The End

Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression The End

The End

For an end to have an existence it must be the conclusion of something. The end of the day must have had a morning, and a death must have had a birth. Even the greatest oak trees started from a small acorn. But if I am to discuss the end of my story we must be aware of where it started. At the beginning of my first book (Silent Story) I made the unassuming comment that when I woke on that one Sunday morning, little did I know the night before that the world of which I once recognised would no longer exist by lunch time the following day.

Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression The End

History Paths

Both the ancient Greeks and Romans believed that history was on a linier path and not circular. To put this simply, day to day experiences were independent of each other and they were of no consequence to what had happened before. By todays standards we are fully aware that events are indeed a consequence of events and actions that had happened before hand. If we think about the terrorist attacks that happened on 11th September 2001 they were not just an idea plucked out of thin air. There was a history attached to the ideology behind it all. The attacks took planning and logistics. These events were nearly identical to the 1605 terrorist plans associated with the gun powder plot to blow up the king and Parliament. Both plans were based on a religious, philosophical and the need to spread fear in the name of terror. Although the topic is not about terrorism both events shook the world so much that promises were made to learn and react and yet, the same events unfolded with 400 years apart.

Words

The journey associated with history is littered with events that are either not new or indeed repeated. Time after time I have witnessed great speakers talk about the events before, during and after the Jewish holocaust in the 20th century. And yet, each time these people speak they talk about learning from the past and avoiding the horrors that had happened before. However, in our own lifetimes we have seen ethnic cleansing, mass genocide and victimisations of minority groups repeated time after time all within the space of a few years. Therefore, you can argue that it is okay to study history but why bother if nothing has been learnt or heeded from these events. Therefore, it could be argued that the study of history is nothing more than a high brow soap opera with the obligatory bad character battling the good – and there are countless examples throughout time to give here.

Journey

Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression The End

When I reflect upon my journey following my abuse and life time struggles with depression it becomes clear that the peaks and troths, the bends and dips were and all part of the recovery. Yet like the impatient child seated in the back of the car it is inevitable that I will ask “are we there yet?” By giving the seated child analogy it is not the journey they dislike it is the arrival at the destination they are impatiently seeking.

Throughout my time struggling to get answers and seeking explanations, I have peered through the windows to discover cover-ups, uncomfortable apologies backed up with nothing more than formally typed letters, stereotypical conclusions, narrow minded protocols, systematic failures and ignorance by public bodies. I have discovered that the journey has not been pleasant but highly educational. The journey has shown me that although there are a lot of errors and faults in supporting male victims of domestic abuse and support for people with depression there is no impetus or encouragement to change. The David and Goliath struggles are far too big to tackle when those holding the cards are so deeply infused with narrow minded ignorance that change appears almost impossible.

Fear the truth

Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression The End

Over several months I have read and watched both recent and historical events of minorities who have suffered at the hands of the authorities. I have concluded by finding two facts. Firstly, as quoted by Socrates, “When the debate is lost, slander becomes the tool of the losers” and secondly, People start to ridicule because they fear the truth. In both cases the fight to expose the truth is over shadowed by the fight to maintain your dignity in the face of hostility. In so many cases it has been the case that the bringer of facts has had to fight organisations such as the police, both criminal and family law courts, social services and so on. In every case I have attempted to raise the truth I have been stopped by convenient red tape, systematic protocols, and institutional ignorance that suits the blinkered stand-point of which they wish to operate by.

A lack of interest

Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression The End

Having now reached the end of the journey the car park looks very dull indeed. The dystopian future is filled with dread for our sons (and in part, daughters). In the twenty-first century we still lack the medical support for depression and above all the lack of interest or concern for male victims of domestic abuse. I have found that the future seems utterly disinterested in offering equal support for men who live with the daily horrors of a violent partner (whether heterosexual or not) or the rising numbers of men taking their own lives. There appears to be a complete lack of interest when men are discharged from hospitals following assaults to ensure they have a safe place to go home to. There is an utter lack of interest from the police who attend male victims who call out for help following the utter embarrassment to admit that they are victims. Social services and family law courts still and will forever favour the mothers over good and caring fathers.

A dystopian future

The real pain rests with the fact that no matter how hard a few voices have shouted out that enough is enough, absolutely nothing has changed in my life time. We can only conclude by stating that male lives just do not matter. Men are replaceable, expendable and unequal in the eyes of the law and in the role of a husband, father, brother or son. And this is where my argument holds so much importance because every wife, mother, sister or daughter has a male counterpart of which feels the same pains as them. It will be hard to bring up our sons telling them not to bother being in a relationship because the breakdown can and would destroy their lives. Or tell our fathers that they might as well put that rope around their necks because nothing will be done should you choose otherwise. This, as stated, is the dystopian future and my journey to this point has shown no impetus or need for change.

The end

Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression The End

However, I suppose that by concluding my work I have discovered that there are so many other men out there that have experienced what I have. It has brought me great comfort to know that by telling my story I have been able to be open and frank about my experiences. I am certainly wiser about the system and how it does not practice what it preaches. At the time of writing this I am still awaiting support from a police domestic abuse support officer two years after raising my concerns.

I suppose I can now see that I am stronger than I originally gave myself credit for. I have learnt that to survive the nightmare conditions I had found myself in, recovery must and does start from within. I have found that people who suffer with depression are often the kindest and (ironically) the happiest people you could know. Furthermore, having a dependency on an agency doing the right thing is a fallacy. But here lies the irony, by accepting these newly found facts and adjusting my stance to how society should respond I am now in such a better place. My happiness is genuine and my knowledge is stronger. So I suppose by concluding my work I would like to finish with two quotes from my favourite (and often misunderstood) philosopher, Friedrich Nietzche (1844 – 1900)

Insanity in individuals is rare – but in groups, nations and epochs, it is the rule.

And finally

What does not destroy me, makes me stronger.

 

Next Chapter, New Beginnings

Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression Next Chapter, New Beginnings

When we read a gripping novel we are always keen to know what happens next. If you are a writer we are often perplexed about what to put into the next chapter.

Life has its similarities. Very often we don’t know what comes next. Even though we have some control over our lives many things happen because of consequences or actions of others.

Rolling with the punches

Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression Next Chapter, New Beginnings

In my case I wanted to get some form of control back. The previous few months had been very much in the lap of the gods and I had to just roll with the events as they unfolded. Once one event had been concluded and I had brushed myself down it was then on to the next event.

As a result, starting again was the step I was striving for. I had lost my home because of a consequence of someone else’s actions. I became ill because of a culmination of events that I had not desired. And now, once the dust had started to settle life and its steps had become a little more clearer.

