Anyone who has looked at the internet recently, or that service’s remote ancestor, the newspaper, cannot have failed to have noticed a regular and strident call to action.
That men must, without delay, “open up” about their emotional shortcomings.
Men, often depicted in such posts as having a ball of scribble above their heads, need to start shifting the decades-old fatberg of despair and unhappiness that is blocking their emotional sewer system as soon as possible.
If not, then all sorts of mess will ensue, that someone else will have to clean up.
The suggested solutions to the various forms of unhappiness preventing men from reaching their potential are many and varied.
The talking cure, taking to the great outdoors, a fresh approach to diet, star jumps – and no one path meets all needs.
However, before the lycra can be bought, the vegetables fed into the Nutribullet and the search for a therapist who can stay awake during your backstory can begin, it’s important to understand which bucket your condition falls into.
So ask yourself, which are you – stressed, depressed or anxious?
And if you must be one, which is preferable?
Here’s what the experts say:
Stress is inevitable to an extent – it’s the body’s response to pressure situations.
At times, all that adrenaline and cortisol help focus the mind’s search for a solution, so stress isn’t entirely negative.
(But some people think cortisol – “the stress hormone” – is awful).
What you need to know is that stress has a trigger – it’s the reaction to something dismal that has happened to you and it is at least partly rational to feel that pressure.
Anxiety, however, often has no explanation.
It is a generalised sensation of doom and fear that is irrational, illogical and – from the body’s own book of black humour – it is possible to feel anxious about anxiety itself.
Because it is not fashionable for men to admit to being afraid of anything, they often mislabel their predicament as being “stressed out”, as opposed to the significantly less masculine “shit scared.”
For an easy to follow distinction between anxiety and stress go here.
But because stress is a condition with a specific root, it is much easier to confront and banish.
So if faced with a choice between stress and anxiety, go for stress, every time.
How then, can you self-diagnose between anxiety and depression?
Well, if anxiety is all about fear, pessimism, a sense of vulnerability, a bleak reading of the future, then depression is about loss – of interest, of appetite, of energy, of concentration, of enthusiasm.
And as anyone unlucky enough to have experienced depression in its nastier formats knows, it can go on for an eternity.
Obviously the three members of this vicious little gang have characteristics that overlap.
You can also be tormented by more than one of them at the same time.
So if stress is the best of a bad lot, depression is the worst.
To the suffering, this analysis may seem frivolous, but if you’re one of the new intake of unhappy men inching toward the hideous embarrassment of the “opening up” process, it can’t hurt to try and work out which category you think those pesky feelings have dumped you in.
If you’re one of those guys who prefer to just keep on competing and being THE BEST, then don’t forget – stress is for winners. Buddy.