There is nothing more daunting than the idea that we lack control over our lives. We’d all like to think that our problems are simply symptoms of some external force that can easily be removed, altered, or avoided. This is particularly true with our emotions. Our happiness must be the indication that our lives are “going well” while sadness and anxiety are simply the results of negative life choices or difficulties that we can fix with the right amount of willpower and self-control. When we find ourselves in situations where the sadness or apathy we feel just won’t go away, perhaps the most prevalent response we receive is to “get over it”, especially for men, who are socialized to suppress emotional vulnerability to an unhealthy extent.
There is an unfortunate cycle to this mindset. Feelings of depression and apathy can be amplified by the hopeless feelings brought on by the repeated attempts and failures to simply “get over it”. To many individuals, emotions are something that can generally be controlled, or at least altered, with effort, so it can sometimes feel like a person with depression is being lazy, or just doesn’t care enough to fix what is seen by others as a selfish form of behavior.
In a culture that idolizes the emotionally firm, steadfast, and independent man, it often feels like there is no acceptance for a man’s deep-seated emotional struggles, especially in areas of mental health. But even with our gradual societal journey towards broader social understanding and acceptance of common mental illnesses, the symptoms of depression are not always as easy to identify as simple sadness.
As headsupguys.org explains, depression can affect our sleeping habits, energy, pleasure, interests, and decision making. Recognizing the danger signs of depression (as well as other forms of mental health issues) is an important first step in moving towards recovery. There are resources in place to help individuals get the help they need, and perhaps the most important thing to recognize is that this isn’t something you need to go through alone. Mental Illness isn’t something we just overcome with a little mindset change – it takes time, effort, and almost always assistance of some kind. Though it can be intimidating, reaching out to others isn’t shameful, but rather is a brave first step. It’s not about “getting over it”, but “overcoming it”, and there’s nothing weak or “un-manly” about that.