The Website Crushing the 'Real Men Don't Get Depression' Stereotype

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It’s a statement so simple, yet often ignored: “Men get depressed.”

These words are written boldly across the front page of a newly launched website and men’s mental health awareness project, HeadsUpGuys, created by the Men’s Depression and Suicide Network out of Canada’s University of British Columbia (UBC). The project was funded by the Movember Foundation, a global charity for men’s health. It launched on June 16 during Men’s Health Week.

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Mark Goodwin, a graduate student studying library and information studies in UBC’s iSchool, and research assistant for HeadsUpGuys, said the mission of the project is to present important information about men’s mental health in a serious but accessible way.

“I’ve always been interested in male stereotypes in society,” Goodwin told The Mighty. “And I was also interested in disrupting them.”

In this case, HeadsUpGuys is challenging the stereotype that tough men “real men” don’t experience depression. But across Canada and the United States, this isn’t the case. An estimated 840,000 Canadian men experience depression each year, and in the United States this number is more than 6 million. For years now, the suicide rate has been about four times higher for men than for women, and according to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, white males accounted for 70 percent of all suicides in 2013.

The goal of the project isn’t to make men more or less emotional, but to instead reframe traditional views of strength and masculinity.

“Holding everything inside is kind of the easy way out,” Goodwin told The Mighty. “The real strength is tackling it head on and taking steps to be a better man.”

Screen shot 2015-07-16 at 7.56.19 PM The site itself was developed by a team of clinicians and researchers, led by Dr. John Ogrodniczuk, a Professor and Director of the Psychotherapy Program in the Department of Psychiatry at UBC. It offers practical and easy-to-access information about depression and debunks myths like, “Depression is a sign of personal weakness,” and “Anyone with enough willpower ought to be able to ‘snap out of it.’” It also offers testimonials from men who experience depression, along with videos providing tips to help both men who are depressed and their support networks.

In one video, for example, a suicide attempt survivor, Josh Beharry, discusses the physical symptoms of depression he experienced while attending college.

“My appetite went away. My energy and motivation where going too,” he says in the video (below). “But what really did it was when I stopped sleeping.”

According to Goodwin, symptoms of depression like physical pain and anger are accepted in the male experience. Because of this, it can be hard for men to realize what they’re going through is in fact depression and not something they have to fight through.

With more video, more blogs and a further reach, HeadsUpGuys hopes to provide men everywhere with information about how to recognize, accept and man-up to depression.

photo source: headsupguys.ca

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Fans Honor Actor's Openness About Depression With Comic Con Surprise

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“Supernatural” star Jared Padalecki got a sweet surprise at the show’s Comic Con panel this past Sunday, when a sea of fans payed tribute to the actor’s mental health campaign.

When panel moderators opened up the floor to audience questions, the actor was “overwhelmed” when more than 7,000 fans unexpectedly lit candles in the audience, U.S Weekly reported. The gesture was to show their support for Padalecki’s “Always Keep Fighting” campaign, an effort to support those living with mental illness, depression, addiction or suicidal thoughts.

Padalecki, who also stared in “Gilmore Girls,” opened up about experiencing depression in a Variety interview this year, where he discussed the moment he was diagnosed with clinical depression.

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Padalecki posted pictures of fans wearing “Always Keep Fighting” shirts on his Facebook page.

It kind of hit me like a sack of bricks,” the actor told Variety. “I mean, I was 25 years old. I had my own TV show. I had dogs that I loved and tons of friends and I was getting adoration from fans and I was happy with my work, but I couldn’t figure out what it was; it doesn’t always make sense.”

The Always Keep Fighting campaign sold more than 27,500 shirts bearing its slogan, according to U.S. Weekly. All proceeds went to To Write Love On Her Arms, a non-profit dedicated to inspiring hope for people experiencing addiction, depression, self-injury and thoughts of suicide.

“Supernatural” fans have a history of embracing mental health issues. Carry On, a support group specifically for “Supernatural” fans, was created to help fans stand against their “own personal demons.” The group has more than 11,500 Twitter followers.

“This is so touching and humbling and honoring,” Padalecki told his fans, addressing the collection candles, according to U.S. Weekly. “I don’t have the proper words to say thank you or how humbled and honored and excited I am and keep it up, guys. Thank y’all so much.”

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Padalecki and fellow “Supernatural” star Jensen Ackles wearing “Always Keep Fighting” shirts.
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The Most Important Thing I'd Tell Every Person With Depression

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There are all types of people, of all ages, in all walks of life, facing depression and mental illness. Although each story and struggle is unique, let us unite and help each other as best we can.

The stigma will continue to diminish if we keep the conversation alive. By sharing our stories we may be able to help more people understand what we face on a day-to-day basis. By raising awareness we can not only make it easier for those dealing with mental illness, but also friends and family pained by having to watch their loved ones attempt to cope.

Wouldn’t it be nice if we were able to remove the frustration caused by the misunderstanding of mental illness? Here I share the most important thing I’d tell every person with depression.

