My mother once slammed her foot in a car door. X-rays revealed no broken bones, but it felt like raw hamburger on the top of her foot. It was terrible. She got crutches. Finally, Dad got her a wheel chair. Days went by and she wasn't getting better. Finally, she made an appointment with an orthopedic specialist. He was not unsympathetic, but he looked at her and simply told her that there was only one thing she could do to make her foot better, and that was to get up and walk on it. Her foot was awfully sore, and this was terribly painful---but it worked. I wonder how many of our hang-ups, "disorders", past-abuse stories, and psychological baggage would get better, too, if we just decided to get over it, to play hurt if necessary, and to put as much energy into overcoming obstacles as we put into using them for excuses.

I just got off the phone with a friend tonight who is in the process of giving up a good career because he is too "disabled" to continue. So what's the nature of his disability? He explained that he doesn't handle stress very well, and that this disorder makes it so he has physical symptoms when he's really not sick when he's in stressful situations. This is a strong, intelligent young man with a wife and young son.

So my immediate question is, why aren't the shrinks and doctors helping him learn to deal with stress and cope with imaginary illnesses rather than helping him scrap a career and chaining him with a disability-label that will undermine his sense of self-reliance for the rest of his life? Well, they said they could help---but it could take up to fifteen years of therapy, plus major doses of psychotropic medication. Also, they told him he might have to go to his family doctor every two weeks for a battery of tests---since you never can be sure when those symptoms are "for real" and it's better to be safe than sorry. I wish to God I could say I'm making this up, but ever word I'm saying is true.

Then there was the guy on the Internet who said he was having major problems on his job. He hates his job because he is "not a people person" and he "doesn't multi-task" well. The customers are grumpy, and it causes him major stress. Plus, he let me know that he was abused as a child (he's 40), so he's a very sensitive, high-strung nervous person. His job requires him to drive some machinery (he works at Lowes), which is such a bad idea for safety reasons, since he's so nervous and high-strung. On top of this, the job is low-paying, but jobs are scarce where he lives, and he has a bad work record.

I found out that he's only been on this job for one month! I told him that this job might be an opportunity for him to grow---to learn some inner-control, to develop some people skills, and to show some faithfulness and determination. His response? He let me know that what I said was going to cause him severe depression. He cut off the conversation.

Finally, a student asked me for a recommendation to the alternative education program. The alternative ed. program is supposed to be there for students whose circumstances don't allow them to be successful at school. Perhaps a bread-winning parent has become disabled and the kid has to work. Possibly the kid has to live on his own due to a dysfunctional homelife. Well, this boy doesn't fit into any of those categories. He simply chooses not to do his work, and doesn't mind flunking his classes. He's a bright boy who is more than capable of doing his school work, all except for one major problem---he doesn't feel like it. He explained to me that he doesn't LIKE having to listen and be told what to do. (Oh, my breaking heart....) The notion that he should persevere and push himself to do his school work anyway, and that some things are more important than how he feels has apparently never entered his mind.

I'm not unsympathetic, and I'm not hard-hearted, but what ever happened to the concept of manning up? When did men start worrying more about how they FELT that about pushing themselves to do what was BEST? I've heard so much excuse mongering, self-pampering, and psycho-babble "I'm-off-the-hook" talk lately than I'm wondering if we don't need to trade some of this "therapy" in for a good kick in the pants. What ever happened to guys standing on their own two feet, even if it meant pulling themselves up by the bootstraps? Whatever happened to growth through adversity, to not letting one's past dictate one's future, and to using obstacles as stepping stones rather than excuses? The noble ideas embodied in those remarks aren't mere clichés or hackneyed aphorisms---they're the essence of being a man.

Who wussified the guys in our society with psycho-babble excuses? Who told our young men that life was supposed to be free of challenges? Where did we get the notion that we shouldn't have to cope with stress, or that if things didn't come easy, then we didn't have to try? ALL of us have weaknesses, obstacles, and bad-breaks to overcome. And which of us doesn't have to learn to overide his feelings? When we get to the point in society where men can't cope with life and take care of themselves and their families unless they feel good and have nothing to overcome, then we have truly become a nation of pansies. Manhood anybody?

