Sunday, July 5, 2015

More important than being “tough”

As far as I can tell, it’s not easy being a guy.

Yeah, I know they have it better in a lot of ways, but they’re really not very good at taking care of themselves. Society tells men that they’re supposed to be tough to the point of being invulnerable, and any hit of weakness or needing help should be avoided at all costs. They’re told never to acknowledge that they’re slower than they used to be, or they have a worrying cough, and heaven help the man who dares to wonder if they might be depressed.

Men, I’m here to tell you that society is straight-up lying to you.

Trust me – society lies to women all the time, so we know what we’re talking about. Living your life in order to satisfy the expectations of the media, complete strangers, or even casual acquaintances, leads to nothing but frustration, disappointment, and potentially a heart attack. None of these people have enough investment in you personally to be worth listening to, and won’t even notice if you are listening to them.

Besides, have any of them given you proof that they know what they’re talking about? The media, for example, thinks that the Kardashians are worth obsessing over, which isn’t the best sign of either their intelligence or their good judgment.

On the other side of the equation, there’s this little thing called science. Science’s opinion on the matter is that men are human beings just like women are, subject to every infirmity, illness and medical condition. Having something wrong with you doesn’t mean you’ve failed; it means that biology is holding all the trump cards. There was nothing you could do to stop yourself from getting sick.

What you can do, however, is focus on getting better again. If your car breaks, do you drive around on it until it collapses or lights on fire somehow? No, you figure out what’s wrong and fix it (or you take it to someone who does). Your body is a lot more valuable than your car, and there are a whole bunch of experts who can help you get it running smoothly again.

Mental health issues are a trickier situation, but in some ways that just makes them more important. Having depression is just the same as having any other illness, including cancer, and if left untreated it can mess up your life just as much. Being depressed doesn’t mean you’re weak – it means the chemicals in your head went out of whack. Talking to a professional, and maybe getting medication if you need it, can absolutely change your life for the better.

I know it can be tough to admit you need help, no matter what the problem is. But the people who love you don’t need you to be Superman, no matter how much you wish you could be that for them. What they need is for you to be there, for birthdays and weddings and graduations and everything else that will happen for the rest of their lives. They need you to be healthy a lot more than they need you to be “tough.”

So go to the doctor for regular checkups. Get some help if you need it. Because it might be scary to admit you can’t do it all on your own, but doing something scary for the people you love is pretty much the definition of being a superhero.

Ask them. They’ll back me up on this. 

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