falling, suicide, man

“What a suicide hotline taught me about listening”

Given the divisiveness in the current US political climate, it’s hard to feel cautiously optimistic about the ability of mental health services to mitigate the impact of polarizing political incidents. But the Suicide Prevention Lifeline provides a small ray of hope. It’s a digital hotline that has been effective in reducing suicidal thoughts and efforts.

The hotline call itself is short and to the point — 866-273-8255 — but it achieves its goal. The voice-over tells the listener that they can call them back if they feel distressed — and they will. The voice-over continues by explaining that the hotline is a service that is fully subscribed-up, which is an unusual thing to say in an emergency. The voice-over acknowledges that the hotline is a suicide prevention hotline, but that people can also call if they don’t feel comfortable calling a friend or family member. The voice-over finishes by saying that the hotline is open to people of all abilities, whether the high- or low level of literacy.

The 866 number was already filled, but someone had also questioned the website using a domain name they’d found on the internet for $.
An hour later, I was connected to a woman who had claimed to be a therapist. She gave me a recording of her counseling effort, in which she counseled me to stop complaining and to instead focus on getting behind me to make something happen. She told me that she had a small money clip in her purse, and if I wanted, I could borrow it. She also offered to help me set up an online portfolio so that others would see what I’ve achieved so far.

She seemed genuinely interested in my situation. She knew that I was a struggling writer. She knew I was a struggling college student. She knew I was struggling as a husband and a father. She knew I was struggling, and she wanted to hear about it.
I gave her my number and she started offering comfort. She would call me when I was away from the computer, and she would offer words of advice. She said, “If you don’t get ahold of someone, you’re just going to keep waiting. You just keep waiting, and you’re going to get disappointed.”

She ended up being the saving grace that helped me get back on my feet.
Often, if an ex doesn’t reciprocate the same courtesy, we move on to happier waters. Often, the wounds will become too wounded to swim.
The grief that comes with a relationship’s demise can often be too much to bear. So, we take notes instead of swimming. We take breaks from gaming, or binge-watching, or singing Disney songs on the radio. We take breaks of spending time with friends and family and doing what we do best — creating…

Great, but certainly not enough.
For me, I know that I’m going to need to take action in the future. So, I’m going to need to know where my standpoints are going to be. I’m going to need to know where my personal “beach” lines up with those closest to me. Where I’m going to be comfortable to share my story (and be measured in how supportive I feel).

In other words, I’m going to need to know where my borders are.
This is a critical step for me, as I don’t want to create divisions within my family just to serve as an outlet for my brother’s pain.
Bordering is liberating. Boundaries are a powerful tool to have in your life. Understanding where you want to take your life and what you want to do with your future is important. Having the ability to say “this is my life, no one else’s” is lifesaving.

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