Men’s Mental Health

PTSD in Emergency Services

James Windale

EH emsDo you all know who the world’s most famous ambulance driver was? Ernest Hemingway, and yes I called him an ambulance driver because that was exactly what he did. He was a writer before going to Europe to serve in the Red Cross, but while there he witnessed horrific sights such as seeing a hospital full of patients bombed and destroyed. His war experiences had a profound impact on his life, but he channelled all that into some of the greatest works of literature written in the 20th Century.

Hemingway was a flawed man for sure. He drank heavily, took risks, and loved to fight. Some might consider this posturing, but what one can’t deny is the great sadness that consumed his life and would result in his suicide in the early 1960s. What we might take away from his example is the sort of things he was exposed to…

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Selfish Anxiety

I don’t consider myself to have a mental health condition as such but I have always been quite anxious deep down.  My anxiety doesn’t control my life but it does make certain everyday situations more uncomfortable than they should be. Like in the series Dexter, he states he has a ‘dark passenger’, my anxiety could be described as my back seat driver that wants to call the shots.

I’ve noticed certain social situations bring the feeling on more than others. I sense the anxiousness is coming then it arrives. This then makes me feel frustrated and eventually annoyed with myself for feeling like this. It’s like a vicious circle. Clubbing for example is a big one. I went to Derby University which was the best three years of my life to date, however being exposed to that environment of partying made me feel very uncomfortable. I would be left paralysed in fear whilst everyone else in the building was dancing, drinking have having fun. I remember thinking I should be doing that. When I felt the most anxious I would shut down completely and think and think until my head felt tired.

I’ve been home nearly two years now and I’ve grown since then. I am much more aware of it and I can deal with it better. I’m currently having counselling for it which has made me feel better so far. I hope to use techniques such as CBT and mindfulness to combat negative thoughts that intrude on my life.

What annoys me at times is when people who don’t understand say things like, “cheer up you miserable sod or chill out” etc. Do you think I would if I could?! They don’t understand unless you sit them down and delve into it for an age which is not always what you want to do. I recently had this when I went camping with friends at Carmarthen. It stuck with me for a while and I had a whole lot of negativity that sunk into me. It was an awful feeling which led me to over analyse things in general and over analyse myself. It didn’t last long, when I wake up the following morning it’s gone naturally until it happens again.

Very often we find comfort reading certain lyrics of songs we like that hold unique meanings for ourselves. I’m a diehard fan of metal music and have listened to a lot of Metallica lately. One song by the band that describes anxiety and self doubt is ‘The Unnamed Feeling’ off their 2003 album ‘St Anger.’  The chorus definitely makes me feel connected;

“Then the unnamed feeling, it comes alive, then the unnamed feeling treats me this way, then I wait for this train, toes over the line, then the unnamed feeling takes me away.”

For me this song feels very real because it has taken something that is very dark and expressed it in a positive manner.

I am really looking forward to joining this group to relate and help others who know what it’s like to feel frustrated because of our own feelings. I have decided to turn my issues around now because I have had a lot on this past year in terms of work and a current relationship. I have never been pushed by external factors as I have now. It’s really liberating to be able to express this to everyone and I hope to write and express myself further.

My sincere thanks for reading; I just wanted to give you an insight into my background and how generally anxiety makes me feel.

Robert Jones.

Copyright 2015.

Depression: Through the Eyes of A Child

I’d like to welcome our first ever guest writer, Hayleigh Karr. I asked people on Twitter if they might be able to write articles on men’s mental health. I was looking for different perspectives on this topic. Hayleigh was the first one to get an article to me. Please read her article below regarding her father’s depression:

My father is a hardened man. His skin is as thick as leather from countless hours in the searing Australian sun and he has a layer of distrust and anger that is crack-free from countless broken hearts and disappointments. He has always been a hermit- only ever coming out from the comfort of his home for survival basics; work, food and cigarettes. He bought a house in the middle of nowhere and on the top of a floodplain that can never be built upon just so he wouldn’t have to see any neighbours. His dream is to retire and be left completely alone, aside from the occasional call from my sister and I.  It took me a long time to recognise his depression as he has a “don’t ask, don’t tell” rule that he absolutely lives by. I’ve watched him abuse drugs, alcohol, and prescription painkillers all my life. He finds comfort in silence and revels in being isolated. To the outside world he is charismatic and joyful- I’ve never met a person who doesn’t adore him.

When I was diagnosed with depression; however, I noticed that when I was on my lows, he matched them perfectly. He completely got it. He was the only one who understood when I cried because the idea of getting out of bed physically hurt me. I remember once when I was about six, he told my sister, who was ten at the time and battling the concept of sadness that there was a moment that he felt so sad he wanted to end it all, but that he stopped himself because of us. He told us that we were the only reason he tied himself to this earth. I was shocked because as a six-year-old the only time I had ever seen him upset was when I had done something naughty and needed a smack. I had never seen him cry or pout or show any level of unhappiness. I suppose that as a child you ignore social cues and little comments that would otherwise suggest a sinister mental health issue.

Underneath his layer of thickened skin and even thicker distrust, he has bone structures made of glass. So fragile and so weak, it’s a wonder they don’t break under the immense pressure of his mind. I’ve only ever seen those glass bones break twice. The first was when my cat died. They’d had her for longer than they’d had me. She was fifteen years old and he couldn’t make it to her last minutes because his boss wouldn’t let him go early from work. He cried, and then drank rum. The second time I was reading him a piece I wrote on my blog before living with him, and he cried. The next day he drank rum.  His way of dealing with emotions is by not dealing with them at all. He bottles things, and then explodes in a rage or walks off somewhere alone. It’s things like that which I ignored as a child, and now that I live through a fraction of his hurt I see the cracks develop and see that there’s pain underneath them.

