10 Apr

Sara Weir

It’s 2018, men don’t need to fight bears

Being an adult is hard. Most of us are born into this world, kicking and screaming and we probably don’t stop crying until we’re around, what, 33? At 33, we look like we’ve gotten our shit together and most of us by that point have forgiven our parents for forcing us into adulthood; paying bills, counting down the days to the weekend and feeling guilty for eating cake for breakfast. Again. 

So as if being alive wasn’t hard enough, we also tend to suffer in silence – which is what the majority of us do when it comes to talking about our mental health. It’s embarrassing. It’s a sign of weakness. It’s taboo.  

1 in 4 of us experience mental health issues, so why aren’t we talking about it? If 100% of people who do CrossFit talk about doing CrossFit, then why are we not talking about our depression, our stresses and our anxiety? In 2016, 5,668 people took their own lives in the UK due to struggles with mental illnesses, although this number may be higher as these were only the ones recorded. 75% of this 5,668 were male. Amongst men, suicide is the most common cause of death between the ages of 20-49. 

Now is the time for us to start getting our shit together. 

For women, loose lips sink ships all the damn time but when women band together, it is glorious. Historically, women have been seen as second class creatures compared to men. They have been silenced, abused and neglected. Even today, women are struggling to prove their worth by earning less than a man for doing the exact same job. Medical worries which are voiced are considered unconcerning and it is only now that the world listens to the pain a woman can experience during her period, all because a man has published a medical study showing that period pain in women is equal to what men can endure during a heart attack. 

As society is constantly shifting and telling us all how to act, how to look and what to say, I’ve realised that our gender roles are almost reversing and we’re not moving forward. The statistic shown above regarding suicide rates in men show that men are feeling silenced and neglected. 

In a society where men are supposed to chop wood, fight bears and chuck their lover over his shoulder and march them into the bedroom, how in the world are they supposed to openly talk about their worries and concerns without being scorned or made to feel emasculated? The high suicide rates prove that men are struggling more than women to overcome their mental health battles – and why is this? Do men not feel comfortable talking about their mental health? Are we judging men for admitting that their mental health isn’t great? And although the suicide rates are lower amongst women, they are still happening.  Do women just ‘put up with it’ because that’s what they’ve been told to do so for long and if so, what is leading these women to think that they have no way out? 

From personal experience, I believe that at times, your mind can be your own worst enemy. If I didn’t live with my boyfriend and get out of bed each morning to go to work, I can see why people begin to wander into the abyss. But what sets me apart from those other people? 

Absolutely fuck all. 

I am not special. I have suffered, I do suffer and my mental health is something that I am going to be conscious about for the rest of my life. Having good mental health is something that I will educate my children about; alongside telling them to brush the teeth that they want to keep and encouraging physical exercise. Talking to others about my experiences has probably saved my life, because the more we open up, the more we realise that we’re not alone. The realisation these fears and concerns aren’t just happening to me is like Christmas coming early – the amount of moments I’ve had when I’ve heard someone say something so damned relatable and a wave of relief has washed over me, ‘oh, thank duck, it’s not just me.’ 

But if we don’t talk about it, we’re going to feel alone and we’re going to feel that there is no way out. 

So how can we start to change this? Mental health does not discriminate – it doesn’t give a hoot if you have money, a perfectly straight nose, a thigh gap or if you like steak bakes. Man or woman, we all experience the same issues in our minds and there’s no shame in that at all! This is 2018, women aren’t going to get thrown into a mental asylum for reading a novel and men don’t need to fight bears to appear masculine to the masses. 

We all have a responsibility to look after our planet, ourselves and each other.




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