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Updated: Sep 6, 2022

Boy’s don’t cry, right? Or at least that’s how we were raised to believe.

So very often, we’re told to ‘man up’ and to put up strong front as Fathers, Sons, Brothers, and Husbands - so that those we love can look to us as pillars for them and the family.

Standard Issue Conversation Between 2 Blokes

Friend: How are you doing man?

Men: I’m alright bro. And yourself?

Friend: I’m alright as well.

And in a survey by the National Center for Health Statistics (HCHS) in America, 1 in 10 men experienced depression and anxiety but yet only less than half of those will seek some form of professional help. But why is it that we will easily seek out a doctor if we’re not feeling physically well, and yet not do the same for our mental health?

To be very honest with you, I’m guilty of that sometimes. I find it hard at times to admit that I’m not doing well mentally because I was afraid to admit the dreaded word…weak. Before I realised it, I was becoming more easily irritated by everything around me, lost motivation to do the things that’d usually find fun in and generally not being a nice person to be around.

Are we really only able to communicate our feelings when things go south?

Like many others, I was shocked by the number of unfortunate departures of some of the most talented male figures by suicide - Kurt Cobain, Chester Bennington, and Anthony Bourdain just to name a few. But what did not shock me was the numerous articles that followed after, that hardly anyone knew the kind of distress they went through in the background.

In Singapore alone, Men account for more than 70% of suicide cases in 2020 (statistics by Samaritans of Singapore). Even with these figures, there are still many men who hesitate to reach out when they’re feeling mentally unwell.

Reflecting deeper into the topic, I’ve come to a little understanding that this could possibly be a result of our upbringing as young boys.

As young children, validation from adult figures are crucial in our development - think about the times where our parents will say “you’re a big boy now, don’t cry!” whenever we take a fall. This could have conditioned us to do our very best to stop crying because we are ‘big boys’ just to please our parents. And by no means I’m implying that its our parents fault - after all they were too were brought up the same way as well.

Growing into the adolescent years, this conditioning is further strengthen by our search for identity in this world we live in. Influences start coming in from all over us, primarily from mass media that portrayed the quintessential male figure as strong with a ‘never say die’ attitude (think James Bond, or Iron Man).

These influences in our younger days has inherently formed the belief that as men we have to upkeep our image of being strong and dependable, without ever breathing a word of ‘help me’ because that’s a sign of weakness.

Are we really considered weak if we cry?

The truth can not be any further from that.

First step is to acknowledge and recognise that having a moment of not feeling mentally well does not define us as an entirety. Just like having a cold does not mean we’re terminally ill.

Treat that moment as a part of your life that needs some paying of attention to. Whether it's taking a break from your usual routine to do something fun, or reaching out to someone to speak about it - because the little steps you take will make the journey toward goodness again.

I’m sorry Robert Smith (obviously you can tell my age from the references i use!), Boys do cry, and its absolutely okay to. But what is important is that we cry, dust it off, and pick ourselves up again.

Written by: Daryl T.


Samaritans of Singapore (SOS) 24-hour Hotline: 1767

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