Men’s Mental Health.

I am not a Doctor, and have no qualification to comment on Men’s Mental Health, apart from being a bloke who has struggled.

I am not an expert. In pretty much anything, tbph.

I am a chap who might sell you an immersion heater, who was a 100% committed family man for 18 years, who lost that reason for living due to lockdowns and divorce, and have struggled to keep the wheels on the wagon for the past few months.

I had been admitting to close friends for a good 18 months previously that I was struggling with my mental health.

As the Irish Times say about Richie Sadlier and his moving autobiography, Recovering, “He’s evangelical about the power of opening up, he says, partly because he kept things in for so long.”

What blew me away was how folks open up when you confess your own fears and struggles. It turns out the vast majority of people are struggling too. I have heard some jaw dropping stories from people I believed to be all “together”.

But no bugger admits it, normally. This FaceB##k bullshit of the bright & shiny life of everyone else, makes us all feel isolated & alone with our struggles. Simple truth is, EVERYBODY is like the swan, calm & imperious above the waterline, but paddling like buggery beneath the surface.

That simple fact alone is very empowering, when you truly believe it.

We are all broken to varying degrees.

We are all coping to varying degrees.

Russell Brand admitted to anxiety, as have many others. (My old school mate Chris Walton is expert on tapping if that piques your interest).

Dr Ellie Cannon’s TV confession of a 15 year battle with anxiety & mental health issues led to an outpouring, mainly by us older folks, not the youngsters.

My own symptoms of panic attack, racing heart, utterly convinced that I am dying, seem fairly mild as they are isolated incidents, thankfully. As is insomnia, caused by a racing mind that I am unable to switch off, when life gets me down. I would never actively participate in my own demise, as my poor parents have already lost one son just shy of his 20th birthday, but sometimes I have felt that were I to die quietly in my sleep, it may be better all round.

I am writing this today, after a call from a mate yesterday telling me of a rich & successful & seemingly “got it all together” colleague, who had killed himself over the weekend. Adding to the sad statistic that suicide is the biggest killer of men under 50 in the UK. This is just not right. We have to be better.

Like I said, I am not an expert, just an enthusiastic amateur. I can only share what has worked for me. It may not work, or even appeal, to you. But have an open mind & try stuff.

  1. Heroic & Areté, these are the Kosher sources. Here are my own pages of Heroic & Areté related videos, sources & information. This is the collated wisdom of the ages, distilled into short reads/listens. It’s motivation & lift Bookends my days, while doing Wim’s breathing, see #2.
  2. Breathe & be COLD. Bear with me, this stuff is stunning. Have an open mind & try it. Wim Hoff introduction video “free” on YouTube, app available here, and if you keep resetting progress, it’s free ongoing. Sorry Wim! I heard about Wim through open  water  swimming, got into COLD showers, and I am constantly amazed at what I can achieve when I really put my mind to it. 21/12/21. 4 cycles of intermediate breathing,
  3. Cultivate the sort of friendships that are more than just superficial. And TALK to these trusted friends. Openly & honestly. Hopefully you receive the same empathy & support that I have. You really find out who your friends are when the shit hits the fan. And I am blessed to have half a dozen blokes, all very different, and for different areas of support as well, who I know have got my back. Sometimes they kick my arse, sometimes they just listen, sometimes they suggest, but they have all contributed to keeping me afloat. Cheers Amigo’s! You know who you are!
  4. Sleep. Magnesium, wind down/read/mediatate, minimise blue light, then bed down at regular time, & rise at a regular time. Walk, preferably counting in hours, not miles.
  5. Exercise. Weights are good for everyone, irrespective of age or sex. We all need a bit of resistance in our lives. Walking is accessible to all & being outdoors is what we are evolved for. 5+ miles a day cures my insomnia very efficiently. Biking is awesome, mountain biking off road is my preference, as I don’t mind damaging myself due to my own ‘toopidity, but don’t want to be killed by somebody else’s, & there are too many car drivers with their eyes on their fone rather than the road. Yoga is my Keystone Habit, when I drag my sorry arse out of bed & do my yoga routine of 15-20 minutes to start the day, the day just goes better.
  6. Meditate daily. Morning & night, I use Headspace, which kinda makes it foolproof. You could just keep using the free course, or it’s £50 a year. Pound a week, bargain!
  7. Remember, “This too shall pass”. Hard when you are down & all seems dark, but it does lift, it does improve. Just typing this now is a lift, cos I am trying to help others, trying to build a Tribe. “If you wanna feel good, do good”, so just go out & make somebody’s shitty little life a bit better, with a compliment, a smile or just a bloody cheery “Good morning!” and you will feel better as well.
  8. Jordan Peterson. Tuff, honest love. The sort of things we really should be teaching in school. Tidy your bloody room! “Life is an existential catastrophe and a tragedy, how much is our own corruption contributing to that?” Now that is a good question! Use YouTube’s Algorithms to your benefit, once it spots you are watching “self help”, it’ll feed you more self help. And there is some really good stuff available, such as After Skool, Einzelgänger, Academy of Ideas, Philosophies for Life, The School of Life, FightMediocrity, SUCCESS CHASERS.
  9. Don’t turn to drink or drugs or any other forms of avoidance. Positive distractions like those listed above are beneficial, destructive habits of addiction are not. The real miracle in this shitty society that we have allowed to be created around us, is that we are not all addicts of some sort. Interesting conversation (13/1/22 ) pointed me at this, Kick Drink Easily which enabled this person to kick a habit that cost him more than my house cost me! He has promised to tell that story in full for me to add here. If you have fallen into addiction, Russell Brand is evangelical about the 12 Step Process of AA.

This is not a comprehensive list, I will probably be back to add & subtract. I would love to hear from anyone with other successful coping strategies, and add yours to the list. It may even end up as a seperate website. I would like it to be a “Vote-able List” if that is possible, so folks can vote up the stuff that works for them, & relegate the stuff that does not. It’d serve to sort the wheat from the chaff. ###edit 21/12/21 – In the spirit of Collaboration, my WebYoda, Damian, is struggling to find a way to do a voteable list, so if any visitors have such knowledge, PLEASE SHARE IT WITH US! ###

Any ideas at all will be welcome, collaborate with me, 07897 246779 or immhtr@gmail.com.

I’ve got a friend works for the Samaritans (Call 116 123) and may volunteer myself, though he warned me the training is very intensive, and they operate a policy of self determination, as in, they don’t talk you out of suicide, and I’m not sure I could cope with that.