My father tried to commit suicide the year he turned 40. I was 5 years old. Though he recovered physically, our lives were never the same. I grew up wondering what happened to my father. I also was vitally interested in what was happening to so many mid-life men who seem to lose their way as they approach this confusing time of life. Finding my father's journals gave me my first clue:
"I feel full of confidence in my writing ability. I know for certain that someone will buy one of my radio shows. I know for certain that I will get a good part in a play. Last night I dreamt about candy. There was more candy than I could eat. Does it mean I'll be rewarded for all my efforts? Has it anything to do with sex?"
June 14 (the following year)... He had been out of work and unable to find a job.
Your flesh crawls, your scalp wrinkles when you look around and see good writers, established writers, writers with credits a block long, unable to sell, unable to find work, Yes, it's enough to make anyone, blanch, turn pale and sicken.
Faster, faster, faster, I walk. I plug away looking for work, anything to support my family. I try, try, try, try, try. I always try and never stop.
A hundred failures, an endless number of failures, until now, my confidence, my hope, my belief in myself, has run completely out. Middle aged, I stand and gaze ahead, numb, confused, and desperately worried. All around me I see the young in spirit, the young in heart, with ten times my confidence, twice my youth, ten times my fervor, twice my education.
I see them all, a whole army of them, battering at the same doors I'm battering, trying in the same field I'm trying. Yes, on a Sunday morning in early November, my hope and my life stream are both running desperately low, so low, so stagnant, that I hold my breath in fear, believing that the dark, blank curtain is about to descend.
Four days after he made this entry, he took an overdose of sleeping pills.
Male Menopause: The Unspeakable Passage
Growing up we never talked about what happened to my father. The closest my mother ever came was saying he had "a nervous breakdown." I decided to begin the research that culminated in my writing Male Menopause and Surviving Male Menopause after I read an article by author Gail Sheehy. "If menopause is the silent passage," she said, "male menopause is the unspeakable passage. It is fraught with secrecy, shame, and denial. It is much more fundamental than the ending of the fertile period of a woman's life, because it strikes at the core of what it is to be a man."
I spent five years researching the hormonal, physiological, psychological, sexual, social, and spiritual changes men go through at mid-life. Here's a summary of what I learned:
More than 25 million men in the U.S. are now going through male menopause (or andropause, the more scientifically accurate term).
Male menopause generally begins between age 40 and 55, but can start as early as 35 or as late as 65.
52% of men between age 40 and 70 suffer from some degree of erectile dysfunction.
Men, like women, experience complex hormonal rhythms that affect their mood, their physical well-being, and their sexuality.
Emotional symptoms include irritability, worry, indecisiveness, and depression.
Physical symptoms include fatigue, weight gain, short-term memory loss, and sleep disturbances.
Sexual symptoms include reduced libido, fear of sexual failure, and increased desire to "prove" he can still perform by seeking a younger partner.
Male menopause is like puberty the second time around where a man must face issues of identity, sexuality, dependence, and independence.
When a man is going through male menopause everyone in the family is affected.
There is still a great deal of confusion about male menopause.
Once understood, men going through "the change" can be helped and supported.
For more information please visit me at www.MenAlive.com.
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