I can’t keep up with all the different days, weeks and months devoted to special causes, but I do say that November which is Men’s Mental Health Month should be heavily observed, because we need to discuss the issues with men who suffer from mental health issues.
Because of the history of establishing a patriarchy, men who even suffer from mental health problems have been unfairly criticized and labeled not just by other men, but women, as “soft” or “weak.” The phrase “Man up!” is insulting to anyone. It basically says men shouldn’t have any issues that others would see them as “weak” or “inferior.”
Traditionally, men have only been allowed to do two things with mental health, go psychotic and violent or have a “mid-life crisis” and buy expensive toys like sports cars and/or sports boats and have affairs mostly with younger women. This is incorrect and wrong on so many levels.
Everyone is capable of having some mental issue. People have angry or violent outburst. But I seriously doubt people like Charles Whitman, who killed people from a clock tower at the University of Texas in Austin or James Huberty who shot 21 people and injured injured 19 others at a McDonald’s in San Ysidro, Calif. in 1983, suffered from the same mental health issues many other men suffer from. Yet they don’t seek help. A “mid-life crisis,” in my opinion, is what happens when men see that this golden platter they thought they were going to be served for having a cock and balls is not delivered. Their wives get tired of their shit. Their sons don’t want to play sports.
But going back to have I mentioned, people don’t seek help, especially men, for the reason that they be seen as “wimpy.” So, they do what a lot of men have done before them, they drown their problems with alcohol and booze, feeling that a bartender might be better than a therapist. Or they turn to other drugs to dull the pain.
I remember an episode of Criminal Minds where Glynn Turman played a middle-aged father who forced his younger son to throw his depression over the break-up of a girlfriend into hard work. His rationale was that the enslaved people who worked on plantations didn’t have time to be depressed. It’s a harsh rationale, but it’s a harder truth of the logic, or lack thereof, that many people have. not just about how African-American men are not allowed to express their true emotions. We shouldn’t feel this way because “our ancestors didn’t have time to be depressed.” How do we know?
That episode reveals that Turman’s character killed people after he was wrongfully accused of a sexual assault and was castrated by a lynch mob. Growing up during the Jim Crow and Civil Rights era, a lot of African-American men were probably traumatized and they passed that unfairly along to their kids. Knowing that at any moment in America, smiling or saying “Hello” to a white woman can be misinterpreted and you can find yourself targeted for violence has to do something bad to a person’s mental status.
Yet, we never did talk about it. Some of these same people were drafted by the American government to go serve in the military in the Vietnam War, adding a whole new set of problems on top of what they had to deal with. And men whose sole task was to kill other men and women and child affected them greatly, especially since many of those serving during Vietnam did so during their formative years.
So, young men in their 20s and early 30s returned home from service with no help while one of the most popular movies at the time, Patton, had a scene where the titular character was hitting a soldier who was suffering a mental breakdown. People cheered when Patton hit that soldier for being a wimp. They didn’t mention he may have survived a tank fire that killed his friends or just saw someone’s head explode a few days before. Or that he probably has killed some people and he was the type of person who wouldn’t squash spiders back in America.
And at the same time, the hippies who believed in “peace and love” were seen as the real problem even though they didn’t want to hurt people. This is the problem, generations of men were told they had to follow one path. They had to hunt deer and waterfowl. They had to go out and play real sports like baseball, basketball and football. Golf was okay, but they couldn’t do tennis. Track and field was acceptable as long as they competed in an event that exemplified their powerfulness.
Eventually everything would fall apart and I think Gen Xers really started to push back. Music changed. It went from people talking about having sex and doing drugs or dealing with break-ups to singing about mood swings, depression and bullying. Pearl Jam’s “Jeremy” dealt with that. Nirvana, R.E.M., Soundgarden and Smashing Pumpkins dealt with songs showing that a generation was trapped and being dealt a raw deal.
But it didn’t take long for people to change the narrative. After the massacre at Columbine, it became about the “quiet kids” and those who suffer from mental issues. However, this wasn’t the case. Most young men who suffer mental health are more of a danger to themselves than other people. People who cut themselves became a joke. Goth youth were seen more as suicidal.
Yet no one stopped to ask were we taking it too far? So, now, we have Xers, Millennials and Gen Zers all facing mental health issues while Boomers still them all to suck it up because they did. Ever tried talking to a Boomer about depression, anxiety, or grief? They always want to cut you off. They bring up what you have that they didn’t as if material possessions solve everything. Whenever you try to talk to your parents, they get defensive. They gaslight you and tell you you had a great childhood. Or they get defensive. They say they “did the best they could” or will tell you how they had it growing up.
