The loneliness of depression
The loneliness of depression can be overwhelming. The reality of it can weigh you down and make you a completely different person. It strips all of your layers away and breaks down your walls so you become vulnerable, disjointed, desperate and hopeless.
That’s how I felt anyway and it is different for each person. Different triggers, different emotions, different dark places and different recovery. The sad fact is, some people never recover. Did you know that more men take their lives than women?
Why do more men commit suicide than women?
Let me start with some facts. Hard evidence is difficult to obtain and actual figures for suicide are not always 100% accurate. This is because some deaths by suicide are only registered after a year to more. All the figures I have are taken from the Samaritans website, You can check it all out here – Samaritans.org.
In 2021 there was 5,219 registered suicides. That gives a suicide rate of 10.5 per 100,000 people. Out of that the male suicide rate was a staggering 15.8 per 100,000 compared to 5.5 per 100,000 for women! Men aged 40-49 now have the highest rate and unsurprisingly it was the North east of England that had the highest suicide rate of 14.1 per 100,000. This was just in England.
In fact Ruth Sutherland, the Chief Executive of The Samaritans states in her blog that suicide is the leading cause of death for men under 50. The leading cause! Just think about that for a second. Suicide is killing more men under 50 than cancer, one of the biggest killers of our time.
What is the reason?
This is where things get a little muddied and unclear. The issue is complicated but, when you factor in the following it starts to become clearer like a heavy mist finally lifting.
There is, despite the so called rise of equality, more pressure on men than on women. We are still expected to “man up” when it comes to our feelings. Men get dealt the shit hand when divorce happens in a marriage. There’s a lot of pressure to be more masculine and be stronger emotionally. The list goes on.
Strength of a man
We are hardwired to be the strong one, to carry the pressures of work and family, to be there for others and never show weakness. I saw a reel on Facebook or Instagram the other day depicting a man and a women in a relationship. They fell in love, got married and had kids. The man was out working, providing for his young family. He worked late and was shouted at by his wife. He couldn’t go out and socialise because he had to help with the housework. He was always tired.
He was so exhausted from working, housework, helping the wife and not having time for himself that he had no energy for his wife. Too tired to make love, too tired to make conversation and probably too afraid he might say the wrong thing. Eventually his wife started getting messages from a guy. She gave in and had an affair. Her friends told her she deserved to be happy because her man didn’t pay enough attention.
They got divorced, the wife got the house, the car and the kids. He could only afford a dingy flat. Hey was always working so could only spend a short time with his kids. The wife blamed the husband for their separation and told the kids that daddy was too busy for them, when it was her keeping them away.
You get the picture! Yet people wonder why men commit suicide. We are not as strong as we are led to believe or that women believe us to be. We have feelings and emotions but we are afraid to show them!
Is it depression then?
While it isn’t clinically or scientifically proven that depression is what causes most male suicides, there is a definite case to be made. Men suffer with depression and for the most part, we do it in silence. We don’t want to trouble anyone else with our problems. We don’t want to appear weak. We think we can deal with it and make it go away with sheer willpower.
Unfortunately, that is rarely, if ever the case. Suffering from depression is lonely for most people but even more so for men. Trying to keep it together leads, inevitably, to drinking more alcohol. This in turn feeds the depression, making it worse than before. It eats away at us and we hide from it. We run from it until eventually, we have nowhere else to hide, no more road to run on and it swallows us whole.
The loneliness of depression
When I was going through my worst breakdown, I did it alone. I held it all in until I couldn’t hold it any longer. It was like having a burning ball in my hands that I knew had to be thrown but couldn’t muster the strength to do so. I walked with it, worked with it and went home with it. A shadow that couldn’t be seen and it weighed heavily on my shoulders.
I wrote about my breakdown in a previous blog Mental health is no joke! so I won’t go in to all that again. I just want you to understand how fucking lonely it was. Being the only one who knew and not actually knowing how to speak about it.
Eventually I did and it was the hardest thing I have ever had to do. But, down the line I feel stronger and more aware of my own feelings. There is no need for men to go through that much pain because they can’t talk to anyone. We no longer need to “man up”, “suck it up”, “snap out of it” or any other ludicrous suggestion to be a man.
What we need to do is stand up, open our mouths and let out how we are feeling.
You are not alone
If you are feeling depressed and/or suicidal then you are not alone. There are people you can call and talk to. The Samaritans were my first port of call and they were amazing. You can call them on 116 123. You can also reach out to me for help. I’m available on email – tony@thebeardedbrit or for a quicker response on Instagram – the.beardedbrit. I can’t give you advice but I can listen.
We need to stand together as men and tackle the stigma of mental health. Let’s make it normal to talk about it and to express our feelings. Let us be united as men to help, guide and support each other. Let’s break the chain of toxic masculinity and destroy the barriers that have been placed in front of us. We can do this!
Thank you for reading The loneliness of depression. Your support keeps me going and I couldn’t write these blogs without you guys!
Take care and keep growing