Football, Mental Health & Me!

I wasn’t sure how to start this piece, it is a bit more personal than the other articles I put out. I know people read my work to get my thoughts on the world of Newcastle United, and those pieces have been very few and far between of late. This is more a personal piece, something I have been intending to write for a while, and is more an update as to what is happening with me and Tales from the Gallowgate.

Try as I might there is no escaping the fact I suffer from mental health. A nice mixture of Depression and Anxiety. This is something I tried to deny for years, until recently. In the past couple of years have I only accepted that I suffer from this invisible illness, that dictates a lot of my life.

I was in denial, when I would go to the doctors, they would ask, I would reject it flat out. Thinking I don’t suffer from that, I’m just having a bad time of it at the moment. This bad time lasted over a decade. In that time I would find my own form of self harm. I would be that ‘idiot’ you would see when angry that would punch walls, or any inanimate object that happened to be nearby. I wouldn’t just punch it once, I would keep doing it until I bled, a way to feel something else, to get out of my head almost. Sometimes that wasn’t enough, and on 4 occasions I tried to end it permanently, thankfully I wasn’t successful.

It has been the only time in my life, I have been glad to fail. During a lot of this time I lived in the midlands, which I’m going to lie, I hated, it wasn’t home. So when I finally moved back unto the North East almost 4 years ago, I thought the anger, and everything else would disappear. Needless to say it didn’t. This was the point in which I started to look into what was wrong. It was also the around the same time that mens mental health became a talking point. I went to see my doctor, who gave me a test. On this if you answered ‘yes’ to 4 points, then you needed help, I answered ‘yes’ to 10 out of the 10 questions. So I started going to see someone to help.

I am not a big talker, and it just felt like more of the same. Not really letting out how I was feeling, it felt like I was fighting a losing battle, and there was nothing to turn the tide. However there were 2 things that helped, that have always been there….football and writing.

Part of the reason for moving home was at the age of 30 I decided I wasn’t happy to be working in shops for the rest of my life, and I had been writing for a MMA website, which I loved doing. So I decided to go to Uni, and get a degree in journalism, turn something I love doing into a career.

It also meant I could go back and watch Newcastle play. Lets be honest the past few years have not been great, but it is the only time I felt apart of something, and I wasn’t inside my own head. For 90 minutes I was free, I was among like minded people who were all fighting for the same thing. So I decided to put my first 2 loves together, and I started writing about Newcastle United.

I would write for another fan page, and even try and get some things published in True Faith, one piece did, but I wasn’t happy with it and knew I could do better. So I thought go out on my own. That is when Tales from the Gallowgate was born.

The page started out as a way to put my thoughts about football down in ‘ink’, and a way to put into practise the techniques I had picked up at uni. I never expected people would like my work, to the point I was excited if I got one positive comment about something I had written.

My writing for me has always been a way to try and make sense of what was happening in the ever changing world of Newcastle United, and a way to get my thoughts streamlined. As more and more people started reading my work, and the positive comments kept rolling in, it felt amazing, but then my anxiety kicked back in.

I’d look at the pieces I had written, which ones had the most traffic, which ones I enjoyed writing, and the ones I didn’t, and would the ideas I had for pieces match up to this level of quality I had told myself I had to stick to. In the past couple of weeks I have scrapped several ideas and articles, simply because I told myself no-one would want to read it, it was a waste. As each day continued that feeling grew, and I just couldn’t convince myself to write anything, kept telling myself other sites have covered a similar thing, and we don’t need another fan page in the world of NUFC social media. It was a vicious cycle that I couldn’t get out of.

Some may have seen on my personal account a few weeks ago, I took a couple days of twitter to get my head right. It didn’t work, so I returned to the environment of negativity that is the Newcastle fanbase. I am someone who will always try and see the positive, and at times it gets hard, especially with how the club is at the moment, I wear my heart on my sleeve and sometimes social media is the wrong environment for that.

So I kept binning ideas. The two I have written, both on transfers, one contained probably one of the best moments for me of the summer. When writing a piece about the incoming signing of Jeff Hendrick, I asked for journalists opinions on him, and luckily Chris Waugh was willing enough to give me his. The fact that a respected journalist took the time out to help gave me a small high, and for a couple of days I was on top of the world.

Then I started to question myself again. The ideas dried up, and there was just no motivation to do anything.

So this is where I am at the moment. I do have ideas for articles, and I am now of the mindset, I started this for me, I didn’t;t really expect anyone to read my work, so I am going to go back to that mindset.

I am not going to lie, I’m still in a bad place, but I am improving each day, and that only gets better when I write. As mad as it sounds, with the football season returning, my mind will be less muddled, and I can get back to doing what I consider I do best….writing about Newcastle United.

Thank you for taking this time t read this, I appreciate it may seem a bit muddled, that is just how my mind is at the moment. But I will be turning out articles again, I’m even toying with the idea of doing a ‘one-man’ podcast at the moment. But I just needed this time to realise why I’m doing this, and to stop putting so much pressure on myself.

That said, if anyone would like to come on board with #TftG then email me at tftgallowgate@gmail.com, and would welcome anyone that wants to be a part of this. If not, I will continue to put in the work, and hopefully turn out pieces that people enjoy, even if its not all of them!

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