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Today is 10th October and its World Mental Health day.

What does it mean to you? Nothing? Something? Everything?

First let me start by giving my opinion on ‘Mental health’. Everybody in this world has ‘Mental Health’, exactly like everyone has ‘Physical Health’.

Like ‘Physical health’, everyone has their individual level of it and that is exactly the same with someone’s ‘Mental Health’

It feel’s to me like the majority of messaging around Mental Health has negative connotations. That there is a stigma around it.

There is no shame around someone going to the gym for their physical (and mental) health, and we don’t bat an eye lid when we see people on social media thanking their personal trainers.

Why is the ‘Mind gym’ different? Therapy is one of the best things I’ve ever done. It’s helped me to understand more about how I work and why I feel certain things. It’s made me a better communicator, friend, husband and hopefully father.

Don’t get me wrong, I’ve got A LONG way to go, but my word it helps.

When you’re affected by depression and anxiety, you’re constantly looking for comfort. In whatever form that may be.

For me, that comfort came in the form of my football club, Sheffield Wednesday. We were all coming out of the pandemic and we’d missed the connection with like minded individuals and that escpaism. In the darkest times, depression can grab you so tightly everything feels unachievable and unfair.

I needed something to sooth the void that I was clearly feeling but didn’t understand. I found comfort in buying so many Wednesday hoody’s, training kits, blankets and general merchandise. If I saw pals out and about it become a bit of a running joke I was always in Wednesday training kit.

I didn’t know at the time but it was my comfort blanket. Protecting me from the mental illness that is Depression.

Football isn’t just a game. It’s not just 22 people kicking a ball around a field. It’s about connection. It’s about beliveing in something bigger than you, and sharing with others who believe the same. It brings us up in our darkest times and in the best of times, elevates us to heights we never thought imaginable .

With all this in mind, let me tell you a story about the time I took a trip to Peterborough. August 16th 2022.

Ah yes, where are my manners. Let me introduce you to a man who:

  • Drove 5 hours on his own to Peterborough on a Tuesday.
  • Had a full pint spilt all over him by a fellow (lively) Wednesday fan.
  • Witnessed a 2 – 0 defeat including a red card for the Owls.
  • Got absolutely drenched on the walk back got the car.
  • Was tending to a flat tyre, in the rain, at Strensham services at midnight.
  • Got home at 2am but high as a kite on multiple red bulls and rocket fuel coffee’s couldn’t get to sleep until 4am.
  • at 37 years old should know better.
  • Would do it all over again

As I write this I haven’t touched a Red Bull (Other energy drinks are available) in 52 days. Long may that continue.

Like many others, I’ve got a lot of stories to tell. Everyone of them has a common thread. They involve a connection to people and to something constant, something comforting in the worst and best of times.

  • Wembley 2016. We lost the playoff final but what a day.
  • Pressman’s penalty against Wolves (Show me a better penalty in world football, that’s right you can’t)
  • The second goal from Kieran Lee against Brighton in the playoff Semi Final
  • Dagenham & Redbridge at Home 1st game of the season on my own
  • Burnley away on my own (10hours driving, no pint or programme, lost 3-1)
  • Blackburn away on my own (9 hours driving, left at 85minutes being 1-0 up, lost 2-1)
  • Numerous Cardiff City matches with Uncle Kimbo (Happy Gathering for a Chinese and a few tsingtaos first mind).

I honestly wouldn’t change any of it for the world. I must thank my parents who acted as enablers in my primary school years, trekking up and down the M1 interspersed with magical trip to Swindon and the Dell.

As the old adage goes ”We’re all Wednesday aren’t we”. That’s what does it for me and doesn’t get much better.

You don’t have to understand to the detail of what’s important to someone for their own Mental health, you just need to understand and appreciate that they do, and champion them at every opportunity.

I’d love to hear what you think and her your version of Mental health.

Take care & Speak Easy