Strong, muscular, tall, macho, suave - we wouldn't blame you if you thought we were describing a man. The image associated with men has always inclined towards the physical aspect of the balance rather than the mental or even emotional one. Words like sensitive, compassionate, empathetic, woke have been used rather modestly when it comes to men. A man has been perceived rather unidimensionally for ages now.
To reignite the conversation on International Men's Day and actually understand the nuances of mental health from the horse's mouth, we got in touch with men from various walks of life. It's been commendable to see each of these stars letting us inside their darkest moments and how they overcame them, breaking stereotypes, and proving that it's okay for a man to feel weak and vulnerable.
Here's Amit Sadh opening up in a tell-all exclusive interview:
The time that we find ourselves in, at present, warrants a much-needed discussion on mental illness, especially among men. Over the years, the dynamic around this subject has changed drastically as more and more people are coming forward to have a dialogue on this topic.
And talking about men who are breaking stereotypes in that regard, Amit Sadh is one such actor who has never shied away from talking about his struggles, especially ones related to his mental health, openly in public.
I didn’t overcome it all in one day - took me 20 years! I just found one thing for sure - this is not the end. Life is a gift. So, the day I understood this, I started living it. I feel blessed and fortunate that I’m on the other side of the white light. Now I have a lot of compassion, love and empathy for people who become weak.
See, we all go through hard times. Everyone fails. We all get disappointed sometimes in ourselves, sometimes in the result of what we do, sometimes with people or relationships. Disappointments will continue, that’s what I've understood in life. But you can’t let it affect you so much that it affects your living, your mental balance or your happiness. Nothing in life is worth taking your happiness.
Your motto in life shouldn’t be big cars, to be rich or to own a beach apartment or go holidaying in Barcelona. Your motto in life should be to be happy, to be at peace. I’m saying this from my experience. The day I made this promise to myself, my life started changing.
2. Is it easy for men to openly discuss their mental health issues in today’s world? Do you think there is a fear of being judged?
I think men are expected to be strong and there is this stupid notion of being an alpha, In fact, we don’t even know what a real alpha means. People perhaps think we are not supposed to have feelings - there’s that stigma attached by society. I think that has to break.
When it comes to friends who we feel need some love or attention, we should give them that. I have learnt one thing in life- that by becoming a society which is kinder, more gentle and accepting, it will instil encouragement and fearlessness in people who are genuinely going through problems, to come forward and talk about their mess and their stress.
Till the time we are going to be a judgemental society, mean and harsh and ruthless to people - jitni bhi baat karna hai kar lo, kuch hone wala nahi hai.
5. What advice or suggestion would you give to people who are trying to cope with mental ailments especially at a time like this, during a pandemic?
What I can say to people who are struggling in life mentally, emotionally, financially, and in companionship is that- everyone is going through it. The percentage may be different, the order may be different but each one of us in this world is struggling.
Most people have learnt to find life, happiness, peace and smile in between these and I hope you can learn too. And I hope and pray to God that whatever your pain is it doesn't last long and for that you should never give up. Don’t give up.
6. There’s a general perception that men should be emotionally strong, they shouldn’t cry. Do you believe in that? What’s your definition of manhood?
It’s all BULLSHIT! I believe in humanhood. Back in the day when civilization was evolving, men and women had certain skill sets which have diminished now. Biologically, a man and a woman have certain skill sets from nature. Men were going to hunt, women were taking care of the children. Hence, women’s peripheral vision improved. Meanwhile, men didn’t communicate as they went hunting. That’s why they became tunnel-visioned.
But we have evolved. We are changing.
We just need to understand that the need of the hour right now is respect and equality. These are basics. First, let’s talk about these then we can talk about other big subjects.
7. If given an opportunity, what would be the one thing that you would like to change in society - in terms of how mental health is usually perceived?
I don’t want to change anything in anyone. I want to keep changing for the good in me and if that inspires people, great. I only know one thing in life - there’s a lot of goodness in the world and the country. It just needs a channel or a pathway to come up.
I believe people want to change, I believe in this beautiful country where people have love and acceptance for each other - my belief is strong.