If you or someone you know needs help, please visit the National Suicide Prevention LifelineHead here for a list of crisis centers around the world.

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When Teenage Heartbreak Turns Into Depression

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I kept my head down during my freshman and sophomore year of high school. Looking back, I did have what I’m able to recognize now as anxiety — the constant feeling of unease, like I was walking on eggshells. I would replay conversations in my head well into the night, wondering if I had said and done the “right” things. I would go over a million “what if” situations I might encounter the next day. Despite this, I functioned fairly well, had a few close friends and continued to get good grades. To people who knew me well I was energetic and social. To everyone else, I was quiet and shy.

It was junior year when my life turned upside down. Midway through my first semester, I experienced my first devastating breakup. That ugly crying, binge-eating, teenage-blockbusters-are-written-about-this kind of thing, breakup. It threw my already precariously balanced mood into chaos. Suddenly, well-controlled anxiety became an overbearing monster, weaving itself into every thought I had during every second of the day. I fell into a depression so deep, it’s still difficult for me to describe. 

Of course breakups are sad and grieving is normal, but it didn’t go away. I didn’t feel better after eating a pint of ice cream and having a sleepover with my best friends like the teen movies said I would. Food became repulsive and sleep was something that never seemed to come. Day after day, I woke up with a pit in my stomach. I did the minimum required of me to get through the day and then went to bed, exhausted and hopeless. This went on for months. At some point, I stopped taking my ADHD medicine because it didn’t seem to matter anymore. School was an afterthought, just something I had to check off of a list before I could get back into bed again. My previously impressive grades held no meaning to me anymore.

I began experiencing panic attacks at school. I would feel paralyzed and overwhelmed. The unstoppable cascade of thoughts and questions would fill my head and my chest tightened like my body was actively trying to suffocate me. Now I know the clinical term for this is “a sense of impending doom.” I think that describes it well.

Thoughts would swirl in my head: Where are my friends going to be? What if I can’t find them before school and I’m alone? Am I going to run into the ex? Is a teacher going to call on me? What if I have another panic attack? Would people see me freaking out? Where would I go? What would I say?

I could not make myself face these fears, so I tried to avoid them however I could. I started ditching school just so I wouldn’t have to face it. 

I felt silly. My logical mind was telling me I shouldn’t be so upset about a high school breakup. I had no reason to feel what I was feeling, so I tried to push those feelings away. I tried to bury them any way I could. I began smoking marijuana regularly in an attempt to numb my pain. I just hated myself.

No one seemed to understand it wasn’t about a breakup anymore. My depression was all-consuming, with no single cause. People would say things like, “I know it hurts now, but time heals all wounds,” “He’s not worth your tears, it just wasn’t meant to be,” and “When you’re older, you’re going to wish your biggest problem was a high school breakup.” It made me feel like my feelings weren’t valid, like I was just being a hormonal dramatic teenager. No one acted like what I was going through was real.

I felt like I was defective. I felt pathetic. The harder I tried to get rid of the feelings, the more they boiled inside me. I was buzzing with so many negative feelings, I felt like I was going to break open if I didn’t find a way to get them out.

I began self-injuring in the form of cutting. I hid this from almost everyone around me.

I shut out my family and eventually my friends because I knew they didn’t understand the pain I was feeling. How could they when I didn’t even understand it? At some points I felt so hopeless I had serious thoughts about killing myself.

Everything caught up with me near the end of the school year when my mom got a call from the school about my numerous absences and suspected ditching. She and my dad sat me down, and after trying to attempt indifference, I finally broke down crying. I told them everything — about the cutting, marijuana, ditching and the feelings I was having. I still remember wearing a sweatshirt and pulling it tighter and tighter around me as I sobbed, as if it was the last thing keeping me together when everything else was falling apart.

To this day, I cannot thank my parents enough for what they did for me. They took me to a counselor, getting me the help I needed but was too ashamed to ask for. Through counseling, an antidepressant medication and a carefully controlled encouraging environment, I began to see small improvements in my condition.

I came clean with my teachers, giving them a general rundown of what had been going on. Fortunately they were willing to work with me, and helped me get my grades up in the last few weeks of the semester. It was nowhere near my straight-A record, but they helped me pass all of my classes, including AP and honors classes, with at least a C.

Over the summer I had time to focus on making myself healthy and happy, both physically and mentally. By the time August rolled around and the beginning of senior year began, I had carefully put the pieces of my life back together. I was starting to rebuild my self-esteem.

10644977_10205068733860652_8699127243864758552_n I had a fantastic senior year and made wonderful friends I’m still in touch with to this day. I went on to get my bachelor’s in nursing from Grand Canyon University. In January I was honored with the title of Miss Mesa 2015, and I went on to compete for Miss Arizona with a wonderful group of women I greatly admire and respect.

