A Glimpse into a YouthLine CallMy name is Anna, and I am a teen volunteer on Oregon Partnership’s YouthLine, a statewide teen-to-teen crisis hotline. As a YouthLine volunteer, I hear all sorts of calls and each one leaves me with a different feeling afterwards. Sometimes I’m giving a parent the names of treatment centers for their teen, and other times I’m answering questions about drugs for a paper someone is writing for school. I’ve taken a few prank calls, which usually end rather abruptly and leave me feeling distinctly conned. However, then there are those calls, the ones that I joined YouthLine for in the first place: the kind of calls that leave me feeling like I have made a difference, no matter how small or large, in someone’s life, just by listening.
It started out like any other call, with a worry that she might really have a problem with alcohol, since she drank every week with her friends. She lived in a tiny town, where everyone knew everyone, and all of her friends drank because there was “nothing else to do.” She did too, because she said she didn’t want to be left out. Or at least those were the reasons she gave, until she started opening up and the conversation took a different, more personal turn.
She shared that besides just drinking with her friends she had started drinking by herself. She would sometimes go off in the woods for hours with a bottle of hard liquor just to numb the pain that wouldn’t go away. Her family had always had problems, but on top of this a close family member had died several months before. This loss and the pressure of holding her family together was almost too much. Today, after reading something in school about alcohol abuse, she was starting to wonder if her drinking was getting out of control. She had even contemplated suicide in the past because things were starting to feel so unbearable, and through talking she began to see that without help, things would only get worse. With this self realization, she was able to consider ways to get help. She feared the reactions of her family if they found out, and was afraid they’d send her away to a rehab without her choice in the matter. We explored ways that counseling could actually help her deal with the pressures and pain she was facing, and she identified a trusted family member who might help her talk with her parents. She ended the call with a plan to contact this person soon, and she said she would call YouthLine in the future for more support. She admitted that she had never opened up this much to anyone before, and she said that just by talking she felt so much better. Now that is one of the best things to hear as a volunteer. It’s nice to know that in whatever large or small way, I am making a difference, one call at a time.