the experience. I wanted that sense of enjoyment again. I passed the audition but in my first game, I was knocked out early on because I answered both of my first round questions wrong. It demotivated me a bit because it hit me how difficult the quiz show is. I fared better in my second game, progressing past the first round, and in my third and final game, I reached the final three. I was overwhelmed with disbelief. At that moment, I realised that even when things seem unlikely, they can be done, and I should never think otherwise. I didn't win the game but I didn't care. I was happy to be in the final three, and even happier to realise that I can go beyond my expectations.
At the end of the day, the best cures for depression is to talk to someone and do something you enjoy. It's OK to talk about depression. If you're a man, talking about it and even having a little cry doesn't make you weak. There is nothing weak about bravery. There will always be people who will support you. Also, never be afraid to do something you have always taken an interest in or something you have previously done in the past; the dividends will most certainly be paid. If your depression won't let you and holds you back, ignore it. Whatever that demon in your head says, don't pay any attention to it. If you want to do something you believe can help you, do it. It won't be easy. I understand that it is really difficult to ignore what your depression tells you. But the moment you find even an ounce of courage to disobey depression gives you a magnificent feeling. Trust me. Depression is a liar - it never tells the truth.