Can’t see the wood for all of the trees

Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression Next Chapter, New Beginnings

It was only a matter of a few months ago whereby I could not see the woods for all of the trees. As a result I often (and still do) took a step back and asked myself the importance of each and every action I was going to take. For example, clearing my name was more important than considering finding a new home and so on. By doing this everything became more digestible than trying to tackle all the problems at once. This approach would have left me engulfed and certainly overwhelmed.

Stepping stones

Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression Next Chapter, New Beginnings

Looking back I can see now that the footsteps had become stepping stones that I would repeat if the past events (or something similar) ever happened again.

My first step was the realisation that something was wrong. It then led to keeping records and then everything else that followed from those moments. But what I am trying to tell you is that (and I know hindsight is a wonderful thing) even the greatest of walls that are blocking our paths can be chipped away to reveal new paths ahead.

For me, I knew I was in a relationship that was wrong. And to keep it in check I supported myself by considering how I could tackle the problems piece by piece. However, throughout all of this I knew that all the wrongs had to be corrected. Above to all I had to prove my innocents as this was the most important step to take. Once this was done everything else would fall into place. I always considered that the truth or the rightness will always shine through. But I now think this is a little naïve as I have come into contact with people who have had it a lot worse than I. And this is where perspective comes in. Although things were bad, they could always have been so much worse.

New chapter

So what is my next chapter? Well taking back control gives you more options than you give yourself credit for.

Our lives can be complicated but they all boil down to simple things. For me (other people have their own priorities) it has been family, mental health, work and home. These are not in any particular order but each one has a special consideration that very often overlap.

Work has been at the forefront of my mind for a while. I have been torn between doing a job I have deeply loved but have also recognised the impact it had had on my health and family. My job left me tired and forced me to make decisions on my work life balance. Regardless of what people will say, working shifts covering seven days a week does have an impact upon family life and as a consequence, in the long term, creates issues with your health. As a result, I now know that something has to give. I am in the right frame of mind to consider finding alternative employment to now suit the new person that I now am. I don’t really want to go into the ‘what for’s’ as this has already been covered but I now realise how little value I was to the service I worked so hard for.

New home

Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression Next Chapter, New Beginnings
New home

My biggest step was finding a new home.

A home is much more than a house. When we travel or commute we pass so many houses but each house is a home to someone. It is here that memories are made (good or bad). I do miss my old house, but it is only the construction that I miss. It was a very old house and the historian in me loves that kind of thing. But the ghosts within those walls would never leave if I had remained there. It was an unhappy house and so would never be a happy home.

For me my new home is a blank page whereby each stroke of my pen creates a mark of which can be shaped into whatever I want it to be.  A new home doesn’t judge you on your past, but it wants to become a part of the family whereby it will be loved and taken care of.

Neighbours

When I first saw this house, I wouldn’t say it was love at first sight as I wanted to be as far away from society as I could be. I didn’t want a neighbour for as far as the eye could see. But living in the real world this would have been a difficult task to complete. But this house is rural and has a few houses dotted along its road. And that is forgivable especially as the views all around are beautiful. In the morning I am awoken by the horses playing in the field of which my bedroom over looks. But most importantly, it feels like a home. There is room for grandchildren to come and play and space for children to stay (although they are fully grown adults now).

The walks can be long with so much to find and discover along the way. But importantly, as this is a new start we are both getting used to each other’s faults (the boiler needs a PhD to work out) and I have my off days whereby I want to be embraced by its warm and comforting walls.

Fantastic

This really is a fantastic new beginning. With the comfort of having a new home my next steps are to tackle work and as a consequence I hope my health will improve. I think it will, because it has to. But a home is never where the heart is because so many homes can have negative memories. But a home is what you feel inside and where you feel comfortable within yourself. Whether this is a cave or a mansion a home can reflect where you want to escape to once the door is closed behind you. That probably doesn’t make sense, but my new home will not allow abuse or assaults within. It is a haven from all of those kind of things, because my experiences will never allow such nastiness to filter through these new walls.

Psychology of Dressing Well

Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression Psychology of Dressing Well

I’ve spent the last few days reflecting on events and what I have discovered is that I hate to use the word ‘journey’, it’s just too cliché.  What I have gone through is a list of experiences that have got me from A to B. This description of events is far better that calling it a journey.

I was looking through some of my recent blogs and I came across a comment that someone had sent about not being comfortable about going out. Together with this I also read an article about rebuilding a shattered life and not being able to go out.

Now, don’t get me wrong but I’m not claiming to be an expert on this matter but I can only reflect and share my own experiences.

Long lasting conversation

I recall a conversation I once heard as a kid whilst travelling on a bus. During this said conversation, some girls were talking about the importance of dressing nice (mainly when they went out) and this has stuck with me ever since.

Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression Psychology of Dressing Well

As a result, I once put this into practice the first time I went to buy a brand new car. I once walked into the show room purposely wearing jeans and a grey t-shirt. The result was that I was ignored. A week or so later I entered the same show room wearing a suit, shirt and tie. As a consequence, I had more people offering me assistance than I could shake a stick at.

So what does this prove?

 

Well, we have all heard the line ‘clothes maketh the man’. This is so true. We are judged by what we wear or the accents we use. They draw a stereotype which may often be wrong but it is first impressions that count. I must admit that although I am aware of this pitfall I still do it. I’m not going to make any apology for it as it is a form of unconscious defence.

So how does this fit in with not feeling well?

This was a direct question out to me once and I had to think long and heard about how I was going to answer this. Put simply, if you feel good you start to, well, feel better about yourself. Dressing nicely is the first step to building self-confidence because people do judge you. If you are treated with respect you tend to gain and give respect.

Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression Psychology of Dressing Well

To explain this better I have had many pyjama days whereby I have not bothered to get dressed. As a result, the lazy attitude led to lazy actions. I probably didn’t brush my teeth until 3pm that afternoon and undoubtedly, I probably ate rubbish that day resulting in me viewing that day as a lost day whereby nothing was achieved.

First impressions

Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression Psychology of Dressing Well

I can consider that dressing well promotes a good first impression. When you wear an ensemble, you tend to carry yourself in a more confident way, because you know you look good, hence, you feel good. The way you dress is also a unique way of expressing yourself, and therefore allows people to get a sense of who you are. To hell with people who perhaps don’t understand your style or message. This is about you feeling yourself again.

But how you are perceived by others before you open your mouth depends mostly on the physical signals you send with your appearance.

Appearances matter in real and fundamental ways that affect a person’s daily life – from how they are greeted when meeting others for the first time to whether or not they’ll be harassed whilst traveling.

