Men, it’s okay to cry: my autistic perspective

Tonight I watched “A street cat named Bob”. The film is adapted from a book, which is the true story of a heroin addict overcoming homelessness and addiction thanks (in part) to his friendship with a stray cat that he rescued.

The film is very moving and relatable for me as an addict, and I will happily admit that when the journey was over, I sobbed in a way that I have needed to for a long time.

Why do I tell you this?

Men are raised to be emotionless walls of muscle. So often the only intimacy we are allowed is with our spouses/partners. Even then, we are often expected to be invulnerable.

This has created a world where men aged 18-50 are dying by suicide more often than any other cause of death. We need to be allowed to feel our emotions. Denial of our humanity is literally killing us.

As an autistic person, I have never really understood the unwritten social laws that exist. If I want to cry, I will cry. If I want to jump for joy and flap my hands, I will. If I want to tell my friends I love them, you better believe that I do.

Autistic people are so often told that they lack social skills, but I believe being autistic has given me a level of emotional intelligence that so many of my neurotypical peers lacked. Sadly, it made me a target for bullying throughout my life.

Back to the point.

Crying is healthy, it’s good. When we cry, we allow ourselves to feel our emotions. It is a form of catharsis. Crying lets me know if something in my life is good or bad.

How can I grow as a person if I can’t even be vulnerable with myself?

We have just been through what is probably the roughest year of the century so far. The men in our lives need to be able to process that in whatever way is natural and healthy. If that means crying, they should be allowed to cry.

We all need to cry, but for men it has been made into a social taboo. As we enter 2021, let’s normalise men feeling and expressing their emotions in healthy ways.

Published by David Gray-Hammond

David Gray-Hammond is an autistic mental health and addiction advocate living in the South East of England. He is in recovery from addiction and psychosis, as well as other complex mental health conditions. He was diagnosed as autistic seven months after achieving sobriety, and is resolved to share his experiences with the world in the hopes of being the person that he needed when he was younger.

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