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.
Loneliness was the biggest contributing factor to my poor mental health and I can recall several times in my life where I’ve been desperate for someone to connect with. It led me to self-harm, self-destruction and wanting to end my life on a number of occasions.
I now find myself asking: what’s the point? No one gives a shit I exist and I can’t see that ever changing. I want to be dead.
(A segment from the mental health diary I wrote in 2013)
By the start of 2017, I was more sound in my head but I still feared a relapse. My girlfriend was going to New Zealand for a while – a trip she had already booked before we got together – and I’d just moved to a new town. Plus, it was winter… which didn’t help things.
To try and combat a potential spiral, I started visiting stadiums in Europe. My plan was to visit warmer climates in order to combat the sadness I often felt during the cold months of winter. I called it the Hibernation Stadium Tour.
During my time abroad, I tried to share my story and raise money and awareness for mental health charities. Mind and Samaritans received £25 each – a figure not to be sniffed at but it left me feeling (ironically) more isolated. Very few of my friends made a donation and even less asked me how my trips were afterwards.
I really enjoyed myself when I was in those new places, though, and when I was back home, I eagerly awaited my next adventure. When my girlfriend returned from the southern hemisphere, I continued my journey of discovery by tracking down stadiums in the UK using the same initials as my fundraising event name.
Groundhopping is now my ‘High Stress Therapy’. It hasn’t cured the sadness I still get from loneliness but it does help keep my mind healthy. Having a shout at a game really does relieve my stress and documenting my travels pushes me to get through my anxiety.
This site now hosts all of the blog posts from my mental health stadium tour. My aim is to visit as many different grounds as I can, which includes ‘doing the 92’ of visiting all the clubs in the English Football League.
As well as improving my own state of mind, I hope the tour can encourage others to talk about mental health more openly and find the help they need. Whenever I’m in a dark place, I can’t bear the thought of others thinking the same way I do. I just want to make a difference in any little way I can because I know how agonising a mental health problem can be.
To follow my journey and discoveries, you can find High Stress Therapy on Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest using the handle @hst_groundhop and on Facebook under @highstresstherapy. I also post and share stories on mental health that I find interesting or useful, while I have some resources to check out in the Links section of this website.
Thank you for visiting,