Charlie's story

Former star of hit ITV2 show "The Only Way Is Essex" Charlie King, 28, from Essex, called Samaritans in 2011 when he was struggling with the demands of a highly stressful job, and the pressure he felt to behave in a certain way:

“I grew up with my mum and sisters, dad wasn’t around so I didn’t really have a male role model.

"I knew I wasn’t really like a typical boy. Rugby and football didn’t appeal to me, I was more interested in singing and dancing. I never really had a proper girlfriend, relationships didn’t seem to happen for me.

“My mum has a successful business, and from a young age I was thrust into a business world, I felt under pressure to do well and had to live up to high expectations.

"Before I had a chance to think about my career and what I really wanted to do, I was running the family restaurant.

Stressed, anxious and lonely

“I was working non-stop, and became obsessive about the restaurant – I had to be there all the time, wouldn’t share responsibilities with other staff, and started to believe the business wouldn’t survive if I wasn’t there every waking hour. I was highly stressed and struggled with anxiety.

“When I did take time off, I didn’t know what to do with myself. I felt I had no purpose, no one to share the fruits of my labour with - I was lonely. I’d end up blowing £100s on clothes, thinking it would make me feel better, but it didn’t.

“I started to get really depressed. I had no male friends, or a girlfriend. I remember walking my dog across a country park, and my head feeling like it was going to explode.

Reaching out for support

"I had reached the point where I felt I couldn’t go on, like there was no point in my existence. My family could see I was struggling, but they didn’t know what to do or say.

“This was when I first called Samaritans. Speaking to them really helped me to put my thoughts in order and gave me the reassurance I needed that everything would be ok. I called six or seven times in total.

“I also sought help through my GP, and joined a gym. Doing regular exercise gave me something to focus on, I felt and looked good.

"When I was halfway through a military fitness course, I broke my leg. It was the first time in my life where I was relying on other people, I needed help.

I wish I had realised it is ok to be different.

“All these events made me realise I needed to become more open and let people into my life. I wish I had realised it is ok to be different, that I didn’t have to conform to a certain stereotype of how a man should be.

"I also realised the importance of living your life. Work isn’t significant in the bigger picture of things.

“I wish I’d talked about my problems at a much earlier stage. I realise that if I had spoken to someone I probably wouldn’t have got to the point where I was considering suicide.

"If I hadn’t called Samaritans, I honestly don’t know where I’d be today. I have my life to thank them for.”