We decided to move back home after our son was born. I couldn't wait to be back in Helsinki closer to my mother and relatives. I knew we were doing the right move especially due to the fact that my kids would be in much better schools.
Little did I think of my husband, my Bahraini husband, who has only ever just visited Finland for the holidays that were filled with fun, excitement and free of worry. Those visits that every relative and friend of mine tries to meet us before we would leave again. Finland was an exciting, fun and very friendly place he always thought.
My husband was raised in a huge family. He, his six brothers and all 40+ cousins were constantly together. His parents were always available for support and advice, and so were his elder brothers, aunts, uncles and even his cousins. No one was left behind without all the support, to help them up again on their feet.
"During the most difficult days, I remind myself of what my mother taught me; don't give up, always believe after every fall there is a rise. When you reach the bottom, there is only one way left to go, up." - Ali Dadi
I moved to Finland sometime before my husband as to get an apartment and so our elder daughter would start school. When my husband moved, he was so happy to know he could spend six months with our baby boy before he would turn three and join the education system. My husband expressed his amazement, for a country to give such an opportunity, being able to reconnect and close the distance that grew between him and his son whom he had missed while he was away.
Soon our son was at day care, my husband was placed with an unsuitable group by the Employment Office (TE-toimisto) and he started drifting away in front of my eyes. He was absent minded, tried to join conversations but was too sensitive to talk about anything, and turned from a healthy race driver into a very poor shape. He was a walking dead man who looked like my husband. I was never so worried as I was then.
Before summer he managed to find a suitable integration study program and convinced the Employment Office to let him take a part in it. Suddenly he was with similarly educated people from all around the world. He started to get out of that scary place. He was also called for few races in Morocco, France, Italy, Dubai and Oman, so he got to see his racing buddies.
By mid-summer my old husband was back and we were able to talk at last. He tried explaining the feelings he had. He started crying and explaining that he is so disappointed in himself for being so weak. That was the moment that it hit me, how many men are raised up to think that feeling is weak. My beloved husband needed to know he was the most amazing man but he is a human being too.
He never realized that he had the right to look at his own feelings, his own happiness and well being. And that does not make him any less manly nor weak. We discussed and he agreed that he might need help before next winter. As a Finn who has lived most of my life outside of Finland I did not know other than the healthcare centre to seek help for him.
"The most difficult thing for me was, that I did not know how long will this take, but I did know it has to end sooner or later." - Ali Dadi
My husband was raised in a psychologically smart family, so he never needed a professional psychologist's help. When his friend died in a burning race car in front of his eyes, he found all the support he needed to bounce back from that trauma. When my husband was stuck under a car and burned 2/3 of his back, his family's support helped him through that too. He always had help naturally, spoke of his pain and was supported with no fancy disorders names that physiologists give. He did not even know what depression really was. Until that winter in Finland.
He entered the doctor's room. He said: “I suffered from depression last winter, and now as winter is approaching, I want to prevent falling back to the same depression again. All I need is a counsellor to talk to because I feel lonely, and I feel that I have no one on my side.“
To which the doctor replied: “You can't know what you need, if you had depression and are talking about it, it means it was a very mild one and so I can describe you something you take if you feel depressed next time.”
My husband refused the medication and came home to tell me what happened. He felt attacked when his psychological intelligence was disrespected. We diced to try to find other ways to find him help. We got to the GYM together, I listened to him whenever he needed to talk, and we tried to survive that winter together. He did face difficulties, but it was much better than the winter before. Before the end of the winter we attended Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) training course. That course proved to him how psychologically educated, smart and aware he was naturally.
He was one of the strongest people in understanding that course. Everyone saw it and praised his intelligence.
"All I need is a counsellor to talk to because I feel lonely, and I feel that I have no one on my side.“ - Ali Dadi
Now as a wife, I have to stand and shout as loud as I can "Men's mental wellbeing matters too". I see communities so busy caring about the children's mental wellbeing and the mothers' mental wellbeing and divorced women's mental wellbeing but rarely have I heard of men's, they do exist but rarely heard of and when needed we didn't know how to find them. Don't get me wrong, I think everyone's mental wellbeing is important, but we should not forget the men. Men have been taught to be strong, not cry, work hard, not complain and many have been taught to not get weak and ask for psychological assistance. We have to change this stereotyping. We have to embrace men as human beings, not as robots programed to keep it together and fix every broken thing at home. Because sometimes it's him who needs helping to fix something broken, and there is no shame to allow him to ask for that help.
"I was never ready to give up my love to this amazing man, so I knew we had to find away through this!"
From the experience I learned to listen to him instead of only talking and asking him to listen to me. I learned how to be patient and give him time to figure out the feeling he is going though. And learned how to read his need of a hug or a touch when he needed that too. He moved to Finland for me and for our children so this is the least I could give him in return, be there for him.
My husband is all good, and almost got used to the Finnish style of life, and he made few friends, which helped him a lot. But I wish we knew about the peer support groups that are offered. I found out about father's group that gather in Familia ry for years, just few weeks ago. That would have been just what he needed in those lonely dark days.
"We have taken this decision to walk through life together, so we have to always remember to wait for the other one and hold hands on the rough surfaces."
Men's mental wellbeing matters too.
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