A personal trainer from Salford turned his life around after an accident encouraged him to train in mental health.
Lee Marks, aged 37 from Swinton, has battled with his mental health since a young age. He left school without any exam qualifications, explaining: “I just drank. I was drinking from 15.”
At 21 years of age he took an overdose after facing money worries from gambling debts.
According to the Office for National Statistics, men account for around 75% of suicides in the UK.
Lee said: “It all came out of nowhere, I wasn’t depressed, at least I didn’t know I was, but I obviously was.
“I’ve had a couple of episodes since. It’s kind of always been there but I’ve just managed to deal with it myself.”
In January last year the dad of three suffered from a serious leg injury whilst playing football with some friends.
He had always been physically active, lifting weights at the gym and playing sport, but having his knee replaced left him sofa bound and physiotherapy services were limited due to the pandemic.
Lee was in his own personal lockdown and not only did he lose weight, but motivation and confidence too.
He said: “The leg injury turned my life upside down.
“It’s not life threatening, but it’s life changing.”
In September 2020, Lee felt the negative emotional effects of the pandemic.
He said: “I slept rough for three days; my head just completely fell off. I didn’t have to; I had a place to stay it wasn’t a matter of having nowhere to go. But I just lost the plot a little bit and didn’t want to be near anyone. I slept in my car for two nights then I went and slept under bridge...that was hard.”
However, he decided to tackle his problems and help others by gaining his Level 1 and Level 2 mental health and mental health first aid qualifications.
He said: “I thought, I don’t want to be preaching something if I don’t understand it fully myself.”
“I’ve seen how hard it is dealing with it on your own, but the last two or three years I’ve talked to three friends out of killing themselves, I’ve talked them round and helped them, and I still support them now.”
He has also started work as a personal trainer, having gained his qualification last September.
Getting into shape has boosted his self-confidence.
Lee said: “I find if I have a bad day and I’m stressed, a couple of hours in the gym and I’m fine.
“I can cure half my problems just by being in here, but it’s taken me years to find that.”
He aims to help others both through physical exercise and emotional support.
According to the mental health charity Mind, exercising helps to manage feelings of stress and anxiety.
The personal trainer’s tips are to: “sleep, rest, and train hard, and don’t overeat rubbish.
“Just find what’s right for yourself.”
Lee is now a strong advocate for mental health awareness.
He expressed: “If me speaking up about battling it can help one person, I’m happy with that.”
For mental health support call the Samaritans on 116 123