We all go through shit. It might be something obvious like a breakup, the death of a loved one, or financial struggle. But sometimes it’s just general anxiety and depression. Unfortunately there’s no singular cause or sign to know when something’s up. This makes reconciliation difficult for both ourselves and those around us. That sucks, because almost all of us have plenty of people in our lives who would love to do whatever they can to help. Sure, there are stereotypes of signs that someone needs checking up on. There’s a tasteless joke that a woman is obviously going through some shit if she suddenly changes her hair. I think I’ve also heard that same stereotype replaced with massive re-decorations or impulse shopping . Those may be true, but there are also infinite other ways internal struggle manifests itself. So, check on the women in your life. Make sure they know they’re loved and you’ll go to the ends of the earth for their well-being.
With all that being said, I don’t know that there’s a stereotype of male mental health struggle. Sure, if you go over to your boy’s house and there’s a new hole in the drywall that you know didn’t come from a party, you probably need to sit him down and talk about something besides sports for a change. But beyond that, how can we tell when our buddies need help? Just like women, just like everyone, there are no cut and dry scenarios. But there are a few signs to let you know it might be time to check on your buddy.
- Inexplicable new hobby: We all have shit we want to try. I want to get into fly fishing at some point in my life. I’d like to start playing the violin again. But if you come over to my house and I’m spinning pottery, stop me and ask me what the hell’s going on. Same with your boys. If his social media feed starts showing him doing shit he’s literally never done before, check in with him.
- Benign obsession: Everybody’s at least a little obsessed with something. Mine are golf, reading, and stocking my fridge with beer I’ll never drink. I don’t know what your buddies’ are, but if you knew him as a casual gym rat and in only 3 months time he’s placing in bodybuilding competitions, or taking too much PTO to fly across the country for an Ironman or a marathon, it’s not because he woke up and realized he needed to be in better shape. It might be, but there’s a good chance it’s also because he’s misdirecting some emotions he can’t properly express. Go see what’s up.
- Reckless spending: Impulse spending isn’t a warning sign confined to just women. If you go over to your friend’s house and see a new TV you know is probably going to get repo-ed in 6 months, turn that TV off and talk.
- Dumbass body modifications: You’re probably not going to see one of your friend’s ombré their hair. You also aren’t likely to have a buddy walk his new bowling ball dome up to you at happy hour. But he might pierce something. You might see an earring, or, God forbid, a nipple stud might rear its ghastly head at the next pickup ball game. More than likely though, it’s going to be a shitty tat. If he shows you a pic on Insta of a tat that has no business being on anyone’s body, let alone his, please, for the love of God, stop him. Don’t let him recreate The Rock’s tribals on his 14 inch arms. Take him to actual therapy instead.
- Solitary trip abroad: You can also add solitary wilderness trip. Sure, it’s nice to go abroad. It’s nice to get in-tune with nature too. Alone time is nice as well. But when your buddy combines all that and says he’s going to eat out two weeks of vacation time to stay in a Swiss hostel or backpack Yellowstone, it’s almost always because he’s going through shit. His world’s failing him, and he needs to go see what other worlds are out there.
Like I said earlier, there’s no universal signal for mental and emotional struggle. Not for anyone. But, unfortunately, I think men’s mental health is an under-served topic. It’s especially harder for us to see when the guys in our lives need a hand. Is it easy to talk about personal struggle? Fuck no. But an hour’s worth of discomfort is nothing compared to the pain of losing a buddy because he felt like he had to shoulder his pain alone. So, whatever it is, a shitty tat, signing up for the Boston marathon even though he’s never capped 5 miles, or a motorcycle in the driveway, check in on your buddies. And if you’re currently perpetrating one of these behaviors and want to talk, hit me up. Don’t suffer in silence.