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Les’ Story: ‘I Started Coaching Football To Deal With My Depression’

Life can feel like a rollercoaster ride for all of us from time to time. However, when events become particularly traumatic, as they did for Les, they can sometimes trigger mental health problems.

Les said: “I remember as a kid my dad was in a major accident that left him unable to work. We went from having Christmas presents to wearing second hand clothes and not being able to take part in things that other kids were getting involved with.

“These ups and downs continued throughout my adult life. I became a pretty successful DJ, partying really hard and always being surrounded by people. Then the minute I stepped out of that lifestyle, I went from being everyone’s best mate to being completely alone, as if nobody wanted to know.

“I got married and had kids, but then my marriage broke down so I ended up alone again, and my sister died while I was working offshore which meant that I wasn’t able to say goodbye to her.

“I started to pick my life back up and I landed a good job, but then I ended up in a motorbike crash and, just like with my dad’s accident when I was a kid, the injuries meant I wasn’t able to do my job any more.

“It was like the last thing I was holding onto was taken away from me. I hit rock bottom and that’s when I was diagnosed with severe depression.”

During this time, Les struggled with suicidal thoughts and feelings, and he started drinking to mask the pain he was feeling.

He said: “By 2015 I knew I needed help. So I started having therapy and this made me realise that I’d been through a lot over the years and never really dealt with any of it properly. I also started coaching football to get me out the house more and seeing other people.

“I think, because there’s still such stigma around mental health problems, there are a lot of people who just won’t talk about it and will tell you they’re fine when, really, they’re far from fine. That’s when suicide becomes a real threat.”

“However, if you get help at the beginning, you might not end up where I ended up. Being able to open up and talk to someone is so important.”

While Les still experiences some symptoms of severe depression from time to time, he has found better ways of coping with it, and now, rather than turn to alcohol, he tries to exercise and surround himself with people as often as he can.

Les said: “Depression can make you feel trapped, as if you’re being swallowed. It can make you feel empty inside and as though life is really pointless. But I know for a fact that these moments do pass.

“I urge anyone who is experiencing feelings like this to speak to someone, whether that be a doctor or friend or even speaking to someone anonymously by calling The Samaritans.

“The quicker you get help the quicker you get better. It might take a while, but at least you’re making a start.

“I’ve lived with depression for a very long time, it’s hard and at times seems unbearable… but that’s the most important thing to remember… you can live with it and it’s easier with help.”

For more information on how to access mental health support for you or a loved one, visit our designated page.

To get involved with Be A Game Changer programmes
Email ashley.lowe@nufc.co.uk

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