Why Hattie reaches out to the Samaritans
Clinging to my phone, with tears running down my cheeks, I dialled 116 123.
I needed to talk. But I didn’t need advice, or for someone to tell me to breathe deeply or to go for a walk. I just needed someone to listen.
I’ve been calling Samaritans for the past four years now, every time something gets too much and I just need to talk. As someone who has been under the Crisis team for my mental health multiple times, knowing how hard the right help is to access, Samaritans has always been the service I go to when my emotions get too much to handle.
Why not go to friends or family?
I know I can reach out to my family and friends, but it’s not the same. I don’t want a hug that will make me want to sob, or to be told everything will be okay, I just want someone to be patient with me and to really hear me. And that’s what they do.
What to do when you feel…
This is not a PR plug, this is my truth — and I’m sharing it because I want anyone else who finds themself in a position at 1am where you can’t stop uncontrollably crying, where you just need someone to really hear you, to be able to have somewhere to go.
When are the Samaritans available?
I go to Samaritans because they’re available 24/7 365 days a year. I go to them because the first time I dialled, expecting to be told to practise mindfulness and yoga, I was surprised to find that they couldn’t offer me any advice at all. And sometimes, no advice is the best advice when you’re in a state where you just need someone to sit and listen to what is going on in your head.
Opening up to a stranger
I like that it’s a person I don’t know. It’s a person I can be completely vulnerable with because I don’t have to give my name or personal details. I like that it’s anonymous and that there are things I can say that I can’t say to anyone else. I like that I can call them at any time of night and someone will be there at the other end of the phone. I like that I don’t have to wait hours for someone to answer the phone.
They’re not a replacement for a Crisis team or for professional mental health services. But they’re amazing for when you’re struggling, and you need to be vulnerable without fearing judgement or the same old advice.
When things feel overwhelming, the mental health team aren’t available and A&E aren’t needed
I called just the other night. I was overtired and emotional and I just needed to let everything out. I have postnatal depression, alongside other mental health conditions, and I was feeling awful about myself. My head had convinced me that I was a bad mum and that I wasn’t good enough. That I was failing. Not just myself but my family and my child. There was nobody else to call, because the mental health service I am under closes at 5pm; and my only other option was to call A&E. But this wasn’t an A&E situation, this was a ‘I need to talk to someone so that I can help myself to rationalise my fears’. And that’s what happened.
The absence of advice, being heard fully and the importance of questions
As mentioned multiple times in this piece of writing, I wasn’t offered advice. But I was asked questions. I was asked why I felt the way I did, and I was asked important questions as to how I was feeling, and as I answered out loud I realised how irrational some of the things I feared were.
And what was best was that when I was finished with the conversation, I was able to say my goodbyes, hang up, and not know whether I would ever talk to that person again. But that person was the one who helped me to get through the night.
And the charity has done this on multiple occasions. They’ve helped me to rationalise things and to say my fears aloud, things that I wouldn’t say to the people I love because I didn’t want to give explanations or to be told I was being irrational or dramatic or silly. Because though my fears aren’t true, they’re not silly. They’re completely valid.
And Samaritans made me feel that way. They made me feel valid.
To Samaritans: Thank you. Thank you for allowing me to be my vulnerable self in a state of need. Thank you for helping me to realise when my fears are just that — fears. Thank you for talking to me at one in the morning when the house is asleep. Thank you for helping me through the past few years when my mental health team has been unavailable.
Thank you, for everything you do, for me, and for everyone else who calls you because you provide comfort. Thank you.
I haven’t edited the article above. I’ve simply added some headings and split it up to make some points explicit.
The original article: A love letter to Samaritans