Men, mental health and stigma

I have been doing mental health advocacy online for a long time now, it’s been almost 3 years, I am most active on Facebook but in the past wrote a lot in this blog about mental health as well. I also make note that the majority of the support groups are geared toward women, they tend to be the most active in self-improvement and mental awareness, I don’t mind that, in fact, the majority of my friends and supporters are women, they are amazing and I learn so much from them.

But talking about gender roles and how men are perceived in this society is something that is a part of my advocacy and something I think about a lot of the time. I think how a lot of men are perceived as unemotional, detached, expected to be the strong ones, they don’t open up with their feelings and don’t show their sensitive sides. I think most people would say that men do have mental health struggles but choose not to talk about it.

I think about it in a different way, I think men can be just as emotionally ( maybe more so in certain cases) open as women, they can be sensitive, they care deeply but they are told to be more open with their emotions, they are dismissed or shamed for being so open emotionally or struggling with mental health, Many people see that a man who is highly sensitive and emotional is weak, which is far from the truth, men who are open with their emotions are the strongest of them all. . So when men feel shamed or unheard, they stop speaking out and keep their struggles to themselves. This leads to worsening mental health issues, which can lead to breakdowns and even suicide.

I myself, don’t feel comfortable in men’s groups because I always get the sense that the unspoken message is ” I have depression or anxiety, but I’m still a man, I’m still tough” and that message bothers me. It makes me feel as though I’ll be judged with this type of thinking so I continue to seek support from my female friends.It’s a contradiction with me. I want to break the stigma of men and mental health and yet I find myself not relating to a lot of men and that is frustrating. And I don’t blame men for being the way they are, it’s the society that raised that, I see it everywhere, especially in the media. Men play sports, they love cars, they never talk about their feelings, they are in control and it’s a tiring message to me because many of us aren’t like that and even within the mental health community, I see men being labeled that way, and it’s a terrible stereotype that keeps men from getting the help they need.

I remember whenever I was in a college classroom and we would have a discussion about men and women and how men never opened up, all they did was drink beer and watch sports and everyone seemed to be in agreement, while I could not relate and I just rolled my eyes because it sounded like every dated comedy routine from the 80s and 90s, like Home improvement, total nonsense to me

I don’t know, it’s an uphill battle because these messages are ingrained in our society and it genuinely bothers me and it was tough to grow up and feel so alienated from that culture, I couldn’t relate, I had guy friends but I never felt a part of things and I much rather have been by myself or talking with my female friends, I just felt so different and when I just started struggling with mental health, I noticed the stigma about how men were treated. Women are freer to talk openly about their emotions while men were laughed at for being too sensitive. All I can do is write what’s in my heart and lead as an example. I hope this post can make somewhat of a difference and maybe give you a different perspective of the need to break the stigma of men and mental health.

Image may contain: 3 people, including David Aguilera, selfie, sky, closeup and outdoor

Highly sensitive men

I feel that being a highly sensitive person can be really difficult at times and it’s particularly difficult for me as a highly sensitive male. I think and feel deeply but I live in a world that sees men who openly express their feelings as weak, It’s difficult to relate others, I’m highly aware that I am different and I want to meet people who think and feel deeply too but they seem to hard to find ( at least in person). I never related well to other guys so I befriended women because overall, they seemed to accept me more. This inability to relate to men is something I am highly conscious of.

I also find myself being vulnerable in this public space and while some people appreciate it, a part of me feels deep shame because I am too open with my feelings and I regret that, it creates conflict within my heart and mind, it’s tiring to feel so much each day,

I do take solace in my writing and the online community of people who accept me for who I am and allow me to express myself openly and without judgment. Thanks for always being my friends, much love, Dave. 

Image may contain: David Aguilera, sky, outdoor and closeup

Why are men afraid to talk about mental health?

Today I made another video. I’m taking some time to talk about the stigma of men and mental health. It’s time we as men are more open about struggles with mental health, stop shaming men who talk about mental illness openly, as males we should support one another not tell other guys to “man up”. I call this suicide prevention because the suicide is high among men, mostly due to stigma. I am hoping to connect with other men on social media who are willing to advocate for mental health and spread awareness because some days I feel like I’m the only one speaking out.

