In tribute to my dear friend Simon (1956-2017)
It was World Suicide Prevention Day earlier this month, and I was shocked to learn that every 40 seconds, someone loses their life to suicide*. With suicide still being the leading cause of death among 20-49 year old men**.
Much has been written about the general reluctance of men to ‘open up’ or talk about feelings. So, it’s heartening to see that tide start to turn as public figures such as Prince Harry become more open about their own struggles.
As an Osteopath, it’s generally a physical ailment or symptom that brings patients to my clinic. But I’ve long been a believer in the close link between physical, mental and emotional health. And for us to function properly as human beings these need to be in alignment.
Luckily, unlike often overworked and under pressure GPs, I have the privilege to properly explore the background to my patients’ issues. So, we might find out that the origins of the longstanding neck pain coincide with a painful separation or an increase in stress at work. And for men particularly, these emotional stresses and strains are still not something they often talk about.
So why don’t a lot of men talk (and some women!)?
Everyone is different but there are some common reasons why men often retreat behind a wall of silence:
- They consider admitting to a problem or that they need help as a sign of weakness. This feeling can be underlined by society’s inclination towards expressions such as ‘man up’ or ‘grow a pair’
- They worry that it’s less socially acceptable for men to express their feelings. Especially on an ongoing basis.
- They don’t form friendships in the same way as women. Neither in terms of the number of friends they have nor in relation to the type of support they offer each other. This can leave them feeling that they don’t have anyone they can confide in.
Seeking help for the physical
But when emotional issues go unaddressed they can often develop into physical ones. And that’s when men tend to act. The most common physical manifestations of emotional include:
- headaches, backache or other aches and pains
- grinding of teeth, especially at night
- the ability to heal from physical injury – from simple to complicated. Robin recalls discussing exactly this with a senior Cardiologist:
“He was intrigued why, hypothetically, ten men of the same age and with similar medical histories, would recover from identical major heart surgery in differing ways. With some on the treadmill within a few days and others still wanting to lie in bed weeks later”
Big picture, little picture approach
Taking the time to work through a full history of how and when the problem started and what else might have been happening in a patient’s life, especially preceding the onset of symptoms, can be illuminating. And, over the years, my holistic approach has developed so I now have a range of additional tools at my disposal to help determine and then treat the cause of a patient’s symptoms:
- Naturopathy – based on the idea that the human body knows best how to heal itself naturally. We work with patients to identify factors that may be undermining their health and develop an individual plan to tackle problem areas.
- Neuro linguistic programming (NLP) – enabling us to change our thought habits to enable us to alter how we feel.
- Autogenic training – a potent relaxation therapy with powerful abilities in restoring, healing and developing mind and body. We teach patients a set of lifelong skills and exercises to use whenever and wherever they want.
- Western Acupuncture – fine needles target trigger points associated with certain ailments to help with pain relief and so on.
- Low Level Laser Therapy (or LLLT) – low power or ‘cold’ laser light is used on problem areas to alter cellular function, improve outcomes and speed up the body’s natural healing process.
I have two clinics – one in East Finchley and a second in Central London. So, if you, or someone you know, is struggling with longstanding physical issues and might benefit from a holistic approach that aims to get to the source of the problem then do book an appointment. Either by calling 0208 815 0979 or by clicking here.