The 1st of November 2015 was a significant date for New Zealand and myself. It marked the Final of the Rugby World Cup and back to back victories for the All Blacks, the Auckland Marathon, Alex and I moving from Cambridge into an apartment in Hamilton City and it meant I had a shave on a Sunday. Why, you might ask… because November for myself and many other great men out there is better known as Movember.
I’m a massive fan of Movember, not because its a classic way for men to bond over who can grow the best facial hair but what it stands for. Those that know me should be prepared to see me with a pretty embarrassing line of facial hair above my upper lip in the month of November, all for the cause of Men’s health. Prostate and testicular cancers, physical inactivity and mental health are a small aspect of the healthcare spectrum and very deserving recipients of funds raised by Movember, but from a full Men’s health perspective, Movember does so much to break down mental barriers that exist in many men to actually take an internal look, look after themselves and better themselves
I am an Optometrist and I meet many different people from all walks of life. I have to say, the male patients are often a source of frustration within my work. The “she’ll be right” attitude and ignorant bliss approach to health often baffles me and leaves me shaking my head. It has been mentioned many times that men are pretty useless with taking care of themselves, and is probably the main factor why we have a lesser life expectancy than our female companions.
In my last blog Matua– I spoke about the movie My Own Man. Whilst on the surface the movie addresses masculinity (or a lack thereof), it also highlights the inability and struggle men have to discuss personal downfalls due to our macho, egotistical and alpha male tendencies. Male specimen don’t favour showing weakness to fellow men. I hope that some of my work in educating my patients goes a long way to benefiting their overall well-being and attitudes to their health.
I am a dead keen hunter and love learning more about the sport. Hunters Club on Sky TV are getting behind Movember this month. It’s great to see this passionate group of young men reaching out to members of a traditionally “tough” group of the community and highlighting the need to take care of your health. The Hunters Club do not let traditional barriers get in the way of spreading such an important message.
Prior to Movember, Hunters Club posted to their Facebook a story of an Australian surfer struggling with bipolar disorder. This heart warming story reminds us of the need, as men, to embrace our feelings and not be afraid of being labelled soft or a ‘wus’, and to get help to deal with things that are going on in our lives. Grant Trebilco has used his experiences in dealing with bipolar disorder to help others and create a supportive community through surfing. One Wave’s bright and bashful get togethers help promote awareness of mental issues and invites discussion and acceptance rather than isolation and ignorance.
We’ve all seen the Sir John Kirwin ads for depression.org. One of the key things Sir JK speaks about is staying active. This Movember, as an alternative of growing a Mo, they have introduced the Move Challenge. This also gives an opportunity for Mo-sistas to get involved and support MOVEmber, seeing as they cannot grow a Mo.
An awesome article about one of my favourite DJs, Jay Reeve, an avid supporter of Movember, speaks about what it is about Movember that inspires him to lead the cause. Tika Training even gets a mention (who I spoke about in Matua part 1). Jay’s wife, Anna, despite not enjoying the slug, is very supportive of Jay and his dedication to the cause, possibly made even more relevant as they raise two boys themselves, Oscar and Hunter, aka The Reeve Nuggets.
So even if you aren’t actively taking part in MOvember or MOVEmber, get out there and support someone who is. Most importantly, take the time to have a look at your own life, whether that’s getting a men’s health check from your GP, an eye test from your Optometrist, joining a gym, a team or sport, or simply getting off the couch to go for a walk, run or physical activity. Take a look at your whole life, your diet, your stresses and your support network and make a change towards living a healthier and fulfilling life because one day “she might not be be right”.