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Mental Health Matters: Fans supporting fans

Roker Reporter Anthony Gair very bravely opens up on his recent mental health struggles - with the support of others, and fantastic organisations like Washington Mind, people can learn to manage their issues, and understand that it’s okay to not be okay.


We are in this together, no matter what your colours are. If you are struggling, Washington Mind have a live chat available for advice & guidance.

Visit weekdays between 3pm - 4pm, and click on speech bubble to chat. The Samaritans free phone number is: 116 123.

Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, mental health has been a forgotten aspect of every individual, old, young, big, small, able-bodied, and disabled.

If you’ve come here expecting a Sunderland based football article, I’m sorry, this will not be about ownership, or ‘should Will Grigg be persevered with’, but it will be a personal account of a Sunderland fan struggling with their mental health during these unprecedented times which has desecrated societal communication and left many people restrained inside their own homes, incapable of ‘proper social interaction’.

Yes, this may appear to be a self-indulgent use of the platform I have been given by Roker Report and I apologise for that, but please, read on if you feel like you’re alone though all of this, or if you feel like what you are feeling is not normal and you need some confirmation that you’re not the only one who feels that way.

Please use the comments section below to air your grievances, either with the article, with myself or just with your feelings throughout the pandemic (perhaps you miss being at the football, if you miss the Stadium of Light on a Saturday so much that it’s left an unfillable void in your life) – even if you’ve come across this article as a fan of another club, I would like to hear from you and respond in turn, humanely, to the issues you have at hand.

Sunderland v Ipswich Town - Sky Bet League One Photo by Ian Horrocks/Sunderland AFC via Getty Images

Anyway, let's start with a simple question.

How are you? Seriously, how are you doing?

Nobody ever asks that any more, with any sincerity.

The phrase is generally just a throwaway comment which is an extension of ‘Hello’ or ‘Good Morning’. Surprise someone the next time you are asked, by delving deeply into a conversation about yourself, see what happens.

I’ll tell you… they’ll look upon you as if you have lost your mind as they didn’t intend for you to go rambling on about how the kids are keeping you up at night, your financial troubles are giving you anxieties that are giving you uncontrollable mood swings, or worrying about your wellness at work to the extent that you’re frustrated and stressed about the members of the general public, who refuse to protect themselves and others from the rigours of the pandemic by refusing to wear a mask.

Let me tell you, life does get you down at times. Personally, I have been going around since June completely withdrawn and generally unhappy about just being awake. I’ve struggled to maintain my relationship of 14 years due to the stress I’ve been putting her under as she feels that my moods are her fault. I’m not going to lie, I don’t even help her to feel that it isn’t her fault, even though it most certainly isn’t. She’s the reason I wake up on a morning and drag myself to work, put on a happy face, and come home.

Although we usually argue about my incessant lethargy and consistent laziness (which I correctly or incorrectly blame on exhaustion), she still stands by me and puts up with the turgidity I put her through. I have realised this very recently and have become more reactive, when I begin to feel fatigue by doing simple little things like, taking the dog out for a walk or a brisk walk to the shop.

Personally, I have recently found myself gambling too much, drinking more alcohol than usual (although I don’t feel like I ‘need’ to drink - which is a good thing), eating too much and piling the weight on. All of these traits are things I need to work on as a human, but with COVID around and having rung the doctor on three separate occasions, I’ve found myself unable to find help when I need it the most.

Thankfully, I have a wonderful family who support me when I’m at my lowest.

Obviously I understand that these are all petty things that I’ve found myself dwelling over, I’ve never found myself suicidal, or wanting to harm myself, but these little things do start to build up, and begin to get to you, it builds up your anxieties.

Not every day is a bad day, there are days when I can pick myself up and have a great day. Sometimes I find myself wanting to take on the world (in an ambitious way) and find myself able to write these articles, or asking work if there’s any extracurricular activity I can help them out with, which currently we’re doing a lot for charity in the run up to Christmas.

Anyway, I realise I’m rambling on, but I hope I’ve managed to raise some awareness of some anxieties that ‘normal’ people feel on an everyday basis, and that, if you feel the same, that you’re not alone in feeling that way - and you should have a chat to someone to alleviate the pressure of feeling that!

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