Thursday, 11 April 2013

Men and health

Most people probably know that men often struggle to talk about both mental and physical health issues. The former category isn't too difficult for me, but when it comes to physical health issues, I do struggle. I have something of a phobia of going to the doctors, and also am very squeamish, which maybe doesn't help. But I want to look at both categories and give my opinions as to what prevents men from getting the help they might need.

When it comes to mental health then .. okay plenty of women put on a 'brave face' too - but for men, it seems like it's almost a badge of honour to bottle your feelings and try to 'stay strong'. Apparently manhood means that revealing your fears, hurts and depression is a weakness. That did not come from any book of wisdom. So many men use alcohol to cover up their sadness, and that is considered 'normal'. Maybe men are genuinely worried that revealing their feelings is 'gay' - which again is not true. I suppose, one of the few good things about being isolated at school was that I ended up not being too fussed about peer pressure and what the crowd thinks .. and I absolutely believe that being open about 'stuff' is important. And maybe, having the breakdowns whereby it was impossible to keep my emotions bottled, helped me understand the importance of opening up.

I guess that one of the main reasons why men don't talk about their feelings is that they are worried about what other people will think .. ie their friends or even their partners .. and there are probably some women who think that men shouldn't talk about these things. People do worry about their friends and family rejecting them (otherwise there would be far more people who think outside the box). Also, maybe guys are subconsciously scared that talking about their problems would make things worse and they wouldn't be able to cope. This is definitely not true from my experience. As the saying goes 'Don't suffer in silence' which I totally agree with.

Let's turn our attention to physical health then .. well, obviously, I can only speak for myself, but I am scared that, if somebody told me I had a scary health problem, I could be pushed over the edge, partly maybe because I still have something of a fear of death as a result of my time in Christianity and the related breakdowns I had. I don't worry much on a day to day basis about getting cancer, but I have a big fear of the C word. Maybe saying this now will help. I don't have any serious health problems that I know of and am rarely physically ill, but there's the 'what if' feeling that makes me scared of going to see the doctor, when it may occasionally help me. I have suffered a lot from stress, but I feel I need to be ready before I face my fears and see a doctor about it.

Obviously, I don't know for sure if other guys have the same reasons for not wanting to get their health checked, but I would hazard a guess that the biggest reason is that men are just scared, not because they don't care about their health. Also, like I mentioned, I am VERY squeamish .. if there's any sort of picture where blood is involved, I have to look away. I would probably faint if I worked in a hospital.
But I do know deep down it's important to look after your health as best you can .. I don't want to push myself too hard to get over my fears .. but taking baby steps may help.



  1. Its great your tackling your fears here Andy, perhaps you could tackle all those fears one at a time on your blog, I am sure your readers and other men are searching for support and connections on this too. I had for the longest time a fear of losing my teeth and my hair. I had panic attacks about it. Until I realised it was about roots, fear of losing my roots (teeth have roots & hair), so I was brave and finally went to the dentist and it was good because I had the beginnings of gum disease. Going cleaned them up, and made them healthy again. So its these little things sometimes its good to get a general check out for prevention and peace of mind.

  2. Weirdly I've never minded dentists really, even having a tooth out for me wasn't too bad (partly because the procedures were so good), it was just the price that was the reason I didn't go for a while. Obviously with me I don't keep much hair anyway but obviously it's different for women. Hopefully I will be able to face some of the things that worry me a bit.


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