Below is a Reflective Diary Entry from Author Cindy Rochstein who graced us with her stirring presentation at Mentone Public Library on Saturday, 28 June, 2014.
When I asked myself the night prior to the talk, “How I could be inspiring about such a tragic and traumatic topic?”...I had to reflect. My wonderful publisher (Ocean Reeve, InHouse Publishing) took my late night call and actually pointed it out to me. He said, "Cindy, you are so passionate about this topic and that is what is inspiring and uplifting - the fact that you want to bring this issue to the forefront of people’s minds and engage and initiate conversation. This is what is inspiring about you".
With this in heart and mind, I introduced my book, "MENDEMIC - Inside the man cave" to the audience. My book, ‘MENDEMIC’ is a collection of short stories written by men of varying ages about true life events, in their own authentic words and tied in together with analogies and theories of mine (The Chicken Parma theory). I actually had the opportunity to present all three of my books and future works to the audience, but the main topic that drew in this particular crowd was also that of their concern and interest in men's health. The issue of men's depression and suicide is becoming a particularly pertinent issue in today's community. It is on the increase with seemingly no reprieve to the harsh statistics we are presented with. The issue is such, that it galvanises not only myself (as an author), but many influential people in the community; from politicians to organisations to local groups.
I was honoured to present my talk with the assistance of Laurence Anderson (pictured at right), a representative of the organisation, Dads in Distress Support Services (DIDSS) – a national based support service organisation for men (but not exclusive to men) post relationship breakup. Laurence was able to endorse the stories in my book by presenting real life examples of the type of men who were suffering and hurting after a relationship has fractured. He himself is an inspiring individual and the work he does with men who are in an extremely vulnerable position is commendable. I felt extremely lucky that he spoke with me and I learnt so much from him as well as I am sure the audience did too.
Also present was Murray Thompson, MP (Member for Sandringham and pictured at left) who kindly introduced Laurence Anderson (DIDSS) and myself and addressed the group as well about the importance of these issues, (of suicide and depression in men). Tim Richardson (Labor Candidate for Mordialloc) also honoured us with his presence and his wonderful contribution. There were also representatives in the wider community, (Men's Shed - Mordialloc) as well as other authors and the wonderful guests and regulars of Mentone Public Library that braved the cold.
“MENDEMIC – Inside the man cave” is divided into the components of a ‘chicken parma’ meal and a pot of beer. It is designed in this way to reflect the stereotypes of men, whilst at the same time able to dispel the myths that surround this stereotype.
Unfortunately though, there is a problem many of us are facing. Despite all of the toughness, bravado, providing and protection…men are hurting. They are hurting in such a deep way that it is becoming an endemic.
I consider the definition of ‘endemic’ as a condition that is regularly found among a certain group of people or a certain area. And the more I enter into the man cave, this is what I am finding: A group of men, usually between 20‐40 (but not restricted to this age group), in pain; Sometimes depression, sometimes more than this.
The statistics are horrible. I find that men are desperately in need of help and assistance, but they’ll rarely ask. Perhaps it is the social conditioning that the individual may appear weak or vulnerable or labelled a ‘wuss’, told to harden up, and not encouraged to cry or express.
What has surprised me most of all, with very little nudging or coaxing from my contributors, is that men are dying to be heard. Their voices are important and worthy, and whilst they might begin as shaky, they come through with conviction.
This is what I think. Men and women are not so different after all; particularly so, in their emotions and ability to feel hurt, pain, vulnerability and insecurity. The difference is, it is far more acceptable for women to discuss and voice our emotions than men.
Male depression and suicide is currently one of the leading causes of mortality for young men in this country. It is becoming a significant problem for all who are touched by it. Its ripple effect, like throwing a stone in a pond, reaches far greater than you can expect or imagine.
Too many times I have heard, “It was a complete shock, there were no warning signs”. And so many times, there are none. The guilt that is then felt by those closest involved is heartbreaking. They blame themselves for not seeing signs, using phrases such as, “Could I have done more? What if I called more often? Could I have visited more? Did I not listen enough?”
I am not a doctor, nor am I specialist in this field. But I am human. I have eyes and I do see things. I have a heart and have experienced loss and seen others experience depression and loss close to me.
What I can feel, hear and see is that men need a platform in which to talk. Men need to express themselves and let us know when they need some help.
That is one thing I can do. I am a writer and a storyteller. I have given men a chance to voice what they need to, to be a conduit to help get their story out and to get the message out that they want to get out.
I don’t profess to have all the answers and I can’t save all of them, but I do know this….that maybe, just maybe, if I can help them find their voice, to find their story and tell their inner truth….that maybe, just maybe…I can save some of them.
As well as ‘MENDEMIC – Inside the man cave’, I discussed my other published books which also compliment this book;
· 'WOMEN and their stories'; and 'DATING with children.'
Both books have short stories in them about the lives of brave and courageous women and men, as well as stories of dating as a single parent.
In addition, I discussed my future books that I am currently working on, one of which is a direct result of my book 'MENDEMIC' and is called 'Mend – Anxiety awareness in young children'. This is a book that tailors the message of mental health, anxiety and building resilience in young children (mainly primary school age and also early high school age). I regularly join forces with another charity called "Kane's Crusade", a community group that focus on young men and depression and suicide.
I discussed other future works; a book on breast cancer and women (entitled, “Boob-a-licious”) and a book on “Co-parenting and blended families” (as so many families are these days) hopefully both books to be released 2014/15.
The opportunity to talk at Mentone Public Library was an absolute privilege and I hope that I am lucky enough to be invited back for more talks. It was a wonderful forum for me in which to discuss “MENDEMIC” and the present issues of men's health as well as future hope for them.
One of my favourite quotes in “MENDEMIC”, is by Longfellow:
"The greatest tragedy of the average man is that he goes to his grave with his music still in him”.
- Cindy Rochstein (Sunday, 29th June 2014)
The Mentone community and Mentone Public Library are truly grateful for the insights Cindy Rochstein, Lawrence Anderson and Murray Thompson MP - Member for Sandringham divulged to us.
In an age where we are so wired in yet all-too-often still tuned out, MENDEMIC reminds us that awareness and mending only starts with introspection sparked by compassionate connection.
‘MENDEMIC – Inside the man cave’ by Cindy Rochstein is available for purchase in the following ways:
* FB/Cindy Rochstein Books
* E: firstname.lastname@example.org
To learn more about the mentioned support groups, please visit:
Dads in Distress: http://www.dadsindistress.asn.au/www/home/
Kane's Crusade: https://www.facebook.com/Kanescrusade
Mordialloc Men's Shed: http://www.theshedonline.org.au/mens-sheds/profile/mordialloc-men's-shed