Masculinity and Mental Health

November is Movember, and where in years past the focus has primarily been on men’s prostate health, mental health has now become a part of the focus for Movember. This is a topic near and dear to my heart, as masculinity, and mental health have been things I’ve battled with for much of my life. Earlier this month a friend of mine David Goddard sat down with me to shoot some images for a photography project he is doing for Movember. Below is one of the images and what I wrote to accompany the image.

Aesthetically I might fit the mold of the guy’s guy, the alpha male who plays it cool, always gets the girl, and wins at the end of the day - a traditional model of masculinity. However, for many years I was crippled by an inability to deal with emotions and feelings which has contributed to many personal failures in athletics, my career, and relationships. And that’s okay, because failure is a part of life, and I’m aware of it now. I know that that is now a part of who I am, and that by continuing to work with a therapist and by taking time to work on myself, I can learn from what has happened before. I can face my failures and my victories, and put        myself in a better position to succeed in the future and I can be better prepared to face failures or disappointments when they inevitably arise.  I remember being ashamed of having to see a therapist when I was in elementary school, because I thought it meant there was something wrong with me. If I can do or say anything so that young boys and young men don’t feel ashamed to see a therapist, work on their mental health, or share how things make them feel, I will. That is a big reason why I’m participating in this project. Being a man and dealing with mental health is nothing to be ashamed of, if anything I proudly wear that as a badge of honor, in the hope that somehow by doing so, I can help someone else struggling with their mental health.   Men historically have a tendency to hold things in, to suck it up, to be cool, to not show emotion. For most of my life I’ve followed this deleterious tendency, and in some way, shape, or form have been in therapy trying to deal with the impacts. When I was a child my therapy was court ordered as a result of my parents divorce. In high school it was parent ordered as they saw me struggling to form healthy relationships. Once I got to college and then graduated, I started to understand the benefit of therapy and went periodically of my own free will. For a bit I thought I had figured things out and didn’t need it any more. In the last few years I realized that we never have it all figured out and that I am much happier, more present, connected to my emotions, and honest with myself when I am actively working on my mental health regularly with a therapist.

Aesthetically I might fit the mold of the guy’s guy, the alpha male who plays it cool, always gets the girl, and wins at the end of the day - a traditional model of masculinity. However, for many years I was crippled by an inability to deal with emotions and feelings which has contributed to many personal failures in athletics, my career, and relationships. And that’s okay, because failure is a part of life, and I’m aware of it now. I know that that is now a part of who I am, and that by continuing to work with a therapist and by taking time to
work on myself, I can learn from what has happened before. I can face my failures and my victories, and put        myself in a better position to succeed in the future and I can be better prepared to face failures or disappointments when they inevitably arise.

I remember being ashamed of having to see a therapist when I was in elementary school, because I thought it meant there was something wrong with me. If I can do or say anything so that young boys and young men don’t feel ashamed to see a therapist, work on their mental health, or share how things make them feel, I will. That is a big reason why I’m participating in this project. Being a man and dealing with mental health is nothing to be ashamed of, if anything I proudly wear that as a badge of honor, in the hope that somehow by doing so, I can help someone else struggling with their mental health. 

Men historically have a tendency to hold things in, to suck it up, to be cool, to not show emotion. For most of my life I’ve followed this deleterious tendency, and in some way, shape, or form have been in therapy trying to deal with the impacts. When I was a child my therapy was court ordered as a result of my parents divorce. In high school it was parent ordered as they saw me struggling to form healthy relationships. Once I got to college and then graduated, I started to understand the benefit of therapy and went periodically of my own free will. For a bit I thought I had figured things out and didn’t need it any more. In the last few years I realized that we never have it all figured out and that I am much happier, more present, connected to my emotions, and honest with myself when I am actively working on my mental health regularly with a therapist.