It only gets better 

It only gets better 

Utsav Kumar

We are all constantly bombarded with gender stereotypes. Whether we like it or not, from the day we are born, we receive subtle cues on how to be a man – from baby boys wear blue to real men don’t back down from a fight. 

Given this stereotyping, a man’s mental health, even though as important as anyone else’s, is ignored. One of the reasons perhaps is that men largely deal with their issues differently from women. For example, a man who is feeling depressed may be more irritable and angry and in an effort to deal with his problems may turn to drugs or alcohol to cope. This can not only be confusing for the family and friends, but the person experiencing these feelings may also not be able to identify the root cause of his mental issue. 

I believe in addressing and helping people resolve their mental health issues, which is why I chose psychology as a career option. Many feel there are very few male psychologists as compared to women psychologists. So why did I choose psychology? 

It happened with me

I was born and brought up in a middle class family in Mussoorie, Uttarakhand. I grew up in a family that had differences over everything – property, ego, respect, etc. Ever since I can remember, human mind always interested me. But the constant disagreements I witnessed in my family took a toll on my mental well-being. 

When I was younger, I used to suffer from depression, have anxiety and panic attacks. At that time I was unaware about what was happening to me. For some depression may occur due to an upsetting or stressful life event, such as bereavement, divorce, illness, redundancy, job or money worries but for me it was the conflict between my family members. 

What hurt me most was to see my mother struggling during these situations. As an 11-year-old it was difficult for me to see my mother getting hurt emotionally, physically and mentally. I don’t want to blame them because as I grew up I realised they all had different perspectives of life. 

Some didn’t want to live in reality, some had high expectations from others, some only wanted love from their partner, some wanted only money in their life, while some just wantedattention. What they didn’t understand was that along with their needs and expectations there are other things in life also that are important. Relationships, for instance.

Why expressing feeling helps

It is important to raise your children with the best facilities but it is also important to teach them values. Providing care, food, education, etc. are as important as keeping the family atmosphere positive. Children, especially boys should also be taught to express their feelings. Boys tend to merely observe and keep emotions bottled up. Teach them to open up and speak about their feelings. It will help with their mental well-being. 

I should know since I suffered the consequences of bottling up my emotions in teen years when I saw the bickerings in my family, between my parents – I never had a proper relationship, no bonding, no attachments, and I used to over think everything, sometimes throughout the night. All this affected me. 

But the three years of my graduation in psychology made me understand my situation and accept all the problems. Now I am doing well in life. I have shifted to Bangalore where I am doing my internship in psychology. I am happy and I believe I will soon be moving high in life. Life is beautiful and we should know how we want to live our life.

As a student of psychology I can vouch for all those, especially boys opting for the subject as a career choice that it is a great one, especially in India. Men are generally conditioned to seek high paying, high status jobs but being a psychologist is a very rewarding job, emotionally. It is very satisfying to help people cope with their mental health issues. 

It is a myth that men can’t be understanding or be emotional or understand the feelings of others because this role can be reversed too. A gentle demeanour, an understanding nature and a patient hearing attitude can go a long way in helping people cope with mental health issues. 

Which is why my favourite line is, ‘A positive attitude can really make dreams come true’. It did for me.