I saw a programme on TV the other day about one man’s attempt to create an awareness campaign around depression in men. The idea was to try and start some sort of a conversation to encourage those struggling with life to talk about it before they chose another, less reversible pathway.
It coincided with the time that I was doing a course, the lecturer for which had done some work in the area of suicide prevention and he happened to mention one morning that by the end of the day – statistically – Australia would have lost another 8 people to suicide. Every day in this country, eight people decide that they can not go on.
So the programme caught my attention and I watched it, and while (sadly) many of the themes discussed I have seen covered before, there was one part that struck me. As part of the campaign, they wanted to film men, ordinary men, crying to camera.
They spoke to a number of guys who were willing to be filmed and it was extraordinary how these volunteers were able to produce tears, almost on demand. This was pretty much because (as one of them put it), ‘it’s always just below the surface.’
This idea struck me as incredible. That so many people are walking around with tears just below the surface every day of their lives.
This is not people like me. I cry a lot – in fact I arrived at work this morning and my colleague asked if I had a cold because I was sniffling. The truth was that I had been listening to an interview with the singer Michael Buble and got caught up in the sentiment of one of the stories he was telling. That is how easily I cry. On the weekend, I spent some time in tears as I watched two movies about people who kept going despite odds that would have driven others to give up. One of them was a comedy. But I am l lucky enough that crying at real life is not something I feel the need to do very often.
In the Avengers movie, Dr Bruce Banner arrives in the nick of time to help with the battle to save New York. When Captian America suggests that now might be a good time to get angry, he replies, ‘That’s my secret. I’m always angry.’ Just like the men asked to cry to camera, he peels off his calm exterior to reveal the Hulk who has been underneath the whole time. This is in direct contrast to the Bruce Banner of the TV series who only ‘Hulked Out’ when he really lost his temper.
Today I nearly Hulked out at work. Something upset me and as is generally the way with these things, I was upset at the hurt caused to someone I feel responsible for, not at a hurt directed at me. Now several hours later and a number of civil conversations further on with the people involved, I am still pretty upset about what should have been an avoidable situation that was out of my control that has upset two people and which can not be undone.
But I am lucky. Hopefully in a few days tempers (including my own) will have calmed down and I won’t be replaying events in my head wondering if there was something I could have done to avoid it all happening. Some people, though, do not have that luxury tonight and will wake up as angry and upset tomorrow as they have gone to bed tonight.
So for tonight I will thank my lucky stars and spare a thought for those that have to deal with the tears just below the surface every single day and hope that someday in the not too distant future, they will be able to have a day when their inner Hulk does not feel the need to break out.