The Blog

Husband, I'm Sorry You Couldn't Cry

Husband, I'm sorry you couldn't cry.

I'm sorry that when you were finally able to, at the beginning of your first stay in a psychiatric hospital, that your first words were: "I haven't been able to cry in years."

I know you felt it was a sign of your own weakness, even though when any other man cried on you, you swept them into a bear hug. I know you felt your tears anchored you to emotions you felt were going to drown you.

I remember telling you, as we sat drinking tea in the hospital grounds, that it was a good thing that you were crying. But I remember you telling me that once you started you were worried you wouldn't be able to stop.

In a rare moment, you told me some of the reasons why you were crying.

You were worried you wouldn't be able to be a good enough dad. You were worried your struggle with mental health meant you wouldn't ever be a dad.

You were worried that you wouldn't be able to get work, pay your bills, that you had burned your bridges from erratic behaviour trying to contain your depression and addiction, and pretending everything was normal.

I know you were worried about whether you were worth loving (you were, a thousand times over, of course you were), and if you would ever be able to break the self-destructive cycle you had found yourself in.

You had struggled with this since you were a boy. I'm sorry you were bullied at school by boys who picked on you because you weren't as strong as them. I am sorry it stayed with you as long as it did.

That part of you was taught how to be a man by being beaten up, and in the end, you believed the greatest lie all boys and men are told: which is that silent endurance makes you a better man.

I'm glad you didn't let this lie define you. That you retained your softness, your kindness, your empathy, always the parts of you that were the most magnificent.

I'm glad your parents, your aunts, your friends, everyone who ever loved you, helped you become the man you were: clever, inquisitive, in love with nature, able to cook, respectful of women and a practitioner of putting the toilet seat down.

And I'm glad that I loved someone like you, who taught me that men are complicated, wonderful and stupendous.

But I'm sorry, dear husband.

I'm sorry you felt you couldn't show your emotions - I'm not talking about happiness, love or kindness - but the ones that can drain the hope out of life. Your sadness, your loneliness, your worry.

You kept these in for so long and for what? Whose expectations were you trying to meet? I wish you had known you were working towards an impossible task - that to survive in this world as a man, you are expected to do everything, be everything and not ever cry about it when things get tough.

I'm sorry you held onto so much for so long, that you felt you couldn't talk about things until it was too late. That you believed your tears would be received with anything less than a hug.

I'm sorry you felt the only way out was to take your own life.

There is not a day, hour or minute, when I don't wish you back into existence, so I can kiss you and hold you and tell you again and again how things can get better. That being a man is so much more than being physically strong or holding down a job. That if you talked to your friends about what was wrong, they would listen gladly.

And that it's okay to cry, in fact, it's damn near essential that men are able to cry because no human being can hold stoic silence in the midst of all that life throws at you.

I'm sorry being a man killed you. And I'm just so sorry it is killing so many men like you.

Poorna Bell will be publishing her first book called Chase The Rainbow (Simon & Schuster) on 4 May.

HuffPost UK is running a month-long focus around men to highlight the pressures they face around identity and to raise awareness of the epidemic of suicide. To address some of the issues at hand, Building Modern Men presents a snapshot of life for men, the difficulty in expressing emotion, the challenges of speaking out, as well as kick starting conversations around male body image, LGBT identity, male friendship and mental health.

To blog for Building Modern Men, email If you would like to read our features focused around men, click here

Useful websites and helplines:

  • Samaritans offers a listening service which is open 24 hours a day, on 116 123 (UK and ROI - this number is FREE to call and will not appear on your phone bill.)
  • Mind, open Monday to Friday, 9am-6pm on 0300 123 3393
  • Rethink Mental Illness advice and information service is open 9:30 - 4pm Monday - Friday - 0300 5000 927. They have over 100 factsheets with easy to understand information on a variety of issues related to mental health
  • CALM (Campaign Against Living Miserably) is a registered charity, which exists to prevent male suicide in the UK. Call 0800 58 58 58 or visit
  • The Mix is a free advice service for people under 25. Call 0808 808 4994 or email:
  • HopeLine runs a confidential advice helpline if you are a young person at risk of suicide or are worried about a young person at risk of suicide. Mon-Fri 10-5pm and 7pm-10pm. Weekends 2pm-5pm on 0800 068 41 41