Me: “So, am I cured now?”
My therapist: “…”
Me: “But I’m happy now! Job done surely!!”
My therapist: “…”
A week later…
Me: *sobs* “FUCK EVERYTHING!!!” *sobs*
My therapist: “…”
SPOILER ALERT: I wasn’t cured. You don’t get cured. What a gyp.
I’m writing this because this blog wasn’t finished and it’s time to finish it.
When I planned it out there was supposed to be a post for every game WaiBOP played plus a prelude, an interlude for each of the two bye rounds, and a postlude (it’s an actual word, look it up) to tie everything together with some great pearl of concluding wisdom. The spanner in the works was the unfortunate fact that by the time the last game approached I’d run out of both wisdom and fucks to give.
But that changed a couple of weeks ago. I was at a book launch for a fantastic piece of work called ‘How We Got Happy’ – an inspiring coffee table book compiling the stories of 20 young New Zealanders who have beaten depression. Listening to the speakers talk about the way they approached their project – as a way to promote positive stories that might resonate with people living through depression for whom a lot of the resources out there are pretty grim reading – reminded me a lot of what I was trying to do with The Ninety Fifth Minute, and it helped me to think about my own project in a different way.
Like a lot of people, I hate almost everything I’ve ever written and this blog has been no exception. In particular I’ve felt like I failed to execute my concept as well as I envisaged. I wanted this to be a clever mix of football and mental health but after a few posts it turned into a mental health blog that didn’t effectively weave the games I attended into the narrative in the overambitious way I thought I could when I pictured it all in my head.
That’s partly because you can’t predict what’s going to happen in a game of football and you certainly can’t rely on it to neatly fit into the narrative you have in mind for it. It’s also partly because I’m just not clever enough.
But the book launch made me want to go through and read what I wrote again and process it through a different lens. And having done that I actually think it stacks up pretty well – both as a mental health blog and as an authentic snapshot in time of how I was coping for the fourth quarter of 2019.
Plus it needs to be acknowledged that just going to every WaiBOP game and supporting the team in an unconditional and positive way meant a huge amount to the players. That alone made the whole project super worthwhile and a great way to finish my football blogging journey regardless of anything else.
Is this the blog I would write if I decided to do a similar sort of thing now? No.
But, reading it again from start to finish, the only sentence in the whole thing I vehemently disagree with today is on the “Where to go if you need help” page: “I’m just a guy with some lived experience of feeling like rubbish for a few months.”
Hahahahahaaaa… You poor misguided fool.
What I hate most about that sentence isn’t its inaccuracy in my case (I didn’t just feel like rubbish for a few months – it was much more serious and ongoing than that), it’s the way it belittles the experiences of tens of thousands of people who struggle with depression and can’t just frivolously shrug it off the way I did there.
While I love ‘How We Got Happy’, and I totally tautoko their concept, I also fear the title is a bit misleading. It implies once you get happy the battle is won. Of course it’s not that simple. You have to work really hard on yourself to get happy and stay happy. Getting happy doesn’t mean you’re cured. You have to keep working at being happy and being happy doesn’t mean you won’t be miserable sometimes – or even a lot.
Compulsory football metaphor: A defender doesn’t stop trying to get the ball off you after you nutmeg them. If anything it makes them chase you harder.
Is that a great pearl of concluding wisdom that ties everything together? Not really, but I’ve given up putting that kind of pressure on myself so whatevs. The most important thing is this blog now has a postlude so at least I can stop being irritated by that!
Also: Go buy that book. It’s beautifully put together, it’s got heaps of great tips in it, it shows that while there’s no cure there is still a really bright light at the end of the tunnel, and all the money goes to the Mental Health Foundation – an organisation that could do with your help given a lot of their traditional fundraising activity has dried up due to COVID-19.