Because Mental Health Matters – Me, myself and I

Me myself and I

So we are just meant to stay at home. It’s really meant to be that simple isn’t it?

When I read ‘Diary of a tinned up Celtic supporter’ on The Celtic Star this week it got me to thinking about just that.

For me isolating is one thing that I am really good at. It’s only in the past 12 to 18 months or so months that I have come to understand how unwell I was and how damaging isolation was and is to my mental health.

So here on the Celtic Star I want to share some of my experiences – good and bad – and how using the power of the Celtic family, we can get through this experience together.

The key message that I want to get across – on a fundamental level – is that we have to stay connected. We are truly lucky that we have the technology at our disposal to ensure this bump in the road a bit more manageable.

So a little bit about me.  I have suffered from depression and anxiety throughout my adult life. I am also an alcoholic. I have been sober for eight months, I think it is important that I share that with you.

Ironic as it is, given the enforced nature of self-isolation, isolating actually took me to the deepest and darkest places in my life without the need for government encouragement. For a period of about 6 weeks last year I was basically paralysed.

I didn’t shower, nor did I wash my clothes. By the end I was living in darkness with no electricity. I was, to all intents and purposes, starving myself to death.

So why am I telling you this, after all it’s pretty grim reading right?

The simple reason is the deterioration happened quickly and we need to have each others backs, to ensure others – and that means you or me – don’t fall into that rapid decline.

So where am I today?

Well first foremost and most importantly, I am still sober. I am finding it really strange not having my meetings face to face. By this I don’t mean social contact, I mean peer group support. This is where the lockdown measures have hit me most, on a personal level.

I’ll be honest, I am struggling with the online equivalent of my face to face meetings. I just feel far more comfortable sharing face to face or on paper.

For now, I am a work in progress in that department but the mantra is progress not perfection so I don’t beat myself up and nor should you. We are our harshest critics and now more than ever is the time to be kind to ourselves.

So how is Celtic helping me? I honestly believe my love and connection with the club has never been stronger.

Like a lot of you I have been scrolling through YouTube revisiting my favourite moments. If my thinking is off key this is always a perfect distraction.  Social media is a great way to connect with likeminded fans. I am something of a late developer on this front but I have found Twitter to be a great tool to cope with isolation.

There are so many great books that have been published over the years. Now is maybe the time to become a bookworm and before you know it you will be on Mastermind with Celtic history as your chosen specialised subject.

But hang on a minute Paul that last bit is not staying connected. No it’s not but for a lot of people sitting by themselves, it is an incredibly difficult thing to do, keeping yourself busy.

Maintaining a routine was and is a daily battle for me, particularly when my head is doing a number on me. Just the simplest of tasks; Getting up, taking a shower, making breakfast and checking in with people, even if it’s just a text or a WhatsApp message can seem like a huge ordeal.

So if you have seen the film ‘What about Bob’, break it down into baby steps. If you said you were going to do the laundry and dusting that day yet didn’t do the dusting, don’t beat yourself up. This is a time for self-care and before we can be kind to others we need to be kind to ourselves.

I really hope this doesn’t come across as preachy, that is not my intention. I am writing this as much for me as for anyone else. If you are struggling there are some amazing organisations who can help. We have listed them below.

https://www.mind.org.uk

https://www.alcoholics-anonymous.org.uk

https://www.samaritans.org/scotland

On a personal level if you have had some identification with my story and you just want to have a chat, you can email editor@thecelticstar.co.uk and it will be passed on to me.

Please don’t suffer in silence, you are too important so keep yourself busy.Hail Hail.

Paul Carroll

About Author

The Celtic Star founder and editor, who has edited numerous Celtic books over the past decade or so including several from Lisbon Lions, Willie Wallace, Tommy Gemmell and Jim Craig. Earliest Celtic memories include a win over East Fife at Celtic Park and the 4-1 League Cup loss to Partick Thistle as a 6 year old. Best game? Easy 4-2, 1979 when Ten Men Won the League. Email editor@thecelticstar.co.uk

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