So, this is going to be different from your typical World Cup blog posts. I am going to be talking about the World Cup but, I’m also going to be talking about mental health, running and sharing a few recipes, plus a few other bits and bobs. The reasons for each will become clear after reading what’s below…
Yesterday I turned thirty-four. Which, came as a bit of a shock to me. For some reason, up to about a week ago I thought, I was going to be turning thirty-three. So, in my head I have lost a year of my life. The last six months have been a bit of a rollercoaster both with work and at home. My partner and I brought our first house which, she renovated. I was away making my fifth film ‘John Barnes: Poetry in Motion’ which, premiered after the FA Cup final on BT Sport in May. The extended feature cut comes out on DVD on August 4th (PLUG – http://www.JohnBarnesFilm.com). The renovations have finished on the house and we have moved in and are steadily unpacking. All of these things combined have made me do a lot of reflecting.
For as long as I can remember I have struggled with depression, anxiety and an overwhelming sense that I don’t quite fit in. It doesn’t matter if I’m out for drinks with friends, a party, dinner with the family or filming on set or location. I have this overwhelming sense that I don’t quite belong and everyone else around me feels the same way about me. At any minute I’ll be shown the door and kicked in the arse on my way out.
I’m very open about these issues. If someone brings up mental health in some way, I usually tell them my history. I’m not in any way ashamed of this part of my life. And, most people I am close to also suffer from a variety of mental health issues. I would go so far to say that most people will suffer from some sort of mental health issue in their life.
A few years ago, for the first time in my life I managed to really take control of my depression and though I still have bad patches, I do feel like I have a firm control of it. This in return has improved my life no end, both personally and professionally. Because of this, because I’m in a good place; Looking back on a film I’m really proud of, in my first house renovated by the person I love. I thought I’d share a few things that I have helped me, keep at bay an illness that I always thought would eventually get the better of me.
Exercise. It’s amazing how much keeping yourself fit can help towards a healthy mind. I chose running. Within a month I could run a 5k, a few months later 10k and at one point I could run close to 12 miles. This is from someone who barley exercised until he was thirty. Due to work, the house and general laziness I haven’t run as much as I should of over the last six months. But, I went for a run in my new town a few days ago and managed just under five miles without any discomfort. I’ve run everyday since.
Diet. I go through patches of eating very healthy and very unhealthily. If I’ve had a few drinks I kind of think ‘fuck it’ when it comes to food. But, if I eat the right things my body needs and stay away from processed food or junk food, it helps me just as much as excercise.
Therapy. This was a game changer for me. I did counselling for nine months to tackle some pretty long and deep routed issues that I’d never truly faced. My mum has worked in the mental health profession ever since I was about eight or nine. She had always encouraged me to seek some type of therapy. Never pushed. Just encouraged. From my early teens till I was about thirty my reaction was always ‘it won’t work for me’. The truth is I’m an arrogant prick at times and I thought no human being in the country, probably the world, could possibly help me. It wasn’t that I was afraid to ask for help. I just thought I was ‘above it’ and that any type of therapy would be a waste of time. Two months into my counselling I was like a new person. I had finally started to understand certain things which had haunted me all my life. Without that nine months of help I wouldn’t be in the place I am now. There will probably be a time where I will need to go to counselling again. That’s fine, it’s like going to the doctors for a check-up. I get that now. I wish I could tell my sixteen-year-old self, who was so angry, scared and confused that if they just talked to a professional, they’re life will be infantly better.
As everything in my life has been so manic. As I haven’t been able to run as much as I have wanted too. Because I have been on the road a lot, I haven’t been able to cook and eat exactly what I should. I’ve decided to enjoy and write about the World Cup a little bit differently this year. Instead of watching the World Cup with a six pack and some junk food or going to the pub. I’m going to be going for some runs while listening to some games on the radio. Making some healthy meals inspired by the countries in the World Cup, sharing the recipes and of course talking about the football.