I faced many fears to achieve these things, but I’ve never regret a chance I took. From applying to my dream graduate school with a 12 percent acceptance rate, to going out on stage in a swimsuit, even though someone might see the scars I still have, each act took a different kind of strength. I’m no longer ashamed of my scars or my struggles with ADHD, depression and anxiety, and I don’t want anyone else to feel ashamed about their struggles either.

The fight is not over and it will never be. A battle against your own mind is sneaky and tricky. It makes you second-guess yourself every day.

But I want you, whoever you are, to see mental illness does not discriminate. It can affect people of every race, gender and family background. You can’t tell by looking at someone what struggles they’re facing. 

And if you’re fighting a war against your mind, you shouldn’t give up. I see the potential in your life, the good you have yet to do and the lives you have yet to touch. I want you to know you matter.

I encourage you to share your story. If we can help one person feel like they’re not fighting this battle alone, we will be one step closer to living in a world that does not stigmatize mental illness. That will make all the difference.

If you or someone you know needs help, see our suicide prevention resources.

If you need support right now, call the Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.

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These Temporary Tats Offer People Little Reminders During Their Darkest Moments

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One woman created a unique way of reminding herself and others of what’s important during life’s dark moments.

Janelle Silver, from Australind, Australia, runs an Esty shop called Heart and Hands. Silver, who lives with depression, found that temporary tattoos were a helpful way to give herself positive reminders when she’s feeling down.

The idea came to me as I was putting plans in place for my own self-care,” Silver writes on her Etsy page. “I am a visual person. I am always writing things on my mirror or sticking notes on the walls. I’ve found that when I’m in a dark place with depression, having a challenging moment or day, am stressed, etc., a little visual reminder of what’s important can work wonders in bringing me back to centre and helping me to keep going.”

 

The temporary tattoos are hand-drawn and say things like, “Breathe,” “You are loved,” “Be kind to yourself,” “It will pass” and “No feeling is final.” They’re available for sale on Silver’s Etsy page.

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Whenever I start to feel myself hitting a low or I’m anxious, I pick the reminders I need or want and then they’re there if and when I need them,” Silver told The Huffington Post.

Check out some of the photos from Silver’s Instagram below:

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tattoo that says breathe

tattoo of a band aid

Due to recent publicity, Silver is currently sold out of stock, but the tattoos are available “made to order.” For more information, check out her Esty page here.

h/t HuffPost UK

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9 People Living With Depression Share What's Helping Them Lately

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On Monday, June 8, a Reddit user posed the following question to the site’s Depression subreddit, a community where people can discuss depression, find help or connect with others in a safe, supportive environment:

The struggle isn’t easy and there are always dark days it seems, but what has been positive in your fight against your depression?

Reddit users responded with the things they do every day to help alleviate their depression, sharing tactics ranging from exercise and meditation to picking up a new hobby to pushing past their comfort zone. Some commenters mentioned how helpful it was to read what helped others work through a dark time, so The Mighty wanted to compile some of the responses in case they resonate with our readers too.

For 9 people living with depression, here’s what’s working.

1.Every day I write down 10 things I’m grateful for, no matter how silly. One of those things needs to be something I’ve never given thanks for before in my life. Another thing that’s been helpful is this concept of self-compassion. I’m working on being kinder to myself. It’s the first step towards developing confidence. One of my goals is to be confident, that’s a sign of strong mental health in my opinion.”

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2. I don’t know anything about yoga, but I do like stretching my muscles. When [I] stretch [my] muscles, the more relaxed they are and the more relaxed [I] feel. Meditation really helps to calm [my] nerves. Journaling has also helped. It’s really cathartic and helps get [my] thoughts and emotions in order.”

3. “Writing has been therapeutic for me lately. I mostly write things for work or freelance music stuff, but the structure of the words and the paragraphs are calming. I also have a mindfulness coloring book that I use for when the anxiety starts creeping in, and it’s been more successful than I thought it would be.”

4.[Taking care of myself] is something I need to do more of; it definitely helps. I find doing small chores helps me. Not only is it exercise, but it has a positive affect on my living area and on myself fir having gotten it done.”

5.I have been more direct with my family. [I tell them] how I feel instead of bursting in anger or keeping depressing thought to myself. In a sense, I am working on my communication. I set small goals every now and then. Something like finishing a book for the week, sparing a few hours on the weekend to clean my washroom or my racks of dusty books or memorizing a few words of German. Little things help keep me occupied and make my life a little better.” 

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6.I keep a checklist of things to do or that I could do, and I do one thing every day. It gives me something to feel proud of at the end of the day.”

7. I have plans to travel next year, which is something to work toward I feel better each day after finding something to motivate me.

8. “Realizing my strength and accomplishments.”

9. “Picking up blacksmithing and welding. Sometimes you really gotta shake things up to improve your life.”

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What would you add to this list? Let us know in the comments.

*Some responses have been shortened and edited.

If you or someone you know needs help, see our suicide prevention resources.

If you need support right now, call the Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.

Want to end the stigma around mental illness? Like us on Facebook.

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