Everything was enemy to me. I used denial as a defense mechanism, a way to preserve my ego and pride. I would not admit to myself that I was weak and needed help. This is how I built my monsters. I started to self medicate. Towards the end of high school and the first semester of college, I used alcohol heavily at the worst times. I would seek it out on the weekends and drink alone in the corners of house parties and in the back seat of parked cars. This was not a social activity. I smoked cigarettes in the same secretive way. When I had happy and together moments in life, I abstained from drinking and smoking – to this day, I don’t enjoy either. When I was in the valleys – when I hurt – alcohol and cigarette tobacco always arrived. The emotional abuse I saddled on those around me remains the worse product of my depression. I allowed depression to burden not only me, but two girlfriends, my family, and my closest friends. One girl could not deal with it and ended up leaving me. The other stuck around longer, and I abused her emotions without knowing it. I was terrifyingly cold and unfeeling, even as she broke down into tears and begged me to say anything. I made her feel responsible for anything that went wrong in my life. I left her more than once without warning, but would soon come back and manipulate her damaged emotions to get back together. All of it was a way for me to artificially build myself back up. I was trying to destroy my depression, but I ended up harming the most vulnerable people in my life. Cowardice and dishonesty dictated my thinking. What underlies all these abuses is a fundamental disgust and anger with one’s self. I manipulated the emotions of everyone around me to bring them down to my level and feel better about my station in life. Admitting my weakness terrified me so much that I went out and tore away. The booze and cigarettes, I think, show a self-destructive streak common to all those who suffer with depression. Although the exact motives for self-destructive thoughts vary, they usually revolve around the ideas that a man cannot deal with such a great burden or, as in my case, that a man is not worth it, that he does not deserve to live because of such weakness. . By S.M. Leahy http://www.artofmanliness.com/2009/09/01/dealing-with-male-depression/
I didn’t want to wake up.
I was having a much better
time asleep. And that’s really sad.
It was almost like a reverse nightmare,
like when you wake up from a nightmare
you’re so relieved. I woke up into a nightmare.”
A man will have faults. An overweight man can look at himself and take the steps needed to shed pounds. A man with poor eyesight can wear glasses or contact lenses. How often, though, does a man look inside himself for ways to improve? A man’s emotional and mental health are just as valuable as his physical, yet the former receives much less attention. One of the most common mental illnesses in men is depression. 10 % of men will suffer a major depressive episode during their lifetime. Great men in history who suffered from depression are numerous: Abraham Lincoln, Ernest Hemingway, Winston Churchill, , and Buzz Aldrin to name a few. Aldrin overcame his depression and alcoholism, eventually becoming Chair of the National Mental Health Association. Churchill took up painting to keep what he called the “black dog” at bay. The treatment Hemingway sought for his depression only served to deepen it. The ECT shock treatments stole from him valuable memories and hindered his writing ability, precipitating his suicide… What makes mental illness, such as depression, so difficult to deal with in men is the perceived shame that comes with admitting it. The World Health Organization states that fewer than 25% of male sufferers worldwide will seek treatment “[because of] social stigmas associated with mental disorders including depression.” A man may put his pride before all else, no matter what the cost. I know this, and I know how high the price can rise. Depression’s origins vary from man to man. Sometimes traumatic events such as sudden death or illness triggers depression. Early social interaction and a man’s childhood also play a major role. If a man felt neglected or unloved by his parents, or ostracized by other children, depression is more likely to become a constant companion. Eventually, however, depression boils down to a question of biochemistry. Although we all have sad episodes in our life, even some lasting for weeks or months, men who suffer from depression have some sort of imbalance in their brain chemistry that causes pain and suffering for no reason and without warning. While looking to the past to find the root of a man’s depression can be beneficial, a focus on positive and active treatment now and in the future is most essential. By S.M. Leahy http://www.artofmanliness.com/2009/09/01/dealing-with-male-depression/
That’s the thing about depression:
A human being can survive almost anything,
as long as she/(he) sees the end in sight.
is so insidious, and it compounds daily,
that it’s impossible to ever see the end.
The fog is like a cage without a key.
