Part II: Dead Men Don't Talk

This is part II of a series focusing on the lives of men.

Read Part I: Men on Fatherhood

Last week I watch an episode of Oprah (hey, it’s an episode that Jaimie recommended to me) On this particular episode, Laveranues Coles admitted to enduring three years of being raped by his step-father. His father was arrested and Laveranues never discussed the issue again until he was an adult.

A few weeks ago a childhood friend of mine passed away due to complications of pulmonary fibrosis. I had no idea he had a medical issues but my cousin said he’s been complaining about his breathing for years. A few months ago he went to the hospital for what he thought was pneumonia. It turns out that he had this disease and it had advanced to the point that all he could do was get on a waiting list for a lung transplant.

A younger cousin of mine came to live with me when he was 15. His mother died of AIDS and his father was killed in prison. He spent a great deal of time in foster care. His caseworker felt it would do him some good to be around the men in his family. We took him in and it was long before we realized that the kid had some serious issues going on in his head.

One day he skipped school (I found him and the kid that lived downstairs under the stairwell playing a Game Boy – Go figure) I made him go in the house and had a serious talk with him. Somewhere in the conversation he got really sad and just started crying. I took me two years to get him to talk to me about what was going on in his head. That’s a private discussion but suffice to say, he was carrying some serious baggage.

Then there is my own baggage. I have ADHD but never knew it until recently. For most of my life I knew I was a little absent-minded but I dealt with it. I never had issues in school and was a fairly decent student. So no one ever caught. I’ve spent most of my life around people who have known me since I was in first grade. So every mistake I made was written off as ‘that’s just jimmy’.

I constructed my adult life in way the allowed me to function and diminished the effect on ADHD on my day-to-day existence. I have found that people with ADHD do better when their choices are limited and we’re not required to perform too many tasks at one time.

That was easy to pull off as a single man but with a family, it becomes a daunting task and frustrating for everyone around me. I tried like crazy to just … adjust. You know, be a man and pull myself up by the bootstrap. That didn’t work. So now I’m seeking help. In order for me to do it I have to overcome the embarrassment of admitting that I’m different. I have to realize that the world is not designed in a way that allows me to operate at an optimum level. But it has taken me a year to get to this point, and now I actually there is a better way for me. It’s going to involve some medication, meditation and talking with others with the same problem – but the end result will be a better way of living.

The problem with men is that we are very comfortable with talking about our bodies when it comes to exercise, aerobics and athletics. But we clam up when it comes to the internal workings of our body, mind and spirit. There is a lot more to being healthy than running a mile under six minutes or bench pressing 300 pounds.

This is especially true with black men. Black men die earlier then their white counterparts. Prostate cancer, colon cancer, hearth disease, diabetes and a host of other treatable diseases kill black men at a higher rate. There are many causes for this and they include, diet, access to healthcare and avoiding early detection screening.

No man wants to make himself vulnerable. Vulnerable to what, that doesn’t matter. The idea of being seen a mentally or physically weak or incapable is the primary reason many men are not living an optimum life. While living to masquerade our demons we are actually enabling them to control our lives, hinder us and at times, kill us. So what can we do about this?


Discussion Starters:

1. Why do you think men avoid seeking medical attention?
2. What advice would you give to the man you think could use counseling?
3. As a man, what is your greatest fear?
4. Do you think there is something wrong or weak about a man that seeks therapy? 5. What would you like to change about your mental, spiritual or physical health? b) Have you taken any steps toward those changes?

 

13 Responses to Part II: Dead Men Don't Talk

  1. Sharon Says:
    This will be interesting...I spent 6 years trying to convince my fiance, whose father died from prostate cancer to go "cough". He never did, and never gave me any sound reason why he wouldn't. I simply can't relate to this as being the daughter of a woman who survived a mastectomy [15 years ago], and having fibrocystic breast disease myself, I get check-ups religiously so I can catch anything that goes wrong while its still new and more responsive to treatments...

    Can't wait to read what men say...
  2. James Manning Says:
    Sharon,

    I have a totally new outlook on health and mental health. my issue was actually having to find out that there was something wrong with me - and then having to deal with it.
  3. Bullfrog Says:
    1. Why do you think men avoid seeking medical attention?
    Pride, plain and simple. I was diagnosed with Ulcerative Colitis at 18 years old and it took me years to really develop a good habit of taking my meds every day. Why? I didn't want to admit to myself that something was wrong. Stupid really. Not taking them meant getting sick, but that didn't mean as much as seeming whole.

    2. What advice would you give to the man you think could use counseling?
    That could be a tough sell. They have to be aware of the negative consequences of NOT getting it and it is not easy to talk someone out of denile; they got there willingly.

    3. As a man, what is your greatest fear?
    Dying in some horrible way. I know where my soul is going, so that doesn't scare me. I just want to go quietly. I also live with a small irrational fear of having my wife or daughter leave this earth before I do.

    4. Do you think there is something wrong or weak about a man that seeks therapy?
    I think our innate weakness is something we all are forced to confront at one point or another. Someone who has done that and is taking steps to fix it is ahead of the game as far as I am concerned.

    5. What would you like to change about your mental, spiritual or physical health?

    mental: I have alot of anxiety and am slowly but surely discovering the source of that, which I find theraputic.

    spiritual: I have a difficult time trusting God which I believe affects my life in alot of ways (including having anxiety). Getting to know Him through His word is building that trust.

    physical: I have been carrying some extra pounds for about 3 years now and have recently started a regimen to change the way I use food. It is going well.
  4. Roc Says:
    JM - Good post. In short, men tend to hesitate to ask for help out of fear of being seen as "soft." I'm not talking about BS like asking for directions or trying not to cry when that had to shoot Ol' Yeller...

    Men, generally speaking, are raised sorrounded by images and attitudes of being "strong," "tough," etc. I think that is amplified when involved in a personal relationship - afraid that our woman will see as as weak or vulnerable. In reality, weakness is not being able to look at yourself and understand that we each have our limits and be able to communicate that in a manner other than anger. Whether its your wife, your priest, a good friend, or an anonymous personality in the blogoshpere... sometimes it is just theraputic to get things from a perspective other than your own.

    1. Why do you think men avoid seeking medical attention?

    I have no idea... I get a complete physical every year.

    2. What advice would you give to the man you think could use counseling?

    Give it to 'em straight up. They might not feel there is much to gain, but they need to understand what there is to lose.

    3. As a man, what is your greatest fear?

    That I will outlive my kids.

    4. Do you think there is something wrong or weak about a man that seeks therapy?

    No... but there's something wrong with a guy who watches Oprah :)

    5. What would you like to change about your mental, spiritual or physical health? b) Have you taken any steps toward those changes?

    Not much. I work out regulary, attend church, have a close inner-circle of friends, and - most importantly - has a wife who I can talk about anything with... and isn't afraid to remind me when I bring home "stress" from the office. I think healthy relationships are key.
  5. Roderick Says:
    JM- I'm glad that I found your blog. After having found Bookerrising about three months ago I though I was in the Twilight Zone. LOL

    You have a good head on your shoulder and I hope you much success.
  6. Roc Says:
    JM - Off topic for a sec... I know, like me, you get a jones for some Harold's. Thought you'd get a kick out of this:

    http://www.suntimes.com/output/news/cst-nws-harolds22.html

    Damn shame when not needing the bulletproof glass is something to cheer about...
  7. James Manning Says:
    Whoa!!! Harolds on the north side, no bulletproof glass, good customer service? Serving whole wheat bread? What the hell is going on back in the Chi? Damn shame I tell ya.
  8. Rell Says:
    I think we avoid medical care because it's not manly in the traditional sense. "Man Up" be impervious to pain etc etc. that kind of talk.

    My greatest fear as a man and as a person is failure. If I fail I'm nothing
  9. Dell Gines Says:
    You know, I am wondering if I have mild ADHD, and my wife thinks I am depressed. Hum.
  10. SRH Says:
    Men typically have an issue of admitting when we need help. This is a completely assinine way of thinking. Each of us individually cannot be experts on everything.

    1 Why do you think men avoid seeking medical attention?
    Cause we feel we can beat what ever it is on our own. Foolish, see a doc, they are the experts

    2 What advice would you give to the man you think could use counseling?
    First I would tell them about my years of therapy, and how it changed me into a much happier person. It is not weakness to ask someone for help.

    3 As a man, what is your greatest fear?
    Vampire bears. Okay, seriously I am most afraid of losing my family to some tragic event. I honestly do not know how I would be able to cope.

    4 Do you think there is something wrong or weak about a man that seeks therapy?
    Nope, not at all. All a therapist does is teach someone new skills at being able to cope with the things life throws at you.

    5 What would you like to change about your mental, spiritual or physical health? b) Have you taken any steps toward those changes?
    mental: I need to be more positive
    spritual: I need a spiritual home
    physical: I am way out-of-shape
    b)
    mental: trying to get back into some older hobbies
    spritual: nothing at the moment. I am takcling mental and physical first
    physical: I am trying to get to the gym
  11. TheOneandOnlyInsanely Says:
    Like you said James, its the men and their machismo that keeps them from admitting their problems, issues and concerns.....
  12. Foot Bath Array Says:
    Interesting stuff here.

    Sincerely,

    June
    Foot Bath Array
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