Its been a hot minute Blogfam. I had a most busy week. Apart from schoolwork, I registered to volunteer for some helpline thingy and the training took up all my weekend. And drained me out mentally.
I learnt a lot about reflecting the tone and words of the other person in conversation and met some awe-inspiring speakers. One had this ‘thing with food’ (She said she would murder anyone who labels her bulimic) which she finally overcame after several attempts to bleed to death. Another came from a Suicide helpline. and they had insightful policies. Like If someone calls and says they want to commit suicide or have already committed it i.e. taken drugs. You may ask ‘Can I call an ambulance for you?’. If the person says ‘No’. you accept their right to 'off' themselves and continue with the conversation….till they die on you.
I still have a interview to go for and I am wondering if I should take that final step??
You see, my no-nonsense African approach to emotions is clashing seriously with the Western mollycoddling of emotions. I expected a dear Abby kinda thing where people call in cause they need someone to talk things through with, or they need advice. I am not by any means an expert but hey! 30 odd years of living puts me ahead of a 17 yr old (ok not necessarily!). I am just asking for flexibility and an opportunity to be human. But no, this program trains you to be a robot.
Me: Hello, Ginger’s helpline
Caller: hello. I am sort of feeling real stressed here. I have been starring at my books since 2 pm (note it is 10pm now) and I can’t seem to get anything in. the words keep swimming in my head. I have a paper to hand in tomorrow. I am fucked.
Me: you feel fucked?
Caller: yes I feel fucked up, inadequate. Stupid.
Me: Why do you feel that way?
Caller: Everybody seems to be getting on with their studies except me
Me: Have you always felt that way?
Caller: yeah I have not always felt that way. Sometimes I really feel on top of it but this time I don’t
Me: how do you feel when you’re on top of it?
Caller: I feel good. I feel confident
Tell me, you don’t feel
1. Like punching me right about now if you were the caller.
2. Like this conversation is going to drag on and on.
Cos you see..It’s not really a helpline, it’s a listening service. So no advice, no directed questions, empathise by the sound of your voice not your words.
I can imagine an ALTERNATE SCENARIO
Caller - Hello. I am sort of feeling real stressed here. I have been starring at my books since 2 pm (note: it is 10pm now) and I can’t seem to get anything in. The words keep swimming in my head. I have a paper to hand in tomorrow. I am fucked.
Me - You must be feeling stressed. Is it a write up?
Caller – Yes, it is a 2500 word paper. I just have a title.
Me – You have a title. That’s good isn’t it? Finding a title is usually very difficult for me.
Caller – Maybe. It was a topic I really wanted to write about.
Me – So what is difficult now?
Caller – I can’t get a direction or aim. I am just going round in circles.
Me – that must be frustrating. Do you have helpful books you can use?
Caller – I think so. But can’t you get it? I don’t understand anything I am reading
Me – You say you’ve been at this since 2pm right?
Caller – yeah
Me - When last did you have a meal?
Caller – about 2pm maybe
Me - can you do yourself a favor and go get something to eat. Please??
Caller - Yeah, I think I am actually hungry
Me – Throw in a 5 min stroll around your place if you can.
Caller – Maybe I will do that
Me - You’ve been working too hard I am sure (positive, encouraging)
Caller - I am not sure about that. I haven’t been reading at all
Me - Maybe. Maybe not but a little food, fresh air could do wonders to your memory
Caller - Yeah, maybe. let me go make a sandwich. thanks
Me – thank you for calling
Caller - Can I call back if I get stuck again?
Me - Yes you can. We are here for you all night
You see the difference btw two approaches. One is a neutral indifferent listener (pretend shrink). One is a friend. I know the one I’ll call if I had a problem.
Have you, dear Blogfam called a helpline before? How was their approach? Did you find it helpful?