All dressed up and nowhere to go

However, being all dressed up and having nowhere to go is not such a bad thing after all. The task of choosing an outfit with matching accessories can fill a good bit of time. But it goes back to that conversation I once heard on the bus as a kid. If you dress nice, you feel nice. It’s like slipping into a freshly made clean bed. We all know how good it feels but it is difficult to describe.

Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression Psychology of Dressing Well

But this is the same thing. Putting on a nicely pressed clean shirt feels more rewarding than putting on the t-shirt you found sitting at the bottom of the bed. Or wearing a suit that you had forgotten you had got (because it only comes out on certain occasions) because it makes you feel confident.

One of the first pieces of advice I have found in self-help books is almost always something along the lines of “Get Your Personal Appearance Under Control!”  It’s good advice.  People tend to perform better in life when they feel that they deserve to perform better.  The automatic assumption that a well-dressed person should be treated with respect works when it’s your reflection in the mirror, too.

A few minutes spent spiffing yourself in the mirror before you leave home reinforces the idea that you deserve success and good treatment in your own mind. ‘Just because’ is no longer an option. The game has now moved to ‘I am this and so I deserve this (in a positive fashion).

What have you got to lose if you don’t have the courage or desire to go out?

Spend a day dressing nicely around your own home. I know of some women that will never want to be seen unless they are wearing make-up. Well each to their own but it’s a good start. Having a standard is nothing to worry about or fear. It shows that you want to be seen a particular light and depression stops you having this desire. In effect, if you dress well you should also feel well (although this may take some time).

Over many years I have heard women explain the feelings they get after a hairdo or having their nails done. I suppose I get the same feeling when my facial hair sits how I want it to or if my shoes match my trousers.

Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression Psychology of Dressing Well

As I see it once you start feeling good about yourself everything should follow. Such as dressing nice and then having the courage to go for a walk around the block. Perhaps this could lead to dressing nice and going into town for a coffee. Who knows where it could potentially lead to but you never see a well-dressed person and think ‘victim’.

I can say that for me this worked. Feeling nice is a pre-requisite to anything if you are on the road to recovery. Feeling and looking nice gives you a value that cannot be given but it is something that you find yourself building on.

Have a look at:

https://www.riskology.co/dress-well/

100 Things That Happen To You When You Start Dressing Well

 

Regrets

Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression Regrets

Regrets. It’s such a simple word that holds so many meanings but it appears to be a word of self-reflection.

I consider that most regrets stem from the things we didn’t do, rather than the things we did do. Regardless of the life we’ve lived, whether we struggled with addiction, depression or have had a substantial amount of time in recovery, it turns out that most people regret the same things.

I think people who have been through what we have been through or how we have felt will always be hard on ourselves. Often, I have found myself saying “I wish I hadn’t” or “if only” and so on. But like so many of us I’m sure we acted with the right intentions at that specific point in our lives.

I could have done so much better

Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression Regrets

As a father, I wish I could have done better but I could only do what I could with the resources available or with the opportunities I had. As a partner I could, it feels, only fire fight by trying to keep things under control.

I’m sure many of us know the feeling of trying to spin plates by keeping everything in some form of order whilst dealing with outside issues. It’s difficult but it doesn’t require regrets. It actually requires stamina and we all get tired at some point.

Of course, on reflection I regret having found myself in that relationship but let’s be clear. No one comes with a label. Furthermore, no one sets out to say, ‘let’s give it a go although it may end up being the worst experience of my life’.

If we all did that I wonder what kind of world we would live in. We may never venture out of the house in case we get run over. We might not get dressed in case our clothes clash or match someone in the office.

Values

Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression Regrets

I briefly touched upon this train of thought in This Is My Advice, when I mentioned Nietzsche. His philosophy has stuck with me since I first read him many years ago. He devised the idea that we need to have bad experiences to appreciate the good. As a result, I have now learnt to embrace these regrets although I don’t want to go out and find myself repeating them.

We only seem to have regrets when we are reminded of what we have been through. There are times I regret not telling certain people what I thought of them. But the reality is that either someone else will tell them at some point. Or, they may be so up their own backside that whatever I may have said would not have penetrated their thick skulls anyway. Some people may call it karma I just call it time. All good things come to those who wait.

Pointless exercises

As a student many years ago, I was often told to reflect on things I had seen, done or experienced. I found this whole concept a complete waste of time as I considered that if I was doing my best at that specific moment how could I consider improving.

But I’m going to give this idea a new, more logical explanation. If I found myself in a similar situation would I handle things differently? What if I had different opportunities at that specific moment, would I still take those chances? Have I changed my views on things?

Where was the opportunity?

Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression Regrets

The reality however, is not as rosy as the romantic idea of everything being in its place. To explain this better I consider that many things are actually out of our control. If there had been better support for men in these situations then I may have had more opportunities available to me. If the police were more proactive with complaints then issues may have been resolved better. If the person was more willing to comprehend what I was telling her then she may have addressed her own failings. We will just never know because those options were not available at that moment (and may never be).

My regret is that I think I had too much faith in a failing system rather than finding myself in that position in the first place.

Reactive over proactive

I have spoken to a few people about regrets but the common denominator is based around reaction rather than being pro-action. Time and time again we may have forgiven or developed an explanation for other people’s actions (I know I have) but it is important not to judge everyone by the nasty experiences we have had by one person.

Of course, I now recognise the signs better and I am now in a position to question my first thoughts. But I have no regrets about my experiences. I only have regrets for other people or other agencies. I regret that there is no greater support but that’s not my fault. I regret not divulging more information (but when I did very few differences were made). Ultimately, I regret having too much faith in a system that did not work. But what is most frustrating is that the system doesn’t want to improve because it does not see (conveniently) its own failings.

Different strokes for different folks

Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression Regrets

Following my experiences, I have uncovered fake people. But equally I have also met and spoken to some of the most amazing people that I would never have had the opportunity to speak to otherwise. So a regret seems to have its own rewards. I am also equally happy not to forgive other people for their actions – pity is much more appropriate (see my blog on; forgiveness – why should you?)

Yes, I do regret many things. I regret things from my childhood but I was too young to have dealt with it at that moment. I regret telling my children off about certain things, but they have grown into fantastic people. I regret being in an abusive relationship but I have learnt self-worth and what is right from wrong. Surely these must be positive outcomes from poor experiences.

No regrets just lessons learnt

Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression Regrets

I have read that an abuser is never sorry.  Do they ever have regrets about people that they’ve damaged or hurt?  Even if they won’t admit it to other people do they feel sorry for the way they treated other people? I very much doubt it.

But I refuse to carry the burden of regret for people who do not see the errors of their own ways. Why should we? Life is and can be difficult as it is without trying to explain and justify your actions when dealing with a situation that you had not intended to find yourself in.

