To Every National Suicide Hotline Operator: Thank You

To Every National Suicide Hotline Operator: Thank You

To every National Suicide Hotline Operator volunteer who has spent countless hours just listening to the vulnerable souls on the other end of the phone, I thank you.

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"Talk."

I'll never forget the first word I heard from that first call I made to the National Suicide Hotline all those years ago.

"Talk," said Gary, the hotline operator that I ended up talking to for four hours straight in the middle of the night.

I opened my mouth, but choked back more tears as I struggled to find the words. I cried and I cried at the one word Gary the hotline operator said to me.

Talk. That's the one thing that I hadn't done up until that low point in my life.

Talking was such a foreign concept for me after my mother died from cancer. I was 14 years of age back then. I'm an adult now (if you can even classify 20 years of age as "adult" nowadays), but looking back, I wish I could've opened up more before I called that hotline. But… it was just so hard to.

After my mother died, I moved to a new town, new state, and new region of the country. I was the new kid in town, starting as a freshman in high school. As a quiet new kid with no friends, I was practically destined to be labeled as a loner in school. And honestly, I was.

I'd enviously look at the other tables in the cafeteria and library where kids my age would converse with one another, carefree about real problems in the world. How could I be brave and talk to them when I was a new kid? How could I talk and relate to them when I had witnessed my mom suffering from cancer just a few short months prior? How could I relate to anyone who hadn't had experienced the major life changes that I was experiencing at the time?

The truth of the matter is this: No one should have to suffer from the pain of loss. No one should especially have to suffer from the indescribable pain of witnessing the death of someone who they loved and lost.

But I did.

Which is why I felt that I had to keep quiet. Which is why I sat alone at the lunch room tables. Which is why I kept to myself for a full year and a half after my mother died.

That is, until I reached my breaking point.

I nearly almost ended my life when I was a sophomore in high school. I remember the exact date and roughly the same time too that I almost did it. Almost.

It took me a while to reach my breaking point. It was gradual, by no way immediate should I add. But I reached it. To this day, I still can't believe that I almost did. Again, almost.

If it wasn't for Gary, I would've died the night I called the hotline. If it wasn't for Amy, another hotline operator I talked to for hours and hours a few years after I talked to Gary, I would've died back then too. If it wasn't for that one person on that hotline who listened while I talked, there's no way I'd be writing this right now.

I've experienced life in ways that the high school freshman-and-sophomore me wouldn't have dreamed of since those fateful phone calls.

I graduated from high school, which is an achievement that nowadays may seem to be "expected", but for me it meant a lot because my mother didn't get the chance to walk at graduation since she had me when she was a teenager. I decided to go to community college right after high school and recently graduated Summa Cum Laude with an Associate of Arts. And two weeks before I walked the stage at my community college graduation, I found out that I got accepted to my dream college with a full tuition scholarship…

My point is this: There's no way in hell I would've been able to experience life like this without someone who listened.

To every National Suicide Hotline Operator volunteer who has spent countless hours just listening to the vulnerable souls on the other end of the phone, I thank you. Thank you for doing what you do, thank you for putting in the time and giving people like me - someone who has experienced tremendous life changing episodes in life - a chance to talk.

It's not easy to talk, but you are the ones who listen. Thank you.

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If you or someone you know who is in need of someone to talk to, call the National Suicide Hotline via 1-800-273-8255.
Cover Image Credit:

https://pixabay.com/en/phone-call-telephone-handset-dial-3179343/

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The 7 Best Pieces Of Advice I Have Been Given About Life

Some of the best advice I have been given over the years...

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There isn't a central theme among these pieces of advice or sayings. They are all just random things I have been told over the course of my life–especially in the last week. I find these 7 to be particularly helpful in various situations, and try to keep them in mind when I am in over my head.

1. "Don't be afraid to advocate for yourself because there is nobody who is going to help you more than you."

You are the #1 person who can help your own case. No one knows you as you do, therefore no one will be able to help you more than you can help yourself. A lot of things are mental, so once you can convince yourself that you deserve something (whatever it may be) you can convince anyone. Another saying goes along with this, on the flip side: "No one can diminish you but yourself." You are in control of your own self-perception, and you are very much capable of being your own worst enemy.

2. "Stand behind your reputation because you can never get it back."

My mom sent this to me the other day. Be who you are, and do it proudly. Especially with meeting people for the first time, you can never have a second chance at a first impression. That being said, if people view you in a bad light, figure out why that is and fix it. You may not be able to change someones initial thoughts of you, but you can change the way they view you after that.

3. "The best things in life happen unexpectedly."

"Life is what happens when you're busy making plans," also goes along with this. Trying to plan out every little detail of your life is only going to lead to disappointment. Sometimes you find the best things/what you're looking for when you're not actually looking. Just go through the motions and things will work out the way they are supposed to.

4. "Be proud of your accomplishments, no matter how small."

It's important to celebrate the little things. Did you go to class today? Good for you. Did you decide to drink water instead of a soda? That's awesome. How are you going to work up to doing bigger and better things if you don't have anywhere to start?

5. "Whatever you're stressing about now probably won't matter in five years."

As someone who is often eaten away by their own worry and anxiety, this is a mantra that I try to constantly remind myself. While it may seem like a big deal now, you need to keep in mind the bigger picture. Will it matter in 5 hours? 5 days? 5 months? And so on. If the answer is no to ANY of these questions, it's probably not worth beating yourself up over.

6. "Stop being the 'go to' person for someone you can't go to."

Someone tweeted that their pastor said this to them and the tweet went viral. A friend of mine sent it to me, and it really made me think. Something I have struggled with over the years is making excuses for people who don't show up for me when I am constantly there for them. This is a helpful reminder that if they aren't contributing to you and your life, you shouldn't have to bend over backward to help them out and be in their lives.

7. "Two wrongs don't make a right."

While this is often a saying that parents use on their young children, it is applicable to pretty much any stage of life. My parents, especially my dad, have constantly said this, whether it was in reference to fighting with my siblings or dealing with people at school. Even as a 20-year-old, I find myself saying this when I hear about arguments and problems people are having. Everyone wants to get even, to best those who hurt them. While it's important to stick up for yourself, it is also important to be the bigger person and not stoop to their level (and whatever else your parents told you in these situations).

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