Written by Courtney Campbell (pictured), suicide prevention workshop participant, user of our 24/7 Helpline, and HopeRaiser
I was first acquainted with Samaritans in high school, when I was involved in our community chapter of Sources of Strength, a national youth suicide prevention group. Samaritans held a suicide prevention workshop at one of our meetings. Although I did gain further information about prevention, the key takeaway for me was the 24/7 Helpline.
On paper, I was the “perfect” teenager. I was academically driven, involved in various clubs and jobs, part of several social circles, and often appeared as high-spirited. However, ever since I was thirteen years old, I have struggled with depression, generalized anxiety, panic attacks, self-harm, and suicidal ideation. I was hospitalized on four separate occasions, and because of this had a much different high school experience than my friends. I always felt very alone; I didn’t trust other people or feel comfortable talking about my emotions.
When I was introduced to the Samaritans Helpline at the workshop, I didn’t think much about it. Then, on a particularly rough night a few weeks later, with no one to turn to, I sent the Helpline a text. I spent that evening texting back and forth with a volunteer about the issues weighing on me at that particular time. It was freeing to chat openly about my struggles with someone who doesn’t have preconceived ideas about me, isn’t partial, and is simply there to listen without me feeling as though I am a burden. It was not the cure, but rather the starting point. It was conversations like these, and slowly opening up to adults and friends I trusted, that spearheaded my recovery.
With a greater willingness to share, I made strides in therapy, my relationships, and self-worth. This past fall, I began attending support groups for young adults with mood disorders as a way to connect with others through our shared experiences. I am fortunate to share my story now more formally with NAMI Massachusetts (National Alliance on Mental Illness) as a speaker for their “In Our Own Voice” presentations. This, coupled with maintaining my physical health (sleep, nutrition, exercise) has been crucial in healing. Now, I am nineteen years old; I took time off from my undergraduate education to focus on myself mentally and holistically. The past several months have been paramount for personal growth during my adolescence, and have allowed me to finally be content with my life, my story, and myself.
In this unprecedented reality we find ourselves in now, it’s especially challenging for people with mental illnesses. As an outlet for anxious inclinations, I turn to crafting embroidery bracelets. I started this hobby during my first hospitalization years ago, and have since found comfort and enjoyment in translating the complex patterns into colorful bracelets. With heightened anxiety and plenty of free time right now, I have been churning out bracelets. As much as I enjoy collecting them, I decided to sell them and in turn donate the profit to an organization I value. Many people are donating to national organizations for medical relief for COVID-19, and while that is essential, mental health organizations need assistance too. I chose to donate the money to Samaritans not only because their helpline is more important now than ever, but because their resources were a piece of my own recovery. I am proud to share that I sold over forty bracelets to friends and family, and donated the proceeds in hopes that Samaritan’s helpline will support others in a time of distress, just like they supported me.
Need to talk? Call or text Samaritans’ 24/7 Helpline at (877) 870-4673.