 

The Benefits Of Saying No

Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression The Benefits Of Saying No

I’ve had a realisation today that may have been responsible for most of my problems. I have always found it difficult to say “no”. I’ve never really liked to say “no” before. This has been mainly due to me trying to be agreeable and it is often easier to say yes than to deal with the stresses of offering the negative. I have also done things because it has been nice to do rather than me needing to do.

People pleaser

Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression The Benefits Of Saying No

In effect, it appears that I’ve been a people pleaser most of my life.  I’ve done what I think I’m supposed to do to make the people around me happy rather than what I wanted to do and be seen as negative by those same people. My logic in thinking this is that I would be happy if the people around me are also happy.

But here lies the irony. The more you try and make people happy the more they want and so become less happy because of it. As a result, true happiness is never achievable. Even if this pursuit has cost me my own happiness.

Always saying “yes” is not a choice

As an adult I can see that happiness is about being able to make choices. And a valid choice is actually being able to say no without inner conflict.

Trying to please others takes an awful lot of energy to maintain. Perhaps this is why I have considered that I have never been ‘fully at my best’. I have tried to please bosses, partners, children, strangers, ex’s and so on without my own considerations. But like I have said, this pursuit of other people’s happiness may be an impossible achievement but I still unconsciously tried to achieve it at the cost of my own

I give, they take

Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression The Benefits Of Saying No

When I consider work for example, I always arrived early not because I had to, but because I felt it was nice to. Again, my uniform (or suits when I wore them) were always pressed and immaculate. Again, not because I had to but because it was nice to.

Where has this got me? Nowhere. I have been constantly over looked for promotions (when lesser people with fewer qualifications and experiences have got them) and have had little support from my managers following my abuse and depression. Well what have I gained from this? Nothing. And why? Partly because I didn’t want to let other people down and couldn’t say “no”. I kept my mouth shut because I didn’t want to be seen as a problem and never said no because I wanted to be seen as reliable. In fact ladies and gentlemen, it transpires that every single one of us is expendable. So saying no would not have been detrimental to my career at all. In fact it might have improved it because my treatment couldn’t have been any worse.

Is that really a happy relationship?

With this in mind, it has dawned on me that I am aware of people ‘stuck’ in relationships that they don’t want to be in. They don’t want to break things off or cool things down because they don’t want to hurt their partners feelings. I don’t see any nastiness in this frame of mind but the status quo is hurting yourself and taking away your freedom of choice. Furthermore, by prolonging this agony will only make it more painful for the other person later on. You are also taking away their chance of happiness if it is built on a false hope. This upset will cause pain to them and to you as you are guilty of putting off the inevitable.

Selfish?

Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression The Benefits Of Saying No

When I think about my upbringing of which was built on faith and religion (of which has no part in my life at all now) I became programmed to believe that pursuing my own happiness was selfish. Yes, it probably is right to think that way as no one likes a person who is considered to be selfish. But there needs to be a line drawn somewhere as this train of thought means that we’re not supposed to be happy until we make everyone else around us happy first. As an adult with responsibilities this is now a wrong philosophy to maintain.

By putting myself first means saying ‘no’ much more often than I’m probably used to. It’s a new concept to consider and it will be strange to apply after all of these years. But it has to be a step in the right direction. Not just for me but for everyone else around me.  At least by being honest with myself I can be seen as being honest with other people.

Better people?

Perhaps if I start saying ‘no’ to more people (in a diplomatic way) or not volunteering to assist, I may feel bad thinking I was letting people down. But I’m sure we will all get over it and it will be forgotten. Especially if it makes us all better people. It has to be worth a try don’t you think?

Who are other people to set such unrealistic expectations?

Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression The Benefits Of Saying No  If I set a boundary it will show a line between helping because it makes me feel good and helping because others expect it of me. If we look back at the example of me arriving at work early – it eventually became expected and therefore, became a duty rather than a nice thing to do.

It’s a bit like living in an abusive relationship. If you choose not to reject the abuse it then becomes the norm and acceptable in the abusers eyes. Alas, I must admit that I allowed the abuse to happen because I never said “no”.

Perhaps by exercising my mindset of saying “no”, the more people may start to respect my decisions and appreciate those moments when I say “yes”. I will say ‘no’ to things that don’t support my values or I just disagree with. In fact, when I think about it I am sure every person who is reading this has done things against their better judgements or will. Perhaps this world would be a better place for everyone if we used the word ‘no’ more often.

What is the worst thing that can happen?

If I say ‘no’ it may mean “not now,” or it may mean “absolutely no way.” Either way, I will be clear or you might even know the answer before you ask it. But by being free to say ‘no’ will mean that I have the freedom to say “yes” in a liberating way. The things I choose to do will have a greater value not only to myself but to those around me because it will be done with pleasure or love or commitment. Surely this is a better option that doing things because they are expected, taken for granted or done through gritted teeth.

I know that if I had had the courage to have said “no” before I would not have suffered at the hands of an abusive ex and all that came from it. I may have achieved more at work and gained a better outcome and respect from my managers. Who knows, but it’s exciting to find out if anything will change.

 

 

Pessimism. Who Needs It? What Could Possibly Be The Attractions?

Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression Pessimism. Who Needs It? What Could Possibly Be The Attractions?

I’ve had an interesting day today. I had an interview for a job which went surprisingly well, although I probably won’t get it. I also had my penultimate counselling session this morning.

As always during my counselling session, we discussed a range of things. Some going over old ground and some thought provoking discussions. However, we also discussed thoughts and feelings and considered my views on events and the future. I’ve decided that, by nature I have a pessimistic view to life. Just look that the first paragraph again. You can see the negativity following the good interview statement.

Pessimism is a safety net

When I think about it I have always had a ‘half empty’ view of life. I think it is the fail safe for a great number of people. If we prepare for the worst then we are ready for it when it happens. Anything positive is, therefore, a bonus. It must be a psychological safety net. There is nothing wrong with being safety conscious in the crazy world we now find ourselves living in.

Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression Pessimism. Who Needs It? What Could Possibly Be The Attractions?

But pessimism is not such a bad thing really. My counsellor gave a brilliant analogy. She stated that it is a good defence mechanism. “If the caveman” she said “had not had an element of caution then the human race might have been wiped out”. I further endorsed this by mentioning that the Do-do became extinct (partly) because it had no fear of humans – laughably I considered that the Do-do was not stupid, it was an optimist.

