Movember: What Are You Hiding Behind that Facial Hair?
The truth is that when I wrote the first draft of this article, I typed five paragraphs about facial hair and about what facial hair might be hiding. But then I realized something. Those five paragraphs — focusing on whether a beard makes a man less approachable or whether facial hair is a mask to hide emotion — were serving as a vehicle for me, enabling me to hide the real message that I wanted to share with you.
The first week of Movember hasn’t been easy.
Not because my mustache isn’t coming in fully (which it’s not), but because I am still only at the beginning of my mental health journey. My sleepless nights have not gotten better and I continue to remind myself that medication and therapy don’t fix everything at once. As a co-worker likes to say, “Rome wasn’t built overnight.” She is right. My depression and anxiety will never fully go away. In time, I know I will feel better — but I need to give myself the time that it takes to get there.
I have an intense, all-consuming job and I am the father of a nine and six year old; on some days, the adrenaline generated from these realities carry me through. But then there are also the days that are consumed by letdown — when I feel as though everything is happening very slowly. I wake up and cannot fall back to sleep. I forget the easy tasks that I have set out to accomplish. I begin talking at a slower pace and everything around me seems to be spinning.
As I enter the second week of Movember (with my weak mustache… so far), I am aware that my last article was the first time that many friends and community members found out about my mental health journey. Over this past week, I have been told that I have a calming way about me and that no one would know that I was dealing with depression and anxiety. This is the precise reason that I am telling my story and growing this nasty and uncomfortable mustache. I am speaking out in order to highlight the fact that we need to check in on our friends and family. We need to understand that people are hiding their true feelings… not just behind their facial hair, but behind those moments of happiness that they may be showing in public.
According to the CDC, “suicide among males is 4 times higher than among females. Male deaths represent 79% of all US suicides” and “Colorado’s suicide rate increased 34.1% between 1999 and 2016.” Both of these facts highlight the important truth that male suicide is on the rise, especially in Colorado. Over the last 14 days, I have learned about two men who have taken their lives — and their family and friends were completely in shock, not having known of their struggles.
We have to initiate the conversation. We need to talk to our neighbors, friends, and family about the issues that they are facing. We have to be willing to ask “How are you?” — and wait patiently for an authentic response. We have to support those who are struggling so that they can get the help they need. I can tell you first hand that this makes a difference. I want to thank all of those that have reached out to me and have supported my Movember campaign. Your messages and phone calls of support have been invaluable. Thank you!
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