As part of our series on mental health, “Neither pathologization nor romanticization,” people who struggle with their mental health are invited to share pieces of writing, whether in the form of prose, poems, or in between, and pieces of art and that come out of these experiences. You can read the introductory text and other pieces as they are added here.
Stigma around mental health prevents many from getting help. For men, there is also the burden of masculinity with its injunction to be constantly strong and warnings that to admit pain may be a sign of weakness. Many observers suggest this is a key cause of higher rates of suicide among men. Here we share three contributions from our male readers talking about their mental health struggles.
Let me talk from a bit of a different perspective here — I am a young doctor, was at the top of my class, and am what seems to be a potentially good physician, but not in my head. No, I rarely see it this way.
In my head, I am always a creep, a failure and an unlucky creature. My psychiatrist would want me to call these thoughts “labeling.” My brain is constantly torturing me — on a bad day, I would have nearly 20 thoughts per minute, all of them accusing me of different kinds of things.
Now, all of these ideas in my head make me uncomfortable. I can’t smile in a photo and sometimes I can’t have a normal conversation. I have private and not so private breakdowns. How many times I wished the existence of my pathetic being would end.
As a doctor, it gets worse here. Sometimes I lose the ability to function; I have outbursts of temper under stress that make me despise myself even more. Can you imagine when a mistake happens how that would affect a patient? Can you imagine the dark places I delve into one day after the other? Would you go to a doctor who has mental health issues?
I have been suffering from anxiety for a few years now. I decided to address the issue about a year ago, and let me tell you a few things. It’s not easy, even for a doctor. I got bored of psychotherapy and lowered the dose of medication several times on my own. My psychiatrist told me it’s like a diabetic refusing to take the insulin.
She always tells me I have to defend myself more, to accept my mistakes and failures and that drugs alone are not enough. I am at a point now where I am seriously struggling to get better. My mind judges me endlessly and giving up seems so intriguing.
There is actually a high prevalence of mental disorders among doctors. We have almost zero social life. Residents in university hospitals don’t go home. They face the life and death of other people, and the consequences of that on us are destructive.
A few days ago, I read an article describing how doctors do not seek mental health help for fear of losing their licenses.
I work in a specialty with less exposure to life and death situations, but facing the possible complications, the possible human errors, adds a ton of stress to an already suffering brain.
Anyway, I don’t know where I’ll be one year from now; I do hope I’ll be able to re-read this.
Well, when the idea of suicide creeps in, you don’t think about whether it’s a sin or not — you become obsessed with how nothing can bother you anymore, with the temptation of giving up and of no more struggling.
You think of how sweet it would be not to wake up. And then you try to find sleep running from those thoughts into darker nightmares.
And you wake up, half-eyed, half-hearted and you go back to your crushing life, lacking the courage to grant yourself an endless, dreamless night.
I love me
Yet I hate
I love others
Yet I fear
I desire silence
Yet I feel
It feels good
Yet it is
It is painful
Yet no one
By a Devil
For I am
Death is anything
Am I Me?
Are you You?
Humans, we are
Nothing but faceless
What is true is dead
What is right is dead
Whilst humans live
I weep tears
For I desire
All drawings by Ola Abulshalashel, a young artist in Cairo who struggled with mental health and is no longer with us.