Big Boys Don’t Cry

mengedAt work they call him ‘The Boss’. A man’s man: built like a wall – or so we thought.

He seemed alright to me.  Bit quiet, but he was never a big talker – even when we were kids. We’ve been through a lot together – but that’s life. Past is past, mate. Wipe off your lipstick and let’s get another drink.

Twenty years and not a day off. ‘No time to be sick’. Nothing flustered him: angry customers, delayed shipments, the fire last Christmas that nearly put us out of business.  

Even when Marie had her op:

 ‘You alright?’


You think you know someone – and then this. Chatting on the forecourt, same as usual and suddenly he starts crying.  Proper gurning and shaking: never seen anything like it.  The Boss – only not.  Not at all.

I asked him, ‘has something happened? Is it the kids? Marie? Is she sick again?’ No he said, no. There’s nothing. Nothing – but he looks like he’s been punched, like someone sucked all the air out.

We took him home. Put him to bed – like a kid. Marie and me, sat in the kitchen, trying to make sense of it.

‘He’ll be fine’, I said. ‘Just needs a rest’.  I had to say something. But honestly – I don’t know.

She said to me, ‘He gets like this sometimes. Quiet, doesn’t want to see anyone – even the grandkids. I put Lucy on his knee and he nearly pushed her off. ‘Leave it’ he said, ‘I don’t want her near’. It’s been ten months: I told him to see the doctor but he won’t have it.  Says he’s useless, – but when I argue he gets angry and says nothing’s wrong.

Nothing’s wrong.  That’s a joke: He’s not sleeping, he’s not eating and he can’t even look at me.  Just sits there, staring into space.  Has he said anything  to you?’

I shake my head.   I’m his mate, not bloomin’ Oprah.  But looking back, there were little things. Mistakes with orders. Taking breaks on his own. Maybe I should’ve said something: but what? It’s not like he’s broke his leg or had an accident. At least then we could fix it. But head stuff – well, it’s not normal, is it? I don’t know what to do except back off or pretend it’s not happening.

  • Men are around 3 times more likely to kill themselves than women. For a man who feels suicidal, there is nothing more demoralising than to feel that others do not take him seriously. Even if he is not very good at talking about how he is feeling, it is important to ask if you have any suspicion – and to take him seriously.
  • Men get depression 
  • General info
  • helpful sermon looking at the medical and spiritual

1 thought on “Big Boys Don’t Cry

  1. Thanks for this. I’ve just finished ‘Unmasking Male Depression’ by Archibald Hart. I’ve found it excellent and would like to recommend it to men who similarly struggle. He similarly says that men struggle with the stigma and admitting a problem. He also says diagnosis is often missed. His point is women ‘cry out’ depression (with tears), but men act it out and insightfully explains a lot of male behaviour in this way. The stigma is not easy for men, particularly in our churches. Thanks for raising this!

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