On Thursday, while queuing for what turned out to be a splendid ham and piccalilli sandwich, I noticed a sign hanging close to the shop entrance advertising a charity called Campaign Against Living in Misery (CALM).
As I waited for my butty to be freshly made, I scanned further detail about this campaign/charity, of which I’d no previous exposure. From this rare piece of inquisitiveness, I learned CALM has been set up to raise awareness about the United Kingdom’s increasing instances of male suicide.
Sadly, it appears there’s a large rise in males opting for a strategy of suffering in silence, along with it’s possible tragic circumstances, than addressing their demons with support available. Mental illness, and possibly ignorance, clouding their judgement, sullying their souls and creating a joyless existence for the sufferer.
I have a close acquaintance who suffers from Recurrent Depression. A deeply unfulfilled man who, during an alcohol fuelled conversation many months back, confided of experiencing deeply dark times mentally. Situations where the question ‘What’s the point of it all?’ unwelcomely reared it’s ugly head.
Something they insisted they’d never act upon, claiming “I couldn’t do that to my kids.” Relieved as I was to hear this, the thought remained that he wasn’t addressing the root cause of his disenchantment. Moreover, soldiering on in misery as he didn’t want to inflict untold heartache upon his offspring.
A strategy, it seemed to me, bereft of a self-care element. His actions aimed at sparing others heartbreak, not ridding himself of his nemesis – Sporadic lows causing him angst and decimating self-esteem.
Thankfully, he eventually followed a path where he sought advice through properly accredited channels. Sadly, though, it appears to be a route more and more males are spurning.
Now, during our verbal interactions, my acquaintance still has mental issues. However, thanks to medication and counselling support, he hasn’t experienced return odysseys to the very dark places ventured prior to addressing his mental problems.
A big fan of Shakespeare, it’s heartening to hear my pal’s life is no longer at the existential crossroads experienced by Hamlet when pondering his own mortality during his famed soliloquy in Act III:-
To be, or not to be, that is the question:
Whether ’tis nobler in the mind to suffer
The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune,
Or to take Arms against a Sea of troubles,
And by opposing end them: to die, to sleep
No more; and by a sleep, to say we end
the heart-ache, and the thousand natural shocks
that Flesh is heir to? ‘Tis a consummation
devoutly to be wished. To die, to sleep,
To sleep, perchance to Dream; aye, there’s the rub,
for in that sleep of death, what dreams may come,
when we have shuffled off this mortal coil,
must give us pause. There’s the respect
that makes Calamity of so long life:
For who would bear the Whips and Scorns of time,
the Oppressor’s wrong, the proud man’s Contumely,
the pangs of despised Love, the Law’s delay,
the insolence of Office, and the spurns
that patient merit of the unworthy takes,
when he himself might his Quietus make
with a bare Bodkin? Who would Fardels bear, [F: these Fardels]
to grunt and sweat under a weary life,
but that the dread of something after death,
the undiscovered country, from whose bourn
no traveller returns, puzzles the will,
and makes us rather bear those ills we have,
than fly to others that we know not of.
Thus conscience does make cowards of us all,
and thus the native hue of Resolution
Is sicklied o’er, with the pale cast of Thought,
And enterprises of great pitch and moment, [F: pith]
with this regard their Currents turn awry, [F: away]
And lose the name of Action. Soft you now,
The fair Ophelia? Nymph, in thy Orisons
Be all my sins remember’d.