Happy International Men’s Day - to Dads everywherePublished on
Today is International Men’s Day and November and is the month that we typically associate with men’s health and wellbeing.
We’ve asked a couple of wonderful Dads to tell us about their very different experiences of mental health and to share their tips on promoting wellbeing.
Michael (pictured right) - Be your own Superhero
If you’d asked me about my mental health 18 months ago, I would have given you a very vanilla response. I wasn’t really in tune with mental health. It hadn’t been compromised since I came out 20 years prior. I was immune to mental health issues, or so I foolishly thought.
My husband Wes and I built our family with the help of our incredible surrogate and two separate egg donors for our pregnancies. We did Gestational Surrogacy, using IVF and donor eggs.
I was the biological father to our daughter Talulah, born in 2016. This experience didn’t take any toll on my mental health.
But fast forward to the birth of our second child, Duke, in August 2019, and this time it hit me hard - for many reasons. Wes was the biological father and I was the primary carer for Duke, as I’d taken a career break just before he was born. I really wanted to ensure we bonded and that I had the same relationship that I do with Talulah.
He wasn’t an easy baby - allergies, hospital visits, and now, 15 months later, he still doesn’t sleep, which takes its toll. I continued to put everyone before me, worried about everyone around me, tormenting myself with what everyone thought of me, especially as I wasn’t his “real dad” – their words – never mine.
I wanted to continue to play out the role of superhero – to everyone except myself. Not wanting to show my cape was beginning to fray; I had to be the ultimate Super Dad and Super Husband, but what about the Super Me? When I finally realised there was a problem, I spoke up to Wes – got help – and the fog lifted.
I discovered sharing, speaking out and making time for myself. This really helped and I learned that it wasn’t selfish at all. This could mean a 30-minute walk, an undisturbed bath, or putting on a favourite playlist or Podcast and lying on my bed, doors closed, just having a recharge.
It helped with my marriage, there was disclosure now and an understanding that we’re actually okay. Writing helped too. What was I thankful of that week? What had been my highlight? What really made me smile? My musings then became this gorgeous journal of scribbles to look back on and appreciate.
Together, Michael and Wes Johnson-Ellis are TwoDads UK, helping to normalise same sex parenting and de-stigmatising altruistic surrogacy via their website www.TwoDadsUK.com They are also proud Pura brand ambassadors. Instagram@TwoDads.u.k
Karl - Get away from it all, even if you’re staying home
Karl Iddon is Pura’s B2B telesales executive
I am really conscious about looking after my mental health and that of my family because my wife is a long-time sufferer of mental health issues.
So with her being on maternity leave through lockdown, I am very aware that she is constantly worried about money, being stuck in the house and a lack of support.
I try to sort out the issues that worry her the most, alongside working and having a four-month-old daughter who doesn’t always sleep through. With all this going on, it’s difficult for me to really switch off.
So when I do have free time, it normally consists of going for walks with the baby strapped to me. This means I spend quality time with her and it gives Chrissie a break.
But if I’m in the mood, I will just get stuck into the DIY that needs to be done around the house. I do find it helps me get away from everything, and that this time on my own allows me to switch off – as well as making the house look good!
Invest some time
If you’re a Dad reading this, ask yourself if you take time out, prioritise your needs and do enough to care for your wellbeing and mental health.
If not, like Karl and Michael, why not invest some time in caring for yourself this November?
If you, or someone you know, is struggling with mental health issues it's important to seek help. Talk to a friend, a partner, or get medical help. The NHS lists helplines that deal with mental health issues, including some organisations especially for men. View them here.
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