Friday, 6 January 2012

Man talk .. why do guys find it difficult to ask for help?

No, I am not likely to be able to give you a suitable answer. And yes, ladies can read this post too :)

I'm sure there are plenty of women that find it hard to ask for help when they could do with it. But men are definitely more renowned for this.

Whilst I am not a stereotypical bloke and have no desire to be, I do of course have some typically male traits. I do hate asking for directions and will generally only do so if something important is at stake .. like when I couldn't find where I needed to be for a job interview and luckily found some people who worked at the place I was going, and who are now my colleagues. But, generally speaking, I prefer to find somewhere myself rather than ask anyone .. maybe this is because men are natural problem solvers and like to solve things. I generally don't like asking for favours such as lifts home, maybe because I feel I might be a nuisance, or maybe again because I like to do things myself :)

One thing I cannot get my head round, however, is when guys suffer from depression but keep it hidden because they're afraid that sharing feelings is not masculine or because they are afraid of appearing weak. Luckily, I don't particularly care if I appear weak at times nor do I care about being macho and keeping a stiff upper lip - I think such things are stupid. And also, I don't know HOW people can keep their feelings in. Normally, if things are severe enough, it ends in tragedy in one way or another, either suicide or someone killing an ex-partner who has left them, or even their own children .. hurt turning into explosive anger. One of the most high profile suicides in recent years was that of Gary Speed, the former footballer and who was Wales's football team manager at the time of his death. He seemed like a happy enough person, indeed he had been on Football Focus just the day before he died, and by all accounts he was one of life's good guys. No one knows what drove him to suicide but there must have been something that he felt he couldn't talk to anyone about, and somehow he managed to hide all his hurt, even from his wife it seems.

There is no way I could have kept all my feelings hidden when I was at my worst, and even though I will never quite know how I managed to get through to the other side after my second breakdown, I will always be grateful for the support I did get from family and friends. I guess, for me, things do have to get pretty bad before I ask for help, but it really is sad that there are so many men out there who suffer in silence .. and I suspect that there are more people in this situation than we think. I guess doctors can help, but taking a tablet isn't going to be a permanent solution, and until people are less afraid to be vulnerable and talk about their issues, then the hurts will linger on. England, in particular, has a pretty horrendous macho, stiff upper lip culture, where men just don't talk to other men about things the way women do, and I think this causes a fair degree of suffering. It's insane that turning to alcohol is a far more predominant 'solution'. Hopefully one day we will realise that talking about issues does not mean you are gay or non-masculine .. but rather just a normal human being. It is difficult for us guys .. we do have egos and we like to solve problems .. and reaching out for help is not easy .. but I am fed up with this culture and taboo reading depression .. Depression is truly one of the worst things in the world and affects both men and women (and I suspect the percentage figure for men is probably higher than statistics show).

Not asking for directions is one thing .. and it's a pretty small thing really .. but when the most important things are at stake .. ie someone's life .. we need to not be ashamed to ask for help and/or support.

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