Welcome to High Stress Therapy – a groundhopping blog that aims to promote better mental health. My name’s Lewis and this is the extended version of how I came to create this site and why.
Mental health has played a significant part in my life. I grew up with both my parents suffering mental illnesses before I began to develop my own issues as a young adult – namely depression and anxiety. These led to me self-harming, self-destructive and 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 tuned in to BBC Radio Wales every week to hear us play. Although dad struggled to attend games because of his illness, whenever I went to the Racecourse Ground I always felt better for having done so. To be part of something helped with my loneliness. And letting out my emotions over 90 minutes gave me great release.
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 and football is still the go-to cleanser for my mind. It’s become 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. I can leave my troubles outside the stadium for a moment in time or I can channel them into something else. Which brings me to why I created this blog.
High Stress Therapy first came to fruition in a different form. It was in 2017 when I started visiting stadiums in Europe. My plan was to visit warmer climates in order to combat the sadness I often feel in the cold months of winter. 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 ground, I held up a card featuring the contact information for mental health charities Mind and Samaritans. This was evidence that I’d been there and would hopefully also attract a wider audience from people interested in the team or city.
I visited Barcelona, Porto and Dublin during my fundraising. Mind and Samaritans received £25 each – a figure not to be sniffed at – but it left me wanting to do more. So I decided to continue the stadium tour and make a blog of my groundhopping experiences.
The premise is the same as my fundraising tour. I will travel to new grounds, take a photo of my banner 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 try to find some highlights and disappointments, along with an overall assessment of the day.
The crux of my groundhopping 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, or can find their own High Stress Therapy in whatever they enjoy.
Thanks for checking-in on my journey! Hope to see you again down the road.