I could have started this blog by saying that it would have been an utter waste of time writing it. Nobody would read it and if they did I would only get negative comments. I would then probably cry into my coffee and go to bed. Undoubtedly, I would be pelted with rotten vegetables as I head out to the shops. But it hasn’t happened – ever. Even after taking the first steps into the world of writing where I was at my most vulnerable.

Past giving a hoot.

As time has developed during my writing, I have been more and more open and honest. I have left myself exposed to critism and perhaps even ridicule. But no, it hasn’t happened. I’ve not been looking for it because that kind of ‘thing’ finds you. I’m sure people do have a negative view about what I have said but I have probably, unconsciously, dismissed it.

It doesn’t mean that what I say, write or do is correct. It just means that my ‘defensive pessimism’ has worn off a little bit and I am delighted to call myself a ‘writer’.

But why are we drawn to pessimism?

Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression Pessimism. Who Needs It? What Could Possibly Be The Attractions?

Why do we read writers who are profoundly pessimistic? And what sense are we to make of their work in our ordinary, hopefully not uncheerful lives?

I’m lucky enough to write two blogs. This one of which I consider to be deep and meaningful. I hope people heed my words or value my advice and perhaps act upon it. My other blog (www.thecheltenhamhurrah.com) is a look at the funny side of life in my (now) hometown. It is a comedy poke at life that I hope entertains. It has ‘throw away’ comments that I hope people giggle at then move on to their next activity. Two very opposite characteristics that feed off each other amazingly well. But not all pessimists have the same fondness for my kind of comedy which is perfectly ok. On both blogs I cater for those that want to read them. Not for people who dismiss them.

It’s all very entertaining

Modern society as a whole, tends toward a sort of institutional pessimism. Soap operas are based upon negative situations and ‘bust ups’ in the local pub, people sleeping behind the backs of other people and so on. Yet we see this as a form of entertainment. We watch people being banished to remote islands to watch them fail in their endeavours. People are put into a locked house and we watch them argue and fall out. Yet we are encouraged to believe happiness is at least potentially available for all as the ‘dramas’ fade into another story.

But when we look at life we can see that it is filled with misery and pain and if we managed to escape these, boredom would lie in wait at every corner. In effect, we have embraced the evil side of life. The ‘baddy’ in films always has the nice car, nice clothes and is the best character to play. In general, playing the baddy is always the most sought after by actors around the world. There would be no story without one. The news headlines always tell us negative stories. Occasionally a happy story comes along about a dog who can talk or something, yet we still watch the news – sometimes four times a day. Why? Well perhaps we like to know that other people lives are worse than ours.

Pessimism? It could be worse.

Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression Pessimism. Who Needs It? What Could Possibly Be The Attractions?

When I think about it we always moan about the negative person in the office or down the pub. I have found myself avoiding these people on a number of occasions. I may have crossed the road or dived into a shop before I was spotted. But think of the alternative. The over-happy, in your face, type of person is even worse to endure. We leave that kind of person for children’s TV (where they belong). So being a pessimist is not such a bad thing after all.

Yes, I’m a pessimist but it could be worse. By saying that am I now an optimist?

Making Sense Of It All

Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression Making Sense Of It All

To have an identity.

As a child it doesn’t really matter, as a teenager it’s everything but as an adult we seek high and low to find it. But identity and acceptance is a major vein of a person’s identity.

Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression Making Sense Of It All
Plato

‘Social Acceptance could be defined as the fact that most people, in order to fit in with others, attempt to look and act like them.’ – Plato 428 BC – 348 BC

A few of years ago I came across an article about men with beards. It raved about them and went into detail about what can be done with them. But here I was carrying mine with a sense of individuality. Nobody else had one. Now when I look around it is unusual to see any male without one. Hence, had I lost my identity as an individual within the crowd? I can never consider myself to be a trendsetter – that would just be hilarious.

Yet the dead opposite is the case for teenagers. They try so hard to be a part of their sector. I remember wanting the same trainers as my mate. I had the same school bag as everyone else. It was what we did then and I am fully aware it’s what teenagers still do now. They all want to look the same – perhaps it’s a primeval behaviour that we try and revert to a tribe mentality.

I hate going into certain high street clothing shops as I try to avoid looking the same as the next person. Individuality for me is essential. Both physically, in the way I look and mentally by the way I think.

Banishment

Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression Making Sense Of It All

It may be difficult to understand what it is I am trying to say. But I think I am recovering. For the first time in my life I am sitting here comfortable in my own skin. Recently, I have banished what people expect from me and took a long time to look at my inner self.

I don’t want to be like the next person. I’m embracing what and who I am. Between you and I, I have discovered that usually the next person is more screwed up than me. And that can be refreshing to know.

I have now given up being the enabler to fit other people’s profiles and expectations. I’m comfortable with that. It suits me because it is me. The problem with being what I wasn’t was that I had, therefore, lost my identity. When I was falling into the crowd I actually didn’t want to be there. Instead I wanted to sit in a corner and happily watch as opposed to partaking in various misadventures.

A clash?

Of course, I will find myself trying to emulate the confident person, it’s a matter of survival at times. And to be honest a part of me doesn’t want to give up that character I had created. He is funny, sociable, and confident. I mean it was who I wanted to be for most of my life and now what? Now I’m struggling more than ever with identity. It feels like an evolution as instead of a revolution.

Misconceived Social Expectations

Going back to creating an identity I have often spent many hours looking around at other people around me. It made me feel mostly like failure. But this isn’t a sob story or anything but was how I felt when I was trying to build a level of confidence.  I would look around at people of my age and see that they were better at their jobs that I, they would be in great relationships, having nice holidays, beautiful homes and so on.

Ironic

Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression Making Sense Of It All

But here sits the irony that I have only just realised. I know these people have their own battles to deal with. In all of its formats life is tough and I know everyone has their own difficulties to deal with. This was why I felt so guilty about being ill. It explains why I beat myself up about the situation I found myself in and struggled to get better quickly. That was why I rushed back into work before I was ready to return. But this was why I tried to hide my illness from everyone. To everyone I knew I just want to be seen as normal. Just what my understanding of normal was misrepresented.

Acceptance is one thing. Knowing what to do about it is another.

Consciously I can now sit here and see the problems and how they manifested themselves over time. I try hard to write my points down and share them with others (such as yourselves) to try and get some perspective on it all. But the reality at the time was that I could talk the talk but I struggled to walk the walk. Why? Because I tried too hard to be what I wasn’t.

If we take an extensive look at the how this misconceived social expectation is fuelled. I can point my finger directly at social media, adverts, magazines, television programmes, and so on. But it’s obvious to everyone the pressures we are under because it’s constantly shoved down our throats.

