Friday, April 13, 2007

Lady Sings the Blues...

This post is in response to a comment Stewart made on Wayne's blog. (In other words, I'm butting in.)

Stewart wrote: Have you ever been so butt-fucking low that you've called a crisis line? I know people do it, hell..I used to man one of those phones...but I've always wondered what it would be like to be the person making the call.

(Raising hand) Um, yeah. I have. Here's how it went:

In a moment of utter desperation, in an attempt to keep from committing suicide, I called a "hotline." I was put on hold for the first several minutes. (Crisis hotline, can you please hold?) I was then transferred between a couple of people and finally transferred from there (via phone) to a local clinic, where I was put on hold again. After about 15 minutes, someone came on the line, transferred me to a nurse who looked at their schedule and said they could get me in (are you ready for this?) in about 3 months. I actually started laughing and said I'd call back another time.

For better or worse, my sense of humor has never strayed far from me. (I'm the type of person who could find something funny in a funeral, and have.) The humor came to my rescue then. I hung up the phone, thought it was a good thing I wasn't holding the knife to my wrist during the time I made the call, and just had to laugh at how ridiculous it all was. Somehow, that made me feel better. So I guess the crisis lines do work. :)

12 comments:

Steve Malley said...

I had a very good friend who put in a lot of volunteer hours at one of those hotlines. He also volunteered in soup kitchens and prisons and later on went into ministry.

One night he came home and I asked how his night went. His reply?

"Y'know what I hate? These fuckers who call up with the gun to their head just to say goodbye. I so fucking hate them."

Even good guys have bad nights, I guess.

Kate S said...

Yes, that would be awful.

Some years later after the incident I mentioned, I went to work for a mental health agency as a receptionist. One day, everyone else was in a staff meeting and I was the only Spanish-speaking person in the place, I got two phone calls from women who only spoke Spanish and whose daughters (ages 14 and 3) had been raped. I kept having to go back and forth between them, putting them on hold while they sobbed. It was terrible.

Lucas Pederson said...

Laugher, I hear, is a healing motion. It's the body's way of coping with something really bad going on. Soemtimes folks just need to laugh. Even crying is good. IT's a form of release. A way to let go of the tension, of the depressiona dn the pending madness. Although, we all do go a little mad sometimes. And for me, that's all right. As long as the madness remains even, and safe.
Did that make sense? I'm not really sure. Anyway. Great post! Later.

Stewart Sternberg said...

Okay that had to be the worst crisis line in North America. The first thing any crisis worker learns about dealing with suicide is: NEVER PUT A PERSON ON HOLD. What they should be doing is checking for suicidal thought process such as "is there a plan?" "do they have the means to carry it out?""have they suffered loss in their lives, have they been obssessing about death, etc.".

Glad you're feeling better. And Steve? Your friend was right. We hated suicide calls. HATED them.

SQT said...

I had a similar experience. I was suffering from postpartum depression and was trying to get a counseling appointment. Everyone kept telling me they were booked. They would ask, are you going to commit suicide right now? and since I answered no, they would tell me they were sorry, but they couldn't take me. I began to consider suicide threats...

Kate S said...

No doubt, Stewart. To be fair, I do think that the people manning the phones that day were new, young, and overwhelmed. I do remember one that I could tell felt really bad to put me on hold. I hope that by now that line has got its act together.

Charles Gramlich said...

First, do no harm. That is the rule. That crisis line definetely wasn't following that rule. Glad you could find the humor in it. Sheesh, that's a terrible way for them to run things.

Kate S said...

Hi SQT, I guess you were posting at the same time I was responding to Stewart. Sorry to hear you were going through that too.

Charles, it was a poorly managed line, but in my experience, not that uncommon. When I worked for the other agency, sometimes people would call who had issues we didn't/couldn't handle, so I had to refer them a hotline. The hotline would then turn around and refer them back to us.

More recently, I had to make a similar appointment, and the person on the line offered me two choices - a male or female physician. I said it didn't matter, and he started asking questions to determine the best fit: did I drink, do drugs, smoke? No, no and no. Ok, he says, I'll set your appointment with Dr. X, she specializes in addictive behaviors and alcohol abuse.

What, did he think I was lying? Sheesh. So I go to see Dr. X anyway, and she proceeds to tell me that I'm "dead in the water." Did she learn bedside manners from Dr. Kavorkian? I left her office more suicidal than I went in, but later on saw the humor in it. Thank God.

Maybe next time I depressed, I'll just rent a funny movie and save myself the hassle.

Kate S said...

Oh, and by the way, Lucas - I agree. Sometimes laughter is the best medicine.

Sphinx Ink said...

How ironic. You call a crisis line because you're in crisis, you need help NOW, and you're put on hold--not once, not twice, but more. Your sense of humor may have saved you. Glad you didn't give in to the Dark Side.

Kate S said...

Thanks, Sphinx Ink. I still have just enough of The Force to keep from going over. Though once in a while, I still hear Darth calling me to give in... :)

SQT said...

My God, your experiences have been awful. And I thought mine were bad. I was at least lucky enough to find compassionate people once I did get in front of a councilor.