As we end Men’s health month, I would like to address trauma in men. As you know, experiencing trauma alters how we see the world. Men are not able to find a place to express their hurt or pain so they suffer in silence. In fact, a man being emotional or crying out of pain is considered weak. The masculine ideal taught ensures that men conceal their true feelings to avoid being ridiculed.
Men who survive traumatic events often experience symptoms that they may ignore. Earlier in the month we discovered that men die five years before women because they fail to see doctors soon as they are unwell. They generally have an indifferent attitude towards their own health.
Some of the symptoms of trauma include chronic health conditions, addictions and attempting suicide. In all those instances, the body is trying to communicate exactly how dire things are. Yet, due to the indifference we mentioned earlier, the affected individual will not take it seriously. Can we blame the individual though? Men’s emotions are generally shunned from a very young age. The solution is nurturing and giving them tools to manage their emotions.
Take this as a trigger warning since I am about to describe a suicide attempt. A few weeks ago, a man tried ending his life by choosing to jump off a building in Nairobi downtown. The video was posted online. A sea of men hurled insults at him. A majority actually waited for him to be rescued so that they would beat him up. He was also branded a “weak man” for wanting to end his pain. Yet it was a clear cry for help.
Isn’t it ironic how mental health is a global conversation yet men still continue to suffer in silence? Yesterday I learnt that being able to describe a problem does not mean someone is actively seeking help. One of the biggest hurdles is that helpful information is not translated to many indigenous languages. Therefore, it does not reach the grassroots.
Secondly, there are not many men in the trauma healing sector or in mental health in general. Psychology is considered a woman’s field since we are in touch with our emotions. My belief is that we need more men on the same field so that they may assist to redefine masculinity. Healing transforms. So, more men would be able to live new lives without following the harmful manly ideals they were taught since birth.
Here is an eye opening way of thinking about masculinity. Read the full blog here
“If you disassembled masculinity, I believe you’d find that its constituent parts are things that directly inhibit examination of the psyche or healthy awareness of one’s emotions.”