**trigger warning: references to suicide**

My heart started pounding as I lay in the darkness of my room and heard the dial tone. As someone who has struggled with anxiety amongst a whole host of other symptoms of mental ill health, this was a massive step for me to take. It felt like I was trying to cross the Grand Canyon in a single jump; an impossibility that would end in free fall to disaster. I couldn’t possibly go through with this, could I? Yet I continued to grip my phone in my shaking hand.

After what seemed like an eternity, I heard a calm and reassuring voice state: “You’re through to someone you can speak to.”

This was my first, but not last, call to a UK helpline. During this first call I struggled to say anything to start with, but the listener was so patient and empathetic, that I quickly built rapport with them and then it all tumbled out.

The reason for my call was that I was in the midst of a crisis. A crisis of suicidal thoughts that were threatening to engulf me to the point of acting on them.

I’m no stranger to these kind of thoughts, sadly. I struggle with a wide variety of symptoms of mental illness, that have resulted in multiple diagnoses over time. From intense shorter-lived emotions to longer episodic periods of mania and depression; psychosis in the form of hearing voices, as well as delusions; and anxiety...I am described as “complex” and I recently discovered that I have an autistic spectrum disorder as well as severe and enduring mental illness. This all can become too much to deal with at times, and so that’s when the darker thoughts creep in and threaten my safety.

After talking through my general concerns with the listener, I finally plucked up the courage to speak about my suicidal thoughts. To me, this was like opening the door when you know a tiger is behind it. I feared that speaking up would only encourage the beast to attack and I would be taken from this scene.

However, talking about the suicidal thoughts brought me relief. Here was someone who didn’t know me personally, who didn’t judge me, and who just let me talk it out. The more I talked, the less power the thoughts had over me. Before I knew it, that tiger had been tamed and transformed into a domestic cat. I now had the control and I no longer feared that I would lose my life.

Feeling empowered, I then told the listener about all my achievements, and my special fondness of being a Time to Change Wales champion. They congratulated me, saying that they had hope that I would not only survive, but thrive. I had the spark of hope too. This didn’t have to be the end, after all.

If you are struggling with suicidal thoughts, I urge you to speak to someone, anyone about them. I know it’s a cliché, but you are needed in this world. I truly believe that your story of surviving these thoughts will bring light and hope to others.

The helpline that helped me was the Samaritans. I have also found HopeLine UK run by Papyrus for prevention of young suicide helpful. If I’m having trouble speaking my thoughts, I find the new crisis text line run by Shout can be a helpful way to process my feelings.

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