FOR all our talk about sensitive, new-age men who share their feelings, wear moisturiser and cook, we still cringe slightly when they cry.
There have been a couple of recent incidents that got me thinking about this.
Heath Ledger was the first. Not that we know how he died (and we may never know), but it does seem he was down and anxious about the demise of his relationship and not being able to see his daughter as often as he’d have liked.
I wondered if he’d had someone to talk to about it. So often, men don’t.
The second was hearing a young farmer speak about his battle with depression.
Darren Greentree was, by his own admission, a man who had everything: the horse stud he’d always dreamed of, a wife he adored, and two children, the youngest just six months old.
As he bravely told a crowd of several hundred at an Australia Day lunch, one morning his wife, Erin, didn’t wake up. In aninstant, his world changed.
“I fell into a deep depression. I just didn’t care about anything. I stared at the ceiling a lot and couldn’t sleep.
“I cried all the time; couldn’t help myself. I was very, very angry at the world.”
Greentree’s mates listened, but didn’t offer advice. “She’ll be right’ isn’t always the case, because sometimes you’re not,” he said.
Greentree now helps other farmers with depression _ a rising problem in the bush, where male suicide is shockingly prevalent.
“Men are the worst”, he says. “We’re conditioned not to talk about things. Men aren’t comfortable in their own skin.
“Breaking down and crying is the worst thing you could do.”
Surely we’re over all that. You’re a wuss if things get to you. You’re a girl if you cry. You must be strong at all times.
We, on the other hand, spend hours, days, entire weekends talking about our problems and interpreting text messages.
Not that that’s the right way either. The over-analysing borders on self-indulgence, and there’s no evidence it does us any good. But at least we get it off our chests.
Unlike your average man. My male friends say they won’t tell another soul when they’re down.
The most one friend got after being dumped by his girlfriend of three years was, “You cool, mate?”
To which he replied, “Yep, sorted.” That was it.
His mates proceeded to ply him with tequila shots and tried to procure women who might like to take him home _ their way of showing concern.
Get hammered, keep it all in, and it’ll be sweet as.
Blokes rarely talk to professionals, either _ and if they do, it’s top-secret.
A male friend once said to me:“I’m going to tell you something that I’ve never toldanyone.”
I was expecting the worst: he killed a man, robbed a bank, or has an STD. “What?” I asked, wide-eyed.
“I’ve been to a counsellor,” he whispered.
“And?” I asked. “That’s it. If you tell anyone, I’ll kill you.”
Perhaps we need a famous person to champion the cause of men showing emotions.
Politicians, although prolific cryers, won’t do because we suspect an ulterior motive.
And Ian Thorpe’s out because, when the nation suspected tears in Athens, he insisted: “No water came out.”
Perhaps Darren Greentree’s the man. His greatest wish, he says, is for people to be honest with how they’re travelling.
This column appeared in the Sunday Telegraph on on February 3rd, 2008