When I was younger I saw my Dad as Superman. I couldn’t believe that anyone could ever be as tall as him, or as fast, smart or strong. He was the epitome of what a perfect man should be. Now that I’m older I see my Dad as Superman because he fights harder than any person I’ve ever met. He has issues which make his everyday life a struggle, it’s an uphill climb day in, day out; and he doesn’t always come out on top. I know he’s broken, hurt and vulnerable. I know he cares too much about things that will hurt him, but only because those are the things he loves and despite all his broken hearts and dreams he still believes in happiness. My Dad is superman because life has thrown every harmful thing his way and he knows that just getting out of bed on any given day will amount to a lot of hard work and pain, yet he does it because he’s kicking depression’s butt. My Dad has depression, but depression doesn’t have my Dad. Thank you kindly for reading,

Hayleigh Karr

6th May 2015

Is it really time to talk?

Amazing blog post on mental health stigma, and how talking about it can help end stigma. Great male perspective on this topic.

38linepoem

I was really interested to read Andrew Fifita’s interview this morning  .  For those of you that aren’t Rugby League fans, Andrew Fifita is a huge name at international level, and his admissions about his battle with depression is probably akin to a top premiership footballer saying the same here in the UK.  Rugby League in New South Wales is as big as footy here, with a relentless media machine.

Andrew Fifita’s comments are so honest.  The sentence that hit home with me the hardest is where he says that he ‘felt that there was no joy to life’.  I’ve felt that way at times when the black dog of depression has got me, and to hear someone else say it makes me realise it’s not just me. I’ll never meet Andrew Fifita but to read the exact same feeling from him as I’ve felt 12,000 miles away is powerful.

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I HAVE A DREAM

I consider this blogger to be a friend. I have spoken to him personally, and I can tell you that his passion for helping people with mental health issues is huge. His true character comes through in this article, a man of integrity and compassion. Thanks for sharing your story and passion.

workunderpressurenm

I have to be totally honest with you sharing my personal story about bullying and mental health has been one of the hardest things I have ever done.  I felt compelled to do it after witnessing further bullying in the workplace and the impact it was having on other people.  I could not sit back with a clear conscience and let this happen knowing the implications it has had on my life.  I never would want anyone to have to endure the pain and great personal loss that was brought on by this unacceptable workplace practice.  I knew that once I reared my head above the parapet that there was no turning back.  I would have to publicly expose my life’s darkest moments.  The fact that I would have to acknowledge that I suffered with mental health issues could potentially ruin the career that I was working so hard to…

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Mental Health Awareness Week 2015: Submissions

Great idea from Claire Greaves (@mentalbattle)

Mental Illness Talk

Mental health awareness week 2015 is fast approaching (11th-17th May) and I want YOUR help.

A question we are often asked several times a day is, “How are you?” but how often do we give a truthful answer to that question? I know that I rarely answer that one truthfully. To me, “How are you?” often feels like a rushed question with no time to give a truthful answer.

On the 17th May 2015 I want to publish a piece on here with truthful and honest answers to the question “How are you?” answered by people from all walks of life and from all around the word.

Rules for Submitting:

  • I want to hear from anyone and everyone, you do not have to be suffering from a mental health problem to take part. We all have mental health and we should all be able to talk about it.
  • Please keep…

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Book club to beat isolation

The new virtual book club aimed at beating isolation amongst older people was officially launched at Chepstow Library on Monday 17th December.

Local authors Owen Sheers and Julia Gregson lent their support to The Reading Company, run by Care & Repair Monmouthshire and Monmouthshire Libraries.

Julia Gregson launches

 The Big Lottery Fund-backed project targets older and vulnerable people in the rural county using telephone conferencing to form a discussion group about a chosen book. Four groups of around eight people will get together for an hour via a free phone call to discuss a book with sessions supported by volunteers.

Five of Monmouthshire Libraries staff have been trained to set up the telephone book clubs – Brett Smith, Susan Seeraj, Tash Harron-Edwards, Glenn Evans and Julie Warburton.

Shona Martin, agency manager for Care and Repair Monmouthshire, said: “Many people are affected by social isolation and loneliness. Age, disability, illness or caring responsibilities can create…

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An Open Letter to Emma Watson

I believe in total equality for all so I liked this post:

Men's Psychology

Dear Ms Watson,

I read with interest your formal invitation for men to join the effort for gender equality. I agree that we need full gender equality, and that this is important to men because, as you say, “I’ve seen my father’s role as a parent being valued less by society despite my needing his presence as a child as much as my mother’s. I’ve seen young men suffering from mental illness unable to ask for help for fear it would make them look less ‘macho’ — in fact in the UK suicide is the biggest killer of men between 20-49”.

And I agree with you that gender equality will go unrealized so long as only half of humanity is “invited or feel[s] welcome to participate in the conversation”.

I wish I could accept your invitation as presented, but rather than the sentiment “HeForShe”, I will only…

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Tweet chats for newbies: Getting started

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Snow White bluebirdUpdate small

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See also Part 2(tweet chat do’s and don’ts; and what you can expect during a tweet chat) and Part 3 (tweet chat trouble shooting)

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Whenever I have the chance to participate in a tweet chat, I always get a great deal from it. Whether it’s finding interesting new people to follow, learning something new, or having a view challenged or confirmed, it’s never dull.

I’d been on Twitter for a while before I learned what a tweet chat was, another little while before I dipped my toe in the water and it was another while longer before I realised I didn’t have to sit at a computer watching tweets then tweet in on my phone! If you haven’t heard of tweet chats, are curious but cautious or would like a little help to get you going, here’s my introduction – what Americans would probably call “Tweet chat…

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