I love action movies. James Bond and Jason Bourne all have action packed chase scenes, the lone hero against the villain.
But could my heroes be depressed? Does depression drive the story line?
Action heroes each have unresolved issues from the past. Poor Jason Bourne is driven looking for clues about his past. Other heroes appear with little explanation of their earlier lives.
Anger fuels their behavior. Over the top anger creates explosive scenes. No fear or other emotions are allowed.
Male heroes never have healthy relationship with women. Sex is a diversion, a game to be played.
Substance abuse, usually, alcohol, is used to cope.
Violent confrontations verge on suicidal missions. Hostility intensifies until there is one climactic fight, where it seems the hero is going to die.
James and Jason teach us a lot about men and depression. According to Web MD 6 million men in the United States suffer from depression each year. One in ten people suffering from depression commit suicide. Over 75% of suicides are men.
The symptoms of depression are the same for men and women. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, symptoms of depression may include the following:
*Difficulty with concentration and decisions
*Fatigue and listlessness
*Feelings of guilt,
*Feelings of hopelessness
*Insomnia or excessive sleeping
*Loss of interest in activities or hobbies once pleasurable, including sex
*Overeating or appetite loss
*Persistent aches or pains, that don’t respond with treatment.
*Persistent sad feelings
*Thoughts or attempts at suicide
While symptoms are the same for men and women, men often mask emotions. They often present in physical ways. Fatigue, inability to sleep, stomach or back pain, sexual problems, and irritability may be presenting symptoms.
Men often don’t have the emotional vocabulary to describe what they are experiencing. And action heroes demonstrate anger as the primarily “masculine” emotion.
Societal expectations do not encourage men to seek help. Men tend to think personal problems need to be solved personally. Can you imagine James bond going to a therapist for help with his “sexual addiction”? Neither can I.
Would Jason Bourn admit his need to work on his cognitive thinking with his psychiatrist? I don’t think so.
Men, detached from feelings, often cover them with shame. Shame can prevent men from getting help. Buddies encourage the use of alcohol, drugs, or risky sex to get through the tough times.
As a man who suffers from bipolar depression, I can remember how bad things became before I found help. I knew the signs of depression from previous episodes. So I sought a psychiatrist and began medication. Medicine which did not help the severity of my problem.
After two years I finally broke down. Suicide was constantly in my thoughts. I fought until I could fight no longer.
I am grateful to my wife who escorted me to a new psychiatrist. It was some months before my depression was diagnosed as bipolar 2. And more months before we found a cocktail of meds that relieved the symptoms of depression.
The rest of my story I’ll leave for another time.
Don’t be afraid to call for help.
Begin with the One who created you. You are wonderfully made regardless of how you feel in this moment. “For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.” Psalms 139:13-14
Healing may take time but God is on your side. “I waited patiently for the Lord; he turned to me and heard my cry. He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; he set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand. He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God. Many will see and fear the Lord and put their trust in him.” Psalm 40:1-3
James and Jason make great movies but terrible role models.