mental health · mental wellness

‘Man Up’

A young boy falls and cuts his knee,

Tears swell, threatening to spill and his lips begins to tremble.

He is told, ‘big boys don’t cry.’

Monsters creep and crawl through his dreams, terrified, he calls out in a panic.

He is told that he must be brave and strong, monsters aren’t real.

These words are innocent, intending to bring comfort and safety. Right?

‘Man up’

The young boy grows, a teenager now.

His emotions are buried, shrouded by embarrassment.

These years bring failed exams, loss of friendship and the breakup from his first true love.

But big boys don’t cry.

Exams? They’re stupid.’ He states after getting a bad grade.

‘Friends? Who needs them?’ After punches are thrown and words are lost.

And his ex girlfriend? Well, ‘she was a bitch anyway.’

His heart? Breaking.

His eyes? Crying out for help.

But god forbid anyone sees him crack.

He’s the strong one after all.

The boy now a man

And he’s. Just. Fine.

Busying himself with work because, then he won’t have to feel.

Distracting his mind from the heartbreak and trauma, which is buried.

After all, it’s just something to ‘get over.’

But those feelings are still there, cutting into him like a strip of razors.

Developing into new monsters that haunt his dreams. Far more terrifying than those of a child.

His pain escapes through anger.

Snapping, shouting, exploding.

The words stuck in his throat, dripping like honey.

Unable to grasp his emotions. Unable to speak out.

But it’s okay right?

Because he’s strong,

He’s brave,

He’s a man?

I must state that I’m not categorising All men and All women into two separate boxes. This is just based on my own experiences and the people I’ve known over the years.

Men are taught not to show emotion, to be strong and silent. Bravery is rewarded whilst asking for support or opening up in any way is laughed at and frowned upon.

It’s interesting to see how much men and women differ in social situations. Women tend to gossip over coffee and cake, chitchat over dinners and meet up, well, just to catch up.

Women are encouraged to open up about feelings and it’s probably more in our nature to do so.

Men on the other hand will text about sports scores, banter about women and meet up at the pub to see who can down the most jäger bombs.

There doesn’t seem to be much room (if any) for men to discuss worries, troubles or concerns. Granted, maybe they just don’t want to talk. But then we should ask ourselves; is there no room for conversation because it’s just not in men’s nature? Or is it because that’s what’s been programmed in over the years. Is it because that’s what we are teaching and encouraging? That it’s unacceptable as a male, to talk about feelings?

Overall I believe that we all need to do better. I think it’s time to boycott the phrase ‘man up’. I think we should stop encouraging men to be strong and silent and instead, be more open to discussions, be more open to listening and less focused on judgement.

So from me to you.

If you are struggling, if your words are getting caught in you throat, unable to manage even a whisper.

This is your permission, permission to speak up, permission to begin your healing.

You don’t need to ‘man up,’ you don’t need to think that silent equates to strong or that pushing your feelings away means you’re brave.

You are all those things and more with your voice.

I know it’s hard and terrifying but you don’t have to do it alone.

It’s not just your problem to deal with.

It’s not just your demon to overcome.

It’s not something that ‘doesn’t matter’.

It does mater. You matter. Your mental health matters.

You are supported.

So take that first small step and, speak.

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