Day 172: Today I faced my anxiety head on and struggled but made it through to the other side. After 519 days I returned to the Stadium of Light to watch live football. I’ve been a season ticket holder since 2014 and going to the match with up to 49,000 other fans has never been a problem but after the last 18 months it was tough going this afternoon. I knew I’d be a bit on edge because I was the same when I went to a cricket match in June but today felt different. The actual day was no different to previous matches before the 519 day break. I drove to the match with my mate’s father who I’ve been going with for years. I picked him up and we had a good catch up in the car as we battled through traffic and weather. We parked in the same place we always do and up to that point, despite feeling a little nervous it was all good. Once we started walking the short 5 minute stroll to the stadium and the crowds of people were more evident I did feel much more anxious and my stomach was going crackers. I’ve been excited to return to the stadium of my football team and watch Sunderland again but the reality is that we’ve been isolated and restricted from other human contact for so long and to be suddenly back in mass crowds was hard going. No masks on, people not socially distancing and of course, the boisterous atmosphere of football fans. I’m not having a go at anybody though because it is nigh on impossible to follow any kind of Covid policing when you have 31,000+ fans back inside a sports venue that holds a maximum of 49,500 (plus one of the stands was closed) so we were pretty much back to pre-Covid crowd control.
I know life has to get back to some kind of normal and I hope my social anxiety eases. I couldn’t enjoy the occasion today as we ran out 2-1 winners against Wigan Athletic. I pretty much squeezed my small green rubber bouncy ball in my hand for the full match (it has been my stress reliever since I was in hospital) and had to monitor my breathing at times.
The positive is that I got through it and hopefully by the time I go back to watch Sunderland play again (in two weeks time) I will feel better for it.
My only worry now is that I have two nights away next weekend with 15 other lads for one of my best friend’s stag doo. I thought I’d be further forward than I am by now.