At birth, we slap the Male Label on a person (otherwise known as the Male Labelled). When it comes to Depression, labelling is far from a neutral act. As if the Label were slapped over that person’s mouth, they are expected to remain silent, even when their emotional distress is pushing them closer to the cliff’s edge.
And then there are some (including members of the helping profession) who pathologise the Male Labelled. They claim that if you are given the Male Label at birth, it somehow infects you with a defect, so you are unable to feel, or unable to become Depressed. There is no evidence to support this view.
To add further insult to injury, if the Male Labelled manage to seek help, they are sometimes dismissed as ‘aggressive’ or ‘angry’. Their Depression is never identified, and so the treatment remains unavailable to them.
Is it any wonder that the Male Labelled are three times more likely to die by suicide?
Let’s end this nonsense and accept that the Male Labelled need as much help with Depression as anyone else. Here are a few pointers to help with staying away from the cliff’s edge.
How to spot Depression
It has taken the form of a black dog (Winston Churchill), a slug (Margaret Atwood, the author of The Handmaid’s Tale, referred to Depression as a ‘sluggish wave’) or an elephant (that was me, referring to it as the elephant in the room that no one wants to address).
No matter what form it takes, there are a handful of symptoms that could identify the changeling that is Depression. It is a persistent state of being, not a one-off bad day. When it takes hold it can leave you numb or flattened, persistently negative, irritable, and it often leaves you with a sense of hopelessness –
You are more likely to be diagnosed with Depression if you have been experiencing the above-mentioned symptoms for
You, and the people you know and love, will recognise it the most
The above-mentioned symptoms need to be considered by taking into account a person’s usual temperament or personality. If someone is normally shy and socially withdrawn, this may be less of a symptom of Depression than someone who is usually outgoing, and all of a sudden socially withdrawn.
What to do about Depression
Get help. It sounds obvious, but maybe you need to hear it. The Male Label is often associated with independence, and to seek help can sometimes suggest vulnerability.
It is okay to seek help. In fact, it is a clever thing to do. What you are doing is creating a team to support you for just part of the journey that is your life. Think of it as a delegation of your mental or emotional wellbeing to a member of your team. They can take responsibility for your wellbeing, at least for a little.
Where to find help for Depression
So what do you think?
Does any of this resonate with you? I would love to hear from you, so we can help survive the Male Label.
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