Why Men Die Younger

Since a good deal of this blog will be about mental illness (with a specific focus on men), I look for articles that broach the subject. So we’ll interrupt the Family Vacation Saga for an article from a magazine I never read: GQ.

I always kinda cringe at titles like this. In my mind, I see a female Inspector Clouseau examining some poor sap with a magnifying glass. “Ah, look here Kait-Lin, this man cannot express his emotions, therefore, I conclude he MUST be, as they say, déprimé.”

Or perhaps Mutual of Manhattan’s Marlene Perkins, stalking through the underbrush of some wild American city. “Now we come up to one of the watering holes that men congregate at. If you look carefully, you’ll see many of them are slumped over, looking at the bottom of their drinks. These are the ‘depressed men,’ once thought rare, but becoming more numerous as the conditions of their environment change.” 

If you spot a depressed man, be careful in your approach. As the GQ article points out, they can be quite dangerous if spooked:

• “Are consistently disproportionately angry and may be violent sometimes.”

Ah, we’re off to a great start. 
Seriously, both authors are from the UK where, perhaps, based on the availability (somewhat) of mental health services through the NHS, and copious amounts of warm beer, men are, perhaps, someone more emotional than their American counterparts. Especially when their football team (soccer) has lost.
But for most men of developed nations (i.e. ‘The West’),  the following holds true:
“It’s OK for boys to be assertive, strong, rough and tumble. It’s not OK for boys to be vulnerable, show signs of apparent weakness or not being able to cope . . . Often the shame of expressing emotion is so deep seated that many men repress their feelings. This is the reason why suicide is the number one cause of death in men under 50.”  
Not surprising. There are many men who would rather be gut-shot than show emotions other than anger, rage or ‘feed me.’ 
My problem was exactly the opposite. I could never hide my emotions. They would always show on my face and always, seemingly, within 15 feet of my father who could barely contain his rage at a son who could not be happy despite being taken on a family vacation to Wyoming which was provided by a loan from a finance company.
Or, a son who could not be happy at a time in his life, my father reasoned, where he had none of the real world responsibilities and concerns that were killing him.
Although that’s not entirely accurate since my father died of lymphoma, his fear of opening up to anyone about any physical problem and his high rate of stress and rage no doubt helped lead to his death at 51.
And he was a stoic tough guy right up to the very end. I only saw the man cry once  – on his deathbed when I told him I was going to get engaged. I couldn’t tell who was more embarrassed – me or him.  
So I bleed all over the place which greatly annoyed my second wife who felt I revealed way too much of myself to ‘strangers.’ She was right, but I could not and can not be anyone other than I am. I mean, look at this blog for instance. I’m bipolar2 with depression and related anxiety. Technically, in every other world other than the real one, I don’t exist. Neurosis as part of geekdom plays well on TV but really genuinely depressed or bipolar men are portrayed, if at all, as psychopaths.

Who said that? The voices?

 Even with all my conditions, including liver disease, I’m convinced I’ve outlived my father (who was a Marine would could do fingertip push-ups) because I’ve not kept all that angst bottled up inside. I’ve let it out and made everyone suffer along with me. 

So here are some comments on the ‘signs’ of depressed men, should you go out and actually stalk them in the wild:
* Find the emotions of sadness, fear or guilt unbearable and may never express them.
I find them all unbearable and express them. But it’s still OK to have the hangdog depression when you’re team loses the Super Bowl. This is why there are no depressed male football fans in Cleveland. They gave up those fantasies in their youth.
* Are constantly seeking to be only happy, high, powerful or jolly.
What if you are all four? You mean Donald Trump is actually depressed? Who knew?

He’s all of them! Lord, help us!

 * Become obsessed and addicted to the source of their “high”, like not giving up a love affair, obsessively working long hours, an overly vigorous fitness regime, drinking too much alcohol. If you asked them to have a night off or change plans for it they would refuse or get angry about it.

This is also a perfect description to apply to someone who is (a) bipolar, (b) OCD, (c) chemically dependent (d) sociopathic, etc. etc. Which is why descriptions like this are generally useless, but, as they say ‘get us to open up and discuss this vitally important issue.’ Gag.
And here is some advice from GQ’s authors:

Be clear you are open to listen, but don’t force the issue. This may lead to feelings of shame and they may cut you off. Be patient and be prepared to drop everything and listen if they decide to talk because you might not get another chance.

“Look, I want you to know I’m here for you. Let me know if it’s really important, OK?”

Don’t go into fix it mode and insist they see a counselor. Opening up to you is probably hard enough.

Because, yeah, why should he trust his wife? “You’re a beta, Frank. I thing our marriage is over.”

Don’t take away all of their tasks and responsibilities because this will make them feel even more useless. Instead offer to do it together so that you can support them rather than take over.

But men are stupid oafs! Don’t you watch TV? You HAVE to constantly help them! They’ll either kill themselves or buy the wrong toilet paper!

Husband: moron
Wife: macho

Be understanding of their behavior but do hold them to account if the behavior is unacceptable.

All I did was shoot the car!”

Never shame them for sharing their feelings.

Because their dads have already done that.

If all else fails, take out another life insurance policy.

This entry was posted in bipolar, depression, donald trump, men. Bookmark the permalink.

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