Yo bro, it's ok to ask for help!
A few days ago, I watched an incredible UFC fight followed by an inspiring post-fight speech from Paddy Pimblett. Please take 3 minutes to watch it.
After watching it, I put up a poll on LinkedIn to capture stats from my professional network on the percentage of men who experience psychological suffering but keep it to themselves.
73% keep it to themselves. That’s about where I expected things to land.
Many men I know (including the old me) would treat mental illness like a sprained ankle — play through the pain and just “walk it off.”
But that’s starting to change.
We’re slowly destigmatizing men’s mental health partly because public figures like Paddy, Kid Cudi, Donald Glover, Kevin Love, Michael Phelps, Pete Davidson, and Carson Daly are speaking up about their issues in a way that men haven’t historically done.
A man with mental health issues is not a weak man. He is not incapable. He is not deserving of doubt and scrutiny. He is not unable to be a great husband, father, and provider to his children.
Greatness has been achieved by men that suffered greatly.
Abraham Lincoln suffered from anxiety and depression
Nikola Tesla had severe OCD
Jack Kerouac likely had Schizophrenia
Charles Darwin had severe panic disorder
Winston Churchill was manic depressive and bipolar
Life for men is hard. Your chromosomes and genitalia don’t predispose you to an easy life because life involves suffering for everyone.
In a recent conversation with a female friend, I said, “Life can be really difficult for men.” Initially, I was scoffed at, and she responded by saying, “Your life is SO easy because you’re a man.”
I’ve encountered bullshit takes like this much more frequently in the last 2-3 years than at any other point in my life. It seems to be in style in our current political and social climate. It’s harmful and ignorant.
I responded with the following stats.
Nearly 80% of homicide victims are men
Men die from suicide 3.8x more than women
90% of workforce deaths are men
Fewer men earn college degrees than women
The majority of homeless people are men
The overwhelming majority of war-related deaths are men
As Thoreau said, “The mass of men live lives of quiet desperation.”
We must stop acting as if all men live in the ivory tower of cushy CEO life.
Most men are doing dirty, dangerous, thankless jobs. They’re building homes, paving roads, chasing and arresting criminals, harvesting crops to feed our population, fixing broken cars and appliances, and so on. And many of them are doing those jobs while silently harboring old emotional pain.
I’m not writing this post to compete in the oppression Olympics that seems to be occurring amongst men and women, at least in the popular press. That’s not the thrust of this article and the stats I’ve shared.
I’m making a simple point.
Life can be very hard for men. Let’s stop acting like it isn’t. Men need help too.
Within the tech industry, it’s encouraging to see more men speak up about their internal struggles.
People like Jason Portnoy have shared intimate stories of mental illness and addiction.
Via my writing, I hope to make my contribution to destigmatization efforts.
For the other men in my audience, I’ll make a simple plea:
If you’re struggling psychologically, find someone that can help. One person may be enough to turn things around for you. You can heal and change in ways that allow you to live the life you imagine for yourself.
I’ll leave you with a few more examples of men opening up about their difficulties.
The first interview is with musician Kevin Gates, who had a tough childhood and now uses his voice to spread an important message of survival, healing, and resurrection.
And this brave interview with Lil Wayne as he discusses his life-long battle with mental health issues and how he almost died by his own hands at the age of 12.
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