WIGGLESWORTH: How his girlfriend & football helped him get back from rock bottom #ItsOkNotToBeOk

We are right in the midst of a crisis, and we do not use that term lightly, but more men are having mental health issues than ever before, or is it that more men are coming forward with their problems?!

Either way, we have reported on several cases over the past year, with Eccleshill United coach Chris Ellerby telling us his story last year, Bottesford Town keeper Leigh Herrick on his fight, and just last week we linked up with Sands United.

Mental health in men in England, affects around 1 in 8 men. However, men may be reluctant to seek support for their mental health or even disclose mental health problems to loved ones.

Former semi-professional footballer and now Ossett United media guru and radio co-commentator Gary Wigglesworth has had difficulty with his mental health following two relationship break downs, and he tells us his story:

“It all kicked off in the first relationship. I’d lost my job and the comment was, “You’ve got two weeks to find a job because I’m an NHS professional. This doesn’t look good on me.” There were other things but that comment tipped me over the edge. We ended up splitting up for various reasons but I didn’t realise how bad it was until coming out of the second relationship, which was just bizarre.”

“I’ve got a “half-sleeve” tattoo on my arm. In the middle of the summer I had a jumper taped to my wrist to cover the tattoo because the girl I was seeing didn’t like them. It was just little things like that, then after that, it was just a total meltdown.”

“I was having panic attacks on my way to work. It was a new job and I was getting wound up because I was still on probation, having time off and it ended up with my contract being terminated. I don’t think I would have ever have gone back there. Just travelling from Dewsbury to Manchester – about forty minutes – and it felt like a week. I was fighting with my own mind. I was knackered before I got to work.”

“The company I was working for probably wasn’t for me. As a Business Travel Consultant it’s really inbred: you know somebody in an office in every city so, when I found out I’d got the interview and asked questions of people I’d worked with and it was: “you don’t want to go there unless you’re absolutely desperate!” Yes, I’m desperate. I’m going to go… the completely wrong decision!”

Then Gary hit rock bottom: “My daughter lives in Newcastle and she doesn’t come to Wakefield at all so, every other weekend, I’ve been doing a 220-mile round trip to see her. One weekend, the afternoon had cost a small fortune and my mam, who was with me, was having a go at me on what I’d spent that day when I had no money coming in. I’d to deliver a birthday card to a friend so I got her to pull up in a car park in a supermarket and I just went. I said I wasn’t getting back in the car to come back to Wakefield and that was it. I was away for the night.”

The support from his now girlfriend Rachel and the support he has received from the club has meant Gary is on the way up. “Just Rachel really. I’ll be honest: I don’t know why she’s still with me after all this, after all I was putting her through. There were girls coming out of the woodwork, messaging her. It was a crazy period. For some reason – I don’t know why – standing by me, we stuck together through it all.”

“I ended up doing co-commentary on the Ossett United radio and it was somebody to talk to who wasn’t talking back to me, which I found really bizarre for a couple of weeks. For one of the games, Craig – who was the main commentator and I had to update Twitter as well as watch the game – was away and I had to take the lead. Rachel was with me and joined in on the commentary but it’s one of them when you’ve got to keep talking: the one thing I didn’t want to do!”

“I’d missed quite a few. It was two games in the last five that I’d been to and it was: “Whenever you’re ready! You don’t even have to say a word if you don’t want.” Craig, who does the main commentary, has taken more of that on and has involved other people as well and was just making sure I was ready to go back.”

“I’d come off all social media for about ten of those weeks. It’s only about ten days since I put Facebook back up. There are a few of the fans who like to hug you when you see them and I didn’t like being touched. I was way over the top, reacting to being touched, grabbed at and I know they were trying to help me out but at that point I couldn’t see that. So it was an apology to quite a lot of people and a thank you to various people. I’ve explained why I’ve been missing and not been at games, plus completely over-reacting with people.”

Gary posted the following message on Monday afternoon on his new Facebook account:

Update and why I have a new profile.

11 weeks ago I hit rock bottom and did not care if I lived or died. I put my other half Rachel and family through 24 hours of pure hell. I hit self destruct after two abusive relationships that I thought was normal, having no money as I have been unable to hold a job down since June. There are a lot people that I hurt, led on, played and manipulated, for this I am truly sorry for I am still unable to look myself in the mirror and I’m sorry for looking like a hobo.

There are some people I owe a massive thank you to without knowing it Craig Biddlestone, Pete Watson, Gabbi Watson, Jim Watson, Danielle Cooper, Kelly Denning you guys are absolute legends there is a drink on me at the next Ossett Utd home game if I can borrow some money. Thank you Phil Smith for allowing me to co-commentate on Ossett United radio and return to my matchday duties at my own pace while my world was falling apart, thank you to the listeners who have put up with me and Craig talking bollocks most of the time and not pointing out my mistakes.

Thank you to the Hinchcliffe family Darrell, Caroline, Dec, Laura and yes you Alisha, Elsa, Zola and Olly, you have been awesome and not judged when the shit has hit the fan with me and Rachel. Thank you for letting me in and sitting in my own world playing with the dogs.

Gavin Logan and Pete Goodlad thank you for allowing me to be a part of your league and club. Pete I will bring you back the supplementary cup next season

In the last two weeks I have achieved my first certificate since leaving school on the FA safeguarding course and I am about to start my FA level 1 coaching course as I have been appointed Athersley Rec under 10’s manager (there will be a status put out looking for sponsorship shortly). If one person has read this and is struggling reach out to me *disclaimer my advice isn’t the best* your secret is safe with me.

#ItsOkToNotBeOk | #MentalHealthMatters

“I was expecting one or two comments, like “Chin up!” “Keep going!” and things like that but seriously my phone’s blown up with people saying “I’ve been through this ten years ago… five years ago… three years ago”. I’ve been offered phone numbers for if I needed a chat from other people in the same position.

“I’m just trying to get there. I’ve got a lot of help from the people around me who’ve been trying to put a smile back on my face. The last couple of weeks it isworking!”

“I just went into myself. I didn’t want to speak to anybody and I didn’t want to look at anybody. The amount of people at the games who I’ve not spoken to for months because I didn’t want to tell them. They’re making comments on that Facebook status as well, which is good to read. Sometimes it’s been twelve months since I last spoke to them.”

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