Just because previous generations didn’t know how to handle it, doesn’t mean younger generations should shuffle it off too. It doesn’t work that way. Thankfully, Millennials and Zers have the benefits of social media that Xers didn’t have during their formative years. And people are putting their foot down to toxic masculinity.
I’ve had my own mental issues. I’ve had a few nervous breakdowns in my adult life. I don’t discuss this with older people because they don’t want to listen or they say I’m getting upset talking about it. But you should get upset, damn it! If you can’t talk to someone who can’t handle you with emotional, then you don’t need to talk to them at all. And I’m talking about parents, family, so-call friends and even a significant other/partner.
A lot of people bitch about self-checkout but I like it. Why? Well, because I hate waiting behind people in checkout lanes, because I know someone is going to be standing right behind me and they’re going to pull the “I just came in here to get a few things” lines as if that makes it right. I also used to work as a cashier and bagged groceries and I could always since the impatience of people, mainly Boomers, who are always in a rush with others, but take forever with themselves. I’ve even come close to having panic attacks a few times and just walking out. I wouldn’t do that because I know the clerk would be tasked with another thing they don’t need but I’ve come close.
Elder people say I’m impatient but they’re ones to talk. Anyone who’s worked in the service industry knows the older customers are usually the most impatient. I think this rudeness is part of the patriarchy as well as the feeling that the older you get, the more serviced you should be.
But men aren’t allowed to show any weakness. That’s the problem. It’s mad generations feel they can’t be open with others. Not to bring politics into it, but the Republican Party has built a trend on not being weak or soft. It’s ironic they even have women in their party unless their goal is to be subservient to the men. These are the same people who proudly talk about themselves being good Christians, which means the tenements is being humble and considerate to others.
A popular meme over the years has been Keanu Sad as Keanu Reeves was photographed eating at a park bench. Sad? Well, considering what’s happened to him, he has a right to be sad every now and again. He lost one of his closest friends, River Phoenix, to a drug overdose. The only child he had, Ava Archer Syme-Reeves, was born stillborn after eight months of pregnancy by his girlfriend Jennifer Syme, leading to their breakup. Then, she was killed in a car wreck two years later.
Will Smith became another meme when a picture of him crying during a Red Table Talk with Jada Pinkett Smith about her relationship with August Alsina also became a meme. Will Smith later said that he wasn’t crying but was dehydrated. He was mocked for crying and it was turned into a meme. This is why people, especially me, don’t open up about their emotions. If they do, they became a joke. If they don’t, they bottle it up and they explode.
Many young men were often paddled, spanked, whipped, hit or beaten with fists by teachers, parents, and relatives for being on the autism spectrum or having bipolar disorders in the past. This was how it was solved because that’s how their parents solved it with them. Sometimes, Boomers must come to the realization that their parents probably never wanted them. I think most have realized that. But they never did get help. Someone wanted sex but didn’t want to face the consequences.
We need to tell both sides the old-fashioned mantra, “Your life won’t be complete until you have kids.” No, you’re life won’t be complete until figure out what’s wrong. Getting married or getting in a relationship isn’t a cure. You must like being alone until you meet someone you want to be with. The same goes for having kids. You must at that point where you’re ready to have kids. Otherwise, you’re going to pass the same problems on to them.
You have to realize that your kids aren’t acting up. They have medical and mental conditions you need to address. No one wants to admit it, but it’s time we accept it. Men’s mental health applies to everyone. Physical abuse is physical abuse. There’s no way around it. And if you’re “punishing” or “disciplining” a child who may not understand, than it’s also emotional abuse.
So, what’s the answer? Obviously, men need to get a clue. If you’re in a relationship where your partner/spouse doesn’t want to handle your mental health, dump them. Relationships are 50/50 when it comes dealing with people at their worst as well at their best. If your partner doesn’t want it, get out. If your parents or family doesn’t want to help, shut them out. You don’t need that toxicity. You don’t need someone dismissing your problems. The same goes for friends or whatever you want to call them.
We need to remove the stigmata that having a mental health issue is a bad thing. We got to stop acting like Chris Pratt. Healthy is a vague term that only applies to goals individuals set for themselves and others. True friends, family and partners stick with you. You shouldn’t change for others or try to hide yourself around them. We have too much of that going on now.