Why Men Can Find it Hard to Enter Therapy
Updated: Jan 9
Therapy can be hard enough for anyone, yet many men find it harder still.
My heart goes out to the family of Love Island star Mike Thalassitis, who's tragic death a few years ago could have been avoided, had he reached out and got the right help. Mike was 26 and handsome, a former league football player with his life ahead of him. His family loved him dearly and they just didn't know the internal battle he was going through. He chose not to tell them about it and they never saw it coming. Days before his suicide he told them "I'm fine". Sadly, Mike's story is not an isolated case.
You may feel asking for help is a burden to somebody or shows you as needy to friends and family. It's important to know this is very rarely the case and people are more willing to help than you realise.
With such values placed upon us in our society, such as 'Man up', 'Don't be a melt', 'Grow a pair', or 'Men don't cry', asking for help can also be perceived as a weakness. In actual fact there is great strength in vulnerability. When we let our guard down and are vulnerable, other people can understand and more importantly, identify and connect with us on a very real level. As humans, we have a real need to do this.
There's no need to 'suck it up', 'get on with it', or have that 'stiff upper lip'. It doesn't prove anything at all, not to anyone. Least of all, it doesn't help you. In actual fact, it does the complete opposite. When we repress our feelings and emotions (yes, all of us have them), the pressure builds. Imagine water being poured into a system of pipes, it will keep rising and moving until it finds a way out. This is the same with our feelings and emotions, they will always come out of us somewhere at some time, possibly when we least expect it. The more water, the more pressure.
Ever lost your temper? Ever spoke out of turn and hurt somebody? Ever slept around? Ever said "f*ck them", "f*ck her" or "f*ck him"? Ever press the 'f*ck-it key', that special reserved nuke button where you just don't give a toss anymore? Ever get drunk after a hard day or when you don't know what else to do? Ever felt scared, worried or anxious and told nobody or simply denied it? Ever wondered why your mum, sister or partner gets frustrated with you when you won't open up? Ever feel like ending it all? Please feel free to complete this list of behaviour. What's your pattern? What's going on for you?
Sometimes the problems can be sensitive, embarrassing or we feel ashamed or guilty. Sometimes our pasts really bother us. Sometimes we don't know how to put what we are feeling into words. Sometimes we feel the friends and family we talk to do not know, understand or validate what's going on for us. It is not because they don't like, love or care about us, they are not necessarily trained to listen in a way that can help. Counselling is a way to privately off load your burdens in a very safe and confidential manner, and where you may discover things like:
You're not alone.
There is a way out.
Things can and do get better.
Your broken heart can mend.
Your past doesn't define who you are.
We all fuck up and make mistakes, sometimes in a big way.
Having strong feelings or emotions is really ok, part of being a human male.
You can always be a better version of you.
Your relationships can improve.
In counselling, you can reach a relational depth with your therapist to heal and address many things you didn't think were possible to talk about or overcome. You can learn many skills and tools to deal with so many different aspects of life. Whatever it is that's bothering you, consider a therapy session to see how working with a professionally trained therapist can help you.
If you're a man and reading this, show your resilience and real strength by reaching out and asking for help, it is more than likely to be the best decision for you and those around you, and it could even save your life.