Anxious Dudes Anonymous

Something has bugged me for a while. In American culture, men are basically allowed to express only one emotion – anger. It’s like an unspoken rule. Other emotions men have are downplayed or hidden. Somehow being emotional is linked to weakness or vulnerability.

I have struggled with anxiety and the emotions that tag-along for the bumpy ride. And I know I am not the only anxious person on the planet.

In the blogosphere, there are many who express their struggle with worry and depression. But it seems to me that the vast majority of those online who dare open up and express their anxiety are women.

It makes me ask, “Are there any anxious dudes out there?”

Truly I’ve wondered this. I keep my eyes open, but it is rare to find guys online who share their feeble feelings. I guess because a man would never appear so lame. As if a pack of wolves is really going to move in for the kill.

We all struggle. Some share it. Some hide it. I have found that honesty about wrestling with weakness is a means to gaining strength to overcome it. And finding solace in the fact that you are not alone in your struggle is empowering.

All that said, I wanted to address the situation and find facts to balance my feelings.

Are there any other anxious dudes out there? Yes. There are!

They may not be abundant or available to talk in the blogosphere, but they’re out there in the greater sphere of life. Knowing that, at least, is somewhat helpful.

Here are some articles addressing males with emotional or mental issues or other personality “weaknesses,” which provide evidence that masculinity is not without emotions and, dudes, you’re not alone.

Anxiety versus Masculinity – fight!

13 Things Men With Anxiety And Depression Want You To Know

From the above Huff Post article, here are some of my thoughts on the 13 things:

1. Understanding that anxiety is as much a physical health issue as it is a mental one helps take away some of the stigma.

2. It is natural and healthy to talk about lack of health! Ironic but true.

3. Anxiety is not a weakness per se, though it makes men look or feel weak. This is tough to deal with because my own anxiety attacks have been physically debilitating in the past. I once was admitted to the ER due to a panic attack. And when you need prescription medicine to help with anxiety, it’s hard to not feel weak since medicine is usually associated with a physical problem. So in a way, anxiety does make you physically weak. I have a hard time balancing this.

7. The all-consuming nature of an anxiety disorder is hard to convey to others who have not experienced it. It helps to find those who have the same struggle because then, besides not feeling alone, you can begin to find more practical help.

8. Anxiety will attack anyone, man or woman.

13. The idea of control is big. With anxiety, one thing you feel is lack of control. That’s tough on a man who is supposed to be a leader or provider. How can he be those things if he is not in control?

3 Things I Wish Other Men Understood About Being An Introvert.

This piece from Introvert, Dear talks about men with an introverted personality being in the minority online. But many of the sentiments expressed match my feelings about men with anxiety being scarce on the web.

The author conveys my thoughts so closely that it makes me know I’m not the only one. While I am also an introvert, in the quotes below, replace references to “introversion” with “anxiety.”

“When I browse sites lending themselves to introverts [anxiety], I find that they tend to be filled with women…”
“…there don’t seem to be many of us guys floating around the introvert [anxious] interwebs.”

Confession – I’m one of those emotional types. I may not always show it, but I feel it. As a matter of fact, my feelings can be quite strong.

There’s some more irony for you. In males, emotions tend to be equated with weakness, but, oh man, emotions are so strong sometimes! Some, for example rage, even make you feel super strong. It’s like being a Sith in Star Wars, giving into anger to fuel your power as a guy!

Breathe into the bag: Gender and the anxiety gap.

This last article echoes certain points that I’ve said here. It also addresses some unique ones. And it links to two other articles that cover this gender anxiety topic; they’re worth clicking so go check them out too.

One thing to note is how the male author describes anxiety as, “defeating.”

I recall that during the months and weeks leading up to my major anxiety attacks in 2017, I often felt defeated. I used this term to describe the overwhelming and wearisome stress I had experienced when I spoke to my therapist about my anxiety.

“It’s time to get honest: we all feel anxious. Men are not the strong, silent types who don’t feel sad or anxious. Men just have different ways of expressing their feelings.”

– Sean Swaby

I don’t talk too much about my anxiety. Thankfully, it has gotten much better this year due to changes in my diet and exercise. I wrote about that recently here.