Saturday, 4 November 2017

Chris Kirkland on Anxiety

Goalkeeper Chris Kirkland recently 'came out' and admitted to struggling with mental health - a brave move, working as he does in the macho culture of football, and one we should applaud. 

There are a number of themes, not necessarily understood about anxiety, which he touches upon in this video:

- The loss of a familiar setting (his hometown club) triggered anxiety

- Rumination at nighttime, magnifying potential problems of the day ahead

- Negative comparisons with other people's situations - 'I will end up like them'

- An inability to express / verbalise your inner turmoil

- Exhaustion and subsequent depression because of 'over-thinking'

What is also important to note is how anxious thinking crept up gradually with Chris Kirkland, creating deep-seated habits that couldn't simply be simply 'snapped out of'.

We could liken the mind to a garden and which experiences as invasive weed which spreads through rhizomes (underground stems) - which, for the gardener, means they can cut back one patch only to find it several metres away. It takes work and persistence, as Chris Kirkland describes, to manage the situation - not 'cured' but under control.

This is commonly what we see with our young people, particularly so those who were reportedly settled at primary and begin to hit the 'SEMH radar' around Year 8 and Year 9 of secondary school. Also, it is also worth noting that it is frequently the case that if such young people go relatively unnoticed until Year 10 - and only start to ring alarm bells when their attendance falls below 75% - it becomes much harder to enact a turnaround before GCSE exams arrive.

As a way of raising awareness, it might be useful to show this video to students and colleagues, alongside the 'other side' of Chris Kirkland:

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