I have little patience for man-centric portmanteaus — words like manscaping or bromance. I find them condescending, as if the only way men will take interest in something new is if it’s explicitly about them. Too often, it’s a lazy way of marketing. This is part of the reason I’ve been wary of Movember.
The other reason I resisted the pull of Movember, wherein men raise money and awareness for prostate cancer by growing moustaches, is because it became so popular that the process overshadowed the purpose. Men would post their semi-ironic soup strainers on social media, and shout Movember without raising any money.
But, I’m here to repent (at least when it comes to Movember. Silly portmanteaus can still go to hell.)
This year, Movember is widening its scope to include mental health issues, specifically for men, which is something that’s very important to me. It’s a cause where awareness isn’t just buzzword — awareness is a huge part of the solution. My lack of empathy doesn’t make me proud, but it’s a sad fact that it’s easier to get behind a cause when it effects you personally.
Recently, I was diagnosed with ADHD — which, granted, does not carry the same stigma as the other mental health issues that Movember is talking about, like depression and anxiety. But, like those other invisible conditions, an inability to focus seems like something a man should be able to take care of on his own. Just exercise more discipline. Just work harder. Just be happier. Don’t worry so much. Be a man, dammit.
Because the pharmaceutical solution to ADHD is so easy to abuse, especially by people without the condition, getting diagnosed is a lengthy and expensive process. Going through it reminded me how hard it can be for men to speak up about problems that aren’t easily seen. Somewhere in the communication between my family doctor and the clinic responsible for diagnosing me, I fell through the cracks, not able to get any answers from either side. There were plenty of follow ups to previous follow ups. Interesting fact: men don’t typically love having to admit weakness over and over. It’s easier just to ignore the problem.
So, while I’m still lodged somewhere in the cracks of the mental health system, I’m supporting Movember because if it can help other men to feel comfortable speaking up about difficult issues — especially issues that can, and tragically often do, lead to suicide (and not just blown deadlines or a severe distaste for meetings)— than it’s saving lives. And, if they find a cure for prostate cancer while they’re at it, that’s probably not a bad thing, either. I’m still not growing a moustache though.