When mum of twins Emma Gale parked in a secluded spot in the run-up to Christmas, it was because she about to take her own life.
Desperate to speak to someone in her final moments, Emma phoned the Samaritans. It was a life-saving call.
Patiently, a woman on the line listened for more than two hours to Emma, who was in agony from a mystery illness. She then drove straight to her doctor.
Now the mum of seven-year-old boys Joshua and Zachary has rebuilt her life.
The 41-year-old has trained as a Samaritan and will be taking calls from struggling people this Christmas Day.
Emma, from Dorset, says: “I called Samaritans not to stop me, just to have someone to talk to. It was the first time someone really listened. She didn’t interrupt or tell me I’m selfish to want to end my life because I’ve got children.”
Emma’s woes began at seven when surgery to correct the angle of her feet went wrong, injuring her spine and leg.
Diagnosed with Marfan syndrome, a condition affecting connective tissue, she spent most of her childhood in hospital and was left unable to conceive. She met and married Mark and when they were turned down for adoption, they found a friend to be a surrogate.
In December 2010 they had the twins.
But Emma’s health worsened and when doctors could not explain her constant pain she started to despair.
Bedridden and being fed through a tube, Emma could take no more by the run-up to Christmas two years ago.
“I left home intending to take my own life,” she says. “I’d written to the boys explaining how I’d never forget them.”
That day Emma spoke to the Samaritans at length before her GP prescribed a new course of antidepressants. A few months later, she finally told supportive Mark, 44, about what had happened.
Her condition is now diagnosed as Ehlers-Danlos syndrome and Emma is able to manage it better. She volunteered as a Samaritan in October last year.
She says: “This Christmas we’ve stacks of presents, relatives coming and I feel like a functional mum for the first time.”
The Samaritans is available 24/7 if you need to talk. You can contact them for free by calling 116 123, email [email protected] or head to the website to find your nearest branch. You matter.
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