Past The Sincil Drain

The greeting last time the Hammers came to town

Hello, I’m David, I’m 45 years old, and I am a father to two wonderful children. I am going through a lengthy divorce, but have a wonderful new partner.  I have severe long-term PTSD and chronic depression. I have also been a passionate Imps fan since 1987, writes David Agnew.

Why mention the PTSD? Well, there is still a huge stigma to discuss anything to do with mental health problems. It surprises me, as the brain is the most important part of the body. It drives everything in the body. If the brain doesn’t work properly, then neither will the physiognomy. So, to class it as a sole mental issue, is a massive misnomer.

It is still taboo for some, to say the following; you’re an alcoholic, to declare your sexuality (especially in football – if it differs from an incorrectly perceived norm), or change gender and be public about it, to say you have cancer, or to highlight a non-visible disability.

The real truth about all this, is no one – not one person, no matter what they say, can say what is going through someone else’s mind. Quite often, even that person themselves, are not in touch with their unconscious mind.

This season has seen some extraordinary events. I say extraordinary, as I had a revelation just the other day, when we were losing to the worst team, I have seen in years. This season for Lincoln, has somewhat mirrored my own journey through incredibly dark and horrific times. The moment, some support turns against you, the moment whereby, despite your best efforts you start a day at 8/10 and finish it at 4/10. Your own nervous system, that is designed to keep you safe and secure, is malfunctioning to the degree, that you are unable to do what so many people take for granted. Despite the amount of training, ability and experience, something is still preventing you from reaching potential. Things start to go awry and you either keep going, working hard and giving it your all, or in the words of many a cricket commentator, look done and all at sea. In most ways the keep going attitude, without changing anything is far more destructive – in the long term, than being all at sea. Often a rest and a bit of luck, with some hard work will recharge the spirit and kick start things again. Yet, if the rest is not long enough or not an adequate rest, then back into that red zone you go.

The parallels between my illness of PTSD and what we have seen at the LNER Sincil Bank Stadium, this season, is a mirror of my life. We often start brightly, beavering and bustling bravely. We have a few moments where we feel great and think we can take on the world and then, well something happens. We freeze at crucial moments, something, somewhere spooks us and we go into Tortoise mode. We humans share over 90% of our DNA with these marvellous creatures. What do tortoises do when they want to hide away? Their heads go back into their shells.

That is exactly what it seems our team does, instead of being fighters, they become victims. There becomes a languid approach to the play and it becomes apparent that we could play for a week, and still not score.

The supporters then get on the players’ back and we get the feedback that is incredibly unfair, and that which is constructive. That both indifferent sporting form, and PTSD symptoms often can mirror each other.

Courtesy of me

How does one get out if it? Well, the first thing to do is to take a deep breath. Then ny slowly and surely grounding ourselves, by using our senses and slowly bring ourselves back into the room. It is not easy and takes a lot energy and commitment to ground again. It is exhausting and doesn’t always work? BUT what really does grate, is that some just don’t get it. They are incapable of understanding that rebuilding nor recovering is not easy, sometimes things don’t go your way and you think “How the hell did that happen?” Shouting and losing the plot at the person or people involved, may make you feel better, but what effect will it have on them? Not a good one, let me tell you that! You may wish to think about that, next time you walk past the Sincil Drain, in a curmudgeonly fashion.

Of course, if you don’t want that person or people to improve, especially whilst they are trying their utmost to, then feel free. It is your choice, but don’t expect your viewpoints to work. Why should they? I mean have you recovered from PTSD, or played professional football that struggles at home? If you have, then you’ll know that just turning things around, doesn’t change at the click of the fingers or a boo, takes a very long time. It is not, however, impossible. Nothing is impossible, but you may have to work at it.