Let me start by saying, without reservation or hesitation,
Cancer doesn't fight fair, it doesn't discriminate, and the toll it can take is devastating, both emotionally and financially. We've all seen what cancer can do to our families, our friends, and our communities.
The work Movember supports around Testicular and Prostate cancers was enough for me to throw my support behind them several years ago. But their most recent endeavors are what made me realize I was part of this, for better or worse.
My journey with mental health started in college.
I came from a very small town, and did very well in high school. When I made the jump to my local university, I didn't expect much to change. Let's face it: I still had the same friends, I had the same job, I had the same community.
What I didn't have was a clue.
I got by in High School fairly effortlessly. When it came time for my university courses, I was expecting to get by on my natural intelligence and the lessons I had learned in High School. And yes, that worked...for a while.
When I really started losing control was in my second year. I lost the motivation to go to my classes and gained an affection for long nights coupled with drinks and revelry. I don't know if you know this, but grades are somewhat important to being allowed to STAY enrolled, and before too long, the university politely asked me to leave.
I had failed.
My parents were both teachers, so failing out of school was a complete shock to the system for everyone involved, and I started spiraling downward. I drank more, slept more, and shut out the people around me. Depression sank in and I allowed myself to start contemplating ideas I never would have otherwise considered. I needed help.
Through the gentle prodding (he would call it "tough love") of my best friend, I sought out help I desperately needed. For me, treatment was as simple as some mood elevators, someone to listen, and a dedication to taking control of my life.
I was one of the lucky ones. I got out alive.
Depression, like cancer, holds no prejudices. It's very much an equal opportunity destroyer. The high-profile suicides of people like Chris Cornell, Robin Williams, and Chester Bennington prove that fame and money doesn't make anything any easier for folks dealing with depression.
3 of every 4 suicides are men.
It's a sobering statistic, and one we need to talk about. How many lives could we save if we just reached out a hand? How many Facebook friends could use a gentle "hello," a quick conversation, or an invite for a delicious pint?
Maybe, just maybe, if we started talking about it, we could make a difference.
That's where Movember can help
The research they fund will help reduce the number of men dying from suicide by 25% by 2030. You can help by donating right here on this page, or by reaching out to a friend or family member in need.
I'm not naive enough to think that jumping on a motorcycle and riding some back roads for BBQ can save the world. But maybe...it can help save someone.
I've lost too many friends and family members to stay silent. I've watched too many families be broken by a disease that can be treated. I've sat and done nothing for way too long.
Thank you for donating. But moreso, thank you for making a commitment to be there for the men in your life when they need it. The strong, silent type has had it's time.