Historically, men’s mental health has been neglected and even ignored in favor of telling men and boys to “just be strong and manly.” Although the internet has started bringing more attention to this epidemic, there’s still so much stigma around men expressing their emotions. The truth is, it isn’t healthy, mentally or physically, to push down those emotions for an indefinite amount of time.
As tragic as it may be, it is estimated that over 14 million men in the US experience depressive or anxious thoughts daily, and significantly more men experience at least one depressive episode, estimated at 30.6% of the men in the US. Additionally, despite rates of depression proving higher in women than men, there is a *4x higher rate of suicide in men. These numbers are astonishingly and scarily high; without help and change, they will keep climbing.
*If you or a loved one is experiencing suicidal thoughts, reach out for help immediately. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline can be reached at 988 and is available 24/7.
While just reading some statements may seem like an insignificant action, seeing a famous or influential man who is able to be vulnerable and in touch with his emotions may inspire self-reflection and a feeling of community. It can be so easy to feel alone in how you feel, but you may be surprised to hear that so many celebrities (and even just people in your neighborhood) are experiencing similar feelings and struggles.
Though reading somewhat sad quotes about depression or mental illness when experiencing a low may feel counterintuitive, it can be surprisingly validating when others can put words to your feelings.
The following quotes focus on what depression and general mental struggles feel like on a personal level.
“Mental pain is less dramatic than physical pain, but it is more common and also more hard to bear. The frequent attempt to conceal mental pain increases the burden: It is easier to say ‘My tooth is aching’ than to say ‘My heart is broken.’” -C.S. Lewis
“Every act of life, from the morning toothbrush to the friends at dinner, became an effort. I hated the night when I couldn’t sleep, and I hated the day because it went toward night.” -F. Scott Fitzgerald
“People who have never dealt with depression think it’s just being sad or being in a bad mood. That’s not what depression is for me; it’s falling into a state of grayness and numbness.” -Dan Reynolds
“It was against my principles and all, but I was feeling so depressed I didn’t even think. That’s the whole trouble. When you’re feeling very depressed, you can’t even think.” -JD. Salinger
“I cry a lot. My emotions are very close to my surface. I don’t want to hold anything in so it festers and turns into pus – a pustule of emotion that exploded into a festering cesspool of depression.” -Nicolas Cage
“Well, you know, there’s depression and depression. What I mean by depression in my own case is that depression isn’t just the blues. It’s not just like I have a hangover on the weekend… the girl didn’t show up or something like that. It isn’t that. It’s not really depression; it’s a kind of mental violence which stops you from functioning properly from one moment to the next. You lose something somewhere, and suddenly you’re gripped by a kind of angst of the heart and of the spirit….” -Leonard Cohen
“Depression is like a bruise that never goes away. A bruise in your mind. You just got to be careful not to touch it where it hurts. It’s always there, though.” -Jeffrey Eugenides
“There comes a time when the blankness of the future is just so extreme; it’s like such a black wall of nothingness. Not of bad things like a cave full of monsters, and so, you’re afraid of entering it. It’s just nothingness, the void, emptiness, and it is just horrible. It’s like contemplating a future-less future, and so you just want to step out of it. The monstrosity of being alive overwhelms you.” -Stephen Fry
“I didn’t want to wake up. I was having a much better time asleep. And that’s really sad. It was almost like a reverse nightmare like when you wake up from a nightmare, you’re so relieved. I woke up into a nightmare.” -Ned Vizzini
“Reality is never as bad as a nightmare, as the mental tortures we inflict on ourselves.” -Sammy Davis Jr.
“The hardest thing about depression is that it is addictive. It begins to feel uncomfortable, not to be depressed. You feel guilty for feeling happy.” -Pete Wentz
We are often told that to be strong; you have to hide your emotions or keep them bottled up. However, this is untrue– being emotional does not equate to being weak. In fact, quite the opposite is true.
These quotes show that being vulnerable and in touch with your emotions is actually a sign of strength and the first step to recovery.
“To actually accept that you have an eating disorder or mental health issue is actually a sign of great, great strength. It is not a sign of weakness at all.” -Nigel Owens
“You are not your illness. You have an individual story to tell. You have a name, a history, a personality. Staying yourself is part of the battle.” -Julian Seifter
“Coming back from depression, I identified with Prosper and his melancholy and downcast state. Through the power of imagination, he improves his condition, and so that’s what I did as a composer…We all get depressed from time to time, but the suffering from clinical depression is unimaginable. I guess I’m proof that you can get help and go on.” -Paul Moravec
“Sadness is a super important thing not to be ashamed about but to include in our lives. One of the bigger problems with sadness or depression is there’s so much shame around it. If you have it, you’re a failure. You are felt as being very unattractive.” -Mike Mills
“I knew well enough that one could fracture one’s legs and arms and recover afterward, but I did not know that you could fracture the brain in your head and recover from that too.” -Vincent Van Gogh
“Self-reliance is the key to vigorous life. A man must look inward to find his own answers.” -Robin Williams
“Anything that’s human is mentionable, and anything that is mentionable can be more manageable. When we can talk about our feelings, they become less overwhelming, less upsetting, and less scary.” -Fred Rogers
“Since that day [I opened up about my emotions], it’s just been so much easier to live and so much easier to enjoy life.” -Michael Phelps
“I’ve been in therapy for years. I’m handling my issues head-on, not running from them…I was so scared for so long to say that because society has led me to believe that my anxiety is stupid and shouldn’t be talked about.” -Logic
“I want to encourage anyone suffering from mental health issues to seek the support they need. There’s no shame in it. We all need to ask for help sometimes.” -Harry Kane
“Mental health problems don’t define who you are. They are something you experience. You walk in the rain, and you feel the rain, but, importantly, you are not the rain.” -Matt Haig
“To show weakness, we’re told in sports, is to deserve shame. But showing weakness, addressing your mental health, is strength.” -Mardy Fish
Sometimes everything can feel hopeless, and we might need to hear some positivity in those times of need. Although it may not always feel like it, things will get better, and you can get through this.
