The Silent Epidemic of Male Suicide
Male suicide is a silent epidemic.
Did you know that suicide is a leading cause of death among young men world wide under the age of 30?((https://www.who.int/mental_health/prevention/suicide/suicideprevent/en/))
The information I will present here might save your life.
Or the life of a friend or family that is struggling with suicidal thoughts.
How to Save Lives
How can you save the life of someone contemplating suicide.
Remember these six words:
Change your body, change your life.
It might sound too simple, but the foundation of a strong body should not be dismissed.
The idea of a strong body and strong mind is not mine and it has been around for literally thousands of years.
If you would have told me years ago that deadlifting is a more powerful intervention than antidepressants, I doubt I would have believed it.
How about you?
Do you think that doing deadlifts, squats, push ups, strength training, jumping rope can lessen suicidal thoughts?
For years, I put my trust in antidepressants.
But I found that deadlifts for example are more powerful than prozac.
I believe in strength training as a viable prescription, because deadlifts
I was on the road to become another statistic of male suicide.
Before I encountered basic barbell training.
Weightlifting is a great way to deal with suicidal depression, thoughts and ideation.
There are many studies praising the effectiveness of exercise for depression.
Keeping the Demons at Bay
Have you ever called a 24 hour suicide help line?
Did you ever use Klonapin, Xanax or other antidepressants, but still have no relief?
There are unfortunately antidepressants that can turn your life upside down and damage your mental and physical health((https://www. Klonapin.com/depression/guide/untreated-depression-effects)).
A roadmap of how to prevent male suicide is critical.
I humbly suggest a new a new model to treat the epidemic of male suicide.
The general ideas of are:
1) Commitment to change – saying enough to your current depression and deciding to improve every day.
2) Eating real food (as opposed to processed food)
b) Lifting weights (like your body weight in push ups, pull ups, planks and/or lifting barbell, dumbbell or kettlebell weights as in deadlifts, squats, and kettlebell swings.)
c) Learning how to relax during the day and sleep at night.
The plight of depression in men is acute and rarely addressed.
The suicide epidemic, especially among men and suicide in teenage males men runs deep
Suffering in Silence
Losing weight can earn you real money if you win the biggest loser, or other accolades because body transformation is admired.
But what about people that suffer from an invisible illness of depression?
There is some societal shame in being fat, but obesity is so common that there is also acceptance.
Depression on the other hand is seen as a great weakness.
Therefore men will ignore their symptoms until it is too late and they become another statistic.
Our country, which is the third most depressed country on earth, needs new strategies for suicide prevention.
A Sound Mind Lives in a Sound Body
A healthy body can serve as a solid foundation for a healthier mind and spirit.
We need not just body transformation, real food and strength conditioning to nourish the body, we also need good food for thought and speech, better ways how to think, how to deal with the weight of depression that sucks out our lives and the lives of our family and friends.
We need strategies how to change our thoughts so that we can learn how to cope with the fire breathing dragon of depression which can leave our lives charred to a crisp.
Forget about appearances, if you are reading this, then you are still alive and you still have the opportunity to change your life.
You can not only transform your physique but even learn how to deal with depression to the extent that you can cross the bridge from the state of mourning and suicidal ideation to a state of life.
You cannot cure depression, so let’s not set the wrong expectation here, but you can learn how to deal with depression, how to cope with depression sufficiently that you can get back into the game of life, so that you can once again feel the desire to be productive, to get up and add your flavor to the world and squeeze as much out of every day that you have.
You can once again begin to dream and think of what you want to build in the world with your life, whether it be a home for yourself or a home for homeless children, you can get out of your head that has marinated in depression for so many years and start to become a member of the human community once again.
Medications cannot always cut it, some people have been on antidepressants for years and even lose their livelihood because of the negative side effects of antidepressants like insomnia, dry mouth, sweating, hallucinations and the big killer of them all, suicidal ideation which can of course lead to actual suicide.
Maybe you are here because you want to know how to deal with depression and you are frustrated from taking meds which have negative side effects and you feel yourself going lower and lower.
Maybe you are here because you are estranged from your parents, wife, girlfriend, children or family and feel like you have been hit by a freight train and have no life left in you.
Maybe you are here because you are going through or have just gone through a broken relationship or divorce and you feel like your life is over.
Maybe you are here because you are just plain fat and/or depressed and do not believe that there can be a path that can both help depression and obesity.
Maybe instead of sitting in the dirt of your life, you want to transform your field into a luscious vineyard, a beautiful garden that all can appreciate.
