What’s on up there?

Ring Ring.

This was his first call of the day, which inevitably woke him up from the loop he was stuck in. Glancing towards the clock which was laying on the right side of his table, it read just after 11am. Yet another day was passing without him actually talking to anyone in the office. Not as in someone initiating small talk as that happened regularly. Every now and then, someone would just approach him out of nowhere and say something like:

“Hey Tom, how was your weekend? Bet you had a banger!”

“Yo Tom, what’s the plan for the weekend Mr ‘Nice Guy’?”

“Tommy Tom, you look like you had one hell of a weekend!”

Having been at the company for over 5 years, he knew that the only response necessary for that conversation was an “I know right” followed with a quick smirk, before pretending to search for something on the table, looking ‘busy’ in the process. He sometimes wished that he could actually just not go with the usual flow and tell them the truth. He wished he could just say,

“No, guy who looks like the bosses’ son, I did not have a great weekend. Matter of fact, I have not had a good week or day in the longest. I spent my weekend like each one for the past three years, locked in my room, staring at the walls, scrolling through social media keeping up with what people were doing. And no, Johnny, I did not have a woman over. In fact, I haven’t took anyone home since the day my wife left me when I technically sold my soul to this greedy, ignorant, disgusting cooperation for the twenty year old in her poetry class.”

But the truth was that, even if he said that, nothing would change. He would still go back home, to the same dark apartment, all alone, have his dinner all alone, go to bed at 3am looking up towards his ceiling, with no hope for the world or a reason to live. Sometimes, before he actually would catch a break with sleep, he wished that he could just ‘go’ in his sleep. He was however somewhat grateful for his job. He found it just as he was about to quit trying after several years of no luck. The office had begun as a form of an escape from what he was going through; a temporary fix.

“After a bit I swear I am leaving,” he told himself as he signed on the dotted lines of the contract.

The job was not that bad at all though, with great wages and an even better pension scheme. The problem was not with the money, because even though he woke up in a massive rooftop apartment, with the car he had longed for, he was still not happy. Material possession did not move him as he thought it would have in the beginning.

Another Monday had finally arrived, after his darkest weekend ever and a letter laid on the counter by the entrance.

‘Dear Florence,’ the letter began.

‘I am sorry to have to do this to you. I know it would probably be you to notice this as you are here every Monday at 12 noon. Always cleaning even the rooms I don’t pay you for and making sure that dinner is prepared for me every Monday and this has always been one of the things I looked forward to every week. Mondays were not that bad for me, as I knew Florence would be there for me. Now, since I care about you so much. My advice would be for you not to walk towards my bedroom, to live the house and call the police. Because what is in the room, is something I don’t want you to see. Please tell my mother that I couldn’t do it no more and the fact that she left me, did not help. She stay…’

Every year, we lose thousands of people to suicide. It can be our loved one, maybe the guy who sells you nachos by the corner, maybe the lady who made your sandwich last week or maybe you do not know them but it is still happening. According to Samaritans, “In the UK, men are three times as likely to die by suicide than women.” This statistic does not get better internationally as men are twice as likely to commit suicide than females. Suicide remains the most common cause of death for men aged 20-49 in the UK and that is an alarming figure.

As a man, I know it is harder to talk about your mental health and what is going on up there. I have noticed that it becomes harder as a guy to talk about what is going on in your mind or how you are feeling, especially when people expect men to be ‘tough’, ‘no hurt’, ’emotionless creatures’ and portray talking about your mental psychic seem as if it is something wrong to do. George E Murphy wrote that, “Men value independence and decisiveness, and they regard acknowledging a need for help as weakness and avoid it.” The stigma in men talking about their issues is also quite alarming especially with the increase in the number of suicides recently. With an increase of 23.7% amongst under 25s in 2018 in UK leading to about 730 deaths in 2018, this is no time to ‘shy’ away from talking about mental health issues.

A survey by Time To Change has shown that around 1 in 3 people in the East of England said they would put off speaking t a friend who was struggling with their mental health to avoid a ‘awkward conversation’. Now the questions I am going to leave you with is: “How would you feel if that conversation you avoided could have saved a life?” Check on your friends, talk to someone if you need help, don’t shy away from checking on or getting checked on.

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