Chaplains Chatty – September

Dear All

I trust you are well? To that question most men and women will say, “Aye, good thanks”, even though they have an ailment of one sort or another. Why is it that we prefer to suffer in silence, rather than admit we are not as well as we would wish? Often we say this, when our faces will show as clear as day that we are suffering. Why?

Is it a macho thing to do, to brush it off? Or are we saying that it is a weakness to admit our health is not as good as it could be? In my experience either approach has more negative connotations than positive ones. What do I mean? Well, in the first instance by not addressing the symptoms being experienced we are putting our bodies under additional strain, which in turn often results in taking longer to recover.

I would suggest that this applies both to our physical and our mental health. “Don’t worry about me Pal, I can cope!” I am sure in the majority of cases you can and do, I don’t doubt that. But what happens when you are feeling stressed, anxious, or depressed? When all those small problems start to stack up and you feel yourself not coping? What is your response to that situation?

I saw a programme recently; it was a documentary on that great Scot the ex Birmingham City and Hibs striker Garry O’Connor. You may have seen it. The programme covered his career, both the highs and the lows. Towards the end of the programme it covered how he coped with the loneliness of playing football in Russia and the stressful times when he was out injured. He admitted that it wasn’t easy; in fact he became depressed because he found it so hard to cope. He did look for a way out of his depression. Initially, Garry tried to hide from it in drugs and booze. This only added to his problems. It wasn’t until he opened up to a friend, who didn’t judge him but just listened and looked for ways to build his confidence, plus his family were willing to be part of his support mechanism, that he began to recover from his depression and anxiety.

Recovery from Depression is often a long road, you will have setbacks, times when you step back because of situations or circumstances that causes negative depressive thinking. I have learned that when this happens, I need to remind myself that I have been here before and by recognising that I had climbed out of that pit of despair with the support and help of friends and family and I can do it again (and again!) Aye it’s difficult on occasions nevertheless by being kind to yourself, there is hope.

I just want to encourage you, if you are struggling with life, if you are feeling stressed, anxious or depressed. There is hope for you. Slowly men and women are beginning to realise that the stigma associated with poor mental health is definitely a thing of the past. There is a greater acceptance that poor mental health is an illness. Like any illness, flu, measles, to name but a few, if it is not treated, it will get worse. Treat it and you will recover. There is hope.

I am here if you would like to chat more.

Best wishes

Steve Nash

Club Chaplain.