Angie’s story

After stopping hormone replacement therapy (HRT), Angie* found herself feeling like she couldn’t go on. When a stranger approached her and asked about her dog, Angie was able to see a way forward during a moment of distress.

When a stranger approached her and asked her about her dog, Angie was able to see a way forward during a moment of distress. Four years on, Angie is a Samaritans volunteer herself and encouraging the general public to look out for others who may be struggling to cope. 

“It was July 2020 and I'd been on HRT for about four years at that particular time. I was feeling absolutely fine and thought I didn’t need the HRT anymore, so I stopped taking it.

“In August, I had a big event that I was preparing for, and it was a big success - it was literally euphoria. I went as high as I could possibly go. And then through that August of 2020, mentally the euphoria of the event wore off. The end of August 2020, my body had reset back to default. My hormones had kicked in, or lack of them, shall we say. I think lot of my mental health is hormone-driven.

“I was feeling quite low and confused. In September I was going off to work in my car. And before I knew it, I was at the station. I hadn't given any thought while I was going there. I was in a particular mindset, and something wasn't right.

“I went and sat on this particular bench and I was crying.

I kept looking at the clock and I obviously looked very distressed. All of a sudden, I just happened to see these legs next to me on the bench. And I heard a voice say, ‘are you okay?’

I didn't answer this male voice, I didn't look at him. I wouldn't know who he was to this day.

“I just said, ‘I don't think so. No.’ I remember hearing a voice in my left ear talking. Then I heard him say something about a dog, right? And I said, ‘oh, I've got a dog.’ He said, ‘yes, I know. What's his name?’ And he asked to see a photo of my dog.

“My dog is always my screensaver, so I looked at my screensaver to show him. And that was when reality hit. I thought about my husband, my mum. Everyone knowing what had happened to me, but my dog’s not going know where I am. It was like everything went backwards. And I looked up at the sky - I couldn't look at this guy next to me. And I said, ‘I don’t know what I'm doing.’ And he said, ‘would you like to go and get a coffee?’ But I just thought I needed to leave the station. The man walked with me to my car. And I thanked him for everything, and he left.

“I got in the car and I thought, what do I do now? I just drove to work and carried on with my day. And I came home and told my husband that I think I need to start my HRT again. I didn’t tell him what happened, but just shared how I was feeling – that I didn't feel like I've got meaning to get up in the morning. I've been depressed. I got an appointment the next day, and went to see my consultant and within a couple of days, I was just back to normal.

I find sitting on the same bench really cathartic. If I’m ever back at the station I always sit there. It's a reminder of the importance of small talk and how that stranger helped me that day. Six months later, my husband and I were going down to London. I sat down on the same bench and I shared with him what happened that day. He was really upset but listened to what happened and how I had been feeling. When you’re feeling so low, it can be hard to reach out to the people who are closest to you in a way.

“In January 22, I saw an advert on Facebook for Samaritans. I hadn’t considered volunteering before, but I thought, yeah, I'll give it a go. I'm quite a good listener. So I went for an interview and the rest is history! I absolutely love what I do at Samaritans - it's made me into the best version of me.

If I saw somebody upset, I’d stop and help a stranger. It's made me more aware of listening to other people. To anyone who sees someone who might be struggling to cope and wants to offer help but is unsure of what to do, I would just ask them a simple question, break them out of their current thoughts.

"A great place to start could be as simple as asking them the time. Nine times out of 10, people get their phone out. I would ask them what the time was and if I clocked their phone and clocked the screensaver photo, I would ask them a question about it. ‘Oh is that your dog? That photo is lovely – who is in it?’

“I would always ask the time because it's an indirect question. It's not intrusive. It's not a case of are you okay? Because they might not be okay and they don't want to talk about it.

“I think it's quite worrying that people may not approach someone they think might need help because they don't want to look like they're being a nuisance or intruding. But asking a gentle question can trigger people out of distress – it can be a really simple and effective way of saving someone’s life. "

* Names have been changed to protect people's identities.

Need support? Call 116 123 to speak to a Samaritan or

view other ways to get in touch