In 2003, Simon noticed changes in the way he was feeling. He had been struggling with depression. Worried about what people might be thinking of him, he avoided going out and meeting his friends.
His GP diagnosed him with agoraphobia and referred him to a mental health team. But he was still struggling to cope, Simon explains:
As a man, it is still difficult to open up about the way you feel. It isn’t ‘manly’ to share your feelings. The trouble is, for men who are battling depression, this expectation can be damaging. If you carry on bottling things up, overtime they will overwhelm you.
“I spent the best part of a decade feeling alone with the way that I was feeling. I think this is part of the reason why I would feel suicidal. These thoughts and feelings lead me to attempt to take my own life on more than one occasion.”
He says: “I heard of Samaritans and I knew that they were there to listen. But before I called them, I didn’t realise what a positive impact their support would have on my life.
“I explained that I was thinking about taking my own life. He wanted me to walk to the branch to meet face to face. The thought of this was so overwhelming – it took me everything just to leave the front door.
“The volunteer remained on the phone with me until I was just a short walk from the front door. I was welcomed with a warm smile, before sitting down to talk about what was making me feel so down and depressed.
“Knowing that there is someone there, has improved my quality of life. I no longer feel alone, with nobody to understand. The day I chose to get in touch with Samaritans, I took back some control.”
Simon says that with hindsight, he should have reached out to Samaritans sooner. He hopes that by sharing his story, fewer men will suffer in silence:
“You can call them on any given day, at any time of day or night.”