Depression. It’s very real. It’s very common. It’s very destructive. We all know someone who is going through a bout with depression, and, we might even know someone who has contemplated or attempted suicide.
Suicide rates are on the rise among men. In fact, as I was researching this morning, I found that some studies have shown that suicide rates among men are more than 3.5 times that of women.
I don’t know why that it is and, unfortunately, I cannot get into all the causes that may lead to what a lot of men seem to be experiencing these days but, what I would like to do is give you five strategies I’ve personally used to overcome getting down on myself and falling into a bout with depression.
I do have to tell you this though: I am not a medical professional. I am not a psychologist. I am not a licensed therapist.
All that I’m doing is giving you some strategies that have worked well for me in the past and have worked well for other men who I’ve talked with when facing depression.
If you are listening to this and you are depressed or are considering ending your life, please, please, please talk with a qualified medical professional to help. Whatever you’re going through right now, will not last, but seeking help will certainly speed up the process of getting your life back on the right track. Getting help from others does not make you less of a man. In fact, if anything, it makes you more of a man because you recognize a spot where you need some help and you’re doing all that is required to correct it.
And, on that note, if you see a brother in need, please reach out to him. He may not come straight out and ask you for help but I think we can all agree that the manly thing to do is to offer help, guidance, and assistance. As it says in the Soldier’s Creed, “I will never leave a fallen comrade.”
I know that there are going to be times in our lives where all seems hopeless and all seems lost. I’ve been there. And, while I won’t lie to you and say that I’ve considering suicide myself, I can tell you that I’ve been in some pretty dark places.
This hits home for me. I’ve had a brother-in-law commit suicide and I can’t help but wonder how he got so low that ending his life was the only viable option for him. It still breaks my heart today to think about what he must have been experiencing.
So, in an attempt to help you or someone you know overcome depression, despair, and a sense of feeling lost, I want to share with you five strategies that have helped me through dark times.
BUILD A BAND OF BROTHERS
First and foremost (and I believe this is the number one strategy for overcoming depression), is to surround yourself with a band of brothers.
I think we have a tendency, as men, to think that we have to go at it alone. We don’t. It’s not noble. It’s not virtuous. It’s not honorable. Since the dawn of man, we have been operating in packs and tribes. There’s a reason for that: primarily safety and security. And, although we may not be exposed to the same dangers we were thousands of years ago, we are still in danger.
And, isolation is the surest way to compound that danger.
Gentlemen, build a band of brothers. Even if you don’t feel like you need to now, there will come a point in time where you’ll wish you had a group of strong men to call upon.
If you want to learn more about how to do that head to my interview with Stephen Mansfield.
BECOME ANXIOUSLY ENGAGED
We’ve all heard the term, “idle hands are the Devil’s workshop.” I believe that’s true. I believe that it’s significantly easier for men to face depression when they’re bored or they’re wallowing in their own self-pity without a cause to fight for.
John Eldredge, the author of Wild at Heart says, “Deep in his heart, every man longs for a battle to fight, and adventure to live, and a beauty to rescue.” Yet, when you look at a lot of men’s lives, they’re living the exact opposite of that.
What is your battle? What is your adventure? What is your beauty to rescue? If you’re not anxiously engaged in meaningful, honorable work, you’re more likely to face despair.
And, I’m not talking about life-altering, earth shattering work here. If you don’t have your grand plan yet, no problem. Just engage in some type of work. I believe it’s hard for a man to feel down when he’s working his mind, body, and soul.
The third strategy I want to share with you is the exact opposite of what I just told you. I just asked you to engage and now I’m telling you to disengage.
But, what I’m asking you to disengage from is the thing that might be getting you down in the first place.
Maybe it’s a significant problem and work or at home. Maybe it’s a conversation that you’re having. If you’re like me, you tend to compare yourself to others at times and you need to disengage from that.
I’m not telling you to permanently abandon anything that might upset you but, I would suggest that you disengage for a period to reset your level of thinking.
This leads me to my next point: exercise. There’s just something about sweating a problem out that really helps me reset my way of thinking. Exercise allows me to clear my head and get back to the task at hand or life in general with a new level of commitment and energy.
Walk your dog, go for a run, go swimming, go golfing, hit the gym, do whatever you can to get your body moving and your blood pumping.
And, this strategy is a good one to couple with your building your band of brothers. I love competition. It drives me. It inspires me. It motivates me. And, if I can find other men to compete with on a healthy level, I get to connect with other guys and I get the exercise my body needs.
MIX THINGS UP
The last point I want to share with you is to mix things up. If you’re feeling down and depressed, it may just be that you’re in a rut. Maybe life has become a little mundane or stagnant.
Maybe your relationship is an autopilot. Maybe you’re not experiencing the growth you thought you would. Maybe life isn’t what you envisioned.
There’s just something about exposing yourself to new experiences and, it doesn’t matter what those experiences are – as long as they’re moral, legal, and ethical.
Go skydiving, pick up a new hobby, go on vacation, start a side business, read a book, splurge on something you’ve always wanted to buy.
The point here is to try something you normally wouldn’t do. This might do the trick in snapping you out of that rut you’ve found yourself in.
Guys, this isn’t an exhaustive list but it’s a start to help you overcome darkness and depression.
Remember, if you’re feeling depressed to any degree, I would suggest that you talk with a qualified medical professional to help and work on the few things that I shared with you today: build a band of brothers, get anxiously engaged in meaningful work, disengage from whatever is getting you down, exercise, and mix things up.
Gentlemen, you’re not alone. You have other men who want to help. Allow them to and you will come out on top.
And, if you see a brother in need, reach out, connect, support, and uplift. That’s why we’re here and that’s part of our job as men.