I am sure that many Arsenal fans have had a look at the Kick Off time for Monday’s FA Cup tie against Leeds, and have thought the club just made a typo error, but 19.56 (or 7.56 pm) is the actual published Kick Off time.
Why is that, you may well ask… and here is the answer as announced by the FA:
It's important that everyone makes time to talk about mental health.https://t.co/MpuzmyRZzD
— The Emirates FA Cup (@EmiratesFACup) January 3, 2020
It appears that depression is a growing problem, especially amongst men of all ages, so where better to think about it than at a football match. One ex-Arsenal player that has suffered more than most is Paul Merson, who has been fighting his demons for decades and has publicly opened up about it in his column for the Daily Star….
On Monday I’ll have been sober for a year. But this time last year, I wanted to kill myself.
I couldn’t go on any more. I just couldn’t see a way out. I had the tablets in my hand. I didn’t take enough to do anything but I had them there. With vodka. It was scary.
It was only because of the kids really, and my wife, and a little bit of consciousness, that I didn’t.
Fear probably as well. I was scared to do it. When you’re in that place, you don’t see how it’s ever going to pass. But I have the tools now. If I get into a real down situation, I know it will pass.
So when I see this weekend’s FA Cup games kicking off a minute later to raise awareness for mental health I will remember that time when things got dark and think: ‘Thank god that’s not how I feel any more.’
I’m telling you this because I hope it helps someone. If even one person reads this and it helps them, then it will be worth it.
I don’t want to kill myself any more. I don’t have those thoughts. I’m not carrying the world on my shoulders. Walking around with guilt.
I’m not beating myself up, drinking and gambling all the time and asking why I’m doing this to myself.
It’s only now I know. I have an illness. I have a mental illness. I’ve accepted that now. Before, I used to beat myself up all the time.
It must have taken a lot out of Merson to open up about this so publicly, and maybe we should all look around and see if all our mates are really okay, or just putting up a front because they are scared of looking weak or losing face.
Maybe this weekend is the time to ask your friends if everything is okay?