Fighting with Mental Health Part 1

Here are some staggering statistics that most men - to their detriment - are too proud to admit:

- Over 6 million men suffer from depression every year

- Approximately 19.1 men aged between 15 to 45 have an anxiety disorder

- Suicide is the 7th leading cause of death among males

- Approximately 1 in 5 men develop alcohol dependency in their lifetime and male veterans are twice as likely to develop alcohol and drug dependency than women * Source

It is our stubbornness and our pride that keeps so many men from seeking help, the unfortunate illusion of the "proud, silent man" who is a fortress, an island, who is capable of carrying the weight of the world on his shoulders and continue to move forward (Source). The sad reality is that most men are slowly dying inside, and their compromised mental health impacts every aspect of their lives: their work, friendships (or lack thereof), and their relationship with their family. "Why is Daddy so mad all the time?" your child thinks to himself, but you are so used to the depression and anxiety you simply accept the corroding relationship with your children as normal.

The reality is that the staggering number of depressed, anxious, and suicidal men is a public health crisis and the inability of men to see it as such is crippling the fabric of our society. Too many believe the lie that suffering from depression, anxiety, or any other form of poor mental health is a sign of weakness, a weak mind, weak resolve and inability to push through and therefore it is best to deny the ailment even exists.

However, scientific data has been able to show there is a physiological link to poor mental health amongst men. Research has shown that low testosterone amongst men is a leading contributor to increased mood swings, irritability, stress, anxiety, and depression (Source). Men need not be embarrassed for having low testosterone anymore than they would be embarrassed for having high cholesterol or high blood pressure. These are unfortunate side effects of living in a world where most men are trapped in a cubicle during the prime hours of their life mindlessly contributing to the profitability of a soulless organization they care little about. This is an unfortunate reality for so many men and it is understandable that this type of lifestyle would take a toll on a men's physical and mental health.

Fortunately, just as there are ways to treat high cholesterol and blood pressure that doesn't involve a pill, poor mental health can also be remedied and exercising and lifting weights continues to be one of the chief treatments (Source). I know this is far from groundbreaking information, but men need to hear this: get off your butt off the couch and into the gym, or in this case, the martial arts school; your very life depends on it. For hundreds of thousands of years men lived a vital existence, constantly hovering between life and death. Our ancestors lived in a world where much more was asked of them in order to survive and consequently were forced to exercise courage and heroism on a regular basis. And while the modern world requires much less courage and heroism from a man for survival, the savage blood of our warrior ancestors still runs thickly through our veins and longs for the hunt.

Old habits die hard and it is hard to tell an animal all the tricks his species were forced to master since the dawn of time are no longer relevant. In the same way, men must acknowledge and accept the call to a more physical, robust, and vital life and in my experience there are few things more vital than defending yourself in the face of the conflict of unarmed combat. It can be scary at first, but I've personally have never felt more alive, more vital, and more satisfied then after going 5 rounds of sparring with a teammate. Your adrenaline is pumping, dopamine surging through your body, and the savage blood of your warrior ancestors runs thickly through your veins as you awaken the warrior from within. As a man who suffers significantly from poor mental health* I know firsthand the healing properties of the martial arts. If you are a man in the Kalamazoo or Portage area, and are looking to jump start your life, looking for a way to destroy your depression or anxiety**, and wish to surround yourself with others who want to help you, then please consider visiting us at Lightning Kicks. We would love to help you discover your warrior spirit. *My own battle with PTSD and suicidalness is chronicled in my book. **Depression and anxiety should also be treated under the guidance of a trained clinician.

Author the Author

David Tanner Lauka is a member of Lightning Kicks Martial Arts Academy and author of Capturing the Ghost. He is also the founder of the Slaughterhouse Combat Team, a non-profit organization designed to equip trauma survivors to battle their fears through the martial arts. He is a childhood trauma survivor who suffers from PTSD and hopes to use his story to encourage others in their journey of healing.

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