In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Unsung Heroes.”
Every day these people pick up the phone and don’t know what to expect on the other line. It might be someone who is having a hard time dealing with the loss of a job, it might be someone looking for a shoulder to cry on because their elderly parent had passed, or it could be a teenager dealing with the unknown pain of having lost their first love. Since they are an all-encompassing group of individuals, it’s hard to just give them one name. But Depression/Anxiety hotline operators are a group of people I would consider an Unsung Hero!
No matter what is going on in their daily routines, they find a way to listen to another person and talk them through whatever emotional crisis they are experiencing. The sound of their voices might be the only true connection some people have during the day. These faceless people who sometimes admit to not knowing the best answer, but trying to give one anyway help a vast number of callers.
Their listening helped me recently when I was too confused about my own emotions. Having just left the office and not having even made it out of the parking lot, I called one. The grief of losing my child and the loss of the relationship with her mother was hitting hard that day. I could tell the person on the other end of the line might have been all of 25 and doing their best to relate to the situation. As often as I heard “that must be hard”, I found myself reassuring them that it was a set of experiences I didn’t want anyone to be trained to handle. It meant that too often these helplines were hearing similar tales of woe.
For a little over an hour we talked about how I was doing, something I hadn’t been able to do with my family. She was taking cues from my words, prompting me in different directions. But something she heard made her ask a different type of question. She wanted to know how I was feeling physically. She was direct about how, while she didn’t know me, there was something to the way I was speaking that concerned her. My words were evolving, harder from one to the next. I had become altered in some manner.
She asked if I could drive home and get inside rather than be on the parking lot. Her voice kept going as I drove the 7 mile distance. By the time I got home and promised her I was no longer in my car, I could barely speak. The words weren’t coming out and those that were made little sense. The next I know I’m being picked up and transported to the nearest hospital. My body was shutting down and she was the only one to notice. I was trapped in my head, the words trapped there as well.
By the time they figured out what was going on they needed to move quickly. My blood damaging me with every beat of my heart. An imbalance of toxins my body couldn’t cleanse poisoning my mind. Clouding everything!
It was 5 days later when they let me leave the hospital.
The woman on the other end, she did her best to listen. She didn’t try to offer any advice or tell me things were going to be better the next day. She just listened. I can only imagine what happens once the phone is disconnected. Do they cry to themselves? How can they release their own emotional baggage when sometimes what they hear could be something they are experiencing in their personal lives? To have the kind of strength it takes to offer assistance to the next voice on the phone, it amazes me.
And that day, she saved me!