Are you there mate? It’s me, your depression

I find the concept of masculinity rather fascinating. To paint it in broad strokes you could say it all amounts to feats of strength and attaining positions of power. But another way you measure your manliness is by comparing yourself to women. “Don’t be a girl” is often a standard insult to make towards a male who would be in any kind emotional distress. Men don’t talk about their feelings because it’s a purported sign of weakness, and what is a man if not strong?

Frankly my friends that is a load of toad shit. True strength lies in an ability to stand tall against anything, and that includes talking about your feelings. I’ll be honest, I’m very bad at doing this. In fact, many people in my life didn’t know I was fairly depressed until I started writing this blog.

For the longest time I’ve been a relatively unhappy person, and through my perception of what it means for me to be a man, I let those feelings of ill intent eat away at me from the inside out. It may be alarming for me to say this, (and I must admit it is hard) but there have been times in my life when I have been very close to self-harm.

The sad part is that often I have found myself consumed with inconsolable melancholy, yet not been able to speak openly about it. Partly for the sake of my own pride but mostly because revealing this about myself would make me appear weak. I have family and friends who want me to talk to them but the sheer weight of it keeps me from doing so.

To be honest I’ve often considered myself to be the runt of the litter (which is sort of true considering both of my younger brothers are taller than me). Throughout my life I’ve found myself outdone physically, outsmarted academically and outshone socially by other men. So feeling inferior is nothing new. But then you add on the anxiety and countless shitty situations I find myself in and heartbreak, and it’s a god-damned recipe for disaster.

There have been a lot of studies on how depression works, but this is how it feels to me. I can be standing on the train, cooking my dinner or even be in a social situation with friends or work colleagues, and the sensation will hit me out of the blue.

It’s this feeling that there is someone crouching in the periphery of my vision, yet if I turn around I can’t get see what it is. But I can always feel the menacing glare on my back. I feel like I’m boiling and freezing at the same time. My stomach will feel both full and empty. Everything slows down, and there’s a voice in my head. It tells me that I have amounted to nothing. That nobody has ever really cared about me. That my life never had any purpose to begin with. That when I die nobody will remember my name.

It’s hard to talk about when your mind becomes so compromised. Putting it into words is just as painful as the actual depression. I understand why many people don’t, after all when you’re sick in your head and your heart talking to people seems impossible.

For men, learning how to accept their own emotions and their mental health as a part of their masculinity is essential for living a healthy life. When I was a kid there was a perception that talking about your feelings made you a girl. Boys were tough. They would play in the mud and swear and keep their shit to themselves. Any exception to the rule and you were marked as a lesser man, and those who branded you as such wouldn’t let you forget it either.

A real man is open about how he feels, even if it doesn’t align with what his mates or anyone else thinks. Courage is a rare thing, especially when facing your own demons. Speaking out and seeking help isn’t a sign of weakness but a testament to your own strength. Embrace it and when you do you’ll realise what kind of man you truly are.

Far too often cases of severe mental health is degraded by being called the ‘blues’ or just ‘feeling down’. These feelings aren’t something anyone should ignore. I won’t play the hypocrite and say you have to talk to someone, but I urge anyone who feels this way to express themselves in a way that is comfortable for them. Keeping it to yourself is not an option, because if you do that depression will corrode you until there is nothing left.

I’m telling you all about this because this November I’m taking part in a great fundraising event called Movember. Along with some brilliant colleagues of mine, I’ll be growing my mo in order to raise funds to aid men’s health. Not just for mental health and suicide prevention, but also for projects focusing on prostate cancer and testicular cancer. Any donations, big or small, would be greatly appreciated.

A Reprise – What’s Marriage Got To Do With It? (Otherwise known as the wife conundrum)

Three days ago I had the sincere pleasure of attending the wedding of two of my friends. Trent Neville has been a mate of mine since we met as a pair of 12 year olds back on the Year 7 handball court and we’ve been steadfast mates since. His lovely wife Charyl is an absolute legend. With a short but sweet ceremony void of any religious reference, great weather and dominating the dance floor with the best group of friends a fella could ask for, it really was a magical day.

