Lea Becomes a Crisis Counselor

If you talk to any of my friends, they will all agree on one thing; I am emotional

The past couple of years have been extremely difficult for my mental health. It all started with the bleakest moment of my life as I entered my year abroad in London. That period of time was a wake-up call in which I had to face the emotions I had always ignored. I’ve always felt like my emotional responses are turned up to 110% all the time. Most times, this is helpful but when I hit lows, that’s when it gets tough. 

Fortunately, my depressive episode in London forced me to see a therapist. It was there that I realized talking to someone with proper training, even through tears, was beneficial to my mental health. With that experience, I was able to get through the rest of my year in London and return to Malibu with the desire to continue my mental health journey. By signing up for weekly appointments with the Pepperdine Counseling Center, I was enabled to face my anxiety, depression, and anger head-on. As my time with my amazing therapist continued, she noted that I was an exceptionally receptive person. To my surprise, she went on to say that because of my experiences and ability to empathize, it felt very easy to open up to me. I had always felt that I made a good sounding board for people. In the past, it constantly irritated me because I felt like people would just use me. However, my therapist pointed out that this was a strength. 

After being rejected by HRL to be an SLA for the second year in a row, it was time for me to find validation and provide my services elsewhere. Just because I was denied a certain opportunity to help freshmen in their spiritual life didn’t mean that I couldn’t be helpful to people in other ways. 

That’s when I found Crisis TextLine. Essentially, this is a hotline that any person in the U.S. can text to find support in a moment of crisis (Text HOME to 741741). My therapist had mentioned the source to me and requested I check it out if I ever needed help at a time when she wasn’t available. However, as I was scrolling through VolunteerMatch, I felt that this was my calling. I spent a good amount of time filling out the extensive application only to be accepted about 3 weeks later. 

There are two options of training: either choose the accelerated 2-week training course or spread your training out over a span of 6 weeks. Since I had just been sent home from in-person classes due to COVID, I figured there was no better time to knock out the online training as soon as possible. 

The feeling of finishing the informational course was exhilarating...and seriously scary. I felt confident in what I had learned but it was time to take my first shift. 

Crisis TextLine does a great job of reminding their Crisis Counselors to take moments of self-care. I felt so supported as I logged onto the platform for the first time but it didn’t exactly ease the nerves. Though I can’t share any particulars about my very first conversation with an actual Texter, I can say that it was immediately rewarding. I realized that all of my training had been with a chatbot but my first shift presented real humans. This, of course, put a great deal of pressure on me to provide the right support but it was also much easier to see that these were just people who needed someone to talk to. 

If you are looking for a remote volunteer commitment, this might be the choice for you. Though it does take time out of your weekly schedule, there’s nothing quite like being able to connect with people across the country in their time of need. I’ve been able to handle the most serious of situations and I’ve been able to just be there for those who need to rant. The types of conversations you will have will vary greatly and will only make you a stronger communicator. I have always felt like I am the worst type of friend to have when someone needs comforting or is going through a crisis phase. However, now I am able to take these skills of crisis management into all of my friendships. 

I’ve only been a Crisis Counselor for a few months now. Trying to fulfill my weekly commitment while also being a full-time student has had its challenges, but I look forward to reaching the set goal of 200 hours on the platform. Though the Crisis Counselor life might not be for you, there are always many other remote volunteer positions to be held. You’ve just got to look for them!   

https://www.crisistextline.org/