How We Developed this Book
Through many collaborative efforts and life experiences the editors of the book met many men along the way who agreed to help us put this manual together. When their privacy was protected they all told us the same thing: we need more resources for men. They also told us that they wanted to hear the stories of other men, men like them, who had gone through difficult life challenges, who had been brought to their knees by hopelessness, who had even considered suicide, and who now had embarked on a journey of recovery. They wanted to know there was a roadmap out of the darkness, a rope ladder up out of the seemingly bottomless well of despair, loneliness and frustration, that others had followed that would lead them back to the life of which they dreamed.
One night Sarah reached out to Sally with a burning idea to bring together inspiring stories of hope and practical tools to help men. Because of the connections we had made over the last decade through our work with men and suicide prevention, we knew we could reach out to dozens of men who had heroically fought suicide and other life hardships and are incredible role models for healing.
We also knew we couldn’t do this alone, so we reached out to Frank King. As he likes to say, Frank “puts the man into the MANual” — he also brings the humor. We believe that a little humor sprinkled into difficult conversations is a must. He believes that where there is humor there is hope, where there is laughter there is life, and that nobody dies laughing.
Collectively we bore witness to hundreds of men’s stories and were struck not only by the similar theme of the “hero’s journey” in so many of those stories but the consistent initial belief by the storyteller that his pain was unique and that his suffering was weakness, a character flaw, or a moral failing.
This book has been both a labor of love but also a massive collaboration. In our research and development phase, countless men participated in one on one interviews, over hundreds participated in surveys. When we solicited stories to include, dozens of men stepped forward and volunteered to share their testimonies for this project.
Findings from Our Market Research
Who did our guys want to hear from? The overwhelming majority wanted to hear stories from “everyday men they can relate to” but also over ⅓ wanted to learn from “experts in the field.” So, we decided to make a book that blended the two perspectives.
Here are the top issues they wanted us to address in the book:
#1 Relationships and Marriage
#2 Depression/Anxiety or other Mental Health Conditions
#4 Loneliness and Isolation
#5 Financial Pressure
#6 Boxers or Briefs (just kidding)
Everything within this book was created through the feedback of these men from the cover, to the images, to the topics. We hope and believe that men of all ages and backgrounds will find courage, strength, relief, ideas and laughter as they explore these MANuals.
None of this would have occurred however without the courage and voices of our storytellers who responded to a simple call for submissions. We asked them to bare their souls to the world, shine a flashlight into the darkest corners of their existence, in the hopes that their story could help others. They answered our call and their honesty, humility, strength and courage inspired us even more and we hope that they will inspire you as well.
One way we will weave together the research, mental health tips and lived experience stories is through lyrics that many of us may have enjoyed on long road trips…so be prepared to tune your dial from time to time.