Publishing a personal blog so publicly creates an uncomfortable feeling of vulnerability, especially with how honest I can be.
I found it really interesting when listening to well-being podcasts with guest celebrities and authors who revealed that sharing their experience (whether it be through writing a book or talking on a podcast) was something that would/had potential to trigger them and resulted in their reluctance or delay to finish their projects.
I found this so refreshing to hear as I have felt a degree of avoidance around sharing my experiences of (what I now know to be) trauma-related OCD, so much so that I heave been aware that I have wanted to blog again from as early 2014, when I moved to Southampton. I have even, at times, had the desire to begin writing 'in secret' with the view that I could publish a book one day, knowing fine well that I'll never 'be ready' to do so, or will I (I now wonder)?
I listened to the audiobook for 'The Body Keeps The Score' by Bessel Van Der Kolk recently where the above was reiterated as I learned that sufferers of trauma in childhood (for example) were often likely to be triggered by increased talking therapy which summarised (what I now know to be) the fine line between drug and talking therapies.
All I know is, I've spent the last few years denying myself of the support that I need from therapeutic conversation (whether that be in professional therapy or conversations with a like-minded friend) as I've quite literally stopped talking about things.
When I fainted in August 2021, I questioned quite angerly "am I a person that's supposed to have regular therapy for the rest of my days just to get by?!" to which my mum replied "if that's what it takes and it helps you then why can't you?" (which I needed to hear her say).
She had a point though didn't she - why can't I?
The answers to my mum's response, which have engulfed my world to date, are:
- Stigma around men's emotional well-being
- Being too proud to rely on a therapist, on an ongoing basis
- Talking about my feelings makes me feel like others perceive me as weak and less of a man
- Comments made by unhelpful and uncaring family members, who quite frankly I haven't got the time of day for
Point 3 is an interesting one, isn't it?
And this point is the foundation as to why I have taken the steps to create #KindOnMind The Podcast.
If I(!) can still(!) feel stigma after all of the progress that I have made over the years in therapy, then I can only imagine how difficult it is for Joe Bloggs to open up about his mental health... but that's just it... Joe Bloggs doesn't, does he? The Office of National Statistics state that suicide is the biggest killer in man under 45 in the UK, and I can only imagine how this has increased during the global pandemic.
Owning my narrative and sharing my story (in settings that I feel comfortable(ish) with) is the only way for me to welcome the type of positive and nourishing relationships I want in my life.
Surely a more open dialogue from men is the only way to educate those younger than us?
I'm a Godfather to my cousin's little boy, Leo, and part of my role (for me) requires me to be a positive male role, like the one I lost too soon in childhood (my grandad), and part of that involves leading the example in 'how to be a man' along with Leo's dad, grandad and uncle.
Nothing about these visions of mine are weak or less masculine, and perhaps maybe I needed to read what I'm just written right now, as the very definition of masculinity is to actually show up and own who you are, so why do us men struggle so much to do it?