Calling All Men

It is common for men to negate their feelings and emotions because we are never taught how to recognize what is actually going on, how to effectively, shamelessly express those feelings, nor are we taught how to manage those feelings. Without these lessons in dealing with emotion, men with sons often recycle these patterns, and new generations are taught to suppress their emotions to live up to the facade of always being “strong” and emotionless.

My Father taught me how to rise before the sun to knock out things you have to get done in order to have time to do things you want to do later.

My Grandfather taught me that even though you may have individuals in your ear telling you everything that you are doing is wrong (normally my grandmother yelling at him LOL), consistent hard work and dedication will produce the results that YOU are looking for.

My Uncle Jeffrey taught me the value of having your own but sharing what you have to help others. A simply joy in life.

My Uncle Lamont, by far one of the greatest influences in my life, taught me how to be cool while constantly hustling and grinding.

As a child, I learned things from the men in my life. Things you should and should not do as a man. Things that you strive to be as a man. Ways a man is a man.

They were there to set examples.

BUT…there were things that I did not learn or experience.

Feelings and emotions came from the women in my family. The hugs, the nurturing, and the “I Love You’s” came from the women - my mom, grandmother and aunts.

Never from the men.

I didn’t hear “Love you” from my pops until I was in my 20s and it was awkward. Why?

It’s not like I ever doubted that he loves and cares for me, but it is not something that was verbally said or even expressed through a hug. It was limited to a dap and half hug with a pat on the back. For a growing boy internalizing every interaction with males in his life, this helps create the norm of refraining from displaying feelings and emotions.

This is not only an issue between fathers and sons but generally characterizes male interactions between uncles, nephews, and male friends.

As we continue to recreate his emotional disconnect from generation to generation we do not realize the affect it has on our mental health.

To help break stigma associated with mental health and mental illness, men must step up to the plate and talk. This is not limited to just fathers to sons, but also with friends and family. We cannot be afraid of being perceived as weak for expressing and showing emotions. WE ARE ALL HUMAN.

A man recognizing his ability to address and manage his emotions correlates with how other men will address and manage their emotions, especially for boys that will grow up to be men.

Creating an emotional connection and harvesting a child's mental and emotional health goes beyond assuming that they know you care, tell them!

Another Perception on Suicide: First Hand

Recently my cousin decided to take his life.   Although we were not close, family is family. For it to get to the point that he felt suicide was his last option, it hurt to hear the news. I found out that he suffered with severe depression for quite some time, and it is ironic that my initiative to spark conversation about mental health awareness missed someone in my own family.   In my attempts, I have shared my vision with some of my family but unfortunately I was unable to reach a family member that was truly in need.

When I found about the incident I was at a lost for words, especially after listening to some of the commentary from my family.

“He brought it on himself”

“It was his fault that he couldn’t get a job and that’s why he was depressed”

“I was hurt when I thought someone killed him, but when I found out he did it himself, I felt like he took the easy way out. God made men to fight through hard situations. (Eff) it”

WHAT DO YOU MEAN (EFF) IT?

This is your blood. Eff it?  He was depressed for quite some time and decides to kill himself. Eff it?   He was having troubles financially and with his girlfriend. Eff it?

So many things ran through my head as I wondered how someone could be so insensitive to the fact that this man’s life is gone.

Yes, he made mistakes. We all have. But does that make his suicide less of a tragedy?

That could have been anyone of us experiencing depression and it is not as easy to “snap out of” as many often suggest.   And when you say “nothing can ever be that bad,” I beg to differ.

So I guess that if the gun that I held to my head would have went off when I pulled the trigger, I would have been considered weak, too. I would have been viewed as less of a man - as someone who took the “easy way out.”  I would have been talked about and the personal battles I was fighting would've been ignored with head shaking and remarks that "nothing could ever be that bad."

That same suicide that someone describes as “the easy way out,” was probably the hardest decision that they ever made. That same suicide that someone describes as "an act of weakness” could have possibly been prevented if that person felt the support and strength from those close to them to make them stronger.

A person can have all of the riches and fame in the world but still suffer from mental illness.

A person can be poor, homeless, and not know where their next meal will come from and suffer from mental illness.

A person can be a model citizen or a criminal and suffer from mental illness.

A person is a person and we must not forget that it is our duty to act as such. Do not dismiss the fact that mental illness is not limited to race, gender, or social status and it affects us all.