MEN'S HEALTH AND WELLNESS

Are you a successful executive - yet, despite having plenty, do you struggle to be happy?

 

You may be industrious, loyal, and educated, and yet, do you find yourself unable to shake the feeling of not being good enough? You may go the extra mile for your family, client, or company, and yet, sometimes might you find yourself brooding over a disappointment? Outwardly do people see you as energetic and motivated and yet, in your inner world do you struggle with loneliness and emptiness?

Men have complex private emotional lives. Like others, you too may have concerns in domains ranging from their body, work, relationships, communication, divorce, extramarital affairs, and self-esteem. Like others, perhaps unexplored issues of criticism, neglect, rejection and aggression from childhood may be playing out in subtle ways in the present with your close and work relationships. Such concerns can stay buried for long periods but cause much grief to you or impact you in invisible ways such as not feeling good enough, alcoholism, depression, not being able to cope successfully with rejection and loss, suffering from panic attacks, or affect positive ways of coping. They​ can also cause you to be stuck in your misery, doubling down your efforts without any sign of progress.  When later triggers in life such as a parent's cancer, a spouse's death, divorce or termination of a relationship, one's own illness, the past stacked vulnerabilities can affect your present ways of positive coping and resilience. And you may find that your efforts at alleviating your mood through hypnosis, chiropractic, or reiki may be a band-aid short-term relief. 

Psychological stress can manifest itself it in physical ways for men such as high blood pressure, heart disease, insomnia, obesity and diabetes. At CARE we offer long-term, tailor made and sustainable improvement with your collaboration to help you become better prepared for your positive mental health:

  • Overcome dysfunctional thought patterns that keep you thinking in loops

  • Managing stress

  • Determine your level of emotional intelligence

  • Sharpen your intuition and self-awareness

  • Gain more control over how you think, feel and behave

  • Manage your micro-behaviors (micro messages that you may subconsciously emit, such as posture, tone, facial expressions, posture, words, and so forth that are often at the root of whether people around you feel close to you or excluded from you)

Some red flags that your coping efforts at self-care may not be working for you if you are:

  • Easily angered or irritable 

  • Feedback that you’ve become hard to be around, don't listen or understand

  • “Numb” to your feelings

  • Binge drinking or other addictions 

  • Trouble concentrating 

  • Challenges in follow-through

  • Inability or unwillingness to communicate effectively

  • Feeling isolated 

  • Feeling anxious

  • Changes in sleep patterns and low sex drive

Many norms embody cultural narratives around men's lives that determine how you think, relate and love. Embracing these norms can also mean not investing in understanding your emotional capacity or Emotional Quotient): what kind of emotions drive you?; what are the emotions that underlie your gut reactions?, and so forth. The level of your emotional intelligence may affect your insights about yourself, work performance and other significant relationships.

 

Cultural and family beliefs underpinning emotions generally, frame how: you will think of yourself; how you will allow others to view you; what you will project as you "brand" or public persona; how well you will communicate; whether you will be able to listen comprehensively, and deeply to your significant others; and generally, how well you will receive others' communications in the face of stress or adverse conditions. Neglecting to leverage this strong asset of human strength - your emotional life - may mean that you're running on only half your cylinders, making the same mistakes in newer formats, making decisions based in fear or conversely, making decisions that might be elevating your propensity to risk.