Fraudulent life style

Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression Making Sense Of It All

There is an artificial expectation to succeed, to look good (although everyone wants to look the same), to eat more salads, to look good the gym (although the majority who go don’t), to have money (but this equates debt), to have a fulfilling career.

But the false failure is always around us. You just have to open your eyes to see it. For example, whilst I type this an advert is running in the background. It’s for a sports shoe. The reality is that if you buy this shoe it will not make you into a super athlete as soon as you put them on. No, it requires pain and commitment not being a lazy arse and over spending on a false hope that the advert appears to offer. The reality is that it won’t change my life by not owning them. In fact I will probably save myself a couple of hundred quid by not doing so. So, in effect its 1-0 to me for not bothering to be fooled. My mind boggles that we who consider ourselves as the superior species on the planet are so easily fooled by other humans. It’s a cruel irony really – when you actually think about it.

 Acceptance

I have tried hard most of my life to fit into a category of which I am comfortable with. I have no idea why I used so much energy on this meaningless task but I had/have. In adolescence, I can understand why we do this. At this point in our lives we are trying to create and shape an identity of our own, and that is part of the process of becoming an adult. We desire to be attractive and popular. Perhaps this is a primeval survival technique. But  as an adult, I struggled to accept the fact I didn’t feel I had an ‘identity’ (or whatever that means). I consider now that I never really had the opportunity to finish what I had started. I never really had the opportunity to create an identity of my own because my home life was such a mess. That, therefore, became my identity and would be for a number of years. Now that I realise this error I am enjoying starting again. It’s actually quiet exciting.

Acceptance is a huge part of coping with mental health problems

Acceptance of mental health is still slow. Suicide is still the biggest killer of men under the age of 45 and therefore a tremendous amount of work still has to be done so that people feel more comfortable with opening up and talking about their problems and who they really are.

Writing this website has helped me identify a whole lot of things. I have said things on these pages that even now I would never verbally say and have never been said before. But I’ve said them. And I’m glad I have. I am also glad to know that people read what I have to say. And that for me is the most important thing.

Trying to make sense of it all – again.

Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression Making Sense Of It All

The fact is this. There is nothing to make sense of. Our concerns are a product of fake hopes. I know I will never have the body of a god, or be filthy rich. Together with this I won’t have fantastic holidays on heavenly beaches. But what is important is self-contentment and happiness. Those are things that you can’t buy. You just acquire them – eventually.

 

 

A Letter To My Older Self

Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression A Letter To My Older Self

Time goes so quickly

When somebody mentions the 1990’s it feels like 5 years ago, but it isn’t, its nearly 30 years ago. And I find this a shocking revelation. I can still recall the songs played on the radio and I probably still own a few shirts from back then buried deep in my wardrobe. Time has passed so quickly, too quickly in fact. It almost seems unfair to think about the time I have wasted or the positive things I could have done.

Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression A Letter To My Older Self

I probably won’t have another 30 years left (who knows). But I want to take the time to talk to my future self. I want to be able to, one day, look back and read this letter and say “oh yeah, I remember that”. Or “that problem seemed so massive at the time”. Better still, I hope to say the following; “I survived it all” and “I’m happy now.”.

So much to say

This letter has taken a while to consider. Undoubtedly, I have probably left some important things out, but that’s ok. I can always write another. A part 2 if you like.

But below is my letter addressed to my older self. I want to be in my mid 60s when I read this letter. I can picture myself now. Balder, thinner (I hope). But I want to remain gentle and loving. I want to be warm with a wealth of knowledge to share and appreciate. But most of all I want to be content with who I became and I want to have buried the evils that have plagued my life at present. Did the abuse turn me into a better man than I could ever have envisaged or did it finally take a hold of me of which could not be shaken?

Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression A Letter To My Older Self

I want to live and be strong. I have a whole lot of love to give in its many forms. Perhaps I just want to know that I eventually had the opportunity to reach my full potential.

Anyway, here is my letter to myself…

My Letter To Myself

Hello

I’m glad you’ve taken the time to read this letter. It has been a long time in the making, but was very hard to submit into words. After all, how do you talk to yourself in an unknown situation, at an unknown time?  Of course, you are older now and I hope that you are well.

Firstly, if you are reading this I want to congratulate you. I’m pleased that you never took your life. I know the depression was hard and although you didn’t want to give in to it, the option of ‘ending it all’ was always there, over hanging your every thought and action. If you recall you never feared dying and that was always admirable. But it never stopped the pain of your past and present.

Fear

Yet this has been my biggest fear. When I was ready to die, I really was ready to go. But it’s all about what came next. Would I have scored an own goal and missed out on the best years of my life yet to come? Would the pain of those left behind been too heavy a price to pay for my weakness? Perhaps it’s easy to suggest, as an alternative, that I may not even have been missed. Do you recall the months of planning and researching the best way to go? If you remember you did indeed discover the painless way and you were happy to keep it a secret for years. I just hope that you put those thoughts down and picked up new revelations. Things that had a bigger and better meaning. Will I see them too, soon? I am trying to seek them out, just need a bit of direction at the moment.

Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression A Letter To My Older Self

I just hope the future was brighter and gave you everything you ever desired.

Monetary wealth is not riches

I know you never hunted for financial riches, but you spent all your life searching for other riches in life such as acceptance, warmth and love. Please tell me you found them? Are you happier now? If so do you measure your happiness in a different way to how I do it now? Most importantly though, did you learn anything from those awful years?  I keep telling myself that within these grey clouds a silver lining must be found. I must admit, it is only now that I do see glimmer of hope and it’s a warm feeling to know it is there. It’s a happy feeling and I hope to feel its full embrace very soon.

Pets

Do you remember how much you loved animals and how you would go out of your way to show them affection. Animals for you gave you the unconditional love that you had always wanted. You knew it was easier to love animals than people at times. I just hope that your affection for animals remained and that you have a loving dog curled up around your feet as you are reading this. Next to a warm fire with the lights down low. I know that would make you happy.

Children

Your children grew into lovely people I’m sure. Did you maintain a good relationship with them? I know that your parents (in all guises) let you down. I am also aware that their style of parenting shaped yours. You never intentionally hurt them and always told them you loved them – this was a characteristic I liked about myself. I was always keen to let them know that parental love was important. And I always grabbed the opportunity for a hug.

Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression A Letter To My Older Self

If you recall, you have recently become a grandfather. We both know that he would be a good father. You will have to let me know how his parenting skills were. He often called or text with messages on what to do in certain situations. This gave you comfort because it showed he cared for his son. Perhaps I had done right by him. After all he has the makings of a good father – that was all you wanted from him.