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Comment by Grant Hinner on December 27, 2009 at 2:17am
I understand everybody is different and that there are always legitimate reasons (not excuses). All that I can tell is from personal experience. I have a friend who has/had depression and is still going strong and is still touring and is in the process of making his 2nd solo album.

Another mate (and a mentor) who grew up in a part of Sydney where sex drugs and rock and roll were the norm. He has lost plenty of friends to hard drugs. Been a part of a reasonably violent punk surf scene. And is the kindest and down to earth, straight-talkin bloke I know.

And I've had OCD since I was about the age of 15 (23 now) and I've never let that stop me. Granted, I didnt know what it was and why I was slightly different until I was 18/19 but whatever. I have completed a diploma, have 1 year left in my degree, am in a graduate position with a firm in my field, have had numerous (woo! haha) girlfirends, a great circle of mates (we've all been friends for over 10 years now - which I dont know about america but because of the extensive schooling system here in urban Australia is pretty unique).

So yeah, I would say from what I have seen on the surface in this thread, I would say there is a lot of people that just, as plenty a brash aussie male would put it, "need to man the f#ck up!".

ps - sorry if my grammar and spelling is out! Tis xmas and I was surfing all morning in some sizey surf so my brain is a bit fried ;)
Comment by Nick Kroton on December 19, 2009 at 5:42pm
Q:Who wussified the guys in our society with psycho-babble excuses?
A:The shrinks, at the request of the drug companies. Go through a couple pharma companies' annual reports sometime and see what kind of drugs are delivering the most profit. The lion's share is heart medicine and antidepressants.

Q:Who told our young men that life was supposed to be free of challenges?
A: The media. Our culture now consists of quick fixes and instant gratification. We are exposed to so many advertisers promising that complete life satisfaction is to be had as long as we keep up with the Joneses, and modern mythology celebrates victimhood. After all, if one is a victim, he must be innocent of wrong doing. The successful man either got their through accident of birth or by oppressing others.

However, we all have our weaknesses, and just being told to "man up" about it helps no one. My current thinking is that setting a good example is the best way to help. Pointing fingers makes people feel resistant and defensive, but people are generally attracted to someone trying to do something good. So, look in the mirror and ask what are you doing to improve yourself? What inspires you? It's easy to complain about others, but much more effective to reach people through compassion.
Comment by Sir on December 15, 2009 at 6:23am
I had enough purely emotional difficulty in life (10+ years of clinical depression) that I can't dismiss or deride people with such concerns. Also I had a former friend who killed himself last year after a couple of decades of bipolar.

While I was clinically depressed, I worked 4 years, then got a PhD, and then worked 3 more years in the job I'm still in. (It was the depression that ended, not the job!) So I'm also sympathetic to "get 'er done."

I don't know how to convince those who prefer to be disabled when they aren't really. If charity were done by individuals deciding where their money should go, rather than by faceless bureaucrats decided where other people's money should go . . . there'd still be abuse of the generosity of others. But less. People stop wanting to give when they see their money is doing no good, or doing actual harm. In such a case there'd be a purely practical reason for not unnecessarily embracing "disabled": the need to pay the bills.

That's what I would rely on to prevent abuse of charity. But for now it apparently doesn't work. And for those who are underemployed... dunno. I have a friend who can't hold down a job because he always explodes at coworkers eventually. Another (the suicide) who went from job to job to job because he couldn't stand them.
Comment by Jesse Frigo on December 15, 2009 at 4:06am
I'm pretty sure those things went away with the concept of being thin by eating well and working hard.

People are lazy by nature, some more so than others, and many would like nothing more than a magic pill that will make their dreams come true- a winning lottery ticket, liposuction and plastic surgery, and the answers to all the hard questions all rolled up into one.

I guess I can sympathize with your first friend- it is better to be healthy than to kill yourself for your job. When I get stressed my hands can sometimes break out in a rash. I first got this a number of years ago when I was pretty young and felt a lot of pressure from work. I learned my job well enough that it didn't last very long, but I can understand. I wouldn't call that a disability though, unless it was PTSD or related. I would consider it as a valid reason to change careers, or jobs at the very least.

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