I know I’ve posted twice this week already and it’s only Wednesday, but I read a post about a good cause and wanted to contribute to the cause myself.
I know many of you are familiar with Movember. It’s the movement that has brought you mustachioed men everywhere you look.
But why are they growing their ridiculous porn staches, you ask?
Well, here’s why, as explained by the most excellent host of this Movember awareness event, Becca over at 25tofly.com.
As an official global charity, Movember’s vision is to have an everlasting impact on the face of men’s health. During November each year, Movember is responsible for the sprouting of millions of moustaches on men’s faces around the world. Through the power of the Mo, vital funds and awareness are raised to combat prostate and testicular cancer and mental health challenges.
My own mustache growing ability sucks, and I’m okay with that, but I can offer my own story/opinion about men’s health and hope my readers pass it on. It’s the least I can do.
I like to think I’m a pretty manly man. I do my own thing for the most part, but I know when my own needs have to take a back seat to the needs of my loved ones as well.
As I type this, it’s Tuesday night and I’ve been drinking in my armchair with the dogs unnecessarily. The Blues hockey game was on some obscure channel that I couldn’t find and they eventually lost anyway at some point.
I ran out of my beloved Bud Light Lime and switched to a more flavorful/colorful beer that my wife may or may not be pissed to learn tomorrow is no longer available in the garage fridge. Hey, it’s for a good cause, baby!
Is drinking what makes me a man?
No, of course not. I might have thought that a long time ago, but there are a lot of lady alcoholics to prove that point mistaken.
I’m a man because I have a penis and that’s about it. But to soothe stereotypes, I’ll throw out more reasons I like to think I’m a man.
I can drink a lot of beer before I have to pee, yes. Like a freaky amount.
I am a police officer. I carry a gun to work and sometimes when I’m off duty I carry it around then too. I walk care free down any street or dark alley I want to. I like to pee outside, even in my own backyard. I’ve had to fight men at work in situations where losing isn’t an option for me.
I coach my boy’s soccer and T-ball and like steaks and wings and pick-up trucks. I have three kids with a beautiful wife. See?
That’s manly stuff, right?
It doesn’t matter what sort of man you are, because testicular and prostate cancer as well as mental health issues don’t care what sort of man you are.
Tall or short, gay or straight, you need to get checked out.
My own life includes grandfathers who both died too early because cancer doesn’t care that you were once drafted by the St. Louis Browns like one of my grandpas, or was a firefighter and inducted into the St. Louis Soccer Hall of Fame like my other grandpa. Colon and lung cancer cut their lives short.
I try to take care of myself a little bit, but was never expecting that the demon that might infect my body would infect my brain.
I’ve always been pretty sharp mentally. I got good grades and got along with people everywhere I went. Making friends was easy for me.
I became a police officer in 1998 and enjoyed several care free years as a patrol officer.
I bought a house and a dog and asked the woman I loved to marry me.
She said yes.
We were newlyweds for 10 months when Ace was born, so yeah, we didn’t get a lot of time together as a married couple.
Yeah, she’s my first place prize for sure.
Ace was born in July of 2003 and I started law school in August of 2003. I was a semi-newlywed, a brand new dad and a new law school student when the powers that be at work decided that I could work in a new job for a demanding boss that nobody else wanted to work for, but hey, Don can do it because he can get along with anybody.
All this was coming. Ace was coming in July and my new job would start sometime after that. I knew when law school was going to start as well. My brain had nothing but time to think about all these things and it was starting to lose focus.
One of my own loved ones had begun to take anti-anxiety pills all of a sudden about the same time that I was having trouble even sitting through a dinner in a restaurant with my wife. We would be in a booth and I would suddenly begin to think I was having a goddam panic attack. I’d have to leave and go out to the car for some fresh air. It happened in malls and restaurants and any other place where there were other members of the public. I joked about it being a result of my being in bad shape physically. I was gaining a little bit of weight, but not enough that I was convinced that I was only physically less than par. A part of me knew that I wasn’t right in the head.
Finally, one day, I was riding as a bike cop in the heat and was overtaken by nothing in particular.
I raced to our neighborhood substation and couldn’t even make it inside before I had to tear off my bullet resistant vest and shirt because I was feeling smothered. I was freaking the fuck out for no good reason.
I thought I was having a heart attack or something worse, whatever that could be, when an older officer/friend of mine pulled up. Officers with 29 years on the force in St. Louis have seen enough that their faces rarely indicate that they are upset, but his face told me that he didn’t like what he saw.
I was finally settled down and feeling better, but he told me that I was going to the hospital and that was that. He said I looked too pale, sick, something. Whatever it was, he didn’t like it and he made me go to Barnes Hospital.
Barnes kept me for five fucking days.
I had a baby on the way, so for the sake of my young bride, I let the cardiologist run all the tests he wanted, even the ridiculous vaso vasal thing he wanted to rule out.
The whole time there I kept telling him that I was sick in the head.
“Doc, listen to me. I have a baby coming. I’m starting a new job and law school and I have a new house and wife…I’m just stretched too thin.”
The doc wasn’t convinced, and I didn’t want to believe that was the case either, honestly.
No man wants to think he can’t handle his business, but for a little bit of time, I couldn’t I guess.
The tests were all heart related and they all came back negative. Since I thought I was having a heart attack, I was relieved enough upon leaving that all my symptoms just disappeared.
On follow up visits, the cardiologist finally came to grips with the fact that my heart was fine and that I was actually having a minor mental breakdown.
He prescribed me what I called crazy pills and I took them for a month or two until my baby girl was born and all was better. We got into a routine and my life was good again.
I really think that everything I had going on in my life just got to be too much and my brain said, “enough, Don, enough.” Once Ace was born and we knew what we were doing and that she was okay, all was good.
Hey, I’m a fucking man and I had a spell with mental illness that I needed some help with.
I’m better now.
I’m still a fucking man after the fact, and it’s all good with me.
You need help too? Get it.
Fucking get it. You can still be a man and get help for your problems.
Don’t let anybody tell you otherwise.