About me: Michele Little, Dons Trust Board Member & Treasurer
Monday 10th October is World Mental Health Day. Mental health challenges affect us all and can be sparked by many different things – job changes, unexpected illness, financial strains, arguments, childhood memories etc.
No one is immune.
In January this year, as a newly elected Dons Trust Board member I received the news that
no one wants to hear I was diagnosed with breast cancer. The photos of me here show my ever-changing appearance since December 2021. How I wish I’d known when I wrote my manifesto that I would soon to be able to say, ‘She’s got no hair, but we don’t care, Alan, Alan Cork!!!’
Like me, another Board member Niall Couper was diagnosed with cancer (bladder) some time ago, which left him shattered and broken mentally. He’s been clear for a few months now, but the shadow of the disease will always be there.
Around one in two people will be hit by cancer in their lifetimes, but their friends and families also are affected. The emotional shock can send ruptures far and wide and can have a devastating effect on people’s mental health.
Here at the Dons Trust, we pride ourselves on being a community club. It is about working together and looking after one another, in the good times and the bad.
These pages are dedicated to my story and the story of my 20-year-old son Sam.
‘Better out than in’, as I always say. This year has been a challenging one for me – getting elected to the DTB (yay), getting MSP over the line with PLB2 (yay), in the meantime being diagnosed with breast cancer, having chemo, steroids giving me almost no sleep, etc. etc. (boo).
But in the midst of it all, I’m so proud that my 20-year-old son gets what it’s like to struggle with your mental health and here is something he wrote for me and for all our fans about the benefits of talking. Hope you all take the time to read it. It’s really good (but then maybe I’m biased!):
We’ve all been there. Long day, nothing has quite gone right. Just waiting for the hours to tick over. Clock moving as slowly as Akinfenwa running down the line. You’ve got the football in the evening at least. You meet your mates on the way there. You attempt to perk yourself up, put the day behind you, and just enjoy the evening. You try your best, but they notice you’re a bit down. They tell you come on mate, let’s go to the pub, drink some beer, watch the
football, you’ll be alright!
Men must be men, be stoic, express nothing. A little bit of liquid bliss will suppress your feelings.
Women at football? Not a chance mate!
Stay at home, get back to where you should be. Laugh it off, I’m sure you all know how.
Two sides of the same coin – we’re all silenced in one way or another.
You’ve got a home, a community, a family here at Wimbledon, but sometimes that’s not enough.
Just imagine this: your bitter rival has levelled the score in the relegation decider after a long, draining season. The pressure heightens as they push for a winner. The bus has firmly been parked in the second half. You’ve given nothing away. Your defensive wall has been flawless. No one could even tell that you were struggling. But really, you know all too well that you’re at your absolute limit. Cross after cross flies in and flying heads are forced to meet them. Finally, you think you’re past it all, it reaches 90+6, whistle about to blow, before your midfielder misplaces a pass. Seems a small mistake, but the dominoes begin to fall. The ball goes long, your centre back slips, their striker is through on goal, and hits it hard. Ball goes through the keeper’s legs. Defeat. Relegation. Utter catastrophe in mere moments. Everything spirals out of control at the worst possible moment. All seemingly from one little thing.
They say it’s is the last straw that broke the camel’s back, but if that camel could cry for help as we can, it would not bear that burden alone. However big it may be, a shared load is a load lessened.
Mortgages, death, cancer, and all other sorts of problems hang heavy besides the daily issues we face. No matter how convincing the performance of normality, it remains a performance. Even the closest of friends, and those who seem the happiest, could be hiding how they truly feel.
Talk to your friends, your partners, your colleagues because there is always somebody to listen. And if you’re not ready to yet, don’t worry, that’s ok; we’ve all grown up in a world where we are taught to hide our feelings and pretend that everything is okay, regardless of what we feel inside. Whoever you are, you are allowed to feel, and it is never too late to start talking about it.
It is silence that truly broke the camel’s back, and silence that kills