Why your permission to cry isn’t enough.

  • I talk about mental health, especially mine because talking about it normalises it for folk too scared to talk and it’s better than me picking up a baseball bat.

    A while back the Catholic church redefined hell. It’s not fire any more; apparently it is a cold empty void alone forever. I have a horrible feeling the Pope may have read the nihilism wiki entry or visited Slough.

    So I get to write about this stuff occasionally, me and my mental. My mental is sat in the corner staring at the moment; it’s got a satisfied smug look and is well fed, it’s got to eat really well recently, so I get five minutes off before I get it gnawing on my bones again.

    So why bring up hell? Well partly because it amuses that scaring people back into church is always ‘helpful’ and worth pointing out publicly for the shit it is, but because that analogy isn’t far off, that and I believe that the church takes a dim view of suicides.

    See that link? I could be local radio host with those skills….or present Top Gear…

    Thing is when it comes to suicide it’s a ball ache. Trust me, there’s too much logistics and maths. Working out CO levels, exchange rates for the more popular drug (it’s expensive) or trying to work out how to deal with your body and the note, it’s too much like hard work. You ever tried working out CO levels when you have depression? I can’t hold a conversation some days let alone work out
    parts per million.

    Why is this still a thing? I mean we all know about depression, there are cool memes and famous folk telling us its ok.  It’s mainly because contrary to popular opinion, it’s still not ok to cry. No it isn’t shut up, you are wrong, because it’s not about an external permission to cry.

    See if it was ok to cry, to say what you think, to be able to articulate how you feel without feeling judged, without feeling like a burden, without feeling like you are alienating people, without feeling that everyone else’s problems are more important, without feeling you are a weight dragging the world down you wouldn’t have depression. I mean you’d be quite dull, duller than a Brexiter complaining that British courts in are undemocratic, but at least you wouldn’t be depressed anymore.

    OK that’s flippent, a tad unhelpful and a little tabloid sensational, but when I cry I tend to do it in private. Why? It’s not because as a man I am unmanly, nope it’s because I’m conditioned to not want to hurt people. That sharing that pain just spreads it. There is an assumption that masculinity and the need to be a bloke stops men from crying, but often talking to friends it’s because they don’t want to be inconvenient, that they will just drag others in or that in their experience when they have opened up they have just been abandoned because it was too difficult to face for someone else.

    We are just being really damned British about it.

    In my echo chamber very few men don’t cry because they are manly men, most of the people I call friends have put that bullshit to bed (and in fact one of the joys of being a teacher is being able to challenge toxic masculinity at the coal face.).

  • Talking about mental health I have found myself alienated, probably by myself. I have been told I’m too negative (Yes depression does that….), been asked what helps and then ignored when I actually opened up and said ‘this helps’, told I shouldn’t talk about mental health as it’s not appropriate, been told that as a man I don’t understand what it’s like to be really depressed (cause mental health has a
    gender….arrggghhh), you are attention seeking (fuck you with bells on), told that it’s in my head (yes…yes it is….brain chemistry is in the head….), told ‘have you tried cheering up’ (no I was going for that whole miserable fuck vibe that chicks dig.) and my personal favorite. The joy of someone trying to push me into killing myself.

    Seriously if you have ever used suicide to amuse yourself, to bully or manipulate I pity you, you are a pathetic, abusive little sad excuse of a human. (It may have come up again at the weekend so forgive my poking of it, that and occasionally mentioning it amuses that the person involved probably flinches a bit.)

    So you learn not to cry, not to be a bother and you get metal robot suit to slap on. You get used to nodding and smiling for others because you can’t say help or I need you or just be here while I melt down because you ‘want to upset someone else.


    So how do you get to suicide from that?

    Well being dead is less of a bother for people around you, it’s a clean break rather than dragging it out hurting people and the feeling that you have no one to turn to because you don’t want to be a bother. That last one feels very British, doesn’t it? and weirdly passive aggressive too.

    And you are a bother because you have learned that depression hurts the people around you. You have learned you ‘should cheer up’, that ‘you are just being negative’, that you are ‘needy’, that some folk believe you would be better off dead. The fault is with you.

    What you have learned is that opening up is inconvenient, that its easier to shut up and not talk about it, that crying isn’t something you can give yourself permission to do.

    That’s the thing, crying, talking about it is with you. Being told you have permission isn’t enough, you need to give yourself permission and get past what you have learned and have faith that the people who give a shit will be there for you when you need them. Huh? Faith, back to the bloody church again.

    Hmmm, My mental is hungry again, and the suit needs sticking back on in case I offend or am too negative. I best get back to smiling, nodding and being understanding.

    Often opening up is a small steps thing, next time a mate opens with an ‘I’m a bit down’ maybe there is a chance that there is an iceberg behind that. Maybe if you stop and just listen they may be able to give themselves permission to cry.
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