Country living

Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression A Letter To My Older Self

I was always drawn to the countryside. The early years were spent living in the city and the first opportunity I had to leave I grabbed it with both hands. Living in the countryside was a liberating experience. I would spend hours walking through fields and down remote country lanes. The air was always so much better and the smells made me feel complete in the knowledge I felt at home. I really hope that you did finally find your little ‘bolt-hole’ deep in the country side. As far away from other people as you wanted. Do you remember that time telling your careers teacher that you wanted to be a hermit in response to his question “what do you want to be when you’re older”? I always thought this was a funny response.

I suppose by the time you read this there have been advancements in photographic technology, and you have taken full advantage on your country walks. It would be nice to know that the love for photography never wavered.

Those aims and ambitions

Contrary to what you are probably thinking right now, I did not have any massive demands of me, or false expectations or goals that I might have failed to meet. I was just happy to get through each day. I’m also glad that I broke down my own barriers to accept the help when it was required. I did it for my benefit really, because I wanted me to grow old surrounded by the important things in my life. Those were the simple goals. One day at a time. Not a big house or a massive car. But self-contentment and self-value.  We both know it was difficult to find when the timing was tough but I’m glad we saw it through. Did I achieve those things? Did I achieve any of it?

Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression A Letter To My Older Self

If you are not who I imagine now, I’m ok with it, I’ll support you. Because maybe who I’m imagining is someone else, and you are—well you’re not someone else, you’re me. And what you are now is the product of the decisions I have made today.

For me, at this moment, the biggest lesson I have learnt is the idea of allowing myself to be whoever I am. I am also looking forward to making plans for who I should become. And that for this present moment, is more than enough.

Laying to rest those ghosts

Was there ever a time that you were able to lay the ghosts of abuse to rest? I accept that you may not have ever let your younger years go. They were after all your formative years. But what about the failed romantic relationships? I really hope you have now got to the point whereby you struggle to remember her name. I was always adamant that I would never forgive her but only feel pity. Was this option the best to take or did anger and hate consume me further before I could let it go?

My advice now

Before I go, I want you to heed my words. I want you to love your children even as they are now fully-grown adults. You sacrificed so much for them and they were ultimately your reason for holding on. Really love the woman you may have now. Although you know you could survive on your own, sharing these years with someone special is all that you had desired throughout your life. Let it be. Enjoy her and be what you want to be with her.

I hope you are happy

Love

Keith

 

How To Hide Depression

Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression How To Hide Depression

I had a thought provoking conversation with a friend last night.  Out of respect, I won’t mention his name, but he will know who he is after reading this.

I took the step to tell my friend about what I had been through. After I had sent him a link to this blog he called within minutes. I wanted him to know because I could see the signs that he was also suffering with depression. The difference between us was that I was more proficient at hiding it. He stated during the conversation that he had no idea that I had depression, but felt refreshed that I was able to share it and identify his plight too.

It takes one to know one

I am able to say with great confidence that I have had depression for most of my life. I briefly touched upon it in my blog My father And I. In that blog I talked about the lack of identity and the complications that that had entailed.

As I grew into a man

Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression How To Hide Depression
As I grew..

Teenage years are often riddled with angst but I lived in a loveless home, I had accepted that I was adopted and evidence of depression was starting to emerge.

As I reached my 20s I was fully aware that there was a problem and started to seek some form of identification of what it was I was suffering. By the time I reached 30 I knew I was a sufferer. I adapted to my life and came  to accept it. By the time I had reached mid 30s I was fully proficient at hiding it. I had learnt this because depression at this stage was seen as a weakness and there was no room for weakness in any parts of my life at that moment. As a result I had adapted and developed clever ways of hiding it from pretty much everyone around me. Unfortunately, this act stopped me from getting the professional help I needed at the time. In effect I had fooled myself into believing that my depression was not a problem and manageable.

 

Tricks of the trade

My depression went unseen and unrecognised. I was able to conceal my depression so well that I became conditioned to deal with my inner demons on a daily basis. This way my depression was not clearly visible to people who were not aware. By being able to do this I knew I had cracked the code of being able to hide my pains. I was not being deceitful, I was protecting myself and those of whom I love.

I intentionally made efforts to appear happy and upbeat.

Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression How To Hide Depression

The perception that those with depression all have a dreary personality is false. My depression was more than just a mood. It was a way of life of which I had learnt to adapt to. I had learnt to create a happy persona that often required recycling old jokes and actions because I knew they worked at particular times. My depression was my pain and not anyone else’s. I didn’t want to bring anyone else down by exposing my true feelings.

I feared abandonment and rejection.

Depression for me felt like leprosy. I feared being rejected and cast aside. An outsider. Unloved and unclean. I had felt rejection at an early age due to my adoption and this was more deeply ingrained than I had given it credit for.

I felt that if I had let someone in enough to see the depression, they would walk way. As a result, I can see now why I had had a series of failed relationships.  It endorsed my need for secrecy, out of fear of rejection from those of whom I love. There was nothing more painful than to expose the ugliest layer of my personality that I wished to hide even from myself.

I was an expert at deflecting questions.

During my lowest periods I knew how to avoid any unwanted attention. The use of humour was good, but I also used a tactic I called ‘questioning’. I found that people often liked to talk about themselves. From this approach, I would ask an open question that required them to discuss their views and feeling on a subject. By doing this it required them to speak for longer than I needed to, hence I didn’t have to talk or explain.

I had habitual remedies.

My relationship with medication was always a bit ‘on and off’. I took them and then when I felt better, I stopped  (foolish this to do). In-between these periods of medication I used to use activities that offered a routine. This gave me goals to reach by certain times of the day. It was often in the form of music, walks, and so on. If by 5 o’clock for example, I had made it to the time of day for my daily walk, then I was doing ok.

I understood the impact of certain substances.

I have always known that alcohol can be problematic for people with depression. As a result I became tea-total to avoid falling into its grasp. This was further validated by witnessing the effects of alcohol on people around me and ultimately my step mother. I knew that caffeine was an upper and so was sugary foods. As a result, I favoured coffee over tea and could polish off a large amount of sweets quite easily.

I had a very good understanding of life and death.

Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression How To Hide Depression

I have spent most of my life trying to work it all out. Especially the meaning of life. Is it a pursuit of something, or are we to reach certain points in various stages of our lives? As a paramedic, I also witnessed a range of deaths. I quickly learnt which were more favourable ways to die over others. I feel I became an expert in death and its aftermath. As a result, even now whilst I feel ok, I have no fear of death. However, I must admit, following my treatments and medication I have given less time and thought to the later.

I needed to find a purpose.

