I swear to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth, so help me God.
I’m not a religious man, but if I was, you could assume that I was experiencing a crisis of faith. Doubting yourself and peering into every nook and cranny of your life searching for flaws and failures is tiring enough, but even more so when those doubts claw their way into the places you thought were safe. Where the mental walls you’d built were firm and strong and not just an idealisation, akin to those whipped up by Trump in his dreams of holding back the perceived Mexican tide.
When the cracks start to show, when the droplets find their way through the bubbles in the concrete and the foundations that you’d laid so deep; well, then it is only a matter of time until the dam breaks and you’re swept downstream hitting every rock in the rapids as you go. I am on this journey now, hurtling and faltering in the white waters gasping for breath in the fleeting seconds I find myself above water. Clutching onto every boulder for dear life, praying to anything and everything not to be dragged back under. But these rapids are not uncharted waters, they are not unknown to me. I’ve been here before and I’m sure I’ll be here again and that’s why it’s even scarier, because you know how easy it is to fall in. Getting out is the real struggle, and it’s hard. It’s really bloody hard. The twisted part is that your brain tricks you into believing that your problems are all self-inflicted and that you’re to blame for everything so you cry and cry and cry. You let the tears stream down your cheeks, stinging the rosy curve as it trickles to your jawline and runs down and under your chin.
In the way we judge individuals in society, obsessively grading people based on materialistic achievements and monetary value, he wouldn’t be classed as an exceptional man. He doesn’t have an expensive car, a big house, a holiday home abroad, tailor-made suits or a flashy watch. He would be described as ordinary, average, the dead centre of a Venn diagram. And yet to me, he is the most brilliant man I know. His love for me and his family transcends passion and loyalty, it lies far beyond the realm of understanding. He sacrifices everything for me and those around him, foregoing pleasures and moments of happiness and peace that he is more than entitled to after the life he has had. However, in spite of all this, of all the times he has lost out, missed out or given up for me, the thing I admire most about him is his ability to believe in me and stand by me when I’ve stopped believing in myself.
I’ve always been a sensitive person, crying at films and books from as far back as I can remember and when my problems with mental health started to develop, this sensitivity contributed to my pain and suffering. I can feel all of the sorrow in the world. Imagine Superman, who can hear everyone who needs help, calling out to him in the middle of the night. Whenever my friends are sad, hurt or upset, I feel it too. Their heartache is my heartache and I despise the fact that just because I’m a man, I am put down, ridiculed or mocked for showing emotion and talking about how I feel.
Earlier tonight, I had a look at the shortlist for the Mind Awards. Out of the 5 nominees in the blogging category, no male bloggers were nominated. Now, I’m not sure if it’s a reflection on the talent of male writers or, more likely, the notion that men still feel such a weight of shame and adversity if they speak out about mental health. The stigma spreads like wildfire and in the space of a few misplaced or malicious comments, men clam up and hide away from the world. All too often they feel discouraged to share their inner most secrets and fears. I admit that I too am guilty of not being completely transparent when it comes to my mental health. So in light of this, I promise to be radically honest when it comes to the state of my mental health. There will be no heirs or graces, no stones left unturned. It won’t always be pleasant but it won’t always be grey skies either. In life, there is yin and a yang, and I think I’ve shied away from being truthful about how I feel for far too long. It’s high time that I ignored the criticisms, the fear of judgement and abandonment from friends a family and started helping people. If I can pull one person from their dark place by letting them know what mine look like then all of this will be worth something.