Football is my most potent drug!

I would like to start by asking those of you who don’t like football, not to stop reading! I am very aware that it is not everyone’s thing, and this blog is not a football blog, but I wanted to explain, how for me, it is a very important part of my overall therapy. I am sure that we all have a hobby that we are passionate about, so please substitute, football for your passion, then you will get the idea!

For the past five years, I have been through some very dark times, and if I’m honest, still have them. I have nearly died twice from treatment, and have suffered so many different side effects, that it is almost impossible to live something approaching a normal life.Since this all started, something affected my brain and I have been unable to sleep properly. I put up with this for a couple of years but my health was getting worse, and it was turning into a mental nightmare! I used to sit up most of the night watching TV. I just couldn’t understand, why I couldn’t sleep. The hospital were concerned as my body couldn’t complete the healing process without proper rest.

They put me in touch with a clinical psychiatrist, who explained that my brain was like a computer. That hasn’t been said very often!! He explained that although I had still switched off, there was a programme still functioning in my brain, and he suggested taking some tablets, to switch off that programme. Of course the normal dose wasn’t enough so I took double and that did the job! I still have to do that now.
It was explained to me that the shock and physical trauma of what I was going through, had triggered something like the grieving process. My loss being my normal life. I found that as I was either in hospital or at home, I had a lot of thinking time, and I just couldn’t escape my own thoughts. But there was football! As most of you may be aware, I am a passionate Crystal Palace fan, and my wife and I, and my boys have season tickets to watch them. Some might think that staying at home with your thoughts is a better option than watching The Eagles, but I found that, for a couple of hours I managed to focus purely on the match.
At last I had found something to take my mind off things.I go to the matches as regularly as I can, and catch up with my football pals. We discuss all things football, and my issues seemed to have disappeared temporarily. It also happens when I am watching it on TV, or reading about it. A magic drug, for me anyway!
I then started to think about the power of football in society in general. Wherever I travel, be it in the UK or abroad, very quickly I am involved in a football conversation, much to the dread of my wife! Most people have a view about teams, players etc. Generally people are very passionate about their team even if they don’t go to games. The subject of football, crosses generations, sexes, politics, religion, and nations. In fact to some people it is a religion of it’s own. I know it can be tribal at times, but I think that all football fans appreciate a wonderful piece of skill, even if it isn’t from their own team.
Football seems to stir passions like nothing else. We are in a major world economic crisis, and we have a temporary passion against the Government, Bankers, the Media, Politicians etc, but that will all eventually calm down, unlike our passion for a game, and its major players.I wonder why that is?
Without my focus on football, I don’t know what shape I would be in, and I know it sounds sad, but I can’t wait for next season to start! I’m sure that at Selhurst Park, it will be same old, same old, but for me that is a good thing. It is my temporary escape into another world.

If you’re not a football lover, what would do it for you?

4 Comments

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  1. Great blog post by the way today, as you suspected I really did enjoy it. It’s something that’s hard to relate to until someone like you says it like that in your own words. It was really moving actually.

  2. Thank you for your comment. I didn’t want to alienate the audience by mentioning football, but when I really thought about, it touches most of our lives in one way or another, whether we like it or not!For me, it helps keep me sane. For others it might drive them insane!

  3. Hi Chris
    Ah ha, you knew you would hook me with this topic.
    I related to your views.
    First let me share somebody else’s view. You may remember me telling you a couple of weeks ago I was reading the memoir/autobiography of Paul Allen, the co-founder of Microsoft with Bill Gates. Paul is a multi-billionaire.
    I read these pages last evening and immediately thought of your blog.
    Paul was 29 when he was initially diagnosed with lymphoma which was quickly changed to Hodgkin’s disease. He had more invasive biopsy’s drawing bone marrow from his hips. They caught the disease early and treated him with 6 weeks of radiation.
    He was an avid fan of his local basketball team. When he got sick his team became his escape. He went to every game he could and caught the rest on TV. He studied the box scores in the newspaper whist waiting for his radiation treatments and devoured the stats. The team were a godsend in getting him through the difficult time. No matter how rotten he felt there was always the next game to look forward to.
    I guess you, more than most, can relate to all of this.
    Isn’t it amazing how clever people, in your case the clinical psychiatrist, can determine the problem and fix it with tablets.
    My medical problems, the diagnosis, operation and recovery are as nothing compared with your illness and fight against it.
    However football has always been part of my life from an early age. I played for as long as I could and always supported my local team, Chelsea. For the last 7 years I’ve been a season ticket holder. In recent times following my operations which prevented me from attending matches it was always a key motivator to pinpoint the first match I could attend as a target for a recovery/rehab programme. I would always target the soonest, my wife always erring on the side of caution.
    I always read the daily paper back to front, i.e. the football/sports news first.
    The family tell me performances and results can affect my mood, the worst case following my return from Moscow having lost the Champions League final on penalties. I’m told a black cloud hung over me for about a week. Most unfair on the family. It’s much better now we are champions of Europe 
    Being retired I watched all the recent Euro matches and like you can’t wait for the first match of the new season. However this year it will be surrounded by the Olympics and the para Olympics.
    Deep joy for us sports fans – are we abnormal or is it everybody else. My life would be empty without it. Hope there isn’t too much football for your regular readers!

  4. Hi Brian
    Thank you for your very interesting comments! I haven’t read the story of Paul Allen, but I will do now.It sums up exactly what football does for me, and seems to do for you too.We all joke about football, but I realised what an important part it plays in my life, particularly now.It almost is like a drug, for those of us that follow it. So much so that I dread the normal close season, but as you say, this year we have had a fantastic summer of sport.

    I wasn’t sure if I should introduce football as a title of a post on this blog, as I have a very mixed readership, and I didn’t want to alienate some readers. But people have understood what I was getting at. Basically if you are passionate about something then you can get lost in the subject for a bit, and some of your unwanted memories will be behind you for a while.

    You should be enjoying the summer now, with the success of Chelsea. A new manager and new players. Bring on the new season eh??

    Thanks for your very insightful comments. I knew I wasn’t the only one!!