A mentally-ill father who has tried several times to take his own life is using his experiences to help break down barriers and encourage other men to talk more openly about their feelings.
In March 2016, the Spalding Voice ran a series of articles on Tim Stoodley (28) where he talked frankly about his experiences of suffering from depression.
Since then Tim has continued to battle his own inner demons, but has now launched a new charity aimed at raising awareness of mental health issues within the footballing community.
Through the new charity, Mind Kicks, Tim plans to work with professional clubs and players to produce media that highlights how men can be affected by mental illness and how they can seek help.
Tim said: “My illnesses are horrible. I wouldn’t wish them on my worst enemy, but if I can turn what is a very negative situation into a positive one, then I think that’s something to shout about.”
Tim is now hoping to recruit volunteers in the fields of video editing, graphic design and proof-reading to roll the project out to more clubs.
Read on to hear Tim’s story in his own words and find out how to get involved in Mind Kicks.
Tim channels experiences to move beyond a ‘label’
After my feature in The Voice at the start of 2016, my life continued to be dogged by an awful bout of, what I thought was, depression.
A second suicide attempt came about in April last year and it’s fair to say it all got a bit scary. I was on a life-support machine for a week and spent another week wrapped up in intensive care.
It was literally pure fate – the postman tried to deliver a package at the same time as I had just taken a huge overdose. Fast forward seven days and I wake up with a tube down my throat. This resulted in more time in a psychiatric unit and by October last year, I had a diagnosis of bipolar affective disorder.
This is a lifelong, chronic illness that affects almost every area of somebody’s life. I will always have it and that’s pretty pants. I’ve really struggled to come to terms with the label and unfortunately ended up back inside a mental health unit, this time in Lincoln, in summer of this year.
It was while here that I also got given the diagnosis of Borderline Personality Disorder – so I’m gunning for a hat-trick!
Since my article in The Voice, I’ve continued to blog about my experiences and my struggle to accept the diagnosis I have. I use social media and various different platforms to be open and honest about my mental health issues. I use humour and wit to try and make it amusing and I find I’ve got a really good following online. The issue is it’s mainly women! I’d like to think this is because
I’m incredibly good-looking, but I think in reality, it’s because society still dictates that men should hide their mental health struggles.
I’m incredibly open and emotional about my fight and it makes men feel uncomfortable.
Whilst I was in the unit in Lincoln recently, it began to frustrate me that this was the case.
Suicide rates amongst women are on the decline, but they continue to rise amongst men. In fact it’s the biggest cause of death in males aged under 45. How is that right? It’s 2017!
I decided I wanted to use my openness and honesty to do something about this, and decided, because I’m only working part-time, that I’d donate some free time to a charity doing just that.
I like to combine my passions, to keep me interested in a subject, and I just happen to be a massive football fan too. So, it made perfect sense to combine the two.
After all, a typical football fan is exactly the type of male who wouldn’t be open and honest about their mental health. Men in their 20s, 30s or 40s, getting tipsy with their mates before the game, are hardly the type of people who will be aware of their mental health status.
So to me, it seemed like the perfect target market. To my amazement though, there was no such charity out there!
Some existing charities, some professional clubs and some leagues have done something in the way of mental health awareness, but there is no identified charity, working solely on raising awareness within the stands. So an idea started to fester.
Fast forward a few months and Mind Kicks was born!
Mind Kicks is a brand-new and very exciting charity with one simple aim – use the power and passion of football to promote male mental health awareness.
In practical terms this means working with professional clubs and players and producing media that relates to our cause.
As an example, imagine being a Peterborough United fan, their star-striker helps us produce a video on social media that talks about how he suffered with anxiety as a teenager.
That will have a huge impact on making it okay to not be okay.
If someone was having issues, with say anxiety, they would see that video, relate to it, realise that somebody with a celebrity status was talking about it and may be more inclined to seek help.
Furthermore, we plan on working with clubs and attending games to hand out leaflets and information to clue up the fans on their mental health awareness.
Now, the typical fan will read the leaflet ‘clue yourself up on depression’, for example, and probably make a joke to their friends, but the point is, they’re talking about it and if just one per cent of the people at that game look at the sheet and think ‘actually, I’m hitting one or two of those symptoms, maybe I should get help’, then our mission is complete.
This is really exciting and we’ve already got a host of professional clubs and players on board and it’s growing by the day.
We managed to get a commitment from our first Premiership club this week, although I can’t announce who yet! But this has the potential to make a real difference and I’m very excited about where it may go.”
There’s a selfish side to this too. I want to make my little girl proud, and if I can help just one person, then that’s a legacy I’m delighted to leave.
I am worried that there will be times when I’m not well enough to manage this, but thankfully I’ve got three other trustees who are more than happy to help should the need arise.
My illnesses are horrible. I wouldn’t wish them on my worst enemy, but if I can turn what is a very negative situation into a positive one, then I think that’s something to shout about.
We soft-launched this on social media this week and the response from local people has been fantastic. I’m really feeling the love from South Holland and the people of South Lincolnshire and I hope I can do you all proud.
This exciting new project is on the hunt for a range of volunteers, from filming and editing videos with professional players, to graphic designing and proof-reading media.
If you think you can help, head on over to mindkicks.co.uk