Last year, the dads at Tŷ Hafan decided to do Movember to show our support and help address issues like men’s health. As a group we feel it is extremely important to address these issues as male suicide rates are at an alarming rate, with suicide continuing to be the biggest killer of males under 45 in the UK, with three in four of all suicides being male. As a group of dads who face extremely tough times, and either the prospect of losing a child or the reality of having lost a child, we know first hand how hard life can be. With the historical pressure of ‘men’ being the strong one and the protector/provider, this only adds to the pressures society places on males.
Every husband/dad feels responsible for their partners and children, providing for them and giving them the best possible future. When one of your children is severely disabled or has a life-limiting condition and requires 24 hour care, there is no room for the dad's needs as we kick into a protector mode.
We know first hand how important it is to talk to others and to not allow things to ‘bottle up’ inside you, so we urge anyone out there who is struggling to speak out and know that help is out there. We have all been in situations when we felt the need to speak up but have struggled to have the confidence to do so, resulting in negative consequences. We are not afraid to say that some of us have turned to alcohol, become distant from loved ones, gone off on our own and had breakdowns and even become aggressive as we have struggled with our emotions and inner turmoil. Feeling isolated and alone is a horrible place to be and somewhere no one should be.
If we could send a message to other men, it would be don’t be afraid to talk, take your time and find a right time for you, where you feel comfortable in talking. Some of us have had the darkest of thoughts gradually creep into our minds and that can get very dangerous, so just have some patience and do not beat yourself up. Just let the bad days roll and, eventually, the good will come and just stay strong. Do not allow your today destroy your coming days.
Life for many of us is not getting any easier and we know that hard times are still to come, but acknowledging our own problems has helped us to cope to be able to continue to support our families as best we can. Remember that it is ok to talk and not a sign of weakness. Opening up and talking is the exact opposite of weakness. It takes real strength and courage to open up and say that you need to talk and need support. Even if you do not feel like you are right now, know you are strong enough to face it all. Remember that courage will allow you to stand and speak, but also courage is what it takes to sit down and listen.