Never in my life did I think I would call a wedding magical. But, just look at Nick dance!


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Why Don’t We Talk About Rape In School?

Do you remember the first time you had a sex ed class in school? Your teacher couldn’t hide the look of embarrassment on their face as you and the other children snickered under your breath. There’s nothing funnier than a limp condom draped over a blushing banana. Penises. Vaginas. Periods. Semen. All these foreign concepts  flooded your senses and as you got older you were taking notes on STI’s and pregnancy. We were being prepared for the wild and often confusing world of sex. As horny teenagers we stepped into that world with the most important lesson of all withheld from us; mutual consent.

No doubt you’ve heard about the Stanford University rape case. Without mincing my words, it is a despicable turn of events. My heart breaks for that poor woman, and at the same time swells with rage at the thought of the scum who assaulted her. That he and his loved ones claim he didn’t know he raped her honestly makes my blood boil.

My parents did a pretty good job of teaching their sons the difference between right and wrong. Having some good old fashioned Catholic morality (i.e guilt) after 13 years of school did the trick as well. Yet when I hear about this case I think long and hard about those sex ed classes, and for the life of me I can’t remember the issue of rape ever coming up in when I was in school.

Never, in six years of sexual education was the topic of mutual consent or rape communicated. I thought that was strange, so I called by brother Shenuk who finished high school five years after me to see if things changed. After a stunned silence he said that they had never talked about in school. Isn’t that bizarre? That at an all-boys school we weren’t taught about consent? Instead, avoiding STI’s and pregnancy was the goal of these classes. How can we be taught how to put on condoms  but not recognise that both parties need to consent to the act first?

I spoke to my housemate Claire to get a female’s persepctive. She told me that at her university orientation (this is in 2001) all the girls were instructed on how not to be raped. Taught by a man no less, because that isn’t awkward at all. Meanwhile all the boys were taught how to slide on a condom and then got a tour of the campus. We’ve all watched in horror as a rapist was sentenced to a meagre six months in prison while his family and friends claim that he is the true victim. But when young women are taught that they need to avoid being raped, rather than teach men and women not to rape other people, is it any surprise that cases like that at Stanford transpire more regularly than we’d all like to admit?

Now don’t get me wrong. By no means am I defending the actions of any rapist by saying they didn’t know any better. I’m very sure many are well aware that they are causing their another pain. However, that young men are taught nothing of consent while young women are taught they need to avoid being raped – as if it’s going to happen regardless – is seriously fucked up.

When I was a teenager starting out at uni I found it strange when female friends asked me to walk with them to their cars after a party, or that they’d text me when they got home. “Why would you text me?” I’d think. In my mind they would get home just fine, but it never occurred to me that they thought they could be attacked.

It’s ridiculous that something like algebra is taught across the board, yet rape doesn’t come up in the classroom. I won’t be so narrow minded to say that there are no monsters out there, but not addressing such an important issue during a person’s formative years is absurd. This is the age when we begin to figure out how we conduct our sexual relationships, how can both young men and women not be made aware of what rape is?

I don’t know if there is such a thing as pure evil in the world, but I do know there is a lot of ignorance, and that breeds far more problems.

If you have your own story about consent and sexual education please comment below! 

It’s Not Me, It’s You; Why I’ll Never Have Sex With Dumbledore Again

“Hey Shay, I had a lot of fun with you too. You’re really nice and charming and handsome, but I just don’t feel the connection I was looking for”. That’s the text from a girl whose Tinder bio read “They call me Dumbledore because I’m the Headmaster”. For fuck’s sake.

I’m no stranger to the one night stand. The last year of my life has been an assembly line of women jumping in and then jumping out of my bed. Considering I make a pretty crappy boyfriend (more on that later) the casual thing was an ideal lifestyle for me. It’s gotten to the point where meeting up for a drink isn’t a requisite anymore, within 10 text exchanges I’m at her house, head buried between her legs.