Bipolar disorder, although rare in young children, can appear in both children and adolescents. The unusual shifts in mood, energy and functioning that are characteristic of bipolar disorder may begin with manic, depressive, or mixed manic and depressive symptoms. It is more likely to affect the children of parents who have the illness. Twenty to forty percent of adolescents with major depression go on to reveal bipolar disorder within five years after the onset of depression. Depression in children and adolescents is associated with an increased risk of suicidal behaviors. This risk may rise, particularly among adolescent males, if the depression is accompanied by conduct disorder and alcohol or other substance abuse. In 2000, suicide was the third leading cause of death among young males, age 10 to 24. (National Institute of Mental Health) NIMH-supported researchers found that among adolescents who develop major depressive disorder, as many as seven percent may die by suicide in the young adult years. Therefore, it is important for doctors and parents to take seriously any remarks about suicide. Early diagnosis and treatment, accurate evaluation of suicidal thinking, and limiting young people’s access to lethal agents—including firearms and medications—may hold the greatest suicide prevention value. https://www.mentalhealthscreening.org/screening/resources/men-and-depression.aspx
Mental pain is less dramatic than physical pain,
but it is more common and also more hard to bear.
The frequent attempt to conceal mental pain
increases the burden: it is easier to say
“My tooth is aching”
than to say
“My heart is broken.”
Only in the past two decades has depression in children been taken very seriously. Before puberty, boys and girls are equally likely to develop depressive disorders. After age 14, however, females are twice as likely as males to have major depression or dysthymia. The risk of developing bipolar disorder remains approximately equal for males and females throughout adolescence and adulthood. Research has revealed that depression is occurring earlier in life today than in past decades. In addition, research has shown that early onset depression often persists, recurs, and continues into adulthood, and that depression in youth may also predict more severe illness in adult life. Depression in young people frequently co-occurs with other mental disorders, most commonly anxiety, disruptive behavior, or substance abuse disorders, as well as with other serious illnesses such as diabetes. The depressed younger child may say he is sick, refuse to go to school, cling to a parent, or worry that the parent may die. The depressed older child may sulk, get into trouble at school, be negative, grouchy, and feel misunderstood. Among both children and adolescents, depressive disorders confer an increased risk for illness and interpersonal and psychosocial difficulties that persist long after the depressive episode is resolved; in adolescents there is also an increased risk for substance abuse and suicidal behavior. Unfortunately, these disorders often go unrecognized by families and physicians alike. Signs of depressive disorders in young people are often viewed as normal mood swings typical of a particular developmental stage. In addition, health care professionals may be reluctant to prematurely “label” a young person with a mental illness diagnosis. However, early diagnosis and treatment of depressive disorders are critical to healthy emotional, social, and behavioral development. https://www.mentalhealthscreening.org/screening/resources/men-and-depression.aspx
Depression exist without you knowing it,
even denying it. It is not an illusion.
You don’t even know you’re in it.
It takes awhile before you realize it.
If you deny it, it means you’re still in there
or else you won’t talk about your misery
and the dramas in your life.
Ann Marie Aguilar
Over the past decade, scientists have shed new light on heartbreak. The forces that bind two people in union are powerful, but love’s dissolution is more potent—a trauma that in some cases can be indistinguishable from mental illness. A study in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology found that of men who’d been romantically rejected, 40 per cent remained clinically depressed. “A heart broken from love lost rates among the most stressful life events a person can experience,” says David Buss, PhD, the author of The Evolution of Desire: Strategies of Human Mating. The end of a long-term relationship can be traumatic, especially for a man whose mate cheats on him, suddenly announces a divorce, or dies. The flood of stress hormones accompanying such events can actually weaken the heart. Experts know three drives goad our urge to mate and each of them steers our actions through neurotransmitters and pathways in the brain. The most primitive of these drives is lust, which propels us to seek sex with a range of partners. Lust is fueled mainly by testosterone. The second and more potent is known as attraction or “romantic love.” Unlike lust, this focuses our energies intensively and selectively on a preferred mate. It’s what we feel when we meet “the one.” Neuroimaging studies of men who are “madly in love” reveal significantly elevated activity in the brain…where dopamine, a neurotransmitter critical to motivation and reward is made and distributed. Dopamine drives us to look for food, water, sex and love, says Lucy Brown, PhD, a neuroscientist at Albert Einstein College of Medicine. Our third system is called attachment or “companionate love.” This drive is critical in cementing the bonds vital to cooperative parental care. Attachment is not an all-or-nothing proposition, but a gradual process that is likely facilitated by two other hormones that flood the brain during intimacy: oxytocin, dubbed the “cuddle compound,” and vasopressin, a tension-taming peptide. When attachment is broken, says Todd Ahern, PhD, a neuroscience researcher, the effects are twofold: It leaves males bereft of stress-relieving compounds and spikes their level of stress hormones. The result is heartbreak and, in some cases, depression. By Jim Thornton http://menshealth.intoday.in/story/Survive-a-heartbreak/0/2018.html
…pieces of your heart
clearly weigh more
when they’re sitting
shattered at the bottom
of your stomach.
