''I have been there, Suicide is the biggest killer of men under the age of 45, At the age of 40, I contemplated taking my own life''
I have found over many years that Men definitely find it harder to talk about their emotions or what is troubling them. I think today’s society forever tells us to man up, stiff upper lip, get on with it, and have come to realise that we need as men to start learning that it is okay to talk about things that occupy us emotionally. We also need to know there are other ways to cope with issues, rather than taking risky behaviors like using alcohol or drugs, to avoid facing what life is throwing at us.
I think as a man talking about your issues is the best way of dealing with it, talking about it with other men especially can help. But as a male we are taught to not talk about our emotions, instead, we only talk about football or what’s happening in the news, but not about what is happening in our own lives. We have to change that. We need to give men permission to talk about the things that are troubling us. To share that with other men and to see that we are not alone is a positive experience.
''You have to wear this suit of armour. You put it on and you create a character and that’s what you present to the outside world. But sometimes what’s going on inside is a totally different thing, you’re crumbling and there is no one to talk to''
I have been there, Suicide is the biggest killer of men under the age of 45, At the age of 40, I contemplated taking my own life. It took ten years of going through a journey and learning to talk to other people to become at peace with myself. Some men don’t have ten years to find that. So we need to try and get to a point where men can learn to talk as soon as they start getting those feelings that might lead them down a path where they take their own lives.
For me, I didn’t feel I could talk to anyone. I went through that period of risky behavior. I didn’t entertain the idea of trying to get help, either going to a doctor or speaking to someone because I thought, I’m a man, we don’t do that. It took me years to realise speaking to someone is not a problem.
We need to get to men at the start of the journey when they are starting to experience these issues or situations. That is what Brothers in Arms is about. It is a gateway for people to go on the site, look at it and see they are not alone in feeling the way they do, and importantly they can talk about it, it is okay.
My mental health problems were triggered by childhood trauma and it was only three years ago I was actually diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder. It was brilliant to know what I was suffering from. But at 40 when I contemplated suicide, it was only the birth of my first daughter that prevented that. So I was lucky in some ways, but if I didn’t have her, I don’t know where I would be.
As a man you are brought up and society dictates that you can’t talk about your feelings, you can’t talk about what is going on in your head. You have to present yourself as somebody who is impervious to anything and everything. Especially when it comes to your emotions and what is happening inside your head. You have to wear this suit of armour. You put it on and you create a character and that’s what you present to the outside world. But sometimes what’s going on inside is a totally different thing, you’re crumbling and there is no one to talk to. It is not something you would share with your friends, or your mates because we don’t do that. It adds to what men are dealing with. Society is in a better place with this now than ten years ago, but we are still not anywhere near where we should be regarding men and mental health.
I think that men can’t speak about mental health because they are not shown how to speak about it, even from the people they look up to. Whether that be a father figure or a mentor, if they don’t show emotion or talk about things, you take that on board and think that if they don’t do it, then I can’t do it. It’s not part of our language, it is not part of how we communicate. But we have to change that and by changing that we will change the statistics. Men take their own lives because they feel there is no other way out. We can change that and show that by talking, just a simple thing of sharing your experiences, it could make a huge difference to how men carry on with their lives.
I started Brothers in Arms after joining with See Me. I looked at other sites, like Calm Zone and Andy’s Man Club and thought let’s do something in Scotland of our own. We are an inclusive society and should have something like this.
Brothers in Arms is starting as a website and social media platform for men who are at the start of a journey, or in the middle of a journey who might be having emotional difficulties or are having difficulty in talking about what is going on. They can go on the site and see there is something there for them, there is lots of information, stories and it can show men they are not alone.
We also want to start men’s support groups where they can come together on a regular basis. It can be a safe space for men to talk about men’s stuff. It is a simple as that, you can come along, talk if you want to, or just listen, and we can share experiences. It creates a common bond, a brotherhood if you like, something that connects us as men. We want to make a difference to people’s lives.
From the launch, we want to create the awareness, to see if this is needed, to give us ideas and direction. Ultimately I’d like to grow it. I’d like Brothers in Arms to be a platform that communities could use to set up their own peer support groups. The info will be there to help them and long term we’d like to create a men’s wellbeing centre. A place for men to come to where they feel comfortable, where they can talk and be open about what’s happening in their lives.
When people see the site I want them to connect, send us a message, maybe share their story or come to a group meeting and participate. It is creating a brotherhood, we aren’t a counselling service, but we want guys to feel like they can come along and talk about their lives without judgement and have a safe place where they can be together, brothers in arms.
I want men to know that they are not alone, you don’t have to deal with your situation in isolation. It is better that you are part of something and you can share and be supported, not get to that negative place you can get to sometimes. Come to Brothers in Arms and be part of something.