As life unfolds for you at a frantic pace, it is important to harness time to be healthier, happier and more productive. You might have pondered how you’re going to accomplish those goals, who could help you and why you need to change. To build greater holistic health, it is advisable to seek mental health care and emotional well-being not simply in adverse conditions but especially in times when things seem to be going well for you. Psychotherapy specializing in men’s issues can help you with a variety of issues: to gain new perspectives on old problems; create new fulfilling connections; or, build your valuable emotional asset and create processes for wholesome decision-making. ​

Men's Counseling Services, Chicago can focus on broad concerns, such as:

  • Depression

  • Anxiety

  • Adjustment issues

  • Stress and anger management

  • Pain management

  • Divorce Mediation and Custody Planning

  • Emotional Intelligence 

  • Panic

  • Self-Esteem

  • Work-Life Balance

  • Relationship 

  • Post-traumatic stress disorder

  • Loss and bereavement

Vignettes

Matt: Overcoming Long-Term Depression One Day at a Time

Matt is a 28-year old Caucasian, heterosexual male who seeks psychotherapy to alleviate and manage his depression. Matt used to be a highly talented athlete at his high school and University; he was a three-time hockey player, one of the top baseball players for his state winning a Division 1st scholarship. His mother's long-term illness and eventual passing away caused Matt to drop out of college and once the "golden child" at his schools, Matt now feels he "lost a decade of his life." As his depression soared, "I started to turn it inwards and not take care of myself," he confides. In the last decade, Matt saw his friends being married and launch their careers "while I have trouble getting out bed," he shares. He is experiencing low mood, loss of interest in activities he once enjoyed, low energy, and has difficulty concentrating as "getting motivated is hard and I find a way to to get out." In therapy, Matt wants to focus on taking small steps for now such as building his own accountability to himself, be a better family member and friend, manage his rollercoaster or the daily ups and downs, get in better shape and get a job. 

Bruce: "My Doctor Said 'Your Physical's Fine. You are Depressed.'"

Bruce is 39-years old, gay, and a law school professor. At first when Bruce was depressed, he thought it was "mild" and that no one else "could see my lack of energy, that I was losing my appetite and was isolating myself." Depression was familiar to Bruce, he had been depressed as a child, through college and years abroad when he came out gay, as well as through law school and clerkship when he would frequently think about suicide. Yet, despite experiencing depression, he has excelled at academia and in his career, so far. Lately however, when negative feedback from peer journals or minor irritants would cause him disproportionate irritability and insomnia, did Bruce think "something was definitely wrong." On his routine physical, his doctor identified his insomnia as depression and encouraged him to seek professional help. In therapy, Bruce wants to explore the role of his critical parenting, chaotic upbringing and emotionally abusive relationships as potential stressors having a role in his mental health. 

Chris: Trying to Stay 'Above Water' Through Divorce 

"I started freaking out midweek," confided Chris, a 53-year trader. "When Carol's attorney served me divorce papers at my company in granted, an unmarked envelope, "I felt the room closing in on me... I couldn't breathe.... I walked in a shock to the bathroom and threw up." I called Carol and said, 'I think I'm having a heart attack.' She said 'You're just having a panic attack. Go see a therapist.' I thought to myself, 'Why is Carol doing this?,' Why am I putting up with this?' Chris and Carol have been married ten years, have three children and live in a beautiful mansion in Evanston. Their marital troubles began five years ago when Chris discovered Carol had a one night stand. "But I had hoped that the worst was behind us." I told myself, 'The chips are going to fall where they're going to fall,' and yet, divorce is not what Chris, a conservative professional with parents who have been married over four decades had expected of his future. As a successful trader Chris understands only too well that "you cannot let individual failure bring you down," but executing his "philosophies in his personal life are an entirely different matter." Chris reflects how he has grown more controlling in the last three decades and with therapy post-divorce, he wishes to reflect on the past, to be a better father to his children, and compartmentalize his personal life from his professional life. 

Bob: Professional Success but Personal Impasse With a Self-Obsessed CEO

When Bob's wife couldn't see him in a 'rut' and 'not the Bob I know',' she pushed for him to seek therapy. 'Why not give therapy a chance,' she prodded, 'to jumpstart some change that you're looking for?' Bob is in his 50's, a senior-level executive working for a Forbes top 50 CEO's  in California who advertises tag-lines such as "fearless," "innovative," and "fun" as their company's moral compass. "The reality is very different," shares Bob. The culture is in fact, opaque, unaccountable, unempathic with disregard for it's employees. Bob is compensated "very well" and holds a "prominent position" but he worries 'I should be more happy.' He reflects how he used to be a "go getter" and "confident" in a stark contrast to his current condition. "I have everything I could want so why aren't I more happy?" asks Bob, and seeks therapy to understand his disenchantment and loss of confidence. 

