Hello, I’m Lewis. Mental health has played a significant part in my life. I grew up with both my parents suffering their own mental health problems before I began to develop my own issues while a young adult. Loneliness led to depression, depression led to anxiety and all of these led to me wanting to end my life on several occasions.
What helped me through those dark times was football. Though my dad and I went through a lot of bad days supporting a declining Wrexham team amidst the deterioration in our own minds, it strangely gave us something to hold on to. Despite feeling so despondent, we kept tuning in to BBC Radio Wales every Saturday to hear us play. Although dad struggled to attend games because of his mental health, whenever I went to the Racecourse Ground, I always felt better for having done so. To be part of something and to let out my emotions over 90 minutes gave me therapy.
These days I feel more sound in my head. I understand my thoughts a lot more as well as how to avoid and deal with my issues. But I still have mental health problems from time-to-time, stemming mostly from high levels of stress. And football is still my go-to cleanser for my mind. It’s my High Stress Therapy.
Even though following Wrexham is still my number one pastime, I’ve also grown a passion for groundhopping. I love visiting places where sport is the focal point. For a moment in time, I can leave my troubles outside of the stadium. Or channel them into something else. Which brings me to why I created this blog.
HST first came to fruition on the back of my stadium tour in winter 2017. My plan was to visit warmer climates in order to combat the sadness I often feel in the winter months. I called it the Hibernation Stadium Tour.
During my time abroad, I explored new cities and scoped out some of Europe’s best stadiums. At each stadium, I held up a card featuring the contact information for mental health charities Mind and Samaritans. This was both as evidence for me being there and would hopefully attract a wider audience from people interested in the team or city.
I visited Barcelona, Porto and Dublin during my fundraising, raising £25 each for my two charities. A figure not to be sniffed at but it left me wanting to do more. So, I decided to continue the journey and make a blog on my groundhopping experiences.
The premise is much the same as my fundraising tour. I will travel to new grounds, take a photo of my HST card on location and then write a post about whatever I find interesting from my experiences. There’s no real set structure on what I’ll talk about but I always try to find some highlights and disappointments, along with an overall assessment of the day.
The crux of my hopping still remains giving myself High Stress Therapy. However, I’m also hoping to encourage better mental health in others too. My social media feeds feature lots of stories, advice and tips I’ve found relating to improving mental health while I also hope people can feel more confident about opening up with their own inner thoughts, or can find their own High Stress Therapy in whatever they enjoy.