My Battle With Depression: Football Saved & Improved My Life

I write this blog of my experiences to mark Mental Health Awareness Week which is a topic that is close to my heart and those of my friends.

Tell me, how does it feel to know that you’re alone and to have the feeling where you feel like scum? Well, I’ve had that feeling and I wouldn’t wish it on anyone in the world. Mental health is still a taboo subject but this is my story of how I overcame my personal battle which was fought over back three years ago.

Darkness became my friend over 3 years ago and I’ll set the scene for you reading this. The year was 2014, I was in Year 9 and I’d been involved in two turbulent years so far at Belfairs. I had been in trouble quite a lot and even though Year 9 hadn’t been that bad before the incident that was set to bring me down into my ruins, one thing triggered it and effectively changed my life because of it.

I won’t specify what I did due to privacy but I’ll admit it was bad. Even on my level of having been in isolation for a lot of stuff during Year 7 and 8, this beat it all. The incident involved me and one girl. For four months, I had an increase in the amount of paranoia, anxiety and stress upto the stage where I didn’t want my family going out anywhere in case they saw anyone who knew what I had done.

Eventually, one Saturday morning in June was too much for me when whilst I was doing my morning paper round, I broke and I had to call a helpline for help. I lied to my parents that day when I went to get help. I told them that I was going out to get new summer clothes but I didn’t tell them about how I was also going to seek help to overcome what had happened four months earlier.

That day saw me reveal what had happened and I felt better as a result. However, I didn’t know my parents were going to get told what I’d done. I became upset when my parents were told on the phone by the people who I had told. However, much to my disbelief, my parents stood by me and they noticed the pain I had gone through. They finally realised why I had been the way I had been for the previous 4 months and they like the rest of my family stood by me for what I had done despite how bad it was.

I carried on and moved forward in life or at least I tried to. The revelation had been done. It was getting the rest of my incident solved that I had been involved in alongside this other girl however my friendship with one friend of mine went from good to bad within hours because she had found out about me going to seek help. She was meant to be my friend and she abandoned me like I had nothing to do with her. It wasn’t the first time nor was it going to be the last time and I knew that.

In the mix of this all, word had got out at school and I went from being highly liked and respected to being the prick of the year group who was widely hated. This effectively never changed until I left Belfairs. Nobody wanted to know me and this was the start of my depression which gripped me for the next few months. I wasn’t invited to any parties nor was I invited to go out during the summer.

I then reached a peak summit to make everything worse when I called out my best friend as a slag because she was crushing over two boys. She didn’t talk to me for 2 months and that was the last remaining friend I had from Year 9 gone.

I was thankful the summer holidays were only a week away when my incident was all cleared up. I left for the summer where I thought it was meant to be the best one of my life to date but little did I know how wrong I would become.

To date, it was the worst holiday and not because I wasn’t invited out or anything of that sort. It was the fact that I had no one there except for my family to show me the definition of friendship, love and respect. My year group had ripped those values away from me before I left for the summer and they left me soulless. I was left with being inside my house for the majority of that holiday. I could’ve gone out and tried contacting people to meet up but given how my year group had left things before I left, there was no one there who had contacted me before to give me support.

I felt negative towards life and ready to screw up every good thing going on because I didn’t see what was the point of being at school anymore. I got sick of being inside all summer and eventually I broke again and wanted things to go back to normal like they had been in the January but that was never going to be the case for me anymore.

A New Beginning – My Resurrection

It was August 19th 2014, I decided something had to change in my life. I first phoned up Southend United to see if I could start some work experience and they said I needed to have the all-clear from my school and this was in the middle of the summer so I was stuck there.

However, that same day saw me call up Canvey Island FC. They were in need of volunteers and I was meant to go down and help them in their game against Metropolitan Police but due to my Dad being on an early start the following morning, I had to start on the following Saturday.

The day Saturday 23rd August 2014 will always stick out to me as it was the day my life started to get better and yes, it did take a slow amount of time but it did become worth it.

You could almost say that my love for watching football matches over the last 3 years has become my therapy to combat my depression and my mental health overall. What football gave me was a new lease of life and I’ve had that experienced with my time at Canvey.

To be honest, the amount of work I did down there in my first season proved to be what I needed to be doing. It gave me the chance to put my skills to good use and it gave me the chance to help down there without people knowing my backstory which was a horrid one.

Unlike my year group at school at the time, my friends at Canvey didn’t and don’t judge me for my past. They judge me for what I am now and that’s what I liked about life down there.

When I returned to school as a Year 10 student, I did get the odd bit of abuse for being part of Canvey now but I got used to it and it became my home throughout the year. I did write myself off more quickly when aiming to be successful at school when I returned back. More importantly, my help at Canvey had taught me to love and not hate. It also helped me grow up loads unlike school which just taught me how to be a prick.

I did get a little bit of counselling at school to help me and it was worth it but I found the better help was at Canvey which for me was my therapy as I like to call it.

Is my story complete yet? Well, mostly yes however, even now I get the odd days when I feel depressed and down. Even in Year 11, two years after the incident, people used to use my incident to bring me down in an argument and at first, it did work but now, I have no regrets and I don’t get hurt by it.

Effectively speaking, if I hadn’t been involved in that incident which led to my mental health problems, I wouldn’t be involved in football like I am now with the Essex Senior League and even Canvey from time to time. I did survive the bad days but at the cost of friends who are now of no importance to me.

Unlike plenty of people who suffer depression, I didn’t think of suicidal thoughts in the peak of my depression in the summer of 2014. That’s because I did know that what I was going through was going to end eventually or as I like to quote “There is light at the end of the tunnel”.

Every battle is different to us all and that’s what makes us unique in our own way. I can’t thank my friends at Canvey and Great Wakering and even now my friends who report on the matches in the Essex Senior League enough for giving me a life that I didn’t have three years ago and more importantly my family for sticking by me when they were my last standing battalion to support me when all the rest had deserted me.

Thank you for reading this and I am more than happy to help guide anyone to any mental health support charities if it means that speaking out is the first battle won in a road of many. – Young Minds – Childline – Samaritans


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