Men must cope with several kinds of stress as they age. If they have been the primary wage earners for their families and have identified heavily with their jobs, they may feel stress upon retirement—loss of an important role, loss of self-esteem—that can lead to depression. Similarly, the loss of friends and family and the onset of other health problems can trigger depression. Nevertheless, most elderly people feel satisfied with their lives, and it is not “normal” for older adults to feel depressed. Depression is an illness that can be effectively treated, thereby decreasing unnecessary suffering, improving the chances for recovery from other illnesses, and prolonging productive life. However, health care professionals may miss depressive symptoms in older patients, who are often reluctant to discuss feelings of hopelessness, sadness, loss of interest in normally pleasurable activities, or extremely prolonged grief after a loss, and who may complain primarily of physical symptoms. Also, it may be difficult to discern a co-occurring depressive disorder in patients who present with other illnesses, such as heart disease, stroke, or cancer, which in themselves may cause depressive symptoms, or which may be treated with medications that have side effects resembling depression. If a depressive illness is diagnosed, treatment with appropriate medication and/or brief psychotherapy can help older adults manage both diseases, thus enhancing survival and quality of life. https://www.mentalhealthscreening.org/screening/resources/men-and-depression.aspx
Isn’t it just weird when you sit in a room
full of people and realize how empty you are.
You begin to think to yourself,
do I really matter. Does anyone care?
Substantial evidence from neuroscience, genetics, and clinical investigation shows that depressive illnesses are disorders of the brain. However, the precise causes of these illnesses continue to be a matter of intense research. Modern brain-imaging technologies are revealing that in depression, neural circuits responsible for the regulation of moods, thinking, sleep, appetite, and behavior fail to function properly, and that critical neurotransmitters—chemicals used by nerve cells to communicate—are out of balance. Genetics research indicates that risk for depression results from the influence of multiple genes acting together with environmental or other nongenetic factors. Studies of brain chemistry and the mechanisms of action of antidepressant medications continue to inform our understanding of the biochemical processes involved in depression. Very often, a combination of genetic, cognitive, and environmental factors is involved in the onset of a depressive disorder. Trauma, loss of a loved one, a difficult relationship, a financial problem, or any stressful change in life patterns, whether the change is unwelcome or desired, can trigger a depressive episode in vulnerable individuals. Later episodes of depression may occur without an obvious cause. In some families, depressive disorders seem to occur generation after generation; however, they can also occur in people who have no family history of these illnesses. Whether inherited or not, depressive disorders are associated with changes in brain structures or brain function, which can be seen using modern brain imaging technologies. https://www.mentalhealthscreening.org/screening/resources/men-and-depression.aspx
Depression is like a bruise
that never goes away.
A bruise in your mind.
You just got to be careful
not to touch it where it hurts.
It`s always there, though.”
