Last month was all about the women with Breast Cancer Awareness (the corporate world turns Pink for October!) and Domestic Violence Awareness month with the occasional nod to the fact that men and boys are victims of domestic violence and abuse. (Yes, I took a few shots last month over my documented, supported and substantiated claim that men and women are targets of domestic violence in roughly equal numbers. My detractors of course, could not be bothered to provide me with anything other than frantic claims of “DAVID this is not true at all – and dangerous for you to spread this – the stats are nowhere near equal – it smacks of yet another attempt at minimizing women’s issues…”
When I provided my critic with a report that substantiates my position, directing them to literally the page and paragraph of the Centers for Disease Control National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Report, I was told that “this smacks to me of a total smear job of spin against women.”
When I pointed out that it was the CDC – you know the U.S. Government – I got back, “Yes – it’s old and based on much older data and incomplete and slanted.”
I asked for them to “… point me towards a more recent, more accurate, more complete and less slanted study/report by an equally reliable resource?” The response was “Your’s [sic] is the worst most slanted check any others – I have been really busy and will get to this later,,but honestly David- who are you kidding with this crap?”
I’m still waiting for *ANY* other credible report, but in reality I’m moving on, because it’s MOVEMBER!
Yep that month of the year when men across the globe have an excuse to not shave their upper lip. To put a caterpillar on their face, and to do it all with the intention of increasing awareness of men’s issues like prostate and testicular cancer, suicide prevention and mental health.
I’ve been a longtime proponent for a Santa Monica Men’s Commission, which we all know is going nowhere with this city council and its current composition. My application to the Commission on the Status of Women is on hold, as is the Commission last time I checked (supposedly there’s an upcoming Council Agenda Item regarding the status of all commissions – but I can’t get an answer on what’s happening there. Let alone the future feasibility of a Diversity commission that I’ve ALSO asked for and offered to be on – which is probably also going nowhere.)
Movember started out as a movement by two Aussies in 2003 who enrolled 28 other men to grow a mustache and has grown into a global movement with over 6,000,000 participants, 1,250 men’s health related projects and last year raised over $16 million dollars in the U.S. alone, and almost $100 million globally,which was used for funding inventions, outreach and services.
My personal connection to this movement is that I have lost friends to suicide. It’s a devastating event in one’s life that creates unanswerable questions, personal guilt and hurt. The grief of losing a friend or family member to suicide seems to be a more potent kind to me. I’ve lost family and friends to natural and unnatural causes. I know men who fought, or are fighting, prostate cancer. Most men will die with it, not from it. But some do.
The men though that die by suicide, those sting more than the others for me. I never got to say goodbye. I never got to reach out and help. They never let me, or anyone, know that they were in pain. They didn’t call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 800-273-8255.
We lose a lot of men to suicide every day. Veterans take their own lives each day by the score. Men in their 50s are at an increased risk of suicide due to several factors like: midlife crisis, drop in testosterone that causes depression, homelessness, unemployment, substance abuse trying to self-medicate over the above reasons.
I’m self-aware enough to know that I need to speak to my doctor and be brutally honest with him about what’s going on. I had my testosterone checked, so far I’m in the normal range. I know that I need to have male friends that I can share with, and that I have to create an environment that allows them to share with me.
This past week I was working with a young man who was in crisis. I could see the hurt on his face, the unsaid shame rose from him like bad cologne. I made it okay for him to share with me what his fears, hurts and shame were. At one point we were both crying and I can say that he left my office a bit lighter, a bit more relieved and with a new safe place for him to share his emotions. He was bottling them up, like so many men do. They were starting to come out sideways. He was being angry and short with his partner but she didn’t know why, and neither did he. By the end of our session, he was calmer and ready to talk to her.
That’s the power of one man talking to another. Lives are saved. Mental health is restored and relationships are healed. This is why this Movember, I’ll be growing something on my upper lip. Could be a Rhett, might be a Magnum, maybe I’ll go Handlebar.
No matter what though. I’ll be doing it for the men I know and love, and the ones I’ve not met yet who need to know it’s okay to talk about their mental health, prostates and testicles. Because together we can reduce the numbers of men who die by suicide and cancer.
David Pisarra is a Los Angeles Divorce and Child Custody Lawyer specializing in Father’s and Men’s Rights with the Santa Monica firm of Pisarra & Grist. He welcomes your questions and comments. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 310/664-9969. You can follow him on Twitter @davidpisarra