I’m sure this one is going to cost me something.
A while back, I was talking with a friend/coworker about the fact that I have been dealing with really bad depression for a while, and how it wasn’t something I was used to. I used to live in a constant rage growing up, and that made me feel powerful, in control, strong. Now, though, there are days when it’s hard to stop seeing and putting a knife through my vein.
And during that talk, she mentioned that men often experience depression as Anger, rather than Despair. While that doesn’t make me think that my initial near decade of rage meant I was depressed back then, it did start making me wonder about other men. How often it might be that we might see them being angry and lashing out, and thinking it is about exerting power when it is in fact something else.
Which got me thinking about domestic violence.
See, we all know the story, or at least the stereotype. Man comes home, hard day at work at a dead end job with a shit ton of stress and no hope. He drinks, trying to numb the pain, and flies into rage and starts beating. And then the next day, he’s sorry, legitimately sorry, and he tries to do better, until the next time it happens. And it happens again, and again, always with him in tears, begging for forgiveness, because he can’t help himself.
Until his family leaves him. Or he’s sent to jail, where he drowns in the violence.
It makes me wonder what the suicide rate is among male spousal abusers when they’ve been left behind. Unfortunately, I don’t know of a way to get that data. Still, it would not surprise me if it was rather high.
If I remember my numbers right, men commit suicide at a rate of 4 to 1 compared to women. This largely goes unremarked upon, and few are the resources for men, designed for men, to help with depression. Men are physical animals, and to an extent we are simple creatures. By design or society, we are rarely as good with our words, or talking about what bothers us. In society, a woman can bitch and complain and vent about her problems and it’s okay. But a man can’t, he’s expected to be grateful for all that he has, no matter how terrible it is, no matter how hopeless it is, and to buckle down and man up so he can keep providing for his family…which likely includes a wife telling him what a terrible husband he is for never being there to help her, or not rising up in the world and making something of himself.
Because the default setting for in society men is that we are worthless. We have no inherent value. It is women who bring forth children. It is women who are closer to earth, more wise and sacred and civilizing, than men. Men are the beasts of the field, who only by rising up as high as they can become worth something. A woman, no matter what she looks like, will feel that she should have a man, is entitled to a man, but most men do not feel like they can have a woman unless they have made themselves worthy of her.
It’s not a correct notion, it’s not a polite notion, but I wonder how many of those men who commit domestic abuse are actually just depressed, lashing out like a tiger in a cage, screaming on the inside for someone to help them, often lashing out and harming those they are supposed to protect, because those are the only people they can turn to for help, yet who never seem to be helping them, someone to make it better, someone to stop the pain and the despair and the self loathing that they can’t leave behind because they have to provide for their families…up until they drive drunk into a tree, or a car, or put a gun through their heads, or some other way to end a hopeless, joyless experience, rather than just monsters who get off on it.