We put off having a chat with our mates when we’re feeling down, we don’t visit our GP, and we don’t talk to our partner either. We follow the stereotypical male rule and believe we’re tough and that ‘being a man’ means being silent and strong. How wrong we are.
It can be extremely harmful to follow these social norms around masculinity, especially regarding your mental health. It makes it incredibly hard for many of us to acknowledge when we’re not doing too well and even harder to reach out for the support we need when we’re struggling. The difference between expected behaviours and a sign of a mental illness isn’t always easy, and there is a fine line between a bad day and a mental issue.
Everyone’s mental health varies during their lifetime, from a positive and healthy outlook to severe mental health symptoms and conditions. Many people have concerns, but those concerns can become a mental illness when ongoing signs and symptoms cause frequent stress, affect your ability to function, and don’t get identified.
Depending on the disorder, signs and symptoms of any mental illness can vary, but it will undoubtedly affect your emotions, thoughts, and behaviours. It can make you miserable, and it can cause problems in your daily life, such as at work or in your relationships. There’s no test but educating yourself on what to look out for and knowing when you need to reach out for help is a must for everyone.
Examples of signs and symptoms include:
• Feeling sad or down
• Confused thinking or reduced ability to concentrate
• Excessive fears or worries or extreme feelings of guilt
• Extreme mood changes of highs and lows
• Withdrawal from friends and activities
• Significant tiredness, low energy or problems sleeping
• Detachment from reality (delusions), paranoia or hallucinations
• Inability to cope with daily problems or stress
• Trouble understanding and relating to situations and people
• Problems with alcohol or drug use
• Major changes in eating habits
• Sex drive changes
• Excessive anger, hostility, or violence
• Suicidal thinking
Knowing the warning signs will be the trigger to speak to someone, which you should always do: a friend, a family member, your GP or a therapist. Getting an accurate diagnosis is the first step in a treatment plan for many people.
There is no medical test that can diagnose a mental illness. Depression, anxiety, phobias. It’s a manual identification which includes your feelings and behaviours over time, which will classify you as having a mental health condition, nothing that can’t be managed with a combination of medications and talk.
After diagnosis, a treatment plan can be written up by your GP, plus there are lifestyle changes and habits you can introduce into your day which will help you beat the demons.
Don’t be scared or embarrassed to reach out if you know you need a hand before the going gets tough. Help is always available to you, and you can always reach out to us here at MESOA. We’re here to talk, listen, and share our stories too.
Pull up a chair.