Tuesday 1 May 2018

Opening up about Men's Mental Health - Michael

Michael shares his experience living with and opening up about mental health conditions.
- Michael

For many years now I’ve been fighting mental health difficulties such as depression, mental paralysis, and anxiety. I’m in the prime of my life, so I ask myself, why do I feel like this? I’ve just turned twenty and I am a Student in London, but I find it hard to introduce myself because for years I didn’t have a clue who I was. My worst times were between 2015-2017 and I’m now in a rebuilding stage. I still fall down sometimes, but I get back up. Always get back up.

I see every day the major stigma for men to open up about themselves. People ask why? Men have been portrayed for decades – centuries, even – to be strong and mentally stable. It’s okay to be an “Alpha Male”, but it’s okay to be emotional too. The whole issue of stigma comes from society and the people around us. Our friends/family are often the main people we’d cover it up from, and I covered up my emotions just so I wouldn’t show weakness. Men do this, and using this mask works to an extent. It’s also hard finding somebody who will understand. Not many friends/family will ever understand what’s going on. I know this because I could never talk to people I care about the most.

What makes me talk today? I’ve had enough of seeing people fall below me. Meaning, I’ve been on the brink of giving up many times. Those potential final moments of your life it’s just an unexplainable feeling. Known/unknown names are falling below the level and it frustrates me. Therefore, for a Male like myself to decide to open up. It’s bloody necessary in today’s society.

I’ve found myself struggling to function sometimes because my cognitive performance has been worn out with stress and anxiety. I’m currently having to rebuild my ability to do things I once thought were simple, such as literacy skills. I also lost a lot of good things in my life during those bad times. I gave up activities I once loved, like hiking and the gym. I banned myself from learning to drive because I nearly crashed the car from lack of concentration. I didn’t want to put others in danger, so I quit. I lost important individuals who didn’t know about my mental health difficulties because I didn’t want to drag them down with me. I was giving up on my future. I couldn’t let them waste theirs, that would’ve been selfish of me. It’s these regrets that I have which are also encouraging me to talk and help others.

I think that the main challenge for men in our society is to get over their own ego which makes them think they’ll be strong enough to get through it alone. I’d love to meet a person who walked in and out of mental health difficulties without anyone knowing or without any harm done. I went years without telling anyone and it made me worse. I accept that everyone is different, but everyone needs some kind of help from a healthy source. We were all born to do something in life. We aren’t here to just struggle day by day and only find peace on our deathbeds.

Therefore, we as men need to open up. It doesn’t matter who you are, or your story. A ‘real man’ talks! Don’t ever think you have go through mental health issues alone, that’s just toxic. You can get through the barrier, you just have to break through it. There are so many resources to help us overcome mental health difficulties, you just have to use them. The first step? TALK!

If you would like to get involved with our Men's Mental Health blogging series, then you can find all of the details here. You can also send us an email at blog@studentminds.org.uk for more details!

Hi, I'm Michael Rigby and I study Sports Business and Broadcasting at UCFB Wembley. I have experienced mental illness, including depression and social anxiety since the age of 14.

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