My goal in life was that I had a purpose. What I was needing to do was to find something that was worthwhile otherwise my life had been pointless. But for me I also needed reassurance that I was moving in the right direction (whatever that is or was). Recognising my depression also gave me a feeling of inadequacy. I felt inadequate compared to the people around me. Everyone was happier than I. Other people were better at their job than I and this compounded my feeling of being a failure even though I was fighting a battle to give my life a purpose. I felt I even failed when my best efforts were in place. As a result I was always trying to compensate in my life for the frailties that I had inside. Even now I am still striving and searching for more to validate my purpose in life.

The meaning of life with depression

Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression How To Hide Depression
It takes one to know one

The reality of my life with depression is that I have been striving to find love and acceptance. This stemmed from trying to be accepted by my adopted family to the need to find my father. But the reality is that everyone strives for this requirement. It’s human nature. My personal advice is to never turn away from a person who seems to be struggling. Love us, especially when it’s difficult.

I once heard a quote from Stephen Fry who stated that

“I hate the fact that I have [depression]….. but I wouldn’t want to live without it because it is a part of me that I have come to accept…”

What I want to say to my friend who I spoke to last night is this. I knew you had depression from the moment I first met you. How? Because you showed all the signs that I had perfected. As I have highlighted, it takes one to know one. Embrace it, it has made you the outstanding man that you are.

Stephen Fry and depression

 

Men Are Idiots – But Not All Idiots Are Men

Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression Men Are Idiots - But Not All Idiots Are Men

Men are simple creatures

I have had this conversation so many times with female friends who have tried to work men out. The answer is simple – we are just not as complicated as women. All we want is the quiet life. Men just like the simple things. We like a routine that we can recognise and plod on with. Men don’t like complicated things that women seem to enjoy. We can be showered and dressed in a matter of minutes whereas women take hours. Women like lots choices which can over complicate things. Men just like ‘yes’ or ‘no’ answers. I can go into a shop and purchase a single item, whereas women can spend all day visiting every shop in the town to buy the first blouse they found 8 hours previously. Women can bitch for hours about other women. Men either ignore them or have a fight and its over with.

Men and women are so different it is amazing that we get along at all. However, this difference is killing men and yet we fail to recognise it. And why is that? It’s because it’s easier not to admit there is a problem than to address the problems head-on.

Middle men

Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression Men Are Idiots - But Not All Idiots Are Men

I don’t know when it happened but men seemed to have lost their way. I have previously mentioned, in earlier blogs, that my father acted in a way expected of his generation. Whereas, my son acts in his. The two are very opposite but they seem to be equally as happy about it. But somehow, my generation have found itself squeezed into the middle. I am 45 and its seems that my generation are stuck between the stiff upper lip, hard and unemotional view of my father and the more liberal open mindedness of my son. So, what do we do? Well it appears that men of my age group just sit there and do nothing because we don’t actually know what to do – and it’s the easier option than making a fuss.

Men are rubbish

My observations have found that men are rubbish at; taking medications and rubbish at admitting any form of medical conditions (especially depression and anxiety – men are not allowed to have depression vis-à-vis to be seen as weak). Furthermore, men are also rubbish at admitting problems at home and even worse at realising that we are victims of domestic abuse.

There are two sides to what I have just said. Firstly, as stated, men fail to either admit or recognise when they are the victims of domestic abuse. But equally, I have met men who also fail to admit when they are the abusers. Both stances are dangerous and toxic.

It is no surprise, therefore, that there is a lack of male refuges or support for men because, it appears, (because of our lack of admittance) that the problem does not exist. I’m telling you now it does exist and it is as real as that experienced by our women folk. When I was planning to escape I initially found no-where local that was willing to take me because I was a male victim of domestic abuse.

Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression Men Are Idiots - But Not All Idiots Are Men
Speak up

Perhaps men need to speak up about the abuse we experience at the hands of a violent partner. We equally need to accept that there is no shame with suffering depression. Yes, it is a mental health problem but I would have no problem admitting to you if I had broken my arm. As a man I have no shame telling you I was a victim of domestic abuse by my female partner. And yes, I have depression and PTSD. However, I would never had admitted that 12 months ago. But I have, and it feels good to share it with you.

Doris Lessing

“I FIND myself increasingly shocked at the unthinking and automatic rubbishing of men which is now so part of our culture that it is hardly even noticed,” declared Doris Lessing, whose novels turned her into a feminist icon in the 1960s, in a speech earlier this year. “Men seem to be so cowed,” she continued, “that they can’t fight back, and it is time they did.”

Male health

According to a recent British government report (Dr Clare, the British psychiatrist 2009), men are more likely than women to commit suicide, suffer from coronary heart disease, have a serious accident or drink too much alcohol. But even though we all know that, we are still willing to sit back and do nothing. If I ever visit my doctor it is only because a woman has told me to go. The only reason I am taking anti-depressants is because a female told me to go. Therefore, the only reason I am still alive is undoubtedly because of a woman (and she knows who she is). I therefore, thank women for being what they are. Perhaps us men need to take a leaf out of their book.

“A man’s got to do what a man’s got to do, but women can do anything.”

Females have become proficient at their art. Along with their developing successes in the work place, women have also won social acceptance for their right to reject work in favour of motherhood. In other words, women can hold the briefcase, or the baby. But at least they can choose.

Men are having to be encouraged and bribed into becoming teachers for very young children. Obviously, this is because men fear being suspected of having paedophile tendencies. Yet there is a rise of women being charged with sexual offences against children. But we still see no problem having female teachers in younger years classrooms.

I won custody of my sons (from a previous relationship) when he was very young. One of the first things that was asked of me was how was I going to manage both working and being a single father? The reality was that I had no choice; I had to do both because that was expected of me as a male. I attended ‘mother’ and toddler groups, only to be told that it was for mother’s only!!!. I’m pleased to see that this has changed and that my son (who is now a father) never faces the prejudice I felt.

Emotions

There is nothing new in the idea that men are conditioned to suppress emotions. Generation after generation of men have been taught not to show their feelings. This was expected of me during my period of growing up. I can never recall my father crying, even at his own father’s funeral. Yet, over the last 3 months I have shed buckets full of tears. I was taught to suppress any feeling or emotions as this ‘gave something of my identity away’ and was, therefore, an element of weakness that as a male was unacceptable.  But I am now questioning this self-sacrifice as I had fallen into an abusive relationship and expected it to be ok. This lack of emotion also led (I would argue) to my long history of depression and ultimately self-doubt.

I want my children to be equal but not the same

As a father, I don’t want either of my children (both son’s and daughter) to feel second class as a parent or partner. Equally, I don’t want them to be weak and to become an abuser or abused.  But I also want them to celebrate their differences. I am proud to be a male and equally proud of my female friends.

How Male Bashing is Killing Our Sons