Why Fathers Must Talk About Their Mental Health
Source: Washington Post
By: Whit Honea
August 30, 2018
In recent months, notable pillars of traditional masculinity, including NBA players DeMar DeRozan and Kevin Love, and muscular action heroes Dwayne Johnson and Ryan Reynolds, have publicly addressed their experiences with anxiety and depression. While I would never wish either on anyone, I was glad to see them talk about it, and use their platforms to show that men’s mental health is a serious issue that needs to be discussed, especially by those we perceive as too tough to do so.
The impact of their actions on fatherhood is especially important. Dads are shaping modern conversations about masculinity and men’s mental health, and they are determining the collective lessons for the future, for their children, for their sons.
These celebrities are modeling the idea that acknowledging personal struggles does not make a man weak. Rather, their speaking out challenges the outdated definition of manliness as detached stoicism or brawn over brain. Their courage to defy the silence surrounding men’s mental health has inspired others to speak up and seek help.
Fathers need to take care of themselves, and to do it openly so their kids may witness, and even participate in, the process. That will teach children that men are allowed to step outside the boxes of societal stereotype.
I am walking that direction.
I have suffered from anxiety my entire adult life, to the point that working around it is as routine as a morning cup of coffee. I spent decades denying the obvious, that anxiety was having a very tangible and negative impact upon my family life, my social calendar, and my career. Instead, I offered excuses, preferring that others believe me flaky or unreliable rather than unstable, for surely that was the only conclusion they could reach had they known the truth. Anxiety, I knew, was a thing I should overcome, “man up” or push down, not a condition with any place in polite conversation.
Even now, when talking about my anxiety with other men, including those like-minded in challenging the obsolete rules of masculinity, my fears are often confirmed. They ask if I’m sure. They try to justify and excuse my experience. They try to fix me.
There is a difference between bent and broken, and in speaking out I am hoping to help address it.
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