Saturday, April 23, 2011

Men Who Suffer in Silence

Recently I met a woman online who said she was looking for a relationship with a man who was not bipolar. Curiosity got the better of me, and I asked her what she meant by that. Apparently, she was married to a man for sixteen years who was bipolar but refused to get treatment. I can only imagine the hell she went through living with him, but her pain was nothing compared to his.

I have to ask myself, why would anyone want to live with this disease without getting treatment? Without the right medication you are on a constant emotional rollercoaster ride, and depending on the severity of your disease, you can easily tear yourself and those around you to pieces.

The answer is it’s a cultural thing with men of my generation. We are taught to suffer in silence, and that admitting that you have emotional or psychological problems is a sign of great weakness. This is tragic on so many levels, because many men suffer from depression and never get help. Although they may not be bipolar, which is far more severe, depression can be pretty damn debilitating and can destroy your outlook on life.

There are many emotional and psychological disorders that go untreated by men who refuse to admit they have a problem. Have you ever noticed that all the commercials for antidepressants focus on women? I have yet to see a single one where a man is sitting in a chair looking despondent and depressed. Yes, this is most certainly a cultural thing. Depression among women is much more acceptable, but a man must suck it up and keep going, no matter how bad he feels.

I am going to keep pounding this issue until people start listening. It’s okay for men to admit they are depressed or suffer from mental diseases. The HR Department and my boss work closely with me when I start a major mood swing, and understand completely when I have to take an afternoon off to go see my doctor. I stay on top of my disease like white on rice, and I never wait for things to get out of hand. That’s the biggest reason I have never been hospitalized and function so well at my job.

There have been a few times when I have gone completely off the rails, but that hasn’t happened in ages, and is pretty rare by now. I have found the right medication, I am getting individual therapy, and I am in a support group for people with bipolar disorder. I am doing all the right things to keep myself stable.

I wish more men in my age group would do the same. I feel bad for that woman’s husband. He may never seek help for his bipolar disorder, and now that his marriage has failed, who knows how that may affect him. I know she doesn’t care; after living through hell with this poor guy for sixteen years, the only thing she wanted was to be free of all the drama. She made that perfectly clear in her correspondence.

Love to all!

James M. Weil

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