Taraki x Movember: Reflection 14

Taraki x Movember: Reflection 14
Loneliness and Masculinity

It’s month 18 in our SCC project and things are going really well. Last week we finished the practical delivery of sessions to our partner organizations. Both of whom did amazingly well in delivering mock-spaces to us as ‘dummy’ participants. Equally, the logistical side of the project is also going well with evaluation and the publication of our peer reviewed paper. To commemorate the ending of this period, we’re having a celebration dinner with our partner organizations to honor the completion of the course by the attendees. Something which we’re all really looking forward to.

Things are well, things have been well at work for quite some time, which is an great blessing. Which is why, I feel a sense of guilt and sadness in admitting that I don’t feel these emotions in the fullest sense because I’ve personally been struggling with my mental health this winter. Since late last year there’s been a lot going in my personal life such as moving houses (which was quite rushed), unexpected family news and general winter blues - all of which is compounded by a sense of loneliness.

Loneliness is an emotion I’ve not experienced in a very long time. A big reason why I’ve not experienced loneliness personally is because I’ve always lived in shared family households. For example, in the pandemic I was living with my partner and her parents. Prior to that, I lived with my family. Based on my lived experience, detaching from your family household to go live alone still isn’t that common in South Asian communities, even for men, unless we get married. In this context I’ve rarely ever spent sustained periods alone, let alone in a mentally challenging period.

While experiencing loneliness is hard enough, for me, it became harder as I don’t have the emotional and communication skills in being able to openly reach out and ask for help, especially as someone socialized as a man. Generally speaking the act of reaching out and asking for help isn’t that common amongst men, as it evokes feelings of shame, failure and vulnerability. All of which can lead to life long challenges such as increased suicide rates.

This is true for even someone like me who leads such a big project in tackling loneliness amongst Punjabi men. There have been some very important realizations for me this winter such as recognizing how much more I need to develop my emotional and communication capacity to ensure that I’m supported in the future. And while the realizations this winter haven’t been all rainbows and sunshine, like many of my previous reflections, it’s incredibly important for me to be honest and transparent

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