Former Olympic cycling champion Victoria Pendleton has revealed that she considered taking her own life last summer.

The 38-year-old has previously spoken about her mental health issues.

But in an interview with the Daily Telegraph, she has given a graphic account of how matters deteriorated.

Pendleton, who retired from cycling after winning gold at the London 2012 Olympics, was diagnosed with severe depression after returning home from an aborted charity climb of Mount Everest.

“I had accumulated one-and-half times the dose of drugs to kill myself,” she said.

“And I had it there, in front of me, and I knew how much it would take. And how long I would have to be left for it definitely to work. It wasn’t even like I was really upset about it. I just felt numb.

“I felt horribly guilty for even considering it (killing herself).

“I said to my mum: ‘Please would you forgive me (if I killed myself)?’ Obviously, it was very upsetting for her to hear that.

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I feel an immense sense of guilt for the way I have felt at my lowest. I also hate feeling like a burden on friends and family who were so incredibly and relentlessly supportive, I feel awful for what I put them through. I was so frustrated for not being able to function properly and be “myself”…..constantly saying “pull yourself together” fully appreciating and reminding myself, that I am not living in a conflict zone, making life and death decisions or suffering in poverty or with illness. Being patient with your thoughts is not easy. The most humbling and reassuring part is that when you lift your head up and look around, you are not alone. People will astonish you with their kindness and compassion and quite often their own personal experiences which might not be too dissimilar to yours. Sending much love ❤️

A post shared by Victoria Pendleton C.B.E (@victorilou) on Jan 23, 2019 at 2:24am PST

“But I really wanted my family to be able to forgive me. Because… I wouldn’t do it to hurt them on purpose. You just can’t understand how much I was suffering on the inside.”

After suffering a panic attack at a friend’s house, Pendleton sought help.

She also turned to former British Cycling psychiatrist Steve Peters, who she telephoned during her darkest moment.

“It must have been about 6.30am,” she said. “I had been awake for hours.

“I remember lying there with tears rolling down the side of my face. Not really crying, but just feeling a sense of hopelessness. I was so low. So helpless.

“And I just thought: ‘I don’t want to see tomorrow’. I’m so grateful that he (Peters) picked up (her phone call). Because I don’t think I would be here if he hadn’t.”

Pendleton, whose weight had dropped considerably, moved in with her mother in Hertfordshire for a time, and then a subsequent holiday in France made her feel she had “turned a corner” before she embarked on a surfing trip to Costa Rica.

“I guess it was a very unconventional thing to do,” she added. “It was against the recommendation of my family and almost everyone else.

“They were like ‘you’re going to travel by yourself. Be on your own. If you feel bad who is going to be there for you?’

“But I just really wanted to do it. To try to find my own way through it. I came back from Costa Rica feeling 50 per cent better.”