Revealing the Dark World of Covert Male Depression

It’s the covert way that male depression hides that makes it scary. The blind spot that men can get taken out by. Men need listening friends where they feel safe enough to tell their stories.

It was like a fog was being lifted off around my brain. I was able to think clearer. It was so weird. It was like waking up in a new land. All because I started to take medication for my depression.

I then felt kind of sad and slightly angry that I had not looked into this earlier. Perhaps if I have would have done things would be different.

I also wondered why some of those close to me didn’t suggest I get some help for my melancholic moods.

It was a blind spot. I wasn’t aware of it because I had grown used to it. I considered this as normal and that everyone felt and thought like this.

Others just accepted the ‘me’ that I was without delving deeper.

Its when the blind spot comes and shrouds over more and more of your life that questions need to be asked.

Covert and low down nasty

I think the book that has helped me the most with my depression is I Don’t Want to Talk About It: Overcoming the Secret Legacy of Male Depression by Terrence Real 

In the book, he writes this

Many men try to hide their condition, thinking it unmanly to act moody. And it works: National studies suggest that doctors miss the diagnosis in men a full 70% of the time. But male depression also stays hidden because men tend to express depression differently than women do.

Research shows that women usually internalize distress, while men externalize it. Depressed women are more likely to talk about their problem and reach out for help; depressed men often have less tolerance for internal pain and turn to some action or substance for relief.

Male depression isn’t as obvious as the defenses men use to run from it. I call this “covert depression.”

It has three major symptoms. First, men attempt to escape pain by overusing alcohol or drugs, working excessively or seeking extramarital affairs. They go into isolation, withdrawing from loved ones. And they may lash out, becoming irritable or violent. read more here

You may also like to read this.

 Tell me your feelings (ukk!)

Ask a guy to tell you his feelings and more than likely you will get a  confused look before a rotten tomato slams into your face.

He doesn’t want to talk about feelings. He doesn’t know how to distinguish one feeling from another. I may be speaking for myself here, but feelings are damned tricky to describe.

For most guys, this feeling thing is really feminine and just another hurdle to jump, trip on, make a fool of yourself and feel shame.

We’ve all had enough of that. So why bother.

Tell me the story

Men, in my experience, are much more open if you ask for the story.

They might start talking about a certain event and with some careful coaxing out comes the story of what happened. As a guy safely unpacks the story, another story might emerge, then another.

The blindspots get revealed through the light of reflection. Questions get raised, a desire for discovery and exploration of what really happened start to gather some intrigue.

A.B.T.’s of a  good story

I’ve recently come across a wonderful narrative structure that helps my writing.

The A.B.T. is an acronym for And, But, Therefore. You can see it in just about every great movie and speech.

It was at the core of why Donald Trump the Presidency.  ‘Make America Great again’ positioned itself into every speech. And – America is in a bad shape, But – I have a plan, Therefore – Vote for me and make America great again.

Listen to more about this here  How Trump’s Narrative Intuition Beat Clinton and Put a Reality TV Actor in the White House

Guys tell stories if you invite them to. As they keep adding to the story with ‘and’s’ watch for the ‘but’s’ and then the ‘therefore’s to make an appearance.

Don’t crowd out a guy with your own conclusions. Instead, say ‘Tell me more’ and ask for clarifications ‘ I didn’t quite understand … can you explain that further’.

Blind spots reveal themselves through connection

Another one of those ‘touchy feelie’ words is intimacy. Scary land the place of in-to-me-see. Anyone coming in there may well just shame me again so the door stays closed.

Stories open the door.

It’s that place where a guy can just feel safe enough to allow someone else to see inside.  Men don’t want to feel alone, but loneliness is often the result of not having relationships where they can just tell their stories without being shamed for the details.

I’ve talked with a lot of men, and I wonder how many of them are covertly depressed and just need another good guy to listen to their story.  To become ‘brothers in arms’ in the story they are writing. Thanks to the guys who have listened to mine in the making.

Quotes to Consider

  • Because of the stigma of depression, men often allow their pain to burrow deeper and further from view Terence Real
  • There are two ways to be fooled. One is to believe what isn’t true; the other is to refuse to believe what is true. – Søren Kierkegaard
  • Men are easily threatened. And whenever a man is threatened, when he becomes uncomfortable in places within himself that he does not understand, he naturally retreats into an arena of comfort or competence, or he dominates someone or something in order to feel powerful. Men refuse to feel the paralyzing and humbling horror of uncertainty, a horror that could drive them to trust, a horror that could release in them the power to deeply give themselves in relationship. As a result, most men feel close to no one, especially not to God, and no one feels close to them. Something good in men is stopped and needs to get moving. When good movement stops, bad movement (retreat or domination) reliably develops.”  Larry Crabb

Questions to answer and leave a comment below or anonymously

  1. What other words do guys have a hard time with?
  2. Why are men afraid to tell their story?
  3. Why does the ‘macho’ strong male appeal?

Barry Pearman

Image cc: Erwan Hesry

Further reading

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