The secret lives of Dads.
So many dads keep their inner world hidden from everyone around them, especially the hard stuff that doesn’t make any sense or might make them look weak and not in control. Counsellor Tim O’Leary has worked with many dads and shares with you his thoughts about what can help and harm your mental health.
As Tim says:
“Dealing with the ghosts can be a big undertaking but it’s worth it if you let go of some nasty demons that make you feel shame and guilt. It’s all about freeing you up to feel good about yourself and to enjoy life. At the end of the day, that’s priceless.”
Have a look at the sections below, starting with the tricky areas and finishing with the good stuff!
Ghosts and Demons
Most people, including men, have some ghosts from their past. We think of these ghosts as issues or events that have never really been dealt with, they may even be secrets which have never seen the light of day.
For example, you may feel as though your own father never felt you were good enough or approved of you. That’s one ghost that can create demons such as not feeling good enough or needing to prove yourself even decades later. If you can’t shake the feeling that you still need to prove yourself – it could be a nasty demon that you might be best sharing with someone.
Sometimes the ghost from the past relates to a single event such as a traumatic accident or the loss of a parent. Or a ghost may involve a series of events over a long period of time, for some that can stem from family violence in the home, or a serious illness you had as a child.
In mental health terms, you could safely say that ghosts are the ‘issues’ and demons are the ‘symptoms’. The issues affect your self-esteem and confidence, which over time can become symptoms of depression. Good mental health care means addressing both causes/issues and symptoms.
We all have good and bad days. And on a bad day, your ghosts and demons can have you believing that you are an awful person, or even defective in some way. Naturally this kind of thinking can get in the way of living your life, and potentially affect your relationships and your parenting – because of how you feel and you are also forgetting that you have a lot to offer.
For many men with depression, the demons may be to do with deeply held beliefs that they are defective in some way. With anxiety the demons may take the form of worrying about something that hasn’t happened and may never happen. And if bipolar, the demons are to do with big highs and really nasty lows. These conditions might also require medication to get those demons under control for you to live your life more freely.
Dealing with the ghosts and understanding the underlying issues, can be a big step to take. There are lots of ways to tackle demons, but there’s often one demon standing between most men and good health – the demon of not getting help. And that can stop you from living a better life.
Body-blows, Punctures and Paper cuts
This next part looks at current life events that can have a negative impact on you and your mental health. These are things that lots of men struggle with and they have much bigger impacts depending on how you handle them.