This is a tough blog to write, because, to be frank, I’m not sure I’ve got the words to do the subject justice.
But I’ll give it a try, as it’s such an important issue.
We’ve all used the words touched, moved and humbled for remarkable experiences, but this week I got absolutely swept up, crashed down, and emotionally spun dried.
I went to an event called No Man Left Behind, which was about mental health amongst men.
As you no doubt know, there’s a big issue with this, with suicide rates – particularly among younger men – worryingly high, and a sadly enduring inability to talk honestly about our feelings.
But not this night. We heard from four speakers, all of whom had stared into the darkness and contemplated stepping into the abyss.
There was an audience of about 40 men, many of whom started to share their feelings as the sense of understanding and empathy spread.
And what got me was the range of men there. From young, no more than students, to well into retirement age, from a range of backgrounds, affluent and poorer, some in suits, others in tattoos, and a range of nationalities too.
Some of the comments –
I feel the family are looking at me to be the strong one, and I don’t know how.
I can’t see any purpose in my life (from a lad in his twenties.)
I worry about being able to pay for my daughter’s wedding, and that sends me into a spiral of depression.
I should be happy, I’m doing well, but I can’t shake this darkness.
And more, so many more.
I would have liked to add some of my own experiences, but I was struggling to speak.
And here’s the punch line, the twist, if you like.
The event was on the night of England’s last warm up match before the World Cup.
Now how does that shift the traditional perception of we men? Talking about our feelings, and missing out on the football to do so.