Mental Health “This’Orders”

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Eric C. Butler

It’s still June. It’s still Men’s Health Month. So, we are going to focus on mental health disorders . Since men are from Mars- and our country has “allegedly” been there- what we will do is take a space-aged tour through our galaxy to deal with the Black Hole. Or why so many men, especially Black men, suffer from mental health issues.

I dare not call them disorders, because many men have not been diagnosed. However,  all across America is what I call the “This’Orders” of mental health. What is a This’Order of mental health? Simply put, it’s internalized trauma.

We see trauma daily.

Dad going to jail; Mom addicted to drugs; Death of mom/dad/brother/sister/cousin; Debo stealing your bike and not being able to recover it; Not being selected for the AAU team; Being called names and/or being bullied (Debo’d again); Witnessing violent crimes and gang activity (think about the Southside of Chicago); or Boo Boo Kitty not wanting to give us the time of day. A litany of other tech “stuff” happens to our young men on a daily basis. It is hard to keep one’s proverbial head on straight.

Women are natural sharers, talkers and nurturers. If you take these three traits, that are inherent to most women, and try to assign them to men what do you get called? Soft. Punk. PAN (If you are from the hood, you know the word).  As a result, most men do nothing after they experience a traumatic life event. We go internal. Close up.

Perhaps a well-trusted female friend or our wives might get us to talk, but we are not likely to open up 100%. Why? If men expose their internalized trauma, we think it makes us too vulnerable. That’s right. Superman is really just Clark Kent. And, men have not learned to be open and honest with other men to the point where we can support each other.

Even though times are changing, and men are evolving (some of us).

It is not hard to envision a group of women sitting on the couch with a bottle Pinot consoling a friend as she talks about an impending divorce or the “Big C” diagnosis.  BUT, let one of your partnas come over and start crying during the middle of the NBA Western Conference Finals or during the Wednesday night poker game- while we are trying to smoke good and drink good. He won’t be given the same reception. Why? We have never been taught. (That’s the excuse I will use.) Is it valid? I am not sure.

I challenge my brothers to learn the skillful art of opening up during Men’s Health Month. We must share what were’re dealing with. Women, you all must also learn to listen. Don’t talk, just listen. If this requires putting tape on your mouth to do so, please accompany him to the store and get some. (Leave the handcuffs and other stuff for later. ) What we need most is an ear! We don’t really need a counselor. We don’t need someone to fix it. We don’t really want to hear what you would have done, and why can’t you just “man up.”

Hush. Be quiet. Let us tell you about our This’Order. We know that many women wear the “S” cape too. So, take the cape to the dry cleaners and just be Lois for a moment. Men, if you don’t have a Lois or don’t want to share with Lois than the Justice League has other Superfriends that can assist.

Finally guys, mental health disorders are real. Tell someone what’s on your mind!  It’s ok to be vulnerable. We hurt too, but we can learn to heal as well.

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Eric C. Butler

Eric C. “EB” Butler is an entrepreneur, inspirational speaker, husband, father and former captain in the U.S. Army.

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