Depression comes in different forms, just as is the case with other illnesses such as heart disease. This briefly describes three of the most common types of depressive disorders. However, within these types there are variations in the number of symptoms, their severity, and persistence. Major depression (or major depressive disorder) is manifested by a combination of symptoms that interferes with the ability to work, study, sleep, eat, and enjoy once pleasurable activities. A major depressive episode may occur only once; but more commonly, several episodes may occur in a lifetime. Chronic major depression may require a person to continue treatment indefinitely. A less severe type of depression, dysthymia (or dysthymic disorder), involves long-lasting symptoms that do not seriously disable, but keep one from functioning well or feeling good. Many people with dysthymia also experience major depressive episodes at some time in their lives. Another type of depressive illness is bipolar disorder (or manic-depressive illness). Bipolar disorder is characterized by cycling mood changes: severe highs (mania) and lows (depression), often with periods of normal mood in between. Sometimes the mood switches are dramatic and rapid, but usually they are gradual. When in the depressed cycle, an individual can have any or all of the symptoms of depression. When in the manic cycle, the individual may be overactive, over-talkative, and have a great deal of energy. Mania often affects thinking, judgment, and social behavior in ways that cause serious problems and embarrassment. For example, the individual in a manic phase may feel elated, full of grand schemes that might range from unwise business decisions to romantic sprees and unsafe sex. Mania, left untreated, may worsen to a psychotic state. http://www.athealth.com/consumer/disorders/depressionmen.html
Depression presents itself as a realism
regarding the rottenness of the world
in general and the rottenness of your life
in particular. But the realism is merely
a mask for depression’s actual essence,
which is an overwhelming
estrangement from humanity.
Less than half of the men with mental health challenges ever get help for them. The reasons for this are many, including lack of information, stigma associated with mental illness, and masculine ideals. Men who adhere steadfastly to masculine norms, such as power, strength, and emotional control, may be most at risk for negative psychological outcomes. In fact, because so few men seek help for their problems, they are more vulnerable to suicide and substance abuse than females. Joshua L. Berger of Clark University’s Department of Psychology in Massachusetts wanted to examine the factors that prevent men from getting the help they need. In a recent study, Berger assessed the help seeking attitudes and avenues of men in need. He also looked at how they reacted to two common clinical terms: depression and anxiety. Overall, Berger found that the men who had the strongest affinity toward masculine norms were the least likely to seek help. They reacted the most dramatically to anxiety and depression, and were the least likely to consider medication as a treatment option. Berger also found that the men were more inclined to going to therapy if a psychotherapist recommended it rather than if it was suggested by a romantic partner or a family practitioner. They also cited individual talk therapy as their preferred mode of treatment. These findings demonstrate that even though friends and family members may mean well when offering help to their loved men in need of psychological treatment, suggestions from mental health professionals will have the most impact. Lowering men’s risk for suicide, drug and alcohol abuse, and other negative behaviors is paramount, and the evidence revealed in this study may bring the mental health profession one step closer toward achieving that goal. “Generally speaking, these results underscore the importance of considering the specific type of help under consideration when discussing men’s attitudes toward help-seeking,” Berger said.
Every man has his secret sorrows
which the world knows not;
and often times we call a man cold
when he is only sad.
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
Recognizing depression and the feelings associated with it is culturally more difficult for men than women. Marianne Legato MD, expert in gender-specific medicine, notes “I have long been convinced that depression is under-reported, under-diagnosed, and under-treated in men, largely because of the way they’re socialized.” Men are taught directly and indirectly not to cry in sadness or pain. The message internalized by too many is not to talk about feelings – not to talk about depression. As one marine who had tragically covered his pain with alcohol described, “I was trying to be the tough marine I was trained to be — not to talk about problems, not to cry . . . I imprisoned myself in my own mind.”
- Rather than seek help, men have a tendency to self-medicate or avoid the anguish, sadness, guilt or self-doubt associated with depression. This can manifest itself in many ways, including sexual acting out, alcohol or substance abuse, risky behaviors (like reckless driving), escapist behaviors (like internet addiction to porn), or being overly involved in work or sports.
- The result is an escalation of emotional pain desperately driving more avoidance, risk, substances, suicidal thinking and a downward spiral of personal, family, and job functioning.
- Self-medication for depression puts men and those around them in harm’s way.
Unlike other illnesses there is a tendency to associate depression with weakness, vulnerability, laziness and withholding. There is a tendency to feel shame and self–blame even as one is suffering. Men often suffer alone. If they stop to consider that their physical symptoms and behaviors might hide depression – they may be able to step out of danger. If they reach for the help of a partner, a buddy, their primary physician, a mental health professional, or a spiritual caregiver – they will have taken the first step. By Suzanne Phillips, PsyD http://www.pbs.org/thisemotionallife/blogs/men-and-hidden-danger-depression
Behind my smile, is a hurting heart.
Behind my laugh, I’m falling apart.
Behind my smile, is tears at night.