Steven: Navigating the Scars of Sexual Abuse to Positive Self-Esteem

 

Steven is a 19-year old Caucasian, heterosexual male who experienced intense feelings of sadness, guilt, and shame. He expressed that he felt like a burden to everyone in his life, and frequently wrestled with thoughts of wanting to end his life. Steven had a history of family emotional abuse, and often felt that he was viewed more as a possession than as a valued person within his family. Steven also experienced sexual abuse in a previous romantic relationship, and felt he was coerced into participating in sexual acts he did not consent to. In therapy, Steven is working to come to terms with the events in his past, let go of  shame and guilt, and improve his self-esteem.

 

Rahul: Exploring What "Indian-American" Means

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Rahul is 31-years old, American entrepreneur in Silicon Valley with roots in India. He belongs to a high caste family in South India and his parents, both doctors migrated to the US in the 1970's to Cleveland, Ohio. He is in an interracial interfaith relationship and faces resistance from his orthodox family who threaten to disown him if he goes ahead with marrying his fiancé. "It is against our culture, our caste, and religion," they tell him. However, Rahul is in love with his fiancé and firmly believes that given their spiritual alignment, they would be a good match for each other. As the only son in his family, Rahul has to negotiate traditional customs and obligations passed down through the males in his family with his American identity. While in his extended family, marriage was a family affairs, he struggles with reconciling it with his own conception of marriage, of individual happiness, prejudice and historical baggage- "Marriage ought to happen only to make you more happy."

Jhongo Lee: Panic Attacks Threaten Work Relationships and Performance

Jhongo, 30-years old, was born and raised in Shanghai, China but came to the United States to study at the University of Chicago's Business School. Following graduation when he started working at an elite consulting firm, "is when things started to fall apart." He started to have the same panic attacks he experienced in high school when he would sweat profusely, experienced great nervousness and felt that "everyone thinks I'm stupid." In his first few months at work, Jhongo experienced some very real challenges given"my English wasn't very good," and he started to realize with horror, that unlike business school where people were more considerate, "this is real." He told himself, "I'm not going to crack," but was unable to cope with the debilitating effects of growing anxiety - lack of sleep, feeling like he was going to throw up, lost appetite, and a "heavy head." He also found himself ruminating over a woman who did not seem to reciprocate his romantic feelings towards her. Therapy helped Jhongo identify negative thoughts that were affecting his personal growth, dysfunctional relational patterns, and provide a supporting environment so he could seek out positive relationships.

Brent: Exploring How Self-Awareness Can Affect Work and Parenting

Brent, 44-years old, entrepreneur, grew up in a small town of southern Illinois with parents who were farmers. They often did not have enough food for three meals for all members in their home, and Brent remembers going to bed hungry, wearing hand me down clothes and used shoes, and going through many a birthday with no one wishing him "happy birthday" even. At the same time, there "somehow seemed to be money for alcohol," One of his first memories was his father rolling his tractor into a frozen river; luckily he survived. He recalls his parents being critical of his life choices, including studying and making his way into college. The youngest of fourteen siblings, he is the only one to have made it to college and the only one with substantial means in his life. Today Brent is grateful for all that he has in his life but struggles with "silent" panic attacks, sometimes averaging 7 or 8 during a week that recently exacerbated with his mother's diagnosis of terminal cancer. In therapy he seeks to gain self-awareness so he understand why his 5 year old son is exhibiting the same symptoms of anxiety as him. 

DR. SHAIFALI SANDHYA

405 N. Wabash

Chicago, IL 60611