Of Black Dogs and hairy lips

So the month of November is nearly upon us and for the last few years this has evolved into Movember, a UK based event whereby men grow moustaches in order to highlight and fundraise around issues concerning men’s health. As a serious academic sort of person with a deep mistrust of men with moustaches, I have held aloof from such silliness, but this year I thought ‘why not?’. I am therefore embarking on the cultivation of some unsightly facial hair and will almost certainly be encouraged to make it look ridiculous (some mention of colouring occurred just now). It is also a lot less demanding than running marathons, parachute jumping and other associated tomfoolery. Physical activity just isn’t my thing. Sitting still just growing hair has always been one of my skills.

The cause I will be raising money for over the next month is the mental health charity Mind. This is not of course male specific in its’ activities, but it is pretty well-established that men are far more likely to commit suicide and far less likely to discuss their mental health issues and seek help. Over the years I have seen many friends and family members grappling with depression and in the last year or so have seen three tragic suicides in our local university and village community. 

One of the biggest problems associated with depression and other mental health problems is the stigma they carry. Very few people will stand up, stick their head above the parapet and say that they have a problem, especially if they are a man. It is one of the big taboos. Well, I myself have suffered from depression for a few years now (shock horror! taboo broken! disability disclosed!). My black dog visits me on a regular basis and demands that I give it attention. I am able to cope with this (take it for a walk, but never feed it) and manage my problems to the extent that I can get on with a normal life, be productive, make a good contribution to the world and just occasionally be insufferably grumpy. At worst I get the desperate need to run away to somewhere remote to start a new life, and thankfully never feel the need to hurt myself or physically withdraw from the world. Not everyone is quite so fortunate and so my ridiculous hairy lip will be grown for their benefit.

If you would like to donate to a great cause, please visit my fundraising page at Just Giving.

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