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“Real men do cry” – suicide survivor hopes to redefine men’s mental health

TRIGGER WARNING: The below story mentions suicide and self-harm.

Growing up in what Guyanese describes as ‘Countryside,’ little Shamed James (not real name) was always told by his mother that “boys don’t cry.”

Whether he was bullied by a classmate or fell and hit himself, those words constantly replayed in his head, resulting in him hiding his emotions.

James believes that those sentiments by his mother would have made it hard for him to express his emotions in a healthy way as an adult.

As a result, he is seeking therapy and hopes to share his tale to motivate men to seek help.

During an interview with MTV News Update, the now 25-year-old said that he always had to deal with family issues compounded by financial uncertainty during his formative years.

“From time to time, I would be depressed, and I thought that there was no one that I could have talked to. In our community, by it was the countryside, I thought as though if I had shared my story, I would have heard it back, and I didn’t want that to happen,” James, who is a Marketing Manager, shared.

According to the Marketing Manager, his father threw in the towel after his mother became addicted to alcohol. It was not long after that anxiety and panic attacks left him feeling “dead” inside.

He began feeling so “dead” inside that James recounted attempting to take his own life twice.

He nearly succeeded the second time but was saved by his child’s mother, who had spared no effort in letting him know that “you are going to have bad days, but tomorrow is a brand-new day.”

At 18, James started therapy, and a few months later, he landed his first job as a Sales Associate. He then worked his way up the corporate ladder, and by 20, James was in a supervisory position.

By 22, he became the father of a bouncing baby boy and got appointed as an Operations Manager. This vibrant father had many goals and told himself, “My life is on the right path, and nothing is going to stop me now.”

One year into the position, James was informed by the General Manager that his services were no longer needed.

When he arrived home for dinner, James appeared to be fine and unbothered although he was fired earlier and he even went about his activities as though nothing had happened.

“I knew I would have found a job because I never had an issue with landing a job. So, when I heard I was fired, it was not that of a big deal.”

But little did he know that the storm was heading his way, and this time around, his luck was not the same. Six months passed, and the 25-year-old was unable to land a job.

Not being able to put food on the table, coupled with mortgage and other expenses, James, the country boy, went home and consumed a poisonous substance.

His child’s mother arrived home and rushed him to the hospital, where he was admitted as a patient in a critical condition. He spent more than three days battling to stay alive.

He eventually pulled through and underscored to MTV News Update the importance of sharing your thoughts. He also added that he was back in therapy and hoped to “stay the course.”

“In every therapy session, I am one step closer to being healed and, more so, putting my long-neglected mental health first.”

James is now happily married and gainfully employed as a Marketing Manager at a well-established company. Moreover, he noted that his life has a new purpose, and he is assisting persons in finding “peace and acceptance” in their skin.

In fact, his advice to anyone suffering from mental health issues is that “there is light at the end of the tunnel.”

Meanwhile, on Monday, the world will celebrate World Mental Health Day, which seeks to raise awareness of this issue worldwide. In August, a modern Mental Health Protection and Promotion Bill was passed in the National Assembly, prioritising the rights of mental health patients in Guyana.

Mental health took centre stage in Guyana following the novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) onset. This was after the pandemic took a toll on many persons’ mental health.


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