Monday, December 20, 2010

Depression In Men

Yesterday The Adelaide Advertiser published this article on Depression and I have been thinking long and hard about it and as this is my blog I thought I would write about Depression.

Why? Well there seems to be an awful lot of it going around and well "gulp" I was diagnosed about three years ago.

My world came apart, me depression - "What you talkin' about Willis". The number of friends and business acquaintances who stood back in disbelief Jimbo has depression.

So what does this mean to me and how the hell did I get here. My observations that in Men we simply have this implied role model that says tough, self sufficient, bread winner etc. and that is so driven into us that we have lost emotional communicative skills.

I read the other day marriages have fallen to an average life span of 12.5 years. We clearly do not know how to communicate with our Bride. We are unable to share because that is weak, and even when we do it is clumsy and as such poorly received and almost treated with contempt.

We are also guilty of poor choice of confidant and often turn to other women as women have inherent good listening skills. Try and have a deep and meaningful with your best bloke mate. Very few know how to deal with his mate opening up and may never actually recover from the experience :) Therein lies the loss of trust in marriages we do not communicate with our wife/lover/girlfriend because to show we are soft inside does not fit the role model. When our loved one finds we have shared with another woman it is immediately seen as a betrayal - probably not without good cause but we do not know any different.

Work ethic also has a lot to do it - we laugh about that Pizza ad where Dad's Tip to his son was "work hard and love your Mum". Unfortunately that is all to true - it is the staple diet of the Aussie Male. So to be successful in life work hard is all we know and I am afraid to say that can become almost obsessive and driven into us from the day we can comprehend. How many gave there young son a wheelbarrow and a shovel for Christmas so his son can work in the backyard alongside Dad.

So the scene is set, blokes are tough and work hard and should not share their feelings.

I know at a young age I decided that I was going to make it. At school even in my last year I was the 9 stone ringing wet little guy (I know - what happened because I sure do not look like that now) who suffered his fair share of bullying - but I was going to make it. There it started I worked on a bit of everything succeeded as a lightweight rower, ran Music Competitions, took parts in plays and became more heavily involved in the production side. Yep I was good at it.

So when I started work I took that go the extra yard mentality and would always put myself out ahead of others. Ran cash collection centres for Channel 10 Xmas Appeal (the whole 24 hours), Secretary and Committee man in Adelaide Jaycees, organised Miss South Australia and many other Fundraisers, Secretary of the Social Club, Organiser of the Ten Pin Bowling, played a bit of Cricket for relaxation until water skiing every weekend took over, worked with my father in law restoring his AESL Air Tourer 150,became heavily involved in SACOSS Committee on Adoption - not happy until I was Chairman. Sat on the Minister of Community Welfare Adoption Panel - volunteered to do every appeal board. And all of the time working hard and being successful at it.

Notice something here - in amongst all of this I was married had children - have not mentioned them until now. Wife and Children the true love of my life. Believe me I do - would die for them.

Then it started - working bees at the Kindergarten, Committee member of everything, Coach of the tee-ball team, President of the PeeWee Baseball and Teeball club at school, football committee, regional football committee, YMCA Explorers with my Sons but no not happy, Group Captain, Regional Captain. When my children changed schools we joined a baseball Club (East Torrens) worked on getting more people involved went from 40 kids playing to 500. President of the Junior Baseball and then President of the Club. Not happy there joined the Board of the SABL - not happy there became the President and representative on the National Board. When I retired from that joined the MS Board in SA and went on to be on the National Board.

During this last burst started a New Business that went on to have branches in Australia and New Zealand and all of the trauma that goes with being in business.Did that for 20 years.

What is still missing here, certainly a lot of what I did was for my Kids, Sport,YMCA etc but was it? My Kids certainly had great opportunities in everything they did but still what is missing.


Fun my middle son laughed at me last night - Dad have fun he said. I am very lucky my kids love me heaps - just reckon I am a crazy old man :)

I am not saying we did not have fun along the way we had lots - what I am saying is when did we stop and live the moment - not enough jumping in puddles - skinny dipping on beaches not enough our time not enough me time.

I am extraordinarily proud of the things I have achieved my business, the work I have done in all of those extra curricular events.

Then you hit the wall - you realise that you actually do not know how to live - yeah very proud of achievements but did not stop and live. Crushing - you are only remembered for that hole you leave in the bucket of water - what happened to all those people that you were able to give a good time what do all those achievements mean.

Yep worked hard and still love me Mum been very good at it but the reality you have looked after number one and in that you actually do not know how to live with that person you love. I would give it all away if I could have that back.

They call that depression I am sad, shitty, divorced and dealing with it but equally I reckon I earn it. Counseling etc is useful but it is me who needs to fix it and I am.

The sadness further to me is in moving on I now have to change almost 60 years of learned traits and that is new - when it come to matters of the heart I am just a novice, in fact a klutz is probably the better word. I recently tried again to have a meaningful relationship but the pressures of my business life lead me down that path. I have fallen in love a couple of times along the way but smashing that old "work hard and love your Mum" syndrome is hard.

I genuinely loved my wife and really love my children and grandchild and more recently my partner. Still do - but that passion to be involved to try and make a difference and to work hard at it still makes me a veritable cripple when it comes to love and emotion. Dad's, blokes generally we just do not know how to stop being blokey.

Depressed absolutely, I earned it and you cannot stop me getting out of it my way - just love me for who I am a genuine hardworking bloke who just wants to love and oh yeah be loved.

I looked back at this before I published and realised that this brief summary of all the things I have put into this life is nothing more than that a brief summary of how I forgot the basics.

Cannot say it better than this:-

Oh and by the way guys there is help and there are people who will listen and try and point you down the right path and I guess there is someone out there who will love you. Male or female because blokes like us will eventually send our partners down the same path to depression....
Lifeline on 13 11 14 in South Autralia
SANE helpline on 1800 187 263 in South Australia.