As part of a series of articles to raise awareness about Movember, contributor Conor Kelly talks about men’s experiences of dealing with mental and physical health issues. If you’ve missed it, you can read the first article here.
For this article, I spoke to Chuckles, an up-and-coming hip-hop artist from Dublin, who talked about how his music career has helped him to understand mental health.
‘’I do believe being able to express myself through my music has helped me to cope with my mental health on multiple occasions. For a long-time I have suffered with my mental health with it leading me towards suicide and self-destruction. Hip-hop [allowed me] to say what is on my mind and take myself away from the situation. There are times where it’s hard to voice exactly how you are feeling but by sharing a song with someone, it can allow the listener to have a glimpse as to what’s in your head and heart,” confessed Chuckles
“I found some artists that can vocalise how you are trapped in your own little world, with no one to know, such as Eminem, Token, Seven Spherez, Tech N9ne, Krizz Kaliko and Prozak. They each have a song that either saved me or enabled me to express myself. Krizz Kaliko’s song Scars ft Tech N9ne has a strong impact on myself. This is a hard question, but as men there is still a stigma about it. For myself it’s not easy to turn to family and friends and say ‘I’m not feeling okay today’. Hence why I took the name Chuckles ‘I’m crackin’ some smiles but ain’t a damn thing funny’. I know I have the support there and they all care about what happens, but I don’t want them to worry about me. My music is a way for me to escape, I slip deep into my writings until the cloud lifts” he added.
“I think the best way to reach out to men who are still stuck with reaching out for help is through music, giving them an outlet they initially didn’t have before, a voice they can relate to and eventually open up to someone before it takes over them. Social media is a great tool when used right, by setting up a group page that allows people to share music and that way they can explore the music that affects others to get them through the day. Another way is to remind those who post the comments during mental health week or during the month of November that it’s not just for likes, that being there for someone all year round, supporting them into getting help and remind them there’s nothing wrong with getting help’’.
Chuckles music is something special. When you listen to his music you can tell he is a passionate, caring and hard-working person. In his song Listen to me, he speaks the truth, he speaks how the innocent and vulnerable people in society are being hurt, he speaks what some of us are afraid to say.
I also spoke to James Byrne who is a good friend but also someone who runs LGBTQ+ community meditation and mindfulness meetups in the heart of Dublin city in the Outhouse community resource center (Address – 105 Capel Street). It is a low-cost service to attend where you can develop and improve your overall mental and spiritual health. They run regularly throughout the year and are an informal relaxed meetup for those looking to get involved in learning to explore their inner self in a caring and safe place. This isn’t the only thing James does, he also runs multiple residential retreats and workshops to help you with all the worries of life.
If you would like to get involved in the meditation and wellbeing programs James organizes, please contact him at 0831759337.
‘’It is crucial to my work as a psychotherapist that mental health is at the very core of my profession. As a therapist my job is to enable my clients to understand their feelings, this can be looking at what makes them feel happy, anxious, depressed and a whole range of other emotions. Through understanding their emotional selves a little better, it can equip [people] to cope in tough situations in life in a more adaptive way. Physical health and mental health are closely related and are something that I would regularly check in with clients especially around diet, exercise and sleep. I encourage clients if they can [spend time] in nature as much as possible.
Today there is a lot of shame surrounding mental health issues we might be experiencing so I think we need to combat the stigmatization. A lot of men I have worked with as a therapist and in my previous career found the biggest obstacle was reaching out and allowing someone into their world. We still have a societal idea that ‘boys don’t cry’. Thankfully this is changing but too slowly. Younger men are starting to become that little bit more open to talking about feelings and reaching out if they have problems, this is fantastic, but we need to support the men of all ages. Provisional figures show there were 352 suicides last year – 282 male and 70 female – or 7.2 per 100,000 of population, according to the 2018 annual report of the National Office for Suicide Prevention. This is our lowest suicide numbers in 20 years! Men continue to account for 80 per cent of all suicides – in line with global trends – and the 45 to 54-year-old age group are at the highest risk. While suicide prevention is important, and we need to continue to reach out to those who are at risk. We need to look towards the contributing factors, the stresses, the depression, the anxiety, addiction… These are less talked about in the media. The simple answer is to start talking, talk to your friends, talk to your family, talk to a counsellor.’’
James does so much for other people but doesn’t do it for fame or fortune. He does it because he cares for others. He once said to me “that no one has an easy life, we all have troubles and that if you reach out for help someone will answer”.
James and Chuckles each speak about their own different stories but I noticed that they share the same experience of being silenced, pushed away. Both of them felt it wasn’t normal to speak up about their mental health because they’re both men. They felt it was wrong. That’s what men feel is appropriate growing up because that is what society and people told them.
Photos by Chuckle and James
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