I hope I’m not the only one who feels a slight tug in their chest when they hang out with their guy friends. Guys, we can talk sports, exercise, video games or anything pop culture related, but there always seems to be a lull in the conversation after the normal talking points are exhausted. Sometimes, I find that I catch a friend’s words caught in his throat. I can tell there is something bothering him, but the words to explain whatever it is never make it to the surface.
In a study done by the Center for Disease Control published in August 2017, the issue of suicide among high school and college-aged teens shows that men are nearly three times more likely to lose their lives to suicide than women.
I felt those depressive episodes myself throughout my senior year of high school, with the mounting pressures of college applications and high-level classes. Weary days in school turned to nights of procrastination and a vicious cycle of neglecting family, friends and homework. I was constantly in a bad mood, rarely breaking out of my shell without a tremendous effort from myself and from close friends.
I knew I had a strong support group, but I didn’t seek out help. My parents came from conservative homes in a religious country, and the idea of seeking help with my mental health was almost shunned. When my siblings or I felt down and tired, we would be reprimanded. Our aversion to being together as a family was considered an insult to my parents. When in reality, we would feel overwhelmed and simply needed time to recover and relax.
When I got to college, it was the freedom and exposure to explore mental health programs which finally pushed me to seek help. This freedom to talk about how I was feeling, to not onlt a professional but to my friends helped to pull me out of some of those bad moods.
I do my best to talk with my friends about how I might be feeling, whether it’s over my course load or my past relationships. I even made a resolution to try to seek therapy to help with my own anxiety.
These topics are understandably, difficult for guys to discuss or even think too long about. Us guys, we tend to close ourselves off from showing emotions while we’re young, in some cases because of family or our peers. It isn’t a weakness to talk about what you feel, especially if it's been bothering you.
It’s great to have friends you can hang out with, go to the gym or watch a game with. What’s even better is being able to be there for your friends when they need someone to talk to.
The friends we surround ourselves with may not have it as together as we think they do. Guys tend to hold back on personal stories and even traumas that may show a side of themselves they’re uncomfortable revealing to others. It can come from a fear that people may look at us in a negative light. When our guy friends seclude themselves, we don’t question it. We sometimes just assume they’re okay and miss out on being there for them when they are in need of help.
Guys, next time you’re on campus, take a moment to actually say hi and see how your friend is doing. Maybe their day is going great or maybe it isn’t. My only hope is that you make sure they feel that it’s OK to talk about it.
Daniel Gamboa is a UF journalism sophomore. His column appears on Fridays.