My dream is to see a Revolution, so the next time that a young man or woman who is struggling with depression goes to their doctor or psychologist, the prescription will first be strength training and nutrition that will go beyond antidepressants like zoloft, prozac, risperadal, wellbutrin and neurontin.
Antidepressants have their place for individuals where they are effective, but what about people who have treatment resistant depression?
We cannot just tell them to have a nice day with no other program to teach them how to deal with their depression.
Maybe you just want to wake up one day and instead of having a mirror hallucination and hearing your reflection speak to you and say “You don’t matter, you are not real, you do not exist, why don’t you just jump?”, maybe instead you prefer to wake up with motivation to live this new day of your life as productively as possible, to be the best version of yourself that you can, to be kind to yourself and take care of yourself by nourishing you with the best food, exercise, thought, speech and action.
Whatever reason you have for being here, thank you.
How to Deal with Suicidal Depression
We have to heal our lives from the inside out.
This means a new way of thinking, speaking and acting in order to make your health of mind and body a priority in your life.
We need motivation, especially if we have been living in the dark room of depression for decades.
I believe in you and I believe that you can find a way how to deal with your depression so that you can get back into the game of life and transform your emptiness into a richer more productive life.
I know it is possible.
If you do not take care of yourself, you are not going to be much use to anyone else, so take care of yourself, and do it daily.
Because if you just figure you will take care of yourself once a month, that will also not cut it.
Take care of you every day so that every day you eat better, move a little bit more, sleep a little better and before you know it you will be looking and feeling better.
I want you to know that even though you feel like you are alone, you are not alone.
While overweight people can still party with the crowd, someone in depression is going to avoid the crowd and prefer isolation.
Depression is a lonely and isolating disease, but I want you to know that you are not alone.
Small changes in your daily thoughts, speech, habits and actions can lead to bigger changes if not transformation.
So, why the Fit Apprentice?
I have been trying to figure out how to deal with depression and obesity as long as I can remember.
The first meal I remember eating as a kid was a weight watcher pizza concocted out of a Thomas english muffin, processed american cheese, ketchup and oregano, I was already on the weight watcher diet by the age of 2.
I tried all the diets, macrobiotics, vegan, vegetarian, fruitarian, cabbage only and by the time I turned 55, I had successfully dieted down to 275 pounds and a 50 inch waist.
Yes, not much of a success.
On top of the obesity and even more pressing was the depression.
I will not go into the root causes of my depression since every person has their own story and genetic makeup.
The bottom line was that depression existed in my life for many years until it finally exploded to such a degree that my entire life turned upside down, I barely knew who I was any more and my entire sense of identity was shaken to the core.
I felt that my only way out of the mental pain was the unspeakable and struggled with managing suicidal ideation for many years while doing everything possible to alleviate the symptoms using standard antidepressant medications.
The Recurring Nightmare
The author of Z E H H U, Ben Isaac, describes how he first began his road to recovery from suicidal ideation:
One evening I had a recurring nightmare of seeing a man in an elevator that was not moving.
When I tapped him on the shoulder he would turn around and I saw what looked like an older heavier man who had no mouth.
I always woke up screaming unintelligibly because the image was so frightening.
But this time was different.
This time I was in the elevator which did not move, either up or down, or sideways for that matter.
Again the elevator operator was facing away from me and I tapped him on the shoulder.
When he turned around, sure enough, he had no mouth.
But this time, when I woke up, I woke up screaming “Zehhu”, I finally woke up screaming a word which made no sense in english but which I knew what it meant.
All other times I awoke screaming nonsense while still lying down.
This time I sat up while screaming “Zehhu” and I knew what it meant.
I had finally said something that made sense, I screamed it and even though it is a word which would usually mean nothing to me, I knew that it meant “Enough, I have had enough of not being able to express myself (symbolized by the elevator man who had no mouth) and as a result stagnating in my life and not moving forward (symbolized by the elevator which is built to go up but never went anywhere in my dream.)
I said this word Zehhu to myself over and over again.
I knew that it meant that if I had to scream at myself to get some type of productive action and out of the suicidal ideation, then I will do so, and I did.
That evening I went to an all night deli for the best depression treatment I knew of, more junk food, specifically a blueberry muffin and you can be sure that I did not need another blueberry muffin at two in the morning after a full day of egg sandwiches, pizza, lasagna, cookies, ice cream, chips and spaghetti and meatballs.
My stomach was so distended and I could not reach down to tie my shoes, I could not even see my shoes.
Sitting in the deli, with a stomach full of food, yet still looking to satisfy craving with a muffin led me to just break down crying to myself.
