You know what's attractive? Healing!
That's something I say often when asked, what are great qualities to look for in a person... What does their healing, past traumas, and mental health look like?
Now of course today I'm not going to discuss dating, like I did in my dating blogs, however I do want to reiterate that healing is an inside job! There is no person, not even the person you are dating and/or want to date, that can help with that. It ultimately starts and ends with you!
When it comes to men and their mental health, there is always a stigma surrounding it that them showing or discussing emotions is a sign of weakness; which could not be further from the truth! There is so much strength in vulnerability. The black community as a whole needs healing...because our future depends on it. There are so many generational curses and just straight up bad habits that we need to break. A major one of them being that, "Black people do not go to therapy".
However, I am proud to see many within our community making this something of the past. Again, our generation, 80s'-90's babies, has the power to improve the state of the community by making changes to the ways we look at mental health, but also other factors such as finances, wellness, and politics. When looking to improve these other areas within our lives, again that starts and ends with mental health. The better your mental health, the more you see the value and worth of yourself and others around you.
Masculinity & Mental Health.
There are just some things that make a man biologically a man. There's no arguing with science. The testosterone within a man is responsible for most of the make up of the male biology (muscles, testicles, body hair, etc.) In regards to testosterone, the older men get the levels of this hormone begin to decline within the body. As a result, muscle definition becomes harder to maintain and gaining weight can become easier, low sex drive occurs, balding, and loss of energy. Depression, moodiness, anxiety, low self-esteem, and other mental health illnesses begin to seep into men, not only because of the mentioned physicality changes but also because testosterone serves as mood booster. It helps to increase levels of serotonin, often referred to as the "happy hormone", serotonin is a hormone that stabilizes our happiness, digestive system, sleep, and just overall well being. Testosterone impacts serotonin in men, the same way estrogen impacts serotonin in women.
As I say often and have said in my femininity blogs, there is much strength in femininity. When most women, especially myself, are doing things "naturally feminine" they feel happier, stronger, empowered, more of themselves, and its soothing to their overall well-being. I believe for men, masculinity can do the same. When I speak to many men about their self-care routines, many of them mention working out, driving, watching sports, doing something athletic, doing something for their wife or mom, etc., when they do these activities, they're happiest, feel more empowered, and it's soothing for them. All qualities that can be seen as "naturally masculine". Now of course women can do these same things and can get happiness out of them as well, but I find that most men enjoy the previously mentioned activities.
Because I am not a man I can not show a man how to be "more masculine", but I can say that most men who I know who take on masculine qualities, live a much more happier and peaceful life. Masculinity doesn't have to be "toxic" we are in modern times, as I have spoke about before modern women have the ability to redefine femininity, men can do the same with masculinity.
I often tap into my feminine energy to help with my healing and self-care. Check out these videos on Masculine Energy and Masculine Traits that I love for the modern take, simple breakdown, and everyday examples!
The facts. #YouAreNotAlone
-The U.S. male population is 152million, around 6 million men per year are affected my depression.
-The 5 major mental health issues impacting men are: depression, bipolar disorder, anxiety, psychosis and schizophrenia, and eating disorders.
-Suicide is the 7th leading cause of death amongst males.
-Every 6 out of 10 men have experienced at least one trauma in their lives.
-Men over the age of 85, have the highest suicide rate.
While these stats are alarming, they are not here to scare you. Its a reminder that you are not alone. There are many men and women of all races and ethnicities that are experiencing the same feelings as you. Many of these numbers are just estimates, because many men do not report their feelings of depression until it's too late. Also there are many who report their physical issues to an internal doctor instead of a mental health professional. In many cases when men experience physical symptoms, such as oversleeping, overeating, and panic attacks, they assume it's an issue for their primary care doctor. And. Yes you should report those symptoms to your internal medicine doctor but also follow up with a mental health professional.
This is a message to everyone. Always be honest with your doctor and if you feel like they are not helping you then find one that better suits your needs!
Self-Care for Men.
For me, self-care is simply the ability to refresh your spirit, to make yourself happy, or to make yourself happy...again!
Self-care is very much a journey, to say the least, not only does it consist of actions, but very much thoughts. The practice includes actions that you're taking to better yourself, which of course manifests into your thoughts and mind-frame.
So I challenge you today to start taking time for you... To do something for you... That benefits no one but you! Whatever you do write it down/journal it so that you can recall these activities again and track your mental health improvement!
