It was a sad funeral, a young man, Tim, just in his early 30s had committed suicide. His wife Mela became a widow at 29 and their son Mike was left to grow up without his father. Everyone was crying and it was hard for me to do the funeral without crying. What had driven this young man to do this to himself and his family? Why did he snuff out his life? Nobody seemed to know the answers.
I was disturbed about Tim’s death for several weeks as I wondered what had driven him to his death. I knew him to be a very driven young man with an ambitious dream, hardworking with a clear sense of direction. I was surprised the day Mela came to see me and as we talked, she told me the story of her last year with Tim. As we talked, I began to see telltale signs of what might have dragged Tim to his grave. I thought through my life and a few other men I know and I could see some of the signs. It was evident to me that men do push themselves to the grave early. Think about it, when you think about those in your family aged sixty years and above, I bet more often than not, the ladies are still alive but the men are gone.
Here are the signs I saw in Tim’s life. I trust that you will see these and choose to change your life and if you are a woman, you will learn how to help the men you know.
1. Riding Solo – Men tend to do life by themselves. They can have many friends but none of these friends really knows what is going on in their lives. As men, we almost think it is a weakness to share our frustrations and challenges. We talk less than women and tend to also share less than them. A man can be dying or his stuff is about to be auctioned and none of his friends know about it. Mela learnt this the hard way, after Tim’s funeral, she discovered that he had a debt of over 2 Million shillings. He had been borrowing to keep his business going. None of his friends knew about the debt. As men, we need to break free from this tendency and begin to do life with others, talk with your wife, let her know how you are and what is going one. Find another man who you can share stuff with. Don’t just go and watch Arsenal play, share stuff, open up and let other people into your life. You’ve got to stop riding solo.
2. Canning emotions – When growing up, boys are taught that men don’t cry and showing any emotions is a sign of weakness. Men learn from a tender age to hold in every emotion especially when it has the appearance of weakness. Men hide their tears whether they be tears of joy or pain, excitement or frustrations. Mike had mastered the art of canning every little emotion but slowly by slowly, the Can got full and it could not hold any longer. If only he had opened up and shared life with others, talked about what he was going through and allowed others to see his pain, his hurt and his wounds, maybe he would be alive now to read this but he is gone. Men need to learn to open up before they self destruct.
3. Assuming Pressure – Men tend to think they can handle their pressure and therefore tend to do nothing about it. They will refuse to go to hospital because they can handle it, refuse to seek for help because they can handle it, refuse to ask for direction even when it is obvious that they are lost because “I have got this”! As they assume their situation, things become worse and then they are gone; the disease kills them or they get lost and end up in trouble or the pressure leads them to suicide. Statistics from around the world confirm that men rarely visit the doctor when sick and this is said to be one of reasons men die younger than women. The American Psychological Association pins down “doctor avoidance” as one of the causes of early mortality in men. Depression is a disease that many men live with and never seek for help because they assume they can handle it. If you have never done so, just check out the depression symptoms and see where you fit in or you can take a depression test here. As a man, kill the pressure today by realizing you don’t have everything in control, you don’t have to be and if you are lost, the best thing you can do is ask for directions even if it is from a child. Recently, my daughter told me, “Dad, you need to sleep, you are tired”, and that was very good advice.
Mela is trying to make headway in life, trying to establish what they owned and what they owed. She is having an uphill task because her man was riding solo, canned his emotions and assumed his pressure. Everyday she discovers something new, a new debt, a new bank account or a new investment and she wonders what a mysterious man she was living with. Her cry is for men to stop riding solo and open up to their spouses, to stop canning their emotions and to stop assuming the pressure. I am walking away from this kind of living and heeding her call, would you care enough to join me? Let us live differently from here going forward.
Are there any points you would add to these that cause men to end up in trouble? I would love to hear them. Please add them below in the comments section.