On being a man
I wasn’t sure what to write about today, Then half an hour ago I saw a couple of bits of TV that stood out for me. They touched on themes that I wrote about in an earlier post on perceived roles, language and how it makes it difficult to reach out for help.
The first was the second section of the first instalment of Being a Man by Grayson Perry. It dealt with the suicide of a young man aged 30 in Newcastle. They spoke to his Mum who said the following that struck a chord with me. ‘I am sure he didn’t want to die for ever, he just wanted to die for now’ The idea that the pain is temporary but if you can’t reach out for help then you cannot see that, it just seems endless.
Then a conversation with his friends, they all had no idea, saying they would have helped if they had known. Then they talked about the macho culture of going out with the lads the banter, the bravado – but not seeing that the culture stops you from reaching out.
Then I realise that I have missed the news headlines.
I turn on the news to see a democrat leader in tears about the immigration controls implemented by the Trump administration. Then they cut to Trump, who talks about false tears and how he must have had a good acting coach and derides him for being weak.
So with these models how can we encourage men to reach out for support without being perceived as weak. The language needs to change dramatically. One of the hardest parts of writing this blog has been the language that we use. The negative tropes used to describe mental health and illness are ingrained in our language, breakdown, feeling weak, low, the use of metaphors for battle (though that is not unique to mental health). Even as I wrote these posts and then reread them there was nearly always one of these phrases in the text.
So if we are to encourage people to reach out for support, we need to work on the language, the language reinforces the institutionalised nature of the stigma. All of us need to think about the language that we use. You may be talking in a group, when this language is used. Unaware that one of the group needs to reach out for support and then stops fearful of what will be said.
We can all play a part in initiating this change. We have learnt to call out racist, sexist, homophobic language. Now we need to work on positive language around mental health, small steps etc.
Day 30 – 35 mins
That was magical. I drop Gill off and park at the transmitter, unlike yesterday I did mean to be here. Dawn is just breaking so I leave the head torch in the car and set off on to Cunswick Scar. I have to pick my path carefully through the tree roots and stones at first and then I am out on the fell. The frost on the grass gives everything a silver birch sort of look, like a shimmer. The frost isn’t a hard frost, so your feet crunch through the surface and it sounds like I am running in a bowl of rice crispies (other breakfast cereals are available). There is a wonderful moment when just before the sun rises the sky still has the deep dark blue of night with the stars visible and the ground is just being lit by the glow on the horizon.Then as more light arrives some of the greens turn to russet, the cold blue of the sky begins to warm as the sun rises. I stop at the cairn on Cunswick Scar and look over to the snow capped Kentmere fells. It’s not a bad way to start the week. Then I drop off the back and loop round in a figure of 8 to head back to the car. About half way back I get a strange sensation underfoot, it is like I am slipping. I know it has been frosty but not to the extent of being frozen and slippy. It is only when I walk back to the car and feel something flapping that I look down and see that the heel has come off the rear of my shoe. My favourite fell shoes, it is a bit like losing an old friend when a trusted pair of running shoes bites the dust but I have had them for years. So I can buy myself a new pair to celebrate finishing the challenge!
Dawn Monday morning – Cunswick Scar