Monsanto Roundup Lawsuit

Saturday, January 09, 2016

The Black Dog at Aston Villa

It's great being a writer, thoughts just come to you when you least expect them, having the ability to change those thoughts into words is not something that everybody has. Practice makes perfect, if you sit and wallow in the thoughts and don't do anything about it then the thoughts will, eventually, fade into oblivion... or they may just consume you.

It's hard going up against mainstream beliefs, especially when those beliefs come from professionals - their argument is, and always will be, "What qualifications do you have to offer such an opinion?" In my case, it's experience. Ten years (almost) of writing and researching antidepressants, pharmaceutical companies and medicine regulators, a large chunk of which has been taken up researching British pharma giant, GlaxoSmithKline, their antidepressant, Seroxat (Paxil) and also researching the British drug regulator, the MHRA.

Close family and friends of mine will know that I am an Aston Villa supporter, all though these days more of an armchair fan, critic. If you know your football (that's the game played with a round ball and the feet) you'll know that Aston Villa currently sit at the foot of the Premiership, having won just one game all season. It's depressing times for all concerned.

Ah, there's that word, 'depressing'.

It got me thinking.

The players and staff at Aston Villa Football Club can't be having it easy, low on confidence and morale, pressure from a strong opinionated set of supporters, ridicule in the press. The loyal fans will also be feeling it. Going to work on a Monday and facing rival supporters of other Midland clubs isn't easy, particularly when all those clubs are having decent seasons.

So, take this scenario - Aston Villa player or backroom staff member, or indeed a fan, has a mild form of depression (who wouldn't) - Now, it's the job of the 'professional' physician to determine just how bad that depression is and to treat it accordingly. "Don't worry, things will get better", really doesn't seem to be an option here, anyone who knows their football will know that Aston Villa are on their way down to the lower league come May.

So, is a lack of confidence or morale treatable?

Yes, of course it is - yet we don't see your modern day footballer sitting in a waiting room at their local doctors. Sorry, these guys are millionaires, so the likes of you and I wouldn't experience that in any event.

Today saw Aston Villa visit lower league Wycombe Wanderers, a full strength starting eleven managed to draw with the minnows (said with respect) - The aftermath of yet another heartless display saw a small minority of Aston Villa supporters air their anger toward club captain, Micah Richards, then later, at the whole team as they boarded the bus to take them back to Birmingham. Both incidents have not gone unnoticed, both being filmed and spread across the internet. I won't provide the links to the footage - you can work it out for yourselves what the reaction was.

So, it would appear that, in this case, the fans are the first to crack. Pent up frustration, anguish, irritability finally rearing their ugly heads after today's match at Wycombe. As a human I fully expect that those Aston Villa players who aced the onslaught of abuse will, tonight, be feeling somewhat stressed out and full of low self-esteem. I'm not one to jump on the bandwagon and say that a professional footballer's wages help soften the blow of such feelings. They are, like me and you, human. It's the fans who put them on the pedastal and make them bigger than what they actually are.

So, two sets of humans (fans and players) both sets experiencing personality changes that we have, for years, been told are signs of depression or anxiety disorders. Our apparent treatment comes in the shape of a pill, an antidepressant that, we are told, can make frustration, anguish, irritability, stress and  low self-esteem magically disappear.

Now, I am not comparing someone's deep depression with losing a football match, be they fan or player - what I am suggesting, however, is that any human being can overcome frustration, anguish, irritability, stress and  low self-esteem. In the case of Aston Villa players it would be to go on a winning streak - this will have a knock-on effect and will please those fans who feel the need (rightly or wrongly) to hurl abuse.

So, why do pharmaceutical companies spend billions of pounds promoting antidepressants for the very same traits mentioned above when, in actual act, all that is needed is a confidence boost?

Have we become so distanced from those 11 men kicking a round piece of leather around, nae, have they become so distanced from us? Truth is, they are humans experiencing stressful times, yet more stress when fans add to their woes by hurling abuse... and not an antidepressant in sight - rightly so.

Frustration, anguish, irritability, stress and  low self-esteem are not, as pharmaceutical companies and psychiatrists tell us, brain diseases. They are not chemical imbalances - they are a set of feelings brought on by a set of circumstances.

Aston Villa's backroom staff will, no doubt, be telling all players that the fans are understandably angry and not to pay too much attention to them as it will hinder their confidence. No doubt the backroom staff will, over the coming weeks and months, be working on boosting morale, confidence and banishing low self-esteem. They will do so by using psychology and not pharmacology.

There's a lesson to be learned here for health care professionals who dish out antidepressants at the drop of a hat to your average human with similar sets of circumstances to all those connected with Aston Villa Football Club.

I'll say it again, frustration, anguish, irritability, stress and  low self-esteem are not, as pharmaceutical companies and psychiatrists tell us, brain diseases.

I'll leave the final words to Bill Shankly, probably said with tongue firmly in cheek but if you are a football fan you will understand exactly where he was coming from.

"Some people think football is a matter of life and death. I assure you, it's much more serious than that." - Bill Shankly

Bob Fiddaman
Villa fan.