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Why a threesome was the worst sexual experience I’ve ever had

“I’m at my friend’s house. She thinks you’re cute. You should come over”.

I had to read that text a few times for the meaning behind it to sink in. I spent a few more minutes trying to formulate a reply that would be smooth and sexy. I ended up with “Yeah, sure thing”. Half an hour later I found myself in the middle of a threesome with two women I barely knew.

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A New Year’s Kiss in September

I’ve come to the very sudden realisation that I’m supposed to be an adult. December is not too far away and I’ll be 25. I look at my friends and see several people who are prepared to get married or are well on their way to be before they’re 30. Meanwhile I spent this afternoon reading comics (for  anyone who cares the book is Saga, and it is amazing). But hey, I’m not that hopeless. I work full-time as a sub-editor at Happy and have moved into a share house in Marrickville. It’s improved both my work and sex life considerably. Yet, that emptiness that plagued me still gnaws at my mind just as frantically as it did a year ago.

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2014: A Melancholy Odyssey

I fell in love with the girl of my dreams only to have her tear my heart out. I plotted to murder the man who took her from me. I celebrated what will be the first of many of my friend’s engagements. I spent months aimlessly looking for nothing to do and dated a girl just so I wouldn’t feel so lonely. I finally left Woolworths and started working as the Sub-Editor for a pretty cool music website. I cried watching Pretty in Pink. I constantly put on weight then lost it, only to put it on again. I watched over 1000 episodes of anime and can now partially understand Japanese. 2014, what a temperamental year you had been.

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Keep Your Friends Close, and Your Facebook Friends Closer

I’ve never been good at making new friends. I struggle to connect with people on an emotional level. Hell, even mates I have known for almost ten years I can be a little awkward with. In high school I had a large group of friends but really I would only hang out with a handful of them. I’ve never really been able to fit in to be honest, and while my mates love me for the oddball that I am there’s always been the slightest of divide between myself and others. And then Facebook happened. Everything became so much easier. I could carefully consider what I’d say and come across as witty and clever as opposed to being the mumbling weirdo I am. Suddenly I had an audience at my beckoning, who in my eyes were on the edge of their seats waiting for my next glorious status update.

I still maintain this statement.

I still maintain this statement.

Fast forward five years later and I’ve got some serious Facebook fatigue. I see statuses like “Kevin got a new hat. Take that sun!” and think “The sun is the most powerful thing in our solar system, if it’s out to get you, it will fucking get you”, and “Who the hell is Kevin and why are we friends?”

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The Secret Life of an Awkward Man

Living an awkward life is like trying to open a new box of tissues. You tear off the cardboard but the plastic is being difficult and suddenly your fingers are stuck between the two flaps. “Fuck it” you think, “I’m half way there”, so you continue to fumble your way down towards that holy grail which is the first tissue. Your fingers brush against the soft paper so you try to pull it out, but the stubborn thing won’t budge. Beginning to lose patience, you pull it put more hurriedly, yet somehow it’s stuck inside the box. People are starting to notice that you’re battling a tissue box, and that the box is winning. With one final, mighty tug you stand victorious, the tissue in your hand. Yet alas! What you thought was the tissue is just a small chunk you’ve managed to tear off. And worst of all, now your nose is overflowing with mucus because you’ve taken so long to tear out half a fucking tissue.

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A Real Australian

Australian. What does that word really mean? I’ve always been fascinated by the concept of being an ‘Aussie’ ever since I realised I was the only kid on the playground with brown skin. I’ve always identified with being Australian; I was born here, I have the same ridiculous accent and prefer wearing thongs over shoes. But ever since I was young I’ve been made to feel like I was different for how I looked. Sure, I’ve had my share of overt racism thrown my way, but what disturbs me more is the more common form of  subtle racism. What I’m referring to is the term “They were ‘Aussie’ looking”.

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