I had trouble breathing, my doctor had told me that I was near diabetic and I could not fit in anything other than an old checkered blue plaid shirt that I always wore outside of my pants to hide my belly.
I just did not know what to do.
I did not know how my body could handle any more and thought I was just going to burst.
I knew Zehhu meant that I had to take some type of action to improve my life.
Finally I thought to myself, why not just try to eat real food like vegetables.
That idea actually made me wince because I just did not like vegetables or fruit.
My favorite ‘food’ in the world was an oreo cookie and outside of oreos, my next favorite was any ice cream, chip, snickers, reeses, pizza, hamburger that you can think of.
I also decided that I was going to go beyond cutting out oreos and even cut out anything else made with wheat.
Previously I had seen somewhere on the internet that wheat was associated with depression, something I could not imagine possible at the time, but I was desperate and wheat had to go.
While I was at it, I also cut out any other grains and of course just about any food that was processed and marketed in a colorful package, all junk food, pretty much I had nothing left to eat or so I thought.
What was left?
Vegetables, yellow potato ( I just dont like white potato), sweet potato, fruit; mainly blueberries, strawberries, raspberries, grapes, mango, nuts like cashews, almonds and walnuts.
I had read that peanuts and beans could also be toxic and I knew that I always got heartburn after eating them, so I cut them out too.
I was terrified of eating eggs, meat and fish from years of having been vegan/vegetarian, but I figured that I had to have something with some calories, so if I had to have an egg, so be it, because I did not want to have the frozen veggie burgers because they looked pretty processed to me and they had wheat gluten in them as well.
I also kept plain yogurt, red wine and a little dark chocolate once in a while.
I had tried to lose weight for many years, even decades without success.
I think it is safe to say that I have read and tried tens if not hundreds of different weight loss plans.
It was not until I eliminated processed food and focused on real foods, specifically cutting out wheat to see if that would help my depression that I experienced the life changing body transformation of fat practically melting off of my body for months until I reached a stable weight.
I finally began to see positive changes and they were not from exercise, because I had been exercising, bike, swimming, walking, machine weights all throughout the years and I was still being called a ‘fat bastard’ because of my inability to lose weight.
The secret was so simple.
Real food, just eat real food.
When I first eliminated wheat, I had no clue how I was going to survive.
Everything that I ate in the past was made of wheat and flour, egg sandwich, tuna sandwich, turkey sandwich, pizza, pasta, what did not have wheat or wheat flour?
The first meal that I had which was wheat free was a breakfast and instead of having the usual egg sandwich or wrap, I asked the chef of a cafe I frequented to make me a vegetable omelette from eggs, tomato, onion, spinach, mushrooms, pepper, any vegetables that they had.
I also asked them to add some hummus, avocado and olives.
When the chef asked me what the name of this dish is, I said that I will call it “Hashi Mashi”, just a name I made up because it seemed like such a mish mash mixture of ingredients.
Six months later when people in my building and neighborhood did not recognize me, they asked me what I had been doing to lose so much weight, 75lbs and 18 inches off my waist.
I said Hashi Mashi and that is how the name Hashi Mashi was born.
It all started with one meal, it all started with food.
Finally after so many years of struggling with weight loss and obesity, I found a path that helped to lift not just fat off of my body but helped me with suicidal depression as well.Reprinted with permission of Z E H H U: Crossing the Bridge from Depression to Life.
The current estimates are that approximately 30 million people are affected by depression with 10 million diagnosed with major depression.((https://www.healthline.com/health/depression/statistics-infographic))
Individuals suffering from depression are more than likely to have experienced job loss and/or divorce((https://www.healthline.com/health/depression/statistics-infographic)).
Worldwide, an estimated 120 million people suffer from some form of depression((https://www.healthline.com/health/depression/statistics-infographic)).
Having a guide how to deal with depression is urgent, a crisis, an emergency that must be addressed and not just a casual conversation of how the weather is today.
If you are depressed, finding a path and sticking to it to help yourself is critical.
In contrast to overweight or obesity, people who are suffering with depression know that they are in a state of emergency but usually do not seek treatment.
In fact, over 80 percent of individuals who suffer from depression do not seek treatment((https://www.healthline.com/health/depression/statistics-infographic)).
Going to a weight watcher meeting or joining a gym and getting a personal trainer is not a humiliation for most people.
Others who know about your determination to lose weight, build muscle, get into shape are inspired by your efforts.
On the other hand, going to your shrink or medical doctor to admit that you are depressed and need help is not inspiring to others, especially men.
