In fact it was the manner in which some replied that I really found telling. I had more men contact me privately than women, and I had more men contact me privately than men who replied directly (and publicly) on the blog.
Perhaps there is someone you know who may be struggling, but doesn’t know what to do. While individual signs of depression may seem similar to “just how people can be” if your mate is showing a few of the following, there is a chance something may be up:
- Is he grumpy? Ok. Let’s not get personal, some people are grumpy, some people like to complain. However if your mate is suddenly bitching about the small things in life, it could be that they are trying to express their frustrations about something else. He may not want to express his negative feelings towards his life, and so may project the feelings onto trivial matters instead.
- Each time you see him does he seem increasingly run down? Is he looking like he had a wild night out the night before, when you know he didn’t? Depression can disturb sleep, and increase feelings of fatigue. Perhaps he’s starting to arrive late more and more, and has been oversleeping. These are all signs that something might be up.
- Had he suddenly changed his interests and activities, shying away from things he used to love? Maybe he was always nagging you for a round of golf, or a kick about; but now he makes excuses not to play. Depression can bring a loss of interest or pleasure for activities in life.
- Perhaps it’s the opposite and he has suddenly taken up every sport and activity possible? He may be trying to escape from something and find thrills to compensate for his depression.
- Did he used to have a healthy interest in all things “physical” but now he seems to have lost that “spring in his step”? Yes I’m taking about sex here. Men can avoid intimacy when they are feeling low, and this in turn can mean they pull away from any possibility of being emotionally exposed to someone. On the flip side you might suddenly wonder why your mate has started looking almost obsessively for sexual exploits, again in a bid to thrill seek.
You may be thinking “hang on, if my mate wants to play golf all the time, or doesn’t then he may be depressed? If my mate is obsessed with sex, or doesn’t want it then he might be depressed? This is a bit hard to work out!” and you would be right.
Of course I can’t cover all symptoms here, as everyone is different and mental health is not an exact science. I just hope these symptoms give an idea of what to look for.
If you feel a pal might be having a hard time, what should you do? It’s a tricky one. Try to talk to them without making it too huge a deal (I can assure you that suddenly having someone say “I think you may be depressed” is the most terrifying thing to hear and can make you run a mile!”)
If you think there may be a bigger problem, let them know that it is ok if there is, and that they can’t help being affected. Try and encourage them to speak to a doctor, but if they are hesitant then you could mention any articles/blogs you may have seen that talk about mental health. This may help them decide if they are having a bit of a battle, and also reassure them that there are lots of others in the same boat.
The one thing we shouldn’t do is ignore it if we think there could be a problem.
I’d like to end this blog post by noting that today would have been Robin Williams’ 64th birthday.
Sometimes people commit everything they have to making others laugh, when they themselves are unable to.
Thanks for reading
BuBakes is committed to reducing the stigma attached to Mental Health, and personally donates 25p for every order received to MIND. This is kindly matched by three generous supporters, meaning a £1 donation is made per order. If you would like to find out more about MIND, or make a donation you can do so here.