Case study: Bob*, 44, West Midlands

*name has been changed

“I had a difficult childhood. My dad left us when I was 7 years-old; he ran off with another woman and left mum with six kids. He was an alcoholic. After Dad left, I became really introvert; having nightmares and sleepwalking. I had to go and see a child psychologist and they put my problems down to dad leaving us.

“Mum met someone else and I didn’t get on with him, I looked at it that he was trying to step into my dad’s shoes and being the age I was, wasn’t prepared to accept it. Eventually I moved in with my sister. I still saw my dad once a week and mum used to pop round.

“I left school with no qualifications, so I worked in a factory for a bit before joining the army. I was still in my basic training when I met my wife and soon afterwards she became pregnant. I was used to being around kids in my family, so I was looking forward to becoming a dad. About 7 weeks later, I was out for a run when I passed out and discovered I had asthma which meant I had to be medically discharged from the army.

“I was really gutted because that was all my career, my plans and everything, taken from me when I had a baby on the way as well. I came out of the army and didn’t have a clue what I was going to do or where I was going to live.

“I moved in with my mum for a bit, did a City and Guilds course in recreation and leisure. I had some good jobs and eventually managed to get a council house and my wife and I were together with our daughter.

“We did try to have more kids, but we lost three through miscarriages. It was devastating for us and although we had fertility treatment we were told we couldn’t have any more children. Then when our eldest was 12, my wife fell pregnant, after all those years of hoping. It was a difficult pregnancy with my wife having to be admitted to hospital because they thought she might miscarry again and leading up to it I got laid off from work.

“When my second child was eventually born I was so overwhelmed I couldn’t stop crying. Because of the children we’d lost, it had been a huge build up of pressure which I released in one go; it left me in a state of depression. I had a breakdown, all that seemed to go around in my mind was death, all of the time, and it was so frightening. It was so hard for my wife who’d only just had our baby.

“It was hard to speak to family and friends; I couldn’t talk to anyone. I did consider suicide; I thought I was going mad, so I went to see a GP in the end. She was lovely and I saw her four times in the first week. I went to some walk-in sessions at a local clinic and they teach you relaxation techniques.

“Looking back I can’t make any sense of how I got to that state. I know that I had no control over my thoughts. I don’t know how I initially heard of Samaritans; I just knew they were there. I think initially I wanted an answer and the volunteer I spoke to didn’t have an answer – he was there to listen and talk to me. But the Samaritans aren’t there to give you answers, they’re there to listen.

There is always light at the end of the tunnel. I think that’s what Samaritans provides, a light, no matter how long your tunnel is, the light is always there, you’ve just got to look hard enough for it and you’ll find it.

“The one thing I found as part of my recovery was the more I spoke about the way I felt, the better I felt. I think we’ve got to get people talking. There is always light at the end of the tunnel. I think that’s what Samaritans provides, a light, no matter how long your tunnel is, the light is always there, you’ve just got to look hard enough for it and you’ll find it.

“I’m now on anti-depressants and I still go to a couple of clinics if things get a bit heavy, which touch wood, they haven’t for a long time.”