Instead people will feel sorry for you or even abandon you as if you are contaminated or dangerous to be around.
“In 1999 the U.S. Surgeon General labeled stigma as perhaps the biggest barrier to mental health care; this stigma manifests particularly in a phenomenon known as social distancing, whereby people with mental issues are more isolated from others.
Eradicating the stigma and social distancing of people with mental illness must be a top public health priority in order to improve worldwide mental health and reduce economic burden.
Research suggests that the majority of people hold negative attitudes and stereotypes towards people with mental illness.
From a young age children will refer to others as “crazy” or “weird”; these terms are used commonly throughout adulthood as well.
Often the negative stereotypes involve perceptions that people with mental illness are dangerous.
These negative attitudes often manifest as social distancing with respect to people with mental illness.
In particular, when people feel that an individual with mental illness is dangerous, that results in fear and increased social distance.
This social distancing may result in the experience of social isolation or loneliness on the part of people with mental illness.
This stigma and social distancing have the potential to worsen the well-being of people with mental illness in several ways.
First, the experience of social rejection and isolation that comes from stigma has the potential for direct harmful effects.
It has long been understood that social isolation is associated with poor mental and physical health outcomes and even early mortality – “the lethality of loneliness.”
Further, social isolation predicts disability among individuals with mental illness.
For example, a Swedish study of 53,920 women and men followed for 12 years found that social isolation predicted disability, and that this effect was particularly pronounced among individuals with mental illness. ((https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/brick-brick/201405/the-stigma-mental-illness-is-making-us-sicker)).”
Depression and obesity are both illnesses but only one of these are you considered a hero for beating it, whereas the other it is shameful that you have depression in the first place.
And if you can ever find a way to climb out of the pit of depression, do not expect a party, because by that time, many of your previous relationships might have already left you, even your own mother, father, brothers, sisters, wife, husband and/or children.
Not only is depression the number one reason for suicide((https://www.suicide.org/suicide-causes.html)), but depression also kills marriage and relationships((https://blog.chron.com/loveandrelationships/2012/09/depression-kills-people-and-marriages/)).
A New Way to Treat Depression
Clearly, there are men out there who are plagued with the pain of how to deal with depression.
I am painfully aware of the embarrassment of seeking out help for depression as a man.
I have become more aware of the silent epidemic of men suffering with depression to the point of suicide.
It became more clear that men need a place to go to find solutions to the crisis of male depression, besides suicide.
Suicide is not the solution.
I also know from experience that while talk therapy and antidepressants can help, they are not always going to help you get back into the game of life.
Sure, it is comforting to have any person empathize with your situation, even if you have to pay them, but the reason that you have to pay for talk therapy is that nobody else wants to hear your problems, everyone has enough of their own.
On the antidepressant side, some might help to tranquilize or take away some of your mental pain, but there are others who have treatment resistant depression and antidepressants might be more of a liability than a solution, especially when there are serious negative side effects.
Losing your relationships, experiencing isolation, social distancing, estrangements is not a picnic and only increases the pain for you when you are faced with depression.
If you feel confused, alienated, silenced by abandonment, lonely and helpless, you are not alone, if you feel paralyzed by your depression, you are not alone.
I want to help.
If you are suffering with suicidal depression, you might think that is impossible to get out of that pit.
Especially if you have treatment resistant depression or you have been on medications for many years to no avail.
Even if you feel that you are at the end of the rope, there is still hope to take different actions so that you can live a better life.
Let’s keep it real, while there might not be a cure for depression, at least you can learn how to deal with depression so you can improve your circumstances.
This is the promise of the Fit Apprentice, to be a guide for men suffering with depression so that they can get back into the game of life and not fall into the trap of believing that suicide is the only way out.
All of the principles of the Fit Apprentice will apply to women as well but I focus on strength training for men because men are the least likely to seek out treatment for depression because of the stigma of depression.
According to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), about six million American men suffer from depression every year.
Yet psychologists know that men are far less likely than women to seek help not only for all mental-health problems, but depression in particular((https://www.apa.org/research/action/men.aspx)).
The Fit Apprentice can help you focus on stopping your fall into deeper depression by giving you tools of thought, speech and action.
Tools and strength training that will help you to eat better, move more and rest more.
Over time you will start to heal your body from the inside out and you will have a comprehensive solution for how to deal with depression and get back into the game of life, get fitter, get healthier and live a better life.
I am NOT a medical professional.
I am just like you, an average guy who is in the same trenches with you – who wants to be the best that I can be.
If you want to know how to deal with depression and suicidal depression, I have some ideas that might help.
If you need immediate help, of course, seek out professional treatment.
If you want to start feeling better about yourself and improve your life, I can help.
Let me help you live a better life.
This is the basic philosophy of Z E H H U™ in a nutshell.
Zehhu™ is the most important and first step in how to deal with depression and/or obesity.
Zehhu™ is a trigger word which means that you have had enough.
You have had enough of your isolation and fat.
You have had enough of being on the sidelines or feeling like you do not even exist at all, you want to get back into the game of life again, you want to be productive again, you want to take the dirt of your life and transform it into a beautiful vineyard.
Zehhu™ means that you stop going down deeper into depression.
You stop the descent into deeper depression, if you have to scream Zehhu™ at yourself to stop or any other word in any language, you do it.
If you have to say Zehhu™ over and over to yourself, you do it, you must save yourself from falling into deeper depression, because if you do not, you might not survive a deeper fall.
The vineyard is a parable.
The vineyard is symbolic of nature teaching us new approaches and perspectives for how to deal with depression and obesity.
The lessons of the vineyard start with you imagining that you are the owner of a vineyard.
Imagine that the vineyard you had built in the past is destroyed.
Natural or man made disaster leveled your vineyard to the point that there is nothing left.
You sit in the middle of your field mourning over the loss of your vineyard.
The question is, will you continue to sit and mourn, or will you make a decision to rebuild?
The choice is yours.
If you do choose to rebuild, reinvent yourself from where you are right now, the following steps provide lessons from nature to us on how to go about rebuilding our lives.
- Choose to Plant a Vineyard – make the choice to be productive again
- Select a Site with Ample Sunlight – we need physical sunlight, bright thoughts, positive thoughts to rebuild
- Plowing the Field – we have to work the field, we have to exercise our bodies and plow up the past and work on the present
- Planting the Field – we need to plant good seeds of thought and expectation of the future
- Watering the Field – we need good nutrition to nourish the vineyard and ourselves
- Growing the vineyard – we need to take care of ourselves and adjust to new obstacles which come every day
- Harvesting the vineyard – we need to appreciate what we have and be grateful for the accomplishments however small
- Winnowing – we need to select the best of what we have right now and not focus on the worst
- Pressing the wine – we must squeeze the best that we can out of the grapes that we have right now
- Drinking the Wine – we should celebrate as often as possible the gift of life, with our family and friends
This site is dedicated to exploring strength training and nutrition best practices for how to improve our lives with the current knowledge that is available.
Obviously, it is physically impossible for any one of us to absorb and disseminate the millions of research studies and conclusions that are available on the web, but remember, we are looking for the best strength training, nutritional, exercise and thinking strategies that we can employ to build a better body and mind.
No one said a perfect body and mind.
Just better, lets keep improving every day.
Eat real food as often as possible.
Cut back on fake foods and processed foods.
Eat in moderation.
The Fit Apprentice program can be a revolution for body and mind fitness.
Diet and exercise plans have been around for decades to lose weight.
Unfortunately, the statistics say that we are fatter than ever((https://authoritynutrition.com/12-graphs-that-show-why-people-get-fat/)).
And being fatter than ever is after hundreds if not thousands of diet plans.
And if you think that we are just fatter than ever, but a lot happier than we used to be because we have so many colorful antidepressants to choose from, think again, not only is there more obesity than ever, but we are more depressed than ever((https://thinkprogress.org/health/2014/10/02/3575170/depression-rising-americans/)).
Clearly, the traditional diet and exercise plans along with traditional anti-depressants are not effective.
For this reason, I dedicate my time to doing my best to uncover the best strength training and nutrition strategies to help deal with depression and strip the unwanted fat from our bodies.
Despite all of the diet and exercise plans that are out there right now, they have not been enough, especially when it comes to treating depression which is a disease that many suffer in silence.
Yes, I want to create a Fit Apprentice revolution, so well meaning medical professionals will also be aware of the benefits of real food nutrition, strength training and positive thinking to help their patients deal with depression.
With or without medications, for people that react well to anti depressants and for those that suffer with treatment resistant depression, there will be another option, to help those who suffer in silence get back into the game of life.
The gold standard for managing most types of depression has been talk therapy and medications for many years if not decades.
Let’s explore making the food that we eat, strength training and thinking differently the new gold standard of how to deal with weight of depression and fat.
I’d love for you to join the Fit Apprentice revolution and help us turn things around, for us, for our family and friends, for our country and world.