 

Can I sit at the girls table?

I know most guys don’t want to sit at the girls table but do you mind if I sit here? I’d like to sit with the guys but they never talk to me; I try to be friendly but they just ignore me and I’m not really interested in sports or cars and that’s all they seem to talk about. I try so hard to relate those guys but I just can’t and so I stopped trying long ago. I accepted most of my friends are women and I’m OK with that. I don’t want to hit on you or ask for your number; I just want someone to talk to; I’ll ask you how your day was and we can talk about music or art or even writing; I’d love that. I love talking to the girls they are always more interesting than the guys and a whole lot nicer.   So can I sit here with you girls at this table? Thanks

Why most of my friends are women

I made this quick video about the reason why I relate so much better to women.  It seems that in any social situation; I always gravitate towards females and I feel more comfortable; I can never seem to relate to men.   It’s something I always wondered about; like why is that? I don’t really have a clear answer except that’s just who I am.  I try to be a kind gentle sensitive man who is open about his feelings and women just tend to be more responsive to that.   So I am grateful to all the wonderful women I have befriended in my life.  Here’s the video enjoy.   And feel to subscribe to my Youtube Channel: Revolutionary musings and my Instagram at Davethewriter18.

 

 

What I’m listening to right now

Get confident

cropped-34774055_257334464836394_4405051572699004928_n

 

Dating is a sore subject with me; I have had very  few successes and I put the blame on how I carried myself in the past; how I put myself down; I had low self-esteem and I didn’t take care of myself physically, emotionally or mentally; that really affected my interactions with women. I have been isolated for a long time with pretty much no friends since I moved to this city about 10 years ago.  I have had small successes like talking to women in bars or going on a date with a coworker but that was short lived and it ended in disaster; which left me with basically no confidence when it came to women.  I think I have had more opportunities than I had realized in the past but my emotional difficulties I think were a barrier. Every time I liked a woman; I would get all nervous and she could  tell; any chance of a date or even a friendship quickly faded due to my anxiety. I used to get frustrated at myself and wonder why I couldn’t calm down and manage my emotions like every other guy around me ( it’s a question I have yet to answer).

But about a year ago something interesting happened. After a few years of being unemployed I got a job in a department store and started working 30 + hour weeks; it made me feel productive; I interacted with people instead of staying inside of my house; I wasn’t moping about being depressed and alone plus I had money in my pocket; it was kind of life changing. After a few months I just started feeling more confident without even realizing it. In the shoe department there was this young co worker ( maybe 19 or 20 years old) who started talking to me every time I was there. When were in the stock room; she’d get real close when talking to me and I thought this is interesting.  One day she says that there is this movie she really wanted to go but had no one to take her. I knew immediately what she meant but I hesitated; she was much younger than me. She was 20 or 21 and I was 35; so I declined. Plus my last experience with trying to date a co-worker was so bad that I decided it wasn’t a good idea to date anyone from work. But it was an ego boost and I kept it to myself which is something I would have bragged about in the past. And other things started happening; another female co-worker started trying to talk to me all the time; even asking me to lunch. Again I declined and I have to mention; she’s pretty cute and I noticed her right away but she’s a little off and I have enough problems to deal with.  I just started to see that women were noticing me and I was a little confused as to why; since I felt like the same guy I did a few years back but maybe I am different who knows.  During my lunch breaks sometimes I sit by myself to write or check social media ( and of course my blog) and there have been many times when female co-workers will sit with me to keep me company; I mean, this was not happening in the past.  I don’t know if it’s because they find me attractive or they feel comfortable around me; I may be more approachable. I certainly see myself as different than most of the guys there ( in a good way) I have a gentle way or speaking and relate more to women; maybe they sense that. I even notice at times female customers will smile at me more; or get closer to me physically; maybe it’s in my head but in the past I found they were nervous around me and never smiled at me and rarely engaged me in conversation; now they do; it’s nice

