Mental Health and Me – A Series Preview

I see so many blog posts on social media written by people bravely opening up about their mental health. It’s great, and it’s proving we’re coming a long way.

“Mental Health and Me” will be a new series of blog posts I write over the coming weeks because I feel it is important for men’s mental health to have more of a spotlight.

We’ve all seen posts talking about the statistics when it comes to suicide amongst males; it’s on the rise, and the numbers are only destined to go in one direction.

However, the hope remains that it doesn’t need to get to that point, if only we can get better at talking about our feelings. If there wasn’t such a pressure from society for men to “man up” and “get on with things”. Sometimes you just need to feel as though your feelings are valid, no matter how irrational you may feel they are.

What is my story?

About 4 or 5 years ago, I started to really struggle with my anxiety and my self-esteem. I guess it’s kind of always been there, in the background, but I’ve been very good at masking it. I’m always the one trying to make jokes, trying to be lively and aiming to be the centre of attention. This ambition was aided by being part of a relatively big group of friends, working in an office environment where there was always a number of people around to help fuel my obsession with being liked.

However in time, that changed. I fell away from that group of friends, I started worrying about what people thought of me and I became more withdrawn from and less social with people at work. I started to realise that anxiety and depression can always be masked if you’re good at showing a different persona.

I guarantee that, if you asked most people in my office for example, they would say I was quite confident, outgoing, always keen to be involved. In some cases that was true….I guess it would depend what was being asked of me.

But what they didn’t see, away from all that, is that I tried my utmost to be those things to disguise how in my own head I really was. To disguise how much I doubt myself and how much I panic about whether people liked me or could even tolerate me. The more withdrawn I became, the less I put myself forward and the more I started not to speak up anymore.

What this led to, was an irrational annoyance. I would get frustrated when people would make assumptions that I would volunteer myself for something. “That’s not who I am anymore”, I would say.

But I’d only say it to me.

It’s difficult to open up about your anxieties, especially in person. It’s especially difficult for a man to do so, given the perception that men and boys should hit things head on and not have the same fears and reservations as maybe others would.

Why mental health and me?

As great as it is to see a lot more exposure from people writing about their mental health, it’s often difficult to take that next leap into giving people advice about how to improve theirs.

Truthfully, I don’t think I’m ready yet to start doing that, as I’m still learning more and more about my own.

I don’t know if I make a very good “how to” blogger, so I’m not totally comfortable giving hints and tips about something so important and so potentially fragile as someone’s own wellbeing and mental state.

So instead, I’m going to do something I’m getting a little better at; talking about my own.

What can we expect to see?

A series of posts, telling you about some of my own experiences and my own thoughts; after all, when writing about mental health there should be no restrictions.

It’ll be an opportunity to put my cards on the table, speak honestly and openly about mental health and give you a range of different blog posts all under the umbrella of men’s mental health.

I’ve kicked the series off with this post; a little introduction ahead of the next few weeks of content so you know what to expect me to be talking about. Hopefully, if you’re struggling in a similar situation, you’ll be able to take the time to read the post and for it to resonate with you or possibly even someone you know.

What is the aim?

Getting thoughts and feelings out there into the world. For me, that’s what blogging started off being about and is still largely centred around now.

Whilst we are making progress in being more open about mental health, there’s still a long way to go. For me personally, and I’m sure a lot of others too. I’m also aiming to learn more about the world of men’s mental health and the remaining stigma around men speaking up about how they feel and how they are being affected in their day-to-day lives.

I will never claim to be an expert on the subject of mental health, but I hope that talking about some of my own experiences and sharing my own thoughts will bring me a little closer and improve my confidence that little bit more.

Image by Darwin Laganzon from Pixabay

What posts do I have coming up?

For this series, I wanted to try and capture a bit of a range of things that could all fit under the mental health “umbrella”, if you will. It’s such a vast topic, with so many angles and potential viewpoints, and I’m trying to learn as much as I can as I go. Here are the rest of the posts I’ll be publishing over the next few weeks.

Mental Health & Me – My Therapy Story

A couple of years ago, I reached a point where I needed to speak to someone. Therapy was something I hadn’t ever considered, nor did I think I would ever need to consider; whilst I went into it a little uncertain and cynical, I came out of it learning some valuable lessons.

Mental Health & Me – Am I Man Enough?

There is still a massive stigma amongst men when it comes to mental health, that much is true. We’re getting better at opening up and talking about it, but there’s still a long way to go. In this post, I consider my own feelings towards men’s mental health and explore why I think there is still such a gap in understanding and acceptance amongst men.

Mental Health & Me – Learning About Neurodiversity

I’m a man who is neurodivergent. Don’t really understand what that means? No worries, I didn’t until a few years ago. This post explores the link between neurodiversity and mental health, and I give you an honest account of living with a condition that I’m slowly learning to accept as a part of me.

Mental Health & Me – Positively Shaping Our Future

So where do we go from here? We talk about the progress we’re making but we’ve got a job to do; to make sure our children grow up in a world where talking about their feelings and their emotions isn’t something to distance themselves from. I talk openly and honestly about my hopes for the future and how we can help those we love with their mental health in such a topsy-turvy world.

I’m really looking forward to writing these posts and sharing my thoughts candidly with you. I hope you can join me on this journey over the next few weeks and feel comfortable to add your own thoughts and feelings to it!

17 Comments

  1. Great post and written so beautifully. More awareness needs to be raised regarding mental health especially amongst males. Your posts will hopefully help someone else to be able to talk about how they are feeling. I look forward to the series.

  2. I love that you have the courage to share your story! I think it’s really important to talk about mental health and I do so a lot on my blog. Looking forward to reading the series x

  3. This looks like it’s going to be a very interesting and insightful series, and I agree that only by talking about mental health openly can we remove the stigma. I have never heard of neurodiversity- so I’m interested to learn more about it, along with your personal experiences. Thank you for sharing πŸ™‚

  4. I’m really looking forward to this series, Thomas. I think it’s so important for more men to speak up about mental health and mental illness to make it less taboo. Men’s suicide rates are quite frankly, terrifying. So hopefully a series like this will do a lot of good to show other men that they’re not alone in their struggles and that it’s nothing to be ashamed about!

  5. This is so great! I don’t think there are enough people speaking up about mental health for men and I am glad you’re sharing this with us! Can’t wait to read the first post and thanks for sharing πŸ™‚

  6. This is a great read mate. Looking forward to reading your posts.

    I fully understand about your feelings of anxiety and the annoyances it can bring.

    It’s good to also Listen as opposed to talk too.

  7. this is a brilliant post. a topic close to myself and i’m sure a lot of others too. i’m looking forward to reading more of these relatable and inspiring posts soon!

  8. I love this! Good on you for opening up about your mental health. I agree, mental health, and in particular men’s mental health, isn’t talked about enough so thank you for sharing your journey with everyone and hopefully this series will encourage others (particularly men) to open up too

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