These men know what it feels like to be in a bad place, and their quotes might help pick you up.
“To all those like me who over-schedule, over-think, over-work, over-worry and over-everything, please know you’re not alone.” -Ryan Reynolds
“I found that with depression, one of the most important things you could realize is that you’re not alone. You’re not the first to go through it; you’re not going to be the last to go through it.” -Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson
“I keep moving ahead, as always, knowing deep down inside that I am a good person and that I am worthy of a good life.” -Jonathan Harnisch
“I cannot stand the words ‘get over it.’ All of us are under such pressure to put our problems in the past tense. Slow down. Don’t allow others to hurry your healing. It is a process, one that may take years, occasionally, even a lifetime – and that’s okay.” -Beau Taplin
“You, yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe, deserve your love and affection.” -Buddha
“Just keep showing up. Ask for help when you need it. Remember, the voices in your head are just voices. You don’t need to act on them. And be kind to yourself because hard experiences are hard.” -Brad Stulberg
“There is hope, even when your brain tells you there isn’t.” -John Green
“Listen to the people who love you. Believe that they are worth living for even when you don’t believe it. Seek out the memories depression takes away and project them into the future. Be brave; be strong; take your pills. Exercise because it’s good for you, even if every step weighs a thousand pounds. Eat when food itself disgusts you. Reason with yourself when you have lost your reason.” -Andrew Solomon
We’ve said it before, and we’ll say it again: men’s mental health matters. With the prominent stigma around men’s mental health, it’s important to keep in mind that it’s okay to not be okay, and even influential men like the ones quoted in this article know that being vulnerable shows strength.
“There is no health without mental health; mental health is too important to be left to the professionals alone, and mental health is everyone’s business.” -Vikram Patel
“The criterion of mental health is not one of individual adjustment to a given social order, but a universal one, valid for all men, or giving a satisfactory answer to the problem of human existence.” -Erich Fromm
“I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder, and I’m a suicide attempt survivor. Being a black male and dealing with these issues, I always felt like I couldn’t talk to anyone about this stuff. I’m now a therapist to address these issues within my community.” -Rwenshaun Miller
“Anxiety was born in the very same moment as mankind. And since we will never be able to master it, we will have to learn to live with it – just as we have learned to live with storms.” -Paulo Coelho
“Every man has his secret sorrows which the world knows not, and often times we call a man cold when he is only sad.” -Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
“Mental health isn’t just an athlete thing. What you do for a living doesn’t have to define who you are. This is an everyone thing.” -Kevin Love
“Mental health problems do not affect three or four out of every five persons, but one out of one.” -Karl A. Menninger
“I believe the biggest stigma right now, with mental health, is that a lot of men are not talking about it.” -Mauro Ranallo
“Mental health is a sensitive subject amongst a lot of people, but it doesn’t need to be. We need to talk about it more, get rid of the stigma.” -Prince Harry
“Too many Americans who struggle with mental health illnesses are suffering in silence rather than seeking help, and we need to see to it that men and women who would never hesitate to go see a doctor if they had a broken arm or came down with the flu, that they have that same attitude when it comes to their mental health.” -Barack Obama
“Mental health needs a great deal of attention. It’s the final taboo, and it needs to be faced and dealt with.” -Adam Ant
“The problem with the stigma around mental health is really about the stories that we tell ourselves as a society. What is normal? That’s just a story we tell ourselves.” -Matthew Quick
“There is increasing evidence that cultivating positive mental states like kindness and compassion definitely leads to better psychological health and happiness.” -Dalai Lama
“I’m a man and no less of a man for admitting ‘I’m not okay, and for openly talking about the constant struggle and battle I face with myself every single day.” -Joe Plumb
No matter what you’re going through, you deserve to be supported. Hopefully, these quotes could give some comfort, but sometimes just reading quotes isn’t enough. Online therapy can be a great option if you or a loved one is looking for more support. Therapy through BetterHelp can be more affordable than traditional therapy and allows many options through which you can communicate with your therapist from the comfort of your home. Most importantly, remember that it is okay to not be okay, and you are no less of a man for feeling your emotions and being vulnerable.