Earlier this year I wrote about my mental health problem. It was a very personal post, one that took almost two years to be able to write. After sharing it online I received several messages from colleagues and friends, they all said the same thing, “Me too…”
As a result of opening up through my article, I found myself having little conversations with people who, for whatever reason, had previously been quiet about their illnesses. The power of starting conversations was immediately revealed to me.
When I was suffering from anxiety and OCD, I made a point of talking with friends and family as often as I could. I was privileged to have people around me that could spare an hour on the phone after work (If I’m completely honest my strategy was to cycle through my close group of friends (most of which are male) calling one on each day, so as not to feel like a burden on any one particular friend). The conversations helped me organise the chaos in my head and see my illness for what it was.
I believe that talking about a mental health problem is the best road to recovery. Yet thanks to stigma, learned traits of masculinity, and whatever other reasons, all too often men choose not to talk. Sadly, not talking can lead to tragic endings, particularly the growing crisis of male suicide rates.
As a privileged, young male, I feel personally compelled to make some small contribution to change this. I want to inspire men to have open, honest, perhaps even funny conversations about mental health and change the way they think conversations of this nature should go.
I’ve already been able to do that with very close friends but those conversations were private. What if I made them public? My hope is that by sharing discussions about mental health I can help break the taboo of a man talking about his emotions.
The shape of this endeavour is not yet clear. It could be a piece of print, a website, or a podcast. I’ll start with recording conversations with friends and see where it leads.