Open­ing up

Lewis Page is find­ing strength from oth­ers as he faces de­pres­sion head on

The Guardian (Charlottetown) - - FRONT PAGE - BY JA­SON MAL­LOY

Lewis Page is find­ing strength from oth­ers as he faces de­pres­sion head on.

Lewis Page has been the guy on the other end of the phone hun­dreds of times help­ing a friend, a col­league or one of his play­ers.

How­ever, be­ing the one to reach out and ask for help didn’t come easy for the UPEI Pan­thers men’s soc­cer coach, who has dealt with de­pres­sion for years.

“My sprit knew it, my gut knew it, but my mind wasn’t ready to ac­cept it,” he said.

But when his mar­riage started to fail, Page said, he needed to be hon­est with him­self.

“The de­pres­sion isn’t a cause of my mar­riage break­ing up, but it was a cat­a­lyst for me say­ing I have more go­ing on here,” he said. “For years, my ex-wife tried to con­vince me there was more go­ing on, and I just couldn’t lis­ten.”

Liv­ing in the now was tough for Page.

“Part of de­pres­sion is you do get lost in your own head,” he ex­plained. “You can get lost in the past and you can get caught up in the fu­ture and you lose the present mo­ment.”

He can look back now and see pat­terns of his de­pres­sion: a feel­ing of help­less­ness; with­draw­ing from fam­ily, friends and peo­ple who cared about him; want­ing to stay in bed.

But it would end, and Page would con­tinue on with his life think­ing ev­ery­thing was fine.

His de­pres­sion was not trig­gered by spe­cific events and came on slowly.

“It’s not like some­thing hits you. It’s more some­thing that kind of takes over like a grad­ual fog,” he ex­plained. “All of a sud­den you’re wak­ing up in the morn­ing and you’re go­ing, ‘I don’t re­ally know that guy in the mir­ror any­more.’ “

But things are im­prov­ing for the father of two.

About a year ago he reached out to friends and has started get­ting help.

“One of the things that is so im­por­tant is you don’t have to do it all alone,” Page said. “You have friends, you have pro­fes­sion­als who are trained to help.”

He re­mem­bers watch­ing a Bell Let’s Talk show on TV a year ago and re­al­iz­ing sim­i­lar­i­ties from what oth­ers were de­scrib­ing and what he was go­ing through.

Re­cently, he thought about reach­ing out to Bell of­fi­cials to share his story.

As fate would have it, an email ar­rived from the Pan­thers ath­let­ics depart­ment the next day ask­ing coaches if there were ath­letes who would be will­ing to share their ex­pe­ri­ence as part of an At­lantic Univer­sity Sport pro­ject with Bell.

Page shared his story on an on­line video.

There were feel­ings of vul­ner­a­bil­ity for Page. He de­scribed it like be­ing on a tightrope with no safety net.

Would peo­ple see it a weak­ness of the well-known coach?

The fear was real, but the re­sponse was over­whelm­ingly the op­po­site.

“I’ve been so blessed by so much love and sup­port from so many peo­ple,” he said.

The Mon­treal-born Page, who spent his teenage years in Nova Sco­tia, was on the un­der-20 na­tional team for a sea­son, played five years at Saint Mary’s and a year pro­fes­sion­ally with the Nova Sco­tia Clip­pers.

He has coached the Pan­thers, pro­vin­cial teams and had a run on the side­lines with na­tional teams.

De­pres­sion can’t strike any­one.

“This is some­thing real that any­body can go through,” Page said. “If a suc­cess­ful coach can go through it and get help and heal, then so can any­body.”

JA­SON MAL­LOY/THE GUARDIAN

UPEI Pan­thers men’s soc­cer team head coach Lewis Page is speak­ing out about his own de­pres­sion.

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