The Suffering Silent: Men & Mental Health

Anxiety, Depression, and Men

Jon frequented my blog pages and Instagram account and so in memoriam I thought, “what would he want me to share with my other readers?” The answer is simple but the solution not so much.

We must do a better job helping our men (both young and old alike) who are suffering silently.

Two of Jonathan’s recent retweets shared his heart:
“I really don’t need another Bible verse. I need a hug.”
“The loneliest people are the kindest, the saddest people smile the brightest.”

And that he did. He had a wonderful way in knowing how to make other’s smile and was grateful to those of you who listened and helped him smile along the way.

In 2014, Bryan Reeves shared: “Most men think we have to do it alone. Bear whatever burden alone. We don’t ask for help. We don’t confess our worries, our sadnesses, our confusion, our despair. We don’t engage other men in vulnerable conversations. . . There’s a core cultural message that says men can’t ever show weakness. We can’t need to rely on anyone, and we can’t make a mistake. If we do, the world will fall apart. Or at least we won’t have an honorable place in it anymore. So we grin and bear it. We do it ourselves.”

“At its worst, ‘grin and bear it’ leads men to the gravest act of check-out possible: suicide. What 22 despairing military veterans will do today, and again tomorrow, and again the next day. What aging NFL football players do to themselves. The same thing many teenage boys do, who die by suicide four times more often than girls.”

Anxiety and depression seem to be one of those touchy subjects that we often get wrong in Christianity. Quite often we don’t truly understand the complicated complexity and the myriad manifestations of mental disorders represented in the church. Way to often (like we do in way too many situations) the church offers her Sunday school pat answers like “get right with God and it will all work out” or “You don’t need meds. You need to pray more.”

I recently read, “The Word is full of wisdom and encouragement for those suffering from depression and anxiety disorders, but it doesn’t come in one-verse doses. ‘Be anxious for nothing’ and ‘do not worry about your life’ can easily be taken out of context, which is problematic. First (and importantly), doing so fails to appropriately handle Scripture, carelessly misconstruing the larger intent of the passages.”

“Another really scary thing this does is it can convince a person in the worst throes of their illness that they’re not obeying God. Add that to what feels like the inability just to be – every shaky breath hurts and getting out of bed is impossible – and you’ve thrown gasoline onto the fire.”

We need to learn how to do a better job understanding, encouraging, listening, and coming alongside our fellow brothers and sisters as well as those outside the church who are suffering in pain, loneliness, and despair.

My challenge to my readers today is to be more aware of the “Jonathans” around you and what they’re going through. Let’s stop settling for our memorized messages and take time to truly get to know each other because “everyone’s story matters.”

Jonathan,

You told me several times that you looked forward to reading my book in completion, that you found hope through my blog posts, and that many of the topics I tackled were those needed most within the church today.

Friend. I am sorry that you did not get to read my book in its entirety but I thank you for the feedback you gave and the encouragement you were on my book writing journey.

Way too many suffer in silence. May your story echo on and on and remind us that all of our stories matter and that we need to take more time to listen, love, and smile!

RESOURCES
Steve Austin’s Story and Grace is Messy Books
Self-Care for the Wounded Soul: 21 Days of Messy Grace
The Gift of Hard Things: Finding Grace in Unexpected Places
Some Things You Keep: Letting go. Holding on. Growing up.
Top 10 Books on Depression
SecondChance.Org

https://bryanreeves.com/hiding-weakness-kills-men
http://www.relevantmagazine.com/god/church/5-things-christians-should-know-about-depression-and-anxiety

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