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There has been a lot of talk about mental health lately, primarily brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic. I want to focus on Men’s mental health. When men have more time on their hands then they normally do, or their set routines are changed suddenly, it can cause changes in their mindsets. Financial stress, relationship problems, alcohol & drug abuse are all common triggers for mental illness problems. Thankfully it's more openly talked about, nowadays, a lot of prominent figures like football stars are front-page news when it is revealed that they have had a recent breakdown or had to undergo rehabilitation for their mental illness. This now provides a platform for others to talk about their mental health, I believe it helps other men find the courage to talk about their struggles, whereas once before they would have never even dreamed of it.  Once upon a time, mental illness wasn’t talked about at all, if you were a guy that felt depressed or anxious, most likely you would suppress your feelings and pain. You would feel isolated and scared to reveal the truth, you would ‘suck it up’ and just deal with it yourself as best as you could. There was no way you would talk about it with a mate or a brother or even your father. It was simply something that you felt you could not talk about. There are so many men that suffer different levels and varieties of mental illness. Severe depression, extreme anxiety, bipolar disorder to mention a few. All affecting individuals differently, but none of them should ever be devalued.

Unless you have experienced mental illness yourself, I assume it is harder to understand the impact and feeling it has on a person’s life. It’s harder to comprehend why someone would behave like that, why they react to situations as they do, and why they can’t control a situation as well as someone else that doesn’t suffer can. I suffered silently for a long time, and although diagnosed years ago I still suffer on & off to this day. Sometimes my depression is mild and I can cope and get on with my life, sometimes it is debilitating & I can't even get out of bed, talk to my wife or function normally.

I was diagnosed by a doctor, in my early twenties, the impetus of my depression was caused by work stress. There were some underlying issues of unstable childhood memories, but genetics and expecting perfection in all aspects of my life were the catalysts of my illness. When I am at my lowest, nothing in my life really matters, everything is worthless, I am useless. All I want to do is sleep, I cannot function normally, I don’t eat, I don’t drink, I don’t want to be alive. I am very lucky though, I have a loving & caring wife that understands I have a disease that can be managed with a combination of medication, a strong mindset, a healthy lifestyle and good diet.

As we have advanced emotionally and psychologically as a society, men, in particular, have been able to express their feelings more freely without judgement and thankfully we hear more about them being more comfortable to ask for help. Just as importantly friends and family are seemingly more aware and able to confront someone that they have been concerned about and ask if they are OK. It’s OK to not be O.K. Celebrities & sporting heroes aren’t the only people that suffer from mental illness. Mental illness does not discriminate. As we know, mental illness can stem from many avenues. It can be genetic, it can be caused by trauma, prenatal damage, alcohol or drug misuse, physical, psychological or sexual abuse or other stressful life events. Some people live with mental illness all their lives without any treatment or support.

There are so many great support groups for people suffering from mental illness. It is so important to try and talk to somebody, about your feelings. Every life is worth living, every person has a purpose in life. It can be hard to identify mental illness, though there are some key red flags to look out for.

Among them are:

-       Excess worrying or fear

-       Feeling excessively down or low

-       Extreme mood changes, extreme highs to extreme lows.

-       Prolonged feelings of irritability or anger

-       Avoiding friends and social activities

-       Changes in sleeping habits or feeling tired and low energy

-       Changes in eating habits such as increased hunger or lack of appetite

-       Changes in sex drive

-       Difficulty perceiving reality (delusions or hallucinations, in which a person                   experiences and senses things that don't exist in objective reality)

-       Abuse of substances like alcohol or drugs

-       Multiple physical ailments without obvious causes (such as headaches,                    stomach aches, vague and ongoing “aches and pains”)

-       Thinking about suicide

-       Inability to carry out daily activities or handle daily problems and stress

-       Intense fear of weight gain or concern with appearance

Remember that mental illness is a disease, just like heart disease or diabetes. Mental illnesses are health conditions involving changes in emotion, thinking or behaviour (or a combination of these). Mental illnesses are associated with distress and/or problems functioning in social, work or family activities. Most of all Mental illness is common. You are not alone, and you are not the only one suffering.

So if you think a mate is struggling, reach out to him let Reer Endz Underwear open up a conversation, you might even get a chuckle out of him, better yet it might open up new doors & allow them to open up about whats going on. Just tell him if you can talk about the underwear you are wearing you can talk about anything.

If you are suffering try and find the courage to speak up, there will always be someone willing to listen. Reach out and start your path to recovery.

I am not a qualified doctor or medical expert, this blog is simply my take and my experiences from over the years, living with the disease. 

If you feel like you want to talk to somebody, and remember it can be done anonymously I recommend speaking with your G.P or seeking professional help at any of the following institutes.

Black Dog Institute

Beyond Blue


Until next time….