I found interesting data on the website https://www.mhanational.org/ that helped me validate that these stigmas do exist in our society. According to this organization, the male population of the United State is somewhere around 152,000,000. And of those of 152,000,000, 6 million suffer from depression or some other former of mental anguish and of course much of male depression goes undiagnosed. 19.1 million people are diagnosed with anxiety disorder and of those 3 million men have panic attacks, agoraphobia, and other phobias. But according to this organization, men are far more likely to report fatigue, irritability, and loss of interest in work and other hobbies before they will ever report feelings of sadness and worthlessness. And this is pretty scary because it leads to a large proportion of men committing suicide. Men are 4 times more likely to die by suicide than women. In 2010, a total of 38, 364 people committed suicide and 3 quarters of those were men. The stigma men face in terms on mental health have serious consequences leading to millions of men falling victim to substance abuse and alcohol dependence. As a gay man, it saddens me to see that gay men are most at risk for the serious consequences of unsupported mental crises.
I have lived in that stigma. My mom was a social worker and my dad a minister. They supported people for years with deep life traumas, but social stigmas are so rooted in this country's perceived masculinity complex, that even I didn't recognize my strong need for mental health treatment and therapy.
I am one of the lucky ones, because last fall I just couldn't take hating myself anymore. I hated that I could never full be present in any beautiful life moment. The pain and self-doubt from the trauma of my sexual abuse was always there reminding me that I was unworthy of continued happiness. Then I finally sought help and began therapy. It wasn't easy at first. It took time to truly give myself over to the process, but I will be forever grateful that I did. I found the right therapist at the right time, and the process has taken me far down my healing path the past year. I was able to finally accept my abuse and then go through the agonizing process of reporting my abuser.
I engaged in EMDR, which is "a phased, focused approach to treating traumatic and other symptoms by reconnecting in a safe and measured way to the images, self-thoughts, emotions, and body sensations associated with the trauma, and allowing the natural healing powers of the brain to move toward adaptive resolution." This therapy is what helped me trace a line from every feeling of self doubt and self hate back to the trauma stemming from my abuse. It was eye opening and so important to my healing.
The social stigmas of this society's perception of what it means to be masculine need to be erased. There has to be space to let men be vulnerable because in my mind, vulnerability is the bravest, strongest, and most masculine thing ever. It takes more grit and toughness to accept mental anguish and model how to grow from it.
It took me years to get here, but I am so grateful I have. I am Jake. I am a sexual abuse survivor and thriver.
A used information from the following website in this post.