In improving your mental health be sure to reach out to a mental health professional, when you are ready though.
I had the pleasure of sitting down with Marcus Lamar, who recently launched his "It's okay to see a therapist" initiative, which you can support by purchasing the hoodie that states "Its okay to see a therapist". In our interview below we discuss his experience with therapy and more! As always I have added some of my favorite moments to IGtv over on XoxoAeb_
-Introduce yourself and what you do, brief history with mental health.
My name is Marcus Lamar at the moment I'm a sports commentator and a journalist, based in the DMV area. My journey with mental health is a unique one, I started going to therapy when I was in junior high. I had anger issues and I did not know how to process emotions in real time. My mom thought it was best to have me talk to somebody. At the time my parents were separated so I think she felt that was contributing to me acting out.
And it's kind of taboo. You know? Black people don't really put their kids in therapy. Because it's like we just think if we go to church and praise the lord everything will be fine. We are a resilient people. But sometimes that's to our detriment.
-What are important factors in your opinion when choosing your therapist?
I know a big thing for some people is affordability obviously. I'm not going to pretend that therapy is cheap. So I have the luxury of going through my employer. Which for some people there's an Employee Assistance Program, know as EAP. If you go through your insurance, call the member services department, which that number is found on the front or back your insurance card, you can get help with finding in-network therapists or providers.
The reason I wanted a black female therapist, is because I connect with my mom. For most men, your mom is an essential figure in your life. But because of the respect I have for her I can't be my full unapologetic self. That level of comfort is not there. You want to make sure that you choose a therapist where you can be your true self and can talk about any and everything!
-What’s a common misconception about therapy within the black community, specifically men?
It's two folds, so me being a black man, I've had a lot of women say I commend you for going public with the fact that you even go to therapy. Because as a man it's like what are you going through that you need to sit down and talk to a woman? On the flip side, most black people don't go to therapy because it's typically perceived as, "well we can't afford it", "we don't do that", or that "therapy is for people that are crazy". That is such a misconception. It's not for people who are crazy; you don't have to be diagnosed with a mental disorder to go to therapy.
I don't care how rich, tall, or successful you are, everyone needs someone to talk about what they're going through in life. We see entertainers and celebrities and it's like they live these luxurious lifestyles, but we've seen celebrities have mental breakdowns in front of our very eyes.
-So you recently launched your It’s Okay to See A Therapy hoodies? Have you gotten much feedback around the conversation of therapy/ mental health and/or how do you intend to continue this conversation?
When I initially launched on May 3rd, it was an exciting thing because I always wanted my own website. But I knew that the message that was attached to the website would really resonate with people and I have gotten some sales. But I've also had people reach out to me that said, "you know what, your message was timely". If you visit my website in the Marc My Words section, that's where I pinned my thoughts on my journey to therapy. I wrote that at like 4:45 in the morning, the day I launched the website, that's literally me being transparent but in pen form. You can feel and sense the vulnerability in that article, it's nothing made up and I wanted to share with people because I wanted to let them know it's okay what you're reading to experience, it's not the end of the world. So I have had some people that reached out to me, and said they've secured a therapy session or that they're looking into it.
And again the premise of the hoodie, when I came up with this two years ago, it was after I saw the benefit that therapy was doing for myself. But even if I can't get everyone to physically go to therapy, I just want them to know that's it's okay if they decide to go.
Everyone you come across is fighting a personal battle that you know nothing about so you have to treat everyone with empathy when you come across their path.
If you do purchase a hoodie, part of the proceeds are going to mental health awareness causes and we're even going to sponsor some people in the DMV area to actually get therapy sessions. So we are putting our money where our mouth is. You know, we are saying it's okay to see a therapist, but now I want people to actually be intentional about going out and seeking therapy.
-How can those viewing this blog get in touch with you?
They can go to www.realmarcuslamar.com, that's also my social media handle @realmarcuslamar (Instagram, Snapchat, Twitter), I am also on Facebook, Marcus Lamar or the Marc My Words show with Marcus Lamar. The best way to reach me is my website. I really want people to tune in there for the content and message.
Tune in to IGtv where we discussed more in depth what self-care looks like for Marcus, the conversations around losing black male idols this past year, and to take a look at the hoodie!
If you or someone you may know are in need of mental health assistance, please check out the resources on my website.
In the meantime, stay safe and stay sane! -Xoxo, Aeb!