When I was 18, I started to feel tired. It was this unending languor, clouding my emotions, hiding my motivation and affecting my concentration. I felt permanently drunk. At the same time, I started to become uneasy; butterflies in my stomach and panic became the norm.
“You’re in the middle of a major depressive episode,” my psychologist told me during my first appointment. Here, I cried for the first time. At 18, I realised that I had perfected the art of hiding, concealing, and building the perfect facade. As a male, I felt, vulnerability wasn’t an option for me.
“You need to learn how to talk to your parents,” she said. I didn’t know how to do that. At this point, I recognised that I had never properly learnt how to access my sadness, let alone to verbalise this to my family.
We have taught, and are continuing to teach, young boys in Australia that emotion is not okay. We are teaching young boys that intimacy between one another should be feared.
In a society where women value the bonds between each other, why doesn’t the same apply for men?
This mentality ultimately extends into adulthood, perpetuating a culture in which manliness does not seem to correlate with the sharing of emotion. At this point, it is important to note that suicide is roughly three times higher in Australian males than females. Why is it that we wait to speak about a man’s depression until it is too late? Reaching out and valuing our male friendships shouldn’t need to be accompanied by a joke. Alas, we have truly grown up into a society in which males fear sharing emotion with one another.
– Louis Hanson