TV star reveals heartbreaking struggle
It has been a tough few years for actor Lincoln Lewis who revealed he has been struggling with personal issues.
The former Home And Away star, known for his cheeky grin and boyish good looks, opened up to news.com.au in a candid interview explaining his mental health battle.
While he is in a "much better space now", it was only recently that the 31-year-old felt he had hit rock bottom, to the point where he refused to leave his house.
"You may let one thing bug you and without addressing it, it slowly starts to weave its way into another aspect and you may not think much of it but then it starts to trickle down into everything," Lewis said in his role as Contiki and Movember ambassador.
"I wouldn't tell anyone about it because in my mind I didn't want to seem like a sad case and before you know it, you are feeling lethargic, you're having negative thoughts, you're also not wanting to go out with mates, then all of a sudden you feel crappier because you wish you were with your mates, but instead you feel alone."
Adding to his mental struggle, Lewis, the son of rugby league "immortal" Wally Lewis, also found himself at the centre of a devastating catfishing scandal which led to a woman taking her own life.
It was a situation that left him feeling "broken" and "powerless" after Lydia Abdelmalek had used his identity to trick multiple women into thinking they were dating.
"I'd be lying if I said it hasn't impacted me greatly," Lewis told news.com.au.
"That one issue in particular has been going on for so many years now and it was only brought to light this year. It is obviously one thing I was hoping would have been finished by now, but it's still going."
Abdelmalek was sentenced to two years and eight months' jail earlier this month, but will remain free on bail until her appeal is heard in October, 2020, according to the ABC.
"It's (catfishing) obviously is a big thing and mixed in together with all the other things - everything spiralled," Lewis said.
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What a day! Perfectly said by @iamkhanporter : Spent International Men’s Day up in the Blue Mountains, bushwalking, doing yoga, meditating and talking about mental health with this epic bunch. The conversations we had were unbelievable and I can’t wait for the world to see and hear them. Thank you @movember and @contiki for inviting us to come out for the day and facilitating these conversations. This is how we move towards better understanding this complex issue and making real change. Nothing fires me up more than being around people as passionate as I am about changing the way we view and manage mental health, opening up, being vulnerable and leading the way for other blokes to follow! Thanks for an amazing day fellas! Cup very full!
Bottling up his emotions, Lewis said he was "eating like sh*t" to try and make himself feel better, which meant "physically I'd let myself go big time".
"Work was slowing down and that trickled down to my motivation and not wanting to do things and all of a sudden my physicality starts to lack and I start to feel pretty crappy about myself, not wanting to talk about it to anyone because I didn't want to be a burden.
"Then it started to affect my auditions because I felt so crappy about myself; I wasn't able to get into my proper mindset so therefore my auditions were sh*t and I was in even more of a rut because I was thinking, the one thing I have been doing for the past 10 years, is this it for me? Is this the end? Am I never going to get another acting job?"
Lewis had gone onto deal with his demons one step at a time through the support of family and friends, explaining the importance of seeking help.
"Not to generalise but more often than not with guys, we have that thing where we talk about things on the surface and don't go any deeper," he said.
"There's a true strength in actually confronting something that's holding you back and it's okay to lean on others for help and this is something women do so beautifully.
"They can speak to each other, they communicate really well and they know how to rely on each other and it's a lesson that men can really take on-board - it's not weak to speak up, its actually a sign of strength and taking the initiative to make a change."
Lewis spoke to news.com.au on International Men's Day while at the Movember x Contiki retreat in the Blue Mountains where he and other celebrity ambassadors including Khan Porter, Shaun Hampson and Dylan Nicholson shared stories of personal adversity to help change attitudes and encourage others to seek help when they need it.
"Our aim here today is to come together and share our individual stories of our struggles with mental health. We hope that through sharing our experiences, we're able to help someone who needs it, or at the very least, show that it's okay to open up and chat about what's going on," Lewis said.
For him, focusing on his health and getting back into shape has played a huge role in his mental clarity.
He had gained 12kg, relying solely on a heavy carb and sugar filled diet, before recently transforming his body with the help of celebrity personal trainer Jono Castano.
"I take part in training every single day and that's not to say I go blast myself, obviously I train my ass off on certain days," Lewis said.
"But for me, I cannot give enough praise to how much physical movement helps mentally - even going outside, going for a walk and getting some clean air.
"A lot of the days before I started my transformation I'd be like 'nah, who cares "I'll do it tomorrow'. Then tomorrow became the next day, but now training for me is such an outlet, it's like a meditation."
To get through the 12 weeks, Lewis said he "surrendered any notion I had of being competent in the gym" and did everything Castano told him to do.
"When Lincoln first came to me I could straight away tell he was down about something and it took a few sessions for him to trust me which is a common thing with client," Castano told news.com.au
"Once you break down the wall it's up to us to be able to be that person that's going to be there for them. We encountered up and downs throughout the transformation from hunger moods to highs of achieving our weekly target."
Castano explained that the first six weeks of Lews' transformation involved a high intensity phase of burning as many calories as he could through the sessions.
"Once he lost substantial body fat and weight we focused on hypertrophy which is building muscle and toning. His results where amazing and that was due to consistency and trusting the process."
"A transformation is never ending and Lincoln has continued to smash out and be the best version himself."
In the end, Lewis said it was all worth it and he was feeling mentally better and more confident than ever before.
"Physically, it's good to see my neck, my chin and my jawline again. They'd all kind of moulded into one but they've reappeared as separate entities," he told Men's Health magazine in September.
His gruelling transformation involved training six times a week with rest periods "so short I nearly spewed about six times" he said about the first time he worked out.
To lose weight and gain muscle, Lewis cut out sugar and alcohol while eating 45 per cent protein, 35 per cent fat and 20 per cent carbs.
He told news.com.au that when he started his fitness journey, it was when news of the high-profile catfishing scandal hit the media.
"I'd rock up to training and we'd have a quick chat for two minutes and he'd be like, 'OK buddy let's get stuck into it and by the end of the session I would be smiling again - I didn't have time to think about what else is happening because your mind is so occupied, so for me, movement was such a contributing factor (to his mental progress)."
Lewis said after his transformation he did some of his "best auditions".
"They were easily some of the best auditions I've ever done in the past few years," he said.
"I am trying my butt off to get back on a screen. I am happy with the auditions I am putting down, I am happy with how I am feeling, I'm happy with the state of mind I'm in and the message we're putting out with Contiki and Movember."
Lewis' perseverance led him to score a role in the movie Danger Close: The Battle of Long Tan which hit US screens earlier this month.