Depression jacks up my relationships. Intimate or non-intimate.
I’m not pawning my behaviors off on depression.
Just explaining where they come from.
To improve myself, I must understand myself.
And I’ve found a lot of my answers in “Living with a Depressed Male”, Chapter 14
of Unmasking Male Depression, by Dr. Archibald D. Hart.
Having struggled with depression, not knowing this information led me to feel “crazy”, something a lot of us who survive with mental illness feel. Every. Single. Day.
Though chapter 14 is “primarily for wives” (p. 225), it really helped me understand myself a lot more.
I’d like to unpack it for you.
NOTE: Dr. Hart is a man of Faith but you don’t have to believe for the majority of this information to “make sense”.
* * *
I like bullets.
So does my A.D.D.erall.
So instead of summarizing his points in paragraph form I’m presenting them as bullets with page references. My hope is for you to take something away from this and relay it to others.
Here are the points that helped me understand how depression impacts me as a male.
“The Best Things You Can Say to the Depressed Man in Your Life” (p. 231)
- “I love you and always will because you are important to me.”
- “I can’t really feel what you are feeling, but I want to understand.”
- “The best I can offer you right now is to be your friend.”
- “You don’t have to apologize for the way you feel, because I know you can’t really control it.”
- “You are not alone in this; I will stay by you until it’s over.”
- “This won’t last forever, and when it’s over we’ll sing God’s praises together.”
- “God isn’t causing this. He wants to help you bear it.”
- “Some of God’s greatest servants have also suffered from depression – and God helped them through it.”
“The Worst Things You Can Say to the Depressed Main in Your Life” (p. 235)
- “Get your life together; you are a man and can control yourself if you try.”
- “God isn’t pleased with your life at the moment. Maybe you have unforgiven sin.”
- “Stop feeling so sorry for yourself and just try a little harder.”
- “I don’t know how much more of this I can take. You are driving my crazy.”
- “Remember that there are many people in this world who are worse off than you.”
- “I’m beginning to think that it was a mistake for me to marry [be in a relationship with] you.”
- “You should stop seeing those quacks and taking those pills because they’re changing your brain.”
- “Believe me, I know how you feel because I was depressed once and I didn’t make a meal of it.”
Men are a problem to women but rarely is this intentional. They are to an even greater degree a problem to themselves.
How Depression Effects Men & Makes Them Act
- Depressed men frustrate and alienate those they love the most. (p. 226)
- Depressed men become monosyllabic, self-absorbed, disinterested in almost everything, and very irritable. (p. 226)
- Your loved one has not chosen to be depressed. If he could, he would gladly give it up. (p. 227)
- …depression saps energy and diminishes self-esteem, and it will make your loved one feel worthless and unwanted. Guilt hangs … over every depressed man’s life, and thoughts of dying are very common. (p. 227)
- …you can …count on there being a major communication problem. Depression shuts down our need to connect and incapacitates our socializing skills. (p. 227)
- Depressed people become very sensitive to even the slightest rejection and jump to all sorts of negative conclusions and self-blame. (p. 228)
- Don’t give advice…Men want reassurance that all will be right again. They also want reassurance that you love them and won’t abandon them at this dark moment in their lives. (p. 229)
- Men express their depressions differently, and this difference revolves around irritability and aggression… (p. 230)
- Let’s make no mistake about it: men don’t become “nicer” when they are depressed; they often become nastier. If they were mildly irritable before the depression, they become grossly irritable after. They can’t necessarily help it, as it is a by-product of the depression. Depression robs you of all control and turns you into a prickly time bomb. (p. 230)
Caves (e.g., retreating)
- Caves are bad for depressed men. The problem is the cave’s effect on rumination. The so-called cave experience is deadly to depression because it offers a lot of time for rumination, and rumination feeds the depression just like logs feed the fire. (p. 233)
- The cave has a soothing effect on men who are depressed, which is why they seek it. But here the soothing feeds feelings of dejection rather than providing a time for escape. Distractions are good. Retreating to solitary confinement isn’t. Depressed men need to be taken out of themselves, not allowed to retreat into themselves where they shut the cave entrance with a big boulder… (p. 234)
So…do you have a depressed male in your life? What has made sense to you here? What do you not agree with? What are your experiences? Thank you for taking the time to share your thoughts.
SOURCE: The words contained in this post are largely the intellectual property of Archibald D. Hart from Chapter 14 of his book, Unmasking Male Depression.