“I was swallowing my pain,” sang Bryan Ferry (or John Lennon, depending on the version) in Jealous Guy; and this is perhaps a typical male treatment of pain and internal struggle. This is as true now as it always has been. In the age of new man, one being, metrosexuality or whatever, is it still a male gender problem to keep quiet and soldier on when life’s troubles come knocking?
“Grow a pair”, “Be a man”, “Stop whining”… I am sure there are few men alive who haven’t given and taken this piece of advice, but really, is it the correct response?
Male suicide is still at a phenomenal level, especially between ages 16-40, our female counterparts cope better at being able to discuss and open up to problems. “A problem shared is a problem halved,” says the old cliché, and to be honest, whatever the problem, despite how embarrassing or pride denting it may be, this is definitely true. Another’s perspective or just a patient ear is far better than struggling on alone.
When we bottle it all up, through the nature of life, problems compound each other and continue to grow, especially if they are not faced or help is sought. Now I don’t necessarily mean professional help (though I am not discouraging this, professionals will always be able to treat and advise better than an amateur) but talking to anyone is far more constructive than enduring misery and falling deeper and deeper into depression.
If we don’t seek help, where are we meant to find refuge?
Suicide is always spoken of as the almost the last taboo. People who attempt or succeed in taking their own lives, despite how much despair is being endured, have been labeled as “selfish” or “taking the easy way out.” No matter how alone you feel you are, there are always people who care and would have to live with the devastation of ones actions. Suffering alone is vastly terrible, but making another live with it too and the guilt of not having the opportunity to help? No.
Drink and drug dependency is not a positive option, though by far the most common. These demons can lead to far worse states of both mental and physical health and there is no progress in this.
Another common (and far more common than many of us realize) way of dealing with anguish which has become more understood in recent times is self harming. Causing pain and physical injury to ones own person, via such methods as cutting oneself in order to feel a different sensation, albeit pain. This leads to bleeding and scarring (permanently in many cases) and is often done in secret and never known about unless someone happens to glance a mark on a person’s body. Obviously the physical complications of this can be drastic but the secretive nature is equally as debilitating, as people can continue to harm for great periods of time unknown to anyone. This surely would make the sufferer feel far more alone and isolated than “just” being depressed. A sickeningly, frightening and yet common ordeal.
In this modern world, where there is always someone available somewhere, be it anonymous, long distance or through the global community, there is always someone willing to listen, many others skilled in advising, and help is there if we can just swallow hard and take that first, most important step. We are never alone, no matter how bleak and cruel the world seems. Surely there is some comfort in this…