As 2018 is about to close and I sit and reflect about our generation, the more I realise that we’re among the most judgmental generation of all time. Us, as men must act tough and look a certain way for us to be considered “manly”. However, what this world has forgotten is that we are all different and have unique roles. Nobody is saying anything about a woman not getting credit for stepping up when needed. We’re different but need each other. I just don’t want to hear women describe what it’s like to ‘act like a man’ if they don’t get their own way or make choices/decisions based on emotions.
Everyone’s got their own ideas about what it means to be masculine and manly. As a man myself, I have had to deal with the labels that society has put upon men. If you don’t have the AJ physique, a nice car, a beard and not 6 ft, you’re seen as less than.
There’s no age requirement for being a man, in the same way, that there’s no age-range for being a boy. The difference between these two titles is behaviour. Before becoming a man, you’ll have to act like one. But, what exactly constitutes manhood? For me, it’s about handling business and maintaining respect in all aspects. It’s about learning from the mistakes of your youth. If I said, to a woman to “act like one” through, cooking, cleaning and laying on their backs, people will think I am mad.
Maturity means moving forward and learning from past trials and errors. Never forget that no matter how hard they push labels on you, show them that you’re a human being that deserves to be treated with respect regardless of your gender! It’s sad that nowadays we have young men killing themselves because they think they’re not enough. All these social media pages are full of unrealistic expectations on the man! Flaws are what makes humans being unique! Understand that being a man has very little to do with masculinity.
As Part of Movember, men should open up about their mental health and the support they can gain. This post is an opportunity to raise awareness that men have a greater difficulty talking about their own struggles than women do.
My own personal experience as a British born – Caribbean Black man has been talked about via my blogs, as I evidence the challenge we as men face. I am still confronted by some outdated stereotypes as a man suffering from depression. It is great that the tide is turning for men and that expression is still often used for the wrong reasons, unfortunately. The concept that mental health can be conquered by simply acting more “like a man” is misguided and damn right stupid. Depression and other disorders are difficult and not based on whether you got a Y chromosome.
One of the reasons that I turned my life around is that I managed to tackle this problem directly. Not only did I endure those hard times, but it also made me determined to learn and understand mental health problems. I was lucky to not only endure my problems but to turn them into my own campaign via my website to address stigma and discrimination so that other men like me feel safe in talking about their own challenges.
Some of the ways I found to tackle this challenge include:
- Sharing my thoughts through creative writing helps to lift me during the darker days, hence why I am named myself the Darkside Don. This helped me understand how I am not alone and other men will come forward and express their concerns also.
- Talking to someone you trust. (I didn’t feel like I had that originally and used my blogs to understand/learn more)
- Reading more about mental health and the varied guidance and advice that is easily accessible
It is encouraging to see more men talking about mental health and this (over)trend needs to continue. I share my story and experiences as a way of encouraging others to do the same but you can find a path that suits your needs. The next time somebody tells you to “man up” or “act like a man”, remember mental health affects us all regardless of gender so do not feel like being a man (or the perception of what it means to be a “man”) is a barrier to finding the path to a happier you. Stay in your lane and remember everything is timing. There’s no rush, you’ll get where you need to be, in due course.