“Sorry to come in a bit under the weather,” I heard the male patient explain to the front desk. I felt his deep voice vibrate the walls of the waiting room as he continued, “I didn’t want to come to the doctor sick and all.” Excuse me? I thought. The rest of the conversation whispered in the back of my mind as I pondered his typical machismo. Why would he come to the doctor if he was healthy? Isn’t the whole point to come in sick?
It is this mentality, call it pride or sheer confusion, that keeps so many men from the help they need, especially when it comes to mental illness. This thinking builds the walls of stigma that men like myself work so hard to tear down. It took me years to get the help that I clearly needed because I didn’t want to go to the doctor “sick and all.” I didn’t want to release my pride by appearing to be broken or “under the weather.” Too many men are trapped like this, excusing their symptoms and downplaying the potential benefits of a doctor or counselor. But if you don’t go to the doctor sick, when or even why would you ever go? No matter your position on Jesus Christ, you can’t disagree with him when he said, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick.”
Later that day, I decided to catch up on the YouTube videos of my favorite late night talk show host. For a bit of background, I give the best of me to my family and the rest of me to Jimmy Kimmel. I’ve watched so much of his show that he even issued a restraining order against me. I appreciate his jokes, presentation, banter, and skits — pretty much everything he does. I watch it all, from Unnecessary Censorship Videos to Lie Witness News and even his Judge James courtroom shows which are longer than they are worth it. No, they are worth it. Because it’s Jimmy Kimmel.
When I opened my laptop, the first video that popped up was one called Jimmy Kimmel Reveals Details Of His Son’s Birth & Heart Disease. I clicked. What I watched was profound, deep, and meaningful. Kimmel put away the laughs for an incredibly real and vulnerable moment. On his show, tearing up, hardly keeping it together, he told the emotional story of his newborn son’s complications at birth. My appreciation for the man deepened much past entertainment and into respect.
Kimmel doesn’t necessarily need to go to the doctor (who knows?) but what a powerful example for the rest of men. A man known for entertaining became serious, became real. If he can do what he did, in front of millions of people, the average broken man surely can humble himself to go to the doctor, sick and all. It’s okay to hurt. Even the best of us do.