So I decided that I wanted to meet people since I had no luck at work or school; I started going to this bar which was known to cater to people in their 30’s and 40’s; it is an immensely popular bar that is packed during the weekends; they even had a band.  I had so much anxiety the first time I went; I felt myself getting an anxiety attack so I went home.  I calmed myself down; got something to eat and went back. I’ll never forget that I went on the patio to have a smoke; I was alone and it pretty cold. This woman walks out with her friend and I was expecting her to ignore me but she walked right up to me and asked for a cigarette and we hung out for 30 or 40 minutes; pretty amazing. It may not seem to amazing to some people but for me; someone who couldn’t talk to average looking women was talking to this beautiful woman who was actually seemed interested; even offering to buy drinks. I just didn’t understand why she was talking to me; I was dressed like crap, I was alone and to be honest I didn’t think I was half as good looking as the other guys there. But maybe I had confidence; maybe I carried myself well and I was approachable; obviously I was doing something right.  I realized that I needed to go back and so I went the next week and I met another woman and we talked for a while too and she was also beautiful. It didn’t turn into anything but I realized that I had the confidence to talk to women I was attracted to; i could carry a conversation and hold her interest.  Those few nights did so much more for my confidence than reading any article or book ever could; experience,  I am no expert on women but I think confidence and personality gets you further than physical appearance or financial status; but I could be wrong.  I think guys look at a woman and day she sure she’s totally emotionally unstable and could destroy me but at least she’s hot ( I am not speaking for myself here; just to be clear) and a woman looks at a guy and she might say she he’s cute but he’s crazy as hell or is boring and i have options; so no.  The difference between the sexes I guess.

I want to end this and note some things that had made me feel more confident and that is 1. my writing and 2. My support network.  I think ever since I started writing; I have really grown as a person; this is my outlet and it’s something I’m very proud of; it’s a conversation starter and if I can recall I’m pretty sure I used it when talking to women      ( and this was before the blog); it always seemed to pique their interest.  I think some women are attracted to creative types; but don’t get me wrong I write to help myself and other; not to pick up women but it doesn’t hurt to be passionate about something. But yeah, writing makes me feel confident; like I’m finally good at something. The second thing I have a support network ( online; because I have moved far away) mostly of female friends which to me is vital. Regardless I love my friends but talking to them helps me to relate to women; to understand them and see them as people instead of sexual objects. I prefer to have a female perspective when I talk about my issues with dating or my feelings in general.  I started to make a connection and saying to myself that these friendships are important because if you can’t relate to women in some way then you can’t have a romantic relationship. I started looking back and realizing most of my close friends growing up were girls; I felt more comfortable ( the ones I wasn’t attracted to) with them  and I started see how today that could work in my favor. Instead of hiding my feminine traits; I am embraced them; the sensitivity; the gentleness, the writing, helping others, encouraging people; traits I hid for many years. Once I was able to be myself; I became happier thus more confident. I was talking to my therapist and she mentioned that I could be dating soon; and maybe all of these could be leading up to a potential relationship.  If I continue to work on myself and find ways to boost my confidence then in the near future it could be possible,  I think confidence is key to success in anything in this life. If you want people to believe in you; first you have to believe in yourself.

Have a good night

Dave

My first club experience

My first club experience

Pulsating lights blind me and I trip over the vibrations of the music coming from the floor. Hoards of people push and shove towards the bar, sweaty, eyes darting from side to side, zombie club kids, my ears feel like bursting from being next to a monster of a speaker and I cant make out what shes saying but it must be good because shes smiling. She pulls me to the dance floor; my heart beating out of my chest; 100 mph; someone call a doctor. Dancing real close; she’s gone, lost in the song that to me seems like a blur, she dancing to her own beat. Different colors radiate from the ceiling; I can smell the smoke from the patio; going out for air; she follows .Things are going great; shes beautiful and all of a sudden she kisses me and everything is technicolor and we only met like 10 minutes ago, I’m unprepared with this unexpected turn of events; stop overthinking and just go with it. A dream like state because I must dreaming; this whole place is surreal and I’m lost in a stuper, dazed and overwhelmed by this whole place. In the middle of my dream I am snapped back to reality when she exclaims “My boyfriend is over there”. Fearing for my life; I’m out the door, panting in the hot summer heat. Why did i come here again?

Washington D.C August 2001

Men have feelings too

Written as a facebook post

 

I hear some women say that men don’t have deep feelings or aren’t as emotional as women; men are less sensitive. I think that’s total bullshit. It’s not that men don’t have feelings; it’s that they are taught not to express emotions openly unless it’s anger; if a man is open with his feelings then he considered weak; so he represses all of those negative feelings; to keep up a front and appear tough even though he may be hurting inside. At times I wish wasn’t so open about my feelings and I could be tougher but I am who I am and I try to be proud of the fact I’m sensitive; I can cry in front of people and it’s ok. So it’s a pretty hurtful statement when people say men don’t have feelings. On one hand if we express our emotions openly including hurt and sadness; we are considered weak ( especially around other guys) but if we don’t talk about our feelings; we are deemed to be emotionaless; lacking sensitivity and compassion. Emotional unavailable they call it. Either way as men; we can’t win.

 

Understanding my feminine side

I tend to be someone who overthinks and analyzes every thought that comes to my head; lately I been thinking a lot about how I relate to others. I know it sounds incredibly self-centered to think about yourself so much but I think we are all guilty of that from time to time.  This is a subject I have talked about a lot but it’s the issue of gender and how I see myself in regards to that.  Whenever I find myself in group setting ( work included) I find myself gravitating towards women and not in a “I’m going to flirt with them” kind of way but more in a I just feel more comfortable with women; I am a pretty expressive person and I love to talk but I can’t find myself relating to men.  I don’t enjoy the banter ( why would you call someone by their last name?) and sports are boring to me. I’d rather talk about politics or my favorite album or movie and I question why I am the way I am. I feel this is deja vu because I have talked about this so much but it has been on my mind a lot lately.  When my brother died; I found it was the girls who listened to me and were concerned about how I was. It was almost a maternal thing or a sisterly kind of thing; I didn’t plan it like that but that’s the way it happened. And it is interesting; I have never had any sisters and wasn’t close to my mom; so I wasn’t surrounded by a female presence. I have told my female friends why I am this way and they say it’s great and it’s sweet etc; I appreciate it but it sets me apart.  When it comes to making female friends it works quite well and even online about 90% of people I talk to are women; I take pride in being able to relate to women.

I relate much less to men.  I am a very sensitive person; I like to write and talk about my feelings. I feel like when I am with other men; they are judging me; making assumptions and there are times where I wish I was just like them.  I wish I didn’t take everything to heart; I wish I had more male friends ( and saying just be more masculine is an idiotic statement and doesn’t work).  I also feel being overly emotional is disaster when it comes to dating; I can’t tell you how many women I have been hung up over the years; how many times I expressed too much of how I felt; misread signals; ended up hurt and unable to move on. I think women love sensitive men as friends but never want to date one; these thoughts run through my head all the time. I work in a warehouse in a department store and the men know their power tools, car, watch sports and I just stand in the corner with nothing to say; in a sense hating myself.

When I was younger I used to be sort of jealous of women; in the sense that had closer relationships; they talked more; spent more time together. These are not normal thoughts for a little boy but I had them. I wanted to have close guy friends but its girly to just sit around and talk and even writing this sounds so feminine and I cringe at my own words.  And I tried to play sports and be tough but I couldn’t be that; it never felt right.

And some may be reading this thinking maybe I’m questioning my sexuality; I know very well who I am and I have always liked women. I am just trying to understand why my brain works the way it does; why is my feminine side so much stronger.  I always feel that some look at how I relate to women as suspect when in reality there is no ulterior motive; those who know me are aware that my intentions are always good. I will say this that I didn’t always embrace my sensitive side but once I did; I felt a lot happier; I felt I didn’t have to suppress my emotions anymore and be someone I wasn’t. I just wish I could find more of a balance between the masculine and feminine side of me.

Thanks for listening

Dave

When you smile at me

When you smile at me, I cant but be surprised when i see you looking in my eyes and I won’t lie; I don’t know what to do because I’m so shy and I say to myself ,why cant I be like that guy?; because usually you just walk on by and I’m wondering why you’re talking to me today; I’m so nervous and i have nothing to say: I wasn’t expecting this today and I wouldn’t be surprised if you just walked away; I wish I had the confidence to talk to you; maybe i’ll get there soon but I’m not there now, so i’ll just bow my head down and do better next you come around. Until then, good day my friend.