What defines a man? Ask society as a whole and you might get a frontier-era image of a man hauling wood, building a home, and providing for his family. Men, according to society, are strong, clear-headed, balanced, always know what to do, always do what they know they need to do, and don’t have problems. All off the small things which might hold a man back from being a man are seen as weaknesses. Overall, this might be the most pervasive stigma about the male identity: men are strong. Unfortunately, that ultimately excludes one stigmatized area of life, especially for men. Emotions are a sign of weakness. If a man is emotional, a man is weak. Men are strong. Emotions are weak. Men cannot be emotional. Herein lies the problem. Though men certainly are men and are prone to be more level-headed than women, men are still human. Human beings are emotional creatures- it is what makes humans, humans. Mental illness in men, as well as plain and simple life experience in men, causes emotional experiences. Men are the least likely population to admit that they are struggling emotionally and the least likely to ask for help when they know that they need treatment. A dual diagnosis of depression and a substance use disorder, for example, could be so shameful for a man he will continue to suffer without asking for help. Men are expected to “suck it up” and have superhuman resilience. When men are struggling emotionally, can be validated in their emotional struggles, and start to recover, their resiliency really shines through. Men are powerful in their recovery once they realize that the stigma and shame of depression, as well as a dual diagnosis substance use disorder, is acceptable to have. The less men & women feel burdened by the burden of their “manliness” and can start adopting their humanity, they are able to be at peace with their emotions- a critical first step. Stigma and shame serve a distinct purpose in society’s life. In order to understand complicated and sometimes unrelatable circumstances- like being a man, being a depressed man, being a depressed man with a substance use disorder- society compartmentalizes. That means they shun what they cannot relate to and stigmatize in order to make something more compact and relatable- as in, men are not emotional and cannot have any weaknesses. This trend robs people of their unique and authentic life experience, which putting an unhealthy amount of pressure and expectation on men.
If you are a man or woman struggling with depression and substance use disorder, you are not weak and you are not a failure. You are not alone, either. Oceanfront Recovery offers you the opportunity to change your story. Our treatment programs can help you change your life. For information on our full continuum of residential care, call us today: 877.279.1777