Column: Men, It’s OK To ‘Come Out’ Too

October 27, 2015

[Opinion column written by Jeremy Deacon]

To say I was overwhelmed by the messages I received since my ‘coming out’ would be a huge understatement. I was overwhelmed.

I received countless emails, people inboxed me on Facebook and sent me private tweets, I was stopped in the street by strangers and received numerous telephone calls. Some peopled asked to see me personally.

Jeremy Deacon Oct 27 2015

Every one of them had a personal story to tell about mental health, whether it was about them or someone they knew. [As a matter of fact, all but two were women – why is that?]

In the end I got the impression that there were many more people suffering with some form of mental illness than officials figures show and that many of those people were not sure of where to get help or would simply not acknowledge that something was wrong.

Here are some examples of the things that people told me:

One 57-year-old woman wrote:

“Thank you for writing about mental illness and sharing your story. I too had experienced the similar thing. I would sleep excessively, it felt like a dark cloud was following me everywhere, nor was I interested in anything.

“At some points I experienced loss of appetite and most of the classic symptoms. I had no idea what was going on with me but I knew something was wrong so I too went to Dr. Google also.

“I really felt like it is not true that I could be depressed so I attributed it to the fact that I had been ill. After several months of this I ran in to a friend [a mental health nurse] who suggested that I seek help. I took her advice.

“I called and I received treatment at MAWI. I am on medication and I also participate in talk therapy. I have improved a great deal, however, I still have moments when things get a bit too demanding.

“So, I find peace when I talk to God, he doesn’t judge. I also look at movies [funny or drama]. I must laugh; so, I laugh at stupid things, things like people who can’t dance but think they can [me]. This makes life easier. Jeremy hang in there and be encouraged.”

One man emailed:

“As a father to be, I’m petrified. As a father to be of a child that may be born with Down’s Syndrome, I’m scared. As a father to be, diagnosed with depression at a young age and ADHD more recently – I’m hopeful. Bermuda is an incredibly progressive society, and I’m hopeful of raising a child with special needs in this country.

“However – people need to be more open, unafraid to share their experiences with mental health. The only way to attack & destroy the unknown, the ‘stigma’ of mental health is to paint it on faces of real people with real experiences – to help people realize that people with mental health issues are just that, people!

“The more we belittle the negative thoughts & aspects with reality & facts, the more we make it an open & honest discussion, the more beautiful this Bermuda I live in will become!”

One person wrote this:

“Someone else said: How do you describe depression? We know but the uneducated and ignorant never will. It is hard to describe but I describe it as a big black hole of nothingness that envelopes you and no matter how much you try to talk yourself out of it or try and reason as to why you’re feeling like that there is nothing you can do to pull yourself out except by taking the medication.

“I have tried a few times to come off the medication. Once cold turkey. Well that was a mistake as the big black hole enveloped me within two weeks. Another time I weaned myself over a period of six months until I did not take anymore and within a few weeks that big black dark hole slowly but surely began to envelope me again.

“As soon as I started the medication at the prescribed level my dark hole of nothingness slowly lifted and I started to feel somewhat normal again. Normal, now that is a word I often try to define. I do not believe I have ever felt “normal” and I don’t think I ever will. My depression, although under control, is always there lurking in the back ground and will never be completely gone.”

And this:

“Many people have commented on your ‘bravery’ for this article. Isn’t it peculiar that people mean well but has anyone said, ‘I admire your bravery for going through the darkness and coming out on the other side’?

“Depression is not for the faint hearted! Sometimes we have to remind ourselves that courage and bravery is reminding yourself that you will try again tomorrow to get up, brush your teeth, take a shower and put on clean clothes! Oh and if you are lucky enough to have a job, go to work!”

There were other stories as well, one person was desperately worried about someone she knows who seemed to deliberately want to ignore the fact that they suffer from a mental illness; one spoke to me about how she had suffered since the age of 18 and another told me how she had to quit a six figure salary and who now earns $18 an hour.

In my opinion, if you believe you have mental health problems, you must ignore any fears of being stigmatised, you must not suffer in silence as so many people do – especially, it seems, men.

As I have seen in the last week, there are many people out there who are just like you.

Here are some useful links:

  • The Bermuda Mental Health Foundation: here
  • There is a 24-hour help line [236-3770] and a walk-in clinic at MWI for people who feel they need help from a mental health specialist.

Jeremy Deacon is a 30-year veteran of the media industry in Bermuda and the UK. He runs public relations company, Deep Blue Communications, and also engages in freelance journalism for publications in Bermuda and overseas. He is also the Executive Officer of the Media Council of Bermuda.

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Comments (7)

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  1. Terry says:

    Again Jeremy, thank you.

    And to think of all the good you have done and still functioned to an extent whilst dealing with this.

    Maybe others will cross that bridge.

    Shalom.

  2. Terry says:

    Don’t worry about the dislikes on my post .

    Just silly people who don’t read nor comprehend reality.

    Shalom.

  3. susan says:

    :) great follow up article! lets keep talking!

  4. sad!!! says:

    Jeremy, i’m glad you spoke out as many people have gone through this or are going through this on this island and are afraid to let people know about it. depression is a serious thing as I myself as a young woman has been through this . I’ve been lucky though as I haven’t had to result down to taking drugs as of yet, but I know this is a very serious issue and Bermuda does need to know about it. so thanks for putting it out there you have clearly helped people to not be scared about this. may the lord help all those that are going through this. bless you Jeremy!!!

    • jeremy deacon says:

      Thank you very much. I hope that you are able to continue to cope with this illness.

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