For those who follow me on Twitter, you may be aware that I suffer from panic attacks.
I know that I’m not alone with this battle as a recent Twitter poll that I conducted showed that 20 fellow fans have anxiety which prevents them from attending home games, away games, stadium tours or all.
I could have very easily stopped visiting my beloved Fratton Park but I’ve come up with some coping mechanisms.
Everyone is different and I’m not medically trained but I’m hoping that some of these may help someone.
Heather’s Top Tips For Anxiety Sufferers
1. Location, Location, Location – Try and think about what you like and dislike. I’m not keen on heights or feeling trapped in, I love a great atmosphere but it can be overwhelming. This is why I now try to sit in the Milton End at the end of a row. I also had a lower down, row end seat in Wembley and had no issues.
2. Water – Always take a bottle of water, you can sip on it if your mouth gets dry (one of my first panic signs) or even start reading the label to distract yourself.
3. Chewing Gum or Sweets – I shouldn’t really promote the eating of sweets but I always having chewing gum on me or some boiled sweets. Just be careful not to sing and swallow one whole!
4. Timing – Give yourself enough time to arrive at the ground. Consider the time it takes to park/travel and time it takes for any prematch refreshments. I like to get to the ground really early so that I can settle in and know that we have a good chance of getting a parking spot.
5. Don’t Force Yourself – if you want to go to a game but have to leave really late or sit in an area that you aren’t comfortable with then don’t force yourself to go. We’d all love to go to every match to cheer on the boys but don’t worry, 18,000 others will do this in your absence.
6. Walk Away – If it gets too much, remember you aren’t tied to your seat. You can get up at any time and walk away. Sometimes just having a 2 minute break is all you need.
7. Don’t Hide It – I know it’s difficult but if you are struggling, try and tell the person(s) who you go with. It made it a lot easier for me as I’d been hiding it for a long time.
My followers will also know how anxious I was about the Coventry game but I followed my own advice and had a great time.
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Photo: Joe Pepler