I always thought that being a man was about being strong, not showing fear, handling your issues by yourself without a complaint and under absolutely no circumstances show that you are struggling.
The films I grew up inforced this image; the strong guy that everyone can look to, he doesn't feel stress or anxiety, he doesn't feel inadequate, and he certainly doesn't allow others to see him vulnerable. So growing up, I would try and model myself on men such as these, and I would chastise myself for feeling any other way than 'How a man should feel and behave'.
In my twenties, I realised I wasn't that guy, and that is when my mental health issues began to start. It didn't take long for the whole facade to crack, and I began questioning who I was as a man; it was a very, very dark time for me.
Fast forward several years; I gained life experience, an amazing woman, two great kids and a great group of friends. I started Building Back Stronger, and I now know I am a much happier person for it.
However, I still have bad days that flatten you and take the wind clean out of your sails. Something was missing, and that is where the lads from Brotectors came into the picture with the BroBox scheme.
Here is a group of guys who, at first glance, young men would do well to look up to. A group of guys with an unconquerable spirit but, above all, a group of guys who are there for one another. They're willing to break out of their comfort zones, to share their stories and to spread the word to those other men who are feeling the strain of day-to-day life to NOT suffer in silence. They will always have a friendly ear and a place to speak without judgment and build a support network that will last a lifetime.
This was the missing piece I had been looking for, and I cannot thank the guys at Brotectors enough for doing the amazing job that they do. The message they spread is very important, and these guys constantly fight to get the word out to more and more people each day.
Through the BroBox scheme, they have managed to build a support network that may not have been made before, all the while building the confidence and general health of those who attended and, more importantly, showing guys what 'normal' really is.
This blog post in brought to you in conjunction with our men's mental health partners Brotectors and their project BroBox.
The project comprises sessions of a boxing class mixed with small group chats about how the men can support each other and how Brotectors can help #breakthestigma.
Each participant has generously shared their own stories and why they've gotten involved in BroBox in the form of blog posts. This weeks blog post has come from Sam Andrews.