When Sophie picked up the phone and called Samaritans, the charity was there when she needed help most.
Now the 26-year-old of Western Road, Littlehampton, is giving back by starring in its Christmas fundraising campaign and running a marathon.
She said: “Samaritans’ help gave me my life back and I will be forever thankful for that.”
Sophie said her mental health issues began in 2016. Just a week after passing her driving test, she was in a car accident that left her with injuries so serious it caused her to lose her new job.
The mental trauma led Sophie to see a counsellor, but she struggled to open up – and last summer, her mental health declined to an extent that she emailed Samaritans.
She said: “It was scary getting the first reply back from ‘Jo’ but reading the warm understanding words gave me a warm fuzzy feeling inside. I sent emails back and forth for a good few weeks; the fact the emails were anonymous and not an instant reply was appealing.”
In the autumn, she made her first phone call late one night amid the break-up of her marriage and a clinical diagnosis of depression.
Sophie said: “I just felt utterly hopeless and words can’t even describe that dark, deep feeling of depression. I remember dialing and just staring at the number before I pressed the green button.
“A friendly woman answered the call; just hearing that voice gave me that little bit of light I needed.”
It took a few more calls to help Sophie make changes in her life that put her on the road to recovery, particularly during Christmas.
She said: “The pressure of enjoying yourself and everything being perfect can make mental health issues a thousand times worse as you’re supposed to be bubbly and joyful. I didn’t want to ruin it for anyone else.”
Next year, Sophie will be running the London Marathon to raise money for Samaritans. Her advice to people struggling over the festive period is to ‘look after yourself and say no to events you don’t feel like attending’ and not to burden yourself with financial pressures.
To find out more about the Samaritans campaign, visit samaritans.org/christmas. If you are affected by any issues raised in this story, contact The Samaritans for confidential support on 116 123.