Written by Aaishani Mukhopadhyay
Very often, the slightest display of irritation or frustration by women is attributed to it being “that time of the month” more than any other reason. Well as it turns out, men have their “that time of the month” as well. The term often used to address this is IMS or the Irritable Male Syndrome that is a state of hypersensitivity, frustration, anxiety, and anger.
Anger is one of the effects of IMS which is also influenced by the toxic masculine notion that expressing emotions is feminine.
It is associated with biochemical changes, hormonal fluctuation, stress, and loss of male identity. Personally, I have seen many of my male family members go through periods of irritation and mood swings that changed faster than people changed their opinion about Elon Musk after he became the richest man on Earth.
Men, however, often tend to think that their irritable nature is the result of everyone going out of their way to bother them or stress from work. One point that should be noted here is that the external behavioural symptoms of depression are different for males and females. While females generally tend to feel sadness or despair, men feel irritable.
This has been best expressed by Ron Kessler, “When you study depression among children, they don’t talk about being sad, they talk about being angry and irritable. Children don’t have the cognitive capacity to make sense of all their feelings. There’s a great similarity between children and men. Men get irritable; women get sad” The biggest irony lies in the simple fact that IMS in fact causes severe depression.
1.Hypersensitivity– If any of you have ever felt like you are walking on eggshells when a male friend or family member is present, then congratulations, the first symptom of IMS is visible. Due to this, men often perceive a situation ten times worse than it already is and even though many of them hide their feelings, after a point of time, they lash out in anger. One concept that helps us understand this better is the “emotional sunburn”.
It basically means a point where you fail to self regulate. It hampers your ability to produce a rational and typical response. For a better understanding, let’s consider a simple hypothetical situation, where a man has been sunburnt and his wife comes to hug him to welcome him home without realizing that he has been burnt. In this case on receiving the hug, the man will feel anger and pain from the hug and the thought that his wife doesn’t care about him and lashes out at her, who on the other hand has no idea why. This leads to confusion and even more hypersensitivity eventually.
2. Anxiety– Anxiety is a state of apprehension, uncertainty, and fear resulting from the anticipation of a realistic or fantasized threatening event or situation. Anxiety about their job, family, marriage, etc. tends to make men cranky and even more anxious.
3. Frustration- This is one of the four symptoms that I have seen in my father’s case very often. He often is upset and depressed with his career, social, and family life. To put it in better words, he seems to have this lingering thought that he has not achieved what he could and that his family is better off without him. This is a real tough challenge to overcome because most of the things are in imagination.
4. Anger– In a society that believes that display of emotion is “feminine”, anger is the only emotion, men can and are allowed to show without being questioned on their masculinity. So most of the time, the primary manifestation of IMS is anger.
Women want to be understood and feel loved and respected, it is not any different for our menfolk. We all have a primary need to be understood and feel loved. IMS is mainly accredited to hormones but we can help our men feel better if we act with patience and of course, TALK ABOUT IT.
Male chauvinist society has not only harmed women but also men by sealing away their problem by putting a knight suit on them and calling them brave knights but what we often tend to forget is that behind that suit of armour, is another human with just as humane emotions and feelings. Encouraging men to talk and open up about their feelings and supporting them through IMS will help them defeat their IMS and we collectively will be taking another step towards a more equal and just society.