Imagine if you are making your way along life’s journey and you find a cave. You are drawn to it for some reason, so you venture in.
Deep inside, the light cannot find you, so it is cold and damp. You have been travelling for so long in the wilderness, that your limbs have grown heavy. You need to rest, but if you lay down in this cave, you are afraid you will never get back up.
You are in the Dark Void of Depression. You are never really sure how or why you find yourself in there, but that is kind of irrelevant now you are trapped there. The most important thing is to find a way out.
And yet society perpetuates a myth that somehow, magically, because of the Male Label you have been given, you are not in the cave. Again, that is pretty unhelpful, when you know you are. But sometimes even the helping profession don’t expect to see the Male Labelled inside the Dark Void of Depression, so they think they see something else: You wave and thrash around, trying to find help, and yet they interpret that waving and thrashing as ‘aggression’ or ‘anger’. And so you slip further into that Dark Void.
Trifold Societal Trap
Even if you wanted to escape the Dark Void of Depression, there is a vicious societal trap at any point of your potential route to freedom –
Trap # 1 – The Male Labelled are conditioned to not identify, nor seek help for, emotional distress. And this conditioning applies to everyone in society, so we end up not expecting emotional distress from the Male Labelled. This point was highlighted by a study carried about by John and Sandra Condry. They told half their research participants that a video recording of a baby crying was that of a Male Labelled baby. This half of the participants tended to refer to the baby’s crying as ‘angry’. However, the other half of research participants, who saw the same recording of the same baby, and who were told this was a Female Labelled baby, interpreted the crying as ‘frightened’.
Trap # 2 – What help there is can sometimes be designed or delivered in a way that is not accessible for the Male Labelled
Trap # 3 – If the Male Labelled manage to seek help for Depression, it is sometimes not recognised as Depression, and instead the external behaviour is labelled as ‘aggression’ or ‘anger’
The Light of Truth
To find your way out of this Dark Void of Depression, we need to shine the Light of Truth. When we do, we can see, quite clearly, Three Truths about Depression -
Truth #1 – The Male Labelled are more than three times more likely to die by suicide
Truth # 2 – Often behaviour that is considered ‘aggression’ or ‘anger’ is a sign of an underlying Depression
Truth # 3 – Depression impacts the Male Labelled. More than six million people who are Male Labelled in the United States have been diagnosed with a depressive disorder (National Institute of Mental Health 2017). This is just the known numbers – there are likely to be many more who have been undiagnosed, either because they have not got help, or they have been misdiagnosed with a conduct disorder instead of a depressive disorder.
Depression, Gender Identity, Sexuality, and Ethnicity
Even when we shine the Light of Truth into the Dark Void of Depression, still we do not see all the hidden corners. There are further traps for the Male Labelled, especially if your Male Label intersects with another part of your identity. For example, if you are part of the LGBTQ+ community (because you are Gender Diverse, or because of your Sexuality), or if you are a Person of Colour, there are yet more traps to be wary of.
We will examine these further traps in Part 2 of this article.
For now, it is enough to know that there is a way out of the Dark Void of Depression. And the first step is to shine the Light of Truth on Depression and the Male Label.
So what do you think?
Have you ever been trapped in the Dark Void of Depression and the Trifold Societal Trap? I would love to hear from you. Does any of this resonate with you? Get in touch by sending me a message privately via the Contact Page, or add a public comment below, and engage in the debate.
Chris Warren-Dickins LLB MA LPC
